Georgetown Professor Explores the Rise of Gulf Countries in a New Book

How have the countries of the Arab Gulf transformed from small states into major international powers? A new book by Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) Professor Rory Miller aims to explain and explore the rapid progress in the region in a way that is easy for new readers to understand. In his book Desert Kingdoms to Global Powers: The Rise of the Arab Gulf, Miller places the countries in their international context as a group of economic, financial, diplomatic, and security players on the world stage. He takes readers through important events from the 1970s up until the present day, and considers the factors that will influence the future course of these countries. Each chapter tells a standalone story of key events, while also adding to a growing and shared narrative. Miller, who is an expert in Gulf politics and international affairs, has long been interested in the remarkable changes the region has experienced in the last few decades. The idea for the book developed after an editor from Yale heard him presenting a paper on the topic in 2012. “Coming from a small state – Ireland – I have always been fascinated by how small states function in the world. And there are few more interesting small states than those of the Arab Gulf,” explained Miller. “My primary objective from the outset was to make this story accessible to the non-expert – someone who is interested in politics and current affairs, and even curious about the Gulf, but doesn’t know a huge amount about how the region has got to the place it has in the past decades.” While telling the stories of a number of different countries in just one volume can be challenging, Miller designated space to explore each state in the book. He focused on how a key nation led the way, or was concerned with a particular issue. This allowed for stories about each to emerge and also provided the opportunity for comparison and contrast between neighbors and partners across the Gulf. The author hopes that the book provides readers with “a new understanding of how fascinating the history and contemporary reality of this region is,” and the scale of the challenges that its leaders have faced up to now and must navigate going forward. “I hope readers also come away with a sense of just how many things the region’s rulers still have to do in order to consolidate their progress so far, and to sustain their long term goals of development, modernization stability, and prosperity,” he said. Desert Kingdoms to Global Powers is Miller’s ninth book to date. The scholar, who teaches courses on international relations and European intervention in the Middle East at GU-Q, has published extensively on topics including the politics of small states and the international history of the Middle East.