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Side Effects of the Oil Bonanza

Petrodollars: opportunities and risks for the Gulf monarchies

This article was published in Oasis 31. Read the table of contents

Last update: 2021-12-09 15:05:08

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Jim Krane, Energy Kingdoms: Oil and Political Survival in the Persian Gulf, Columbia University Press, New York 2019


In his Energy Kingdoms: Oil and Political Survival in the Persian Gulf Jim Krane analyses the economic and political impact that the discovery of gas and oil has had on the Gulf States in allowing their development, modernization and economic boom. One of the most striking examples illustrating the rapidity and reach of the transformations occurring in these countries is Oman, where as late as 1970 education (excluding religious education) was provided by only three schools for a population of 700,000. Even more striking is the story of Mohammed Alabbar, the Emirati real estate tycoon. In just a few decades he has gone from a childhood passed under a roof of plaited palm leaves to the building of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, currently the world’s tallest skyscraper and so imposing that it requires its own electrical generating station on the one hundred and fiftieth floor. The problem highlighted by the author and announced in the book’s subtitle is that the very policies that took a great number of the region’s inhabitants out of poverty are now threatening the oil monarchies’ survival.

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