When most Westerners think of the Gulf, the first thing that comes to mind is often oil. However, as Adam Hanieh demonstrates in Money, Markets, and Monarchies: The Gulf Cooperation Council and the Political Economy of the Contemporary Middle East
(Cambridge UP, 2018), the economies of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, and Kuwait are about more than just the “black gold.” Conglomerates and state-owned firms from this region have become major players throughout the Middle East and the broader global economies in sectors like agribusiness, finance, real estate, and logistics. In the process, processes of class and state formation in the Gulf have become inextricably tied up with political and economic developments in the broader Middle East, as the valorization of Gulf oil surpluses has come to depend on access to markets for land (both urban and rural) throughout the region. Hanieh analyzes how the Gulf states’ quest for food security in the wake of the food price increases of the late 2000s has affected agrarian class relations in Egypt and other countries, how Gulf capital has contributed to market-led remaking of cities throughout the region, and how Gulf control of Arab state financial reserves has given GCC countries tremendous geopolitical and economic leverage over their neighbors.
Furthermore, Hanieh shows that the boundary between public and private interests in the Gulf states is blurred by the close relationships between wealthy private businesses and patrimonial monarchies, and capital accumulation in the region depends on the hyper-exploitation of foreign guest workers, who can easily be deported if they demand higher wages or go on strike. Money, Markets, and Monarchies
dispels widespread myths about the political economies of the Gulf while providing a distinct vantage point for exploring the complex geographies of global capitalism.