Research Initiatives

Research Initiatives

The "Resource Curse" in the Gulf

This research initiative focuses on the veracity of the resource curse thesis explanation for many of the political, social, and economic dynamics in the region in the context of the current downward price cycle. It aims to examine the relationships between resource revenues and democracy; political and economic arrangements; states’ structural foundations and bureaucracies; policy-making; privatization efforts; occupational specialization, urbanization, and education; national security architecture; economic diversification; labor market demographics; regional and international cooperation; social and cultural changes; gender relations; art production; and identity.

Since 2014, the hydro-carbon sector, historically known for its repeated cycles of booming price highs and busting price lows, has been experiencing one of its deepest downturns not seen since the 1990s. The repercussions of this downturn on the oil and gas-dependent economies of the Persian Gulf states are considered to be significant. This impact is consequential not only because of changing economic circumstances of declining revenues and shrinking national budgets, but also because of the potential for leading to social and political instability. Scholars have long suggested that the enduring stability and persistence of authoritarian rule across the Persian Gulf is most likely a result of efforts made by the regional states to ensure the material and financial well-being of their citizens. If conditions were to change drastically and the states are unable to deliver broad social programs, pay hefty public sector salaries, and provide extensive benefits and subsidies, the populations of the Persian Gulf states could perhaps become less compliant.

Resource Curse

Mehran Kamrava, guest ed., "The 'Resource Curse' in the Persian Gulf," CIRS Special Issue of Journal of Arabian Studies 8.S1 (September 2018).

  • Click here to read about The “Resource Curse” in the Gulf Working Group I
  • Click here to read about The “Resource Curse” in the Gulf Working Group II

As part of its Research and Scholarship initiatives, CIRS organizes several ongoing Working Groups that convene in Doha to examine a variety of international issues. The primary purpose of CIRS research initiatives is to fill in existing research gaps, and to contribute towards furthering knowledge on the prevailing issues related to security, economic stability, and the political realm of the region. Each of these projects involves some of the most prominent scholars of the Middle East and the Gulf region. Each scholar participating will be working on a specific sub-topic, under the overarching subject.

The “Resource Curse” in the Gulf Working Group I