The Geopolitics of Energy Transitions in Arab Gulf States
The energy-based political economies of the Arab Gulf States are entering a period of significant change as a combination of domestic challenges and regional tensions intersect with the rise of a new generation of more assertive leadership. Officials in all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have adopted long-term strategic plans designed to bring about and ease the transition to economies in which hydrocarbons would assume a smaller, yet still critical, role. This paper examines some of the broader geopolitical trends which have emerged in recent years to form the unexpected new parameters within which the energy and economic transitions will now take place. These include the enduring blockade of Qatar by neighboring states, the unpredictability and volatility of U.S. actions and policy objectives in the region, and the vulnerability of critical infrastructure to asymmetrical and unconventional attacks. Together, these factors have reshaped threat perceptions and this paper will conclude by analyzing the impact of these trends on the next phase of development in region wide energy sectors and markets.