This essay focuses on the political and economic history of three countries in the Arab Gulf region – the United Arab Emirates (UAE, including Dubai), Oman, and Qatar. Dubai has an enormous foreign debt ($80 billion) with meager earnings from hydrocarbons. Oman has limited oil and gas reserves and must diversify quickly into tourism, horticulture, and petro-chemicals. Qatar has the brightest outlook, because its natural gas reserves could last for 200 years at current production levels. I wrote these lectures for a Stanford Travel/Studyprogram, Emirates and Sultanates, March 2014.
I begin with Dubai – free-port entrepreneurship that set the stage for rapid growth, diversification from gas-based heavy industry to light manufacturing, finance, real estate, and tourism, and vulnerability to global recession. I then look at Oman – early trade routes in the Western Indian Ocean, British colonization, and prosperity under Sultan Qaboos. I move on to Qatar – the world’s richest country, control by Al-Thani rulers, and an aggressive foreign policy. I close by analyzing world petroleum – the rise of OPEC and the gyrations in oil prices since 1973. I append a time line, a bibliography, and description of sites that I visited in the UAE, Oman, and Qatar.
Emirates and Sultanates, Inside Dubai, Oman, and Qatar, Burj Khalifa,Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island. Sharjah and Al-Ain, Sohar and Nakhal, Oman, Muscat, Nizwa, Doha, Riyadh and Mada’in Salih, Saudi Arabia, Aboard a TCS and Starquest Expeditions Jet, Airplane-based