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Tuesday, 24th February 2015

Future Trends in the Gulf

Source: Chatham House

From Executive Summary:

Politics in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states will be significantly transformed in the coming decade. Generational change, with 60 per cent of the population under the age of 30, is placing strain on traditional political structures. The revenues from energy resources are not sufficient to sustain the current political-economic bargain in the medium to long term: three of the six GCC countries need oil at US$100 per barrel in order to balance their budgets, and, crucially, these ‘break-even’ prices are rising as population growth adds to public-sector wage and subsidy bills. In four of the GCC states, hydrocarbons resources will run out within the lifetime of citizens born today. Current and future shifts in the structure of the political economy, demographics, education and the availability of information will all affect power relations between states and citizens, citizens and expatriates, and different social groups. Citizens in these six states – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – will expect more of a say in how they are governed and how their countries’ resources are managed.

Since 2011, much of the analysis of political stability across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has focused on an oversimplified division between the region’s republics, some of which have seen their rulers overthrown after popular revolutionary uprisings, and the monarchies, which have not. There is a prevailing narrative that the monarchies are especially stable, and that their resilience in the past means they will also be resilient in the future. However, a more nuanced approach is needed to understand the potential for political transformation, which should not be conflated with street protests or changes of elites. The example of Egypt shows that even an apparent revolution can result in only limited change to a country’s institutions and power structures. Real transformation implies change at the level of informal institutions, social norms and attitudes, and ideas. In some respects this is already occurring in the Gulf, reflecting the impact of education, local debates and deep shifts in the flow of information.

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+ Executive Summary (PDF; 63 KB)


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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

More articles by Adrian Janes »



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