Kuwait and Al-Sabah: Tribal Politics and Power in an Oil State by Rivka Azoulay
The Emirate of Kuwait hardly resembles the city-State it was at the start of the 20th century. The discovery of oil in 1938 rapidly transformed the tiny tribal sheikhdomof the Al-Sabah into a modern oil-producing state where, by the early 1980s, citizens were enjoying one of the highest standards of living in the world. While much has been written on the reasons why and how the Al-Sabah became a ruling dynasty, little is known about the nature of their authority and its relationship to Kuwait's social structure. Rivka Azoulay shows how despite the rapidity of change in the oil-rich, family-run emirate, it is the pre-oil dynamics of social and political life that dictate how society operates. The author shows that Kuwait's ambitious diversification plans to reduce oil-dependence by 2035 require a renegotiation of the regime's pact with society, which threatens the pre-oil alliances upon which the Al-Sabah's regime has been built.