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Security Politics in the Gulf Monarchies: Continuity Amid Change

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The Gulf monarchies—Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates—play crucial roles in world markets and politics. Their economies, which have traditionally been driven by oil revenues, have simultaneously propelled transformative change and preserved the traditional order. Fossil fuel wealth has underwritten an implicit social contract characterized by generous welfare states, ruler-centric politics, and a heavy state presence in the economy, facilitating stability during tumultuous times. However, as the transition toward renewable energy looms, will the Gulf monarchies be able to adapt?

David B. Roberts offers a definitive guide to continuity and change in the Gulf region. He explores the forces challenging and bolstering the status quo across the political, social, economic, military, and environmental dimensions of security. Roberts examines the six monarchies individually and holistically, considering their recent histories and contemporary concerns. Beneath wide-ranging changes affecting these countries, he pinpoints key dynamics and structures that have persisted over the long term. The book examines key topics such as generational change in leadership, migrant workers, female labor force participation, U.S. military influence, and the multifaceted threat of climate change. Roberts scrutinizes how a move away from the oil-centered economic model could reverberate across the social spectrum, with profound implications for security. Suitable for a range of courses and offering important new insights for experts, this book is an accessible and up-to-date overview of the politics of a key world region.


Dr David Roberts is a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) at King’s College London where he leads the twin-track Arabic and English Master of Research (MRes) programme in the School of Security Studies. Additionally, Dr Roberts is Adjunct Faculty at Science Po’s Paris School of International Affairs, a Non-Resident Fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute Washington, and the founder and commissioning editor for Cambridge University Press’s book series Elements in Middle East Politics. Previously, David taught for King’s at the Qatar Defence Academy, and he was the Director of the Gulf office of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security studies think-tank (RUSI Qatar). He obtained his PhD from Durham University.

Professor David Des Roches will act as discussant.

David Des Roches is an associate professor at the Near East South Asia Center for Security Studies. Prior to this, he was the director responsible for defense policy concerning Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Prior to this assignment, he has served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense as the DoD Liaison to the Department of Homeland Security, as the senior country director for Pakistan, as the NATO operations director, and as the deputy director for peacekeeping. His first job in government was as a special assistant for strategy and later as the international law enforcement analyst in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

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David Roberts

Senior Lecturer

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