Academic Papers

Politics of Energy in the Gulf Countries

Previous Western interference and misconceptions surrounding the Middle East are associated with problems and implications. The West has notably portrayed the Middle East as inhibiting violence, poverty, barbarism, oil sheikhs and acts of terror closely correlated with their culture, geopolitical standing and religion. These depictions dramatically increased after the 9/11 attacks, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The Western media constantly perpetuates the idea of ‘us’ vs ‘them’ or ‘others’ attitude. Tony Blair could exemplify the importance of the implications of prejudice in his report on Global Change, highlighting the discrimination directed at people from the Middle East and the need to replace the ‘myths and misconceptions with genuine understanding’. This highlights the importance of understanding and re-evaluating the detrimental effects of active separation or regarding people(s) as ‘others’ in such a way. 

The Middle East has been subject to influence from the Western and Eastern worlds. For example, the US influence Saudi Arabia by supporting security assistance organisations, the Ministry of Defence, the National Guard and the Ministry of Interior. Russia’s role in supplying Syria with arms and equipment and the deployment of troops permanently There are also many controversies between Western and Middle Eastern ideals, such as the topic of Human Rights. 

The discovery of oil in Iran (1908) and later in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, and UAE would boost their overall economies. According to Adam Hanieh, these countries later became important actors in the world economy.  

One-third of global oil production comes from the Middle East. It is also interesting to note that as of 2022, the Middle East’s crude oil replaces Russia’s supplies to Europe as Moscow shifts their supplies toward Asia (China and India). 

The threat of the world turning away from oil as an energy source could mean that the economics of the Middle East will thus change. 

 Middle Eastern oil may become less desirable as the world shifts to meet climate goals and alternative means of energy become more inexpensive. This could pose a significant threat due to their estimated 923 oil fields accounting for 40% of the world’s proven oil reserves. This abundance of oil, combined with the possibility of less demand, would fluctuate prices and begin to decrease, alongside the US’s increase in oil production could pose a threat to the Middle East.

Whatever the situation with energy production, supplies and prices, the Middle East or, instead, the Persian Gulf Countries continue to be a significant actor in the world economy for the time being. 

Shannon Nicole  Perkins, BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations 

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