A Quest for Significance: How Gulf Oil Monarchies Leverage Their Wealth to Acquire International Status

Friday, 3 July 2015: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
TW1.1.04 (Tower One)
Steffen Hertog, LSE, London, United Kingdom
This paper will document how the oil monarchies of the Arabian Peninsula have been using their oil wealth to buy the accoutrements of “good citizenship” and progressiveness in the international arena through outward-oriented and costly activities like targeted overseas investments in high-profile companies, the financing of internationally active charities, the building of international museums and universities, and the hosting of high-profile humanitarian conferences and international organizations. These projects have been undertaken with heavy involvement of international partners, consultants and contractors and have an audience that’s almost exclusively international. The paper will explain how they reflect a desire to comply with Western-defined “liberal” international norms and tastes, and to acquire a semblance of post-oil statehood that would give the Gulf monarchies international recognition independent of their role as hydrocarbons producers. The strategy will be contrasted with Gulf countries’ continued limited integration into international civil and human rights regimes that can be seen as politically rather than economically costly. It will also be briefly contrasted with the strategies of other oil states like Iran, Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela, Libya under Gaddafi, and Russia, which have leveraged resource wealth to disassociate themselves from the US-dominated international capitalist and liberal order, while trying to build up alternative (“South-South”) regimes and alliances.