Energy Kingdoms

Oil and Political Survival in the Persian Gulf

Jim Krane

Columbia University Press

Energy Kingdoms

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Pub Date: January 2019

ISBN: 9780231179300

224 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $32.00£25.00

Pub Date: January 2019

ISBN: 9780231548922

224 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $31.99£25.00

Energy Kingdoms

Oil and Political Survival in the Persian Gulf

Jim Krane

Columbia University Press

After the discovery of oil in the 1930s, the Gulf monarchies—Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Bahrain—went from being among the world’s poorest and most isolated places to some of its most ostentatiously wealthy. To maintain support, the ruling sheikhs provide their subjects with boundless cheap energy, unwittingly leading to some of the highest consumption rates on earth. Today, as summertime temperatures set new records, the Gulf’s rulers find themselves caught in a dilemma: can they curb their profligacy without jeopardizing the survival of some of the world’s last remaining absolute monarchies?

In Energy Kingdoms, Jim Krane takes readers inside the monarchies to consider the conundrum facing the Gulf states. He traces the history of their energy use and policies, looking in particular at how energy subsidies have distorted demand. Oil exports are the lifeblood of their political-economic systems—and the basis of their strategic importance—but domestic consumption has begun eating into exports while climate change threatens to render the region uninhabitable. At risk are the sheikhdoms’ way of life, their relations with their Western protectors, and their political stability in a chaotic region. Backed by rich fieldwork and deep knowledge of the region, Krane expertly lays out the hard choices that Gulf leaders face to keep their states viable.
Jim Krane is a marvelous storyteller, and his book provides one of the best views of the world of oil as lived by everyday Arab Persian Gulf citizens, not just policy wonks. In the process, he gores a few sacred cows of academia, like the rentier state theory or the condescending dismissal of local Gulf achievements. The book is a must for all who have an interest in the impact energy has on the societies of the Gulf—and by extension, on ours. Jean-François Seznec, senior fellow at the Global Energy Center, the Atlantic Council
Krane tackles a central question for the Gulf monarchies: can rulers change the reduce subsidies, amending the ‘rentier’ social contract, without losing popular support? While prevailing wisdom has long assumed the answer is “no”, Krane makes a convincing case that such adaptation is not just necessary but also possible. Deftly combining journalistic flair with scholarly rigor, Energy Kingdoms is essential reading for anyone interested in the political and economic future of the Gulf states. Gerd Nonneman, Georgetown University—Qatar

About the Author

Jim Krane is the Wallace S. Wilson Fellow for Energy Studies at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. He holds a Ph.D. from Cambridge University and is the author of City of Gold: Dubai and the Dream of Capitalism (2009). A former journalist, he was a correspondent for the Associated Press and has written for publications including the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and Financial Times.