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Perpetuating the Rentier State: Patrimonialism in a Globalized World

Author: Ahmet O. Evin, Manfred Hafner, Simone Tagliapietra

Paper | Oct 2014

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During the quarter century since the rentier state theory was first articulated, a great deal has changed in respect to the economies of the energy-producing countries of the Gulf. They have not only grown much richer but also adopted sophisticated means for governing their finances and have become significant players in global financial markets. Moreover, they have begun planning for the time when they would run out of hydrocarbon reserves by directing, like Norway, a significant portion of their rents into Sovereign Wealth Funds. Connected to all continents from its several hubs and boasting some of the largest airlines in the world, the Gulf is no longer at the periphery but constitutes one of the significant centers at the global crossroads. After these tremendous changes, however, do the energy-producing states of the Gulf region still remain as rentier states? This paper examines whether the rentier state exists today according to the criteria formulated by Hazem Beblawi and Giacomo Luciani some 25 years ago and whether it is possible to sharpen the definition of the rentier state with the benefit of hindsight.

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