Oil and the political economy in the Middle East

Post-2014 adjustment policies of the Arab Gulf and beyond

This book contains the first comprehensive analysis of the Middle Eastern political economy in response to the oil price decline in 2014. The introductory and concluding chapters also touch upon the oil price crash in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and discuss some of the relevant responses by Middle Eastern actors. Its findings connect oil market dynamics with an understanding of sociopolitical changes. Inspired by rentierism, the volume presents original studies on Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Results show a large diversity of country-specific policy adjustments. Among the most pertinent findings are that migrant workers in the Arab Gulf are the main social losers in the post-2014 period, while citizens were capable of repelling burdensome adjustment policies. For Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon, the expectation that they could benefit from the oil price decline in 2014 has not been fulfilled. Three conceptual dimensions for the theoretical advancement of rentierism are highlighted: first, in the light of increasing exploitation and coercion, by bringing state–class relations back into the discussion; second, by paying closer attention to the role of institutions during periods of policy adjustment; third, by exploring the issue of rentier-state autonomy vis-à-vis society in a more nuanced way. Overall, this collection signifies that rentierism still prevails with regard to both empirical dynamics in the Middle East and academic discussions on its political economy.

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