Allen J. Fromherz has extensively researched the Gulf States, including energy matters in that region. From what I can gather, Allen has a deep understanding of the interconnectedness of people in the Gulf States. His book distinguishes itself from other publications by its emphasis on people. Or more precisely, he focuses on the social changes that have taken place in Qatar. Those changes accompany a society blessed with abundant energy resources, but they have to be managed.
The world’s smallest global power, unique in every way
Its humble beginnings as a civilizational and diplomatic power lay in British colonialism, Qatar emerged thereafter as a player using its many talents as a broker between many different countries. What strikes me is the remarkable ease with which Qataris embraced social change, much more so then other Gulf States in that region. To give just one example out of many, non-Qataris can hold public office, and they can even be appointed judges.
Oil is not everything
Qataris turned the world upside down and used a sophisticated network involving family relations, tribal connections, foreign contacts to expand their influence in high-level activities. Consequentially, they obtained even more power by becoming a pressure point for the interests of other nations, of nations attempting to garner Qatar’s interest and benefit from Qatar’s connections. Balancing different interests internally and externally, as well as in terms of chanelling financial, political and social capital between nations has been highly beneficial to Qataris, in becoming an entrepreneural participant of the international order. They have become further removed from the energy business, but they made the most of the resources that they had been given.
The book is particularily valuable for readers who are less familiar with the Middle East, and provides an understanding how entrepreneurship can transform a society. In the case of Qatar, the country has been constrained by its geography. I find this book very evocative because it shows that long-term strategic thinking can bring about social change in a resource-oriented economy. Some of the requirements for such development appear to be access to the seas, social cohesiveness. Qatar is also a small country, so that means the country is looking outward for trade and investment.
Fromherz, A J 2017, Qatar Rise to Power and Influence, I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd, London.