This commentary was published in The Foreign Policy on 31/05/2011
The reaction in the Arab Gulf Countries (GCC) monarchies to the uprisings coursing through the Arab world has leaned heavily toward the politics of patronage. Saudi Arabia, Oman, and even Bahrain have met political challenges in part with lavish financial inducements to key sectors of society. Such soft counter-revolutionary strategies seem astute in the short run, as they buy allegiance instead of breeding resentment, and allow regimes to avoid the international opprobrium which comes with undue violence. In the long run, however, they threaten to undermine not only the fiscal sustainability of GCC regimes, but also their strategies to integrate their national populations into a diversifying economy.