Gulf State Business

 London: Hurst, and New York: Oxford University Press, April 2013

Although most Arab countries remain authoritarian, many have undergone a restructuring of state-society relations in which lower- and middle-class interest groups have lost ground while big business has benefited in terms of its integration into policy-making and the opening of economic sectors that used to be state-dominated.

Arab businesses have also started taking on aspects of public service provision in health, media and education that used to be the domain of the state; they have also become increasingly active in philanthropy. The ‘Arab Spring,’ which is likely to lead to a more pluralistic political order, makes it all the more important to understand business interests in the Middle East, a segment of society that on the one hand has often been close to the ancien regime, but on the other will play a pivotal role in a future social contract.

Among the topics addressed by the authors are the role of business in recent regime change; the political outlook of businessmen; the consequences of economic liberalisation on the composition of business elites in the Middle East; the role of the private sector in orienting government policies; lobbying of government by business interests and the mechanisms by which governments seek to keep businesses dependent on them. - See more at: 


‘This is a superb volume on a critically important topic that often does not receive the careful attention it deserves. The book is impressive in both breadth and depth as it offers incisive analyses on significant issues related to business politics across the Middle East, especially insofar as public and private sector reforms and the 2011 uprisings are concerned. With essays rich in empirical data and with robust analytical frameworks, this is a significant contribution to the literature on the political economy of the Middle East.’

— Mehran Kamrava, Professor and Director of the Center for International and Regional Studies at the Georgetown University’ School of Foreign Service in Qatar


‘After years of apparent political stability, economic growth and liberal reform, the Middle East is in turmoil and many of the business groups that anchored this development have all but vanished from the political scene.  For those who want to understand this dynamic— who are the business leaders, what has been their impact, and what are their prospects now?—this volume provides valuable insight.’ 

— Lisa Anderson, President of The American University in Cairo


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International workshop on state-business relations in the GCC Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies Exeter, 12-13 September...

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