953: Qatar by Mehran Kamrava

by Gerard


953.63: Kamrava, Mehran. Qatar: Small State, Big Politics. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2013. 174 pp. ISBN 978-0-8014-5209-3.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 900: History and Geography
  • 950: History of Asia
  • 953: History of the Arabian Peninsula and adjacent areas
  • 953.6: Persian Gulf States
  • 953.63: Qatar

Qatar is a small, peninsular country on the Arabian coast. Inhabited by under 2 million people, it has grown immensely in the wake of the Middle East oil boom, and is now a big player on both the political and economic landscape of the region. Mehran Kamrava’s Qatar details the multifaceted history of the country since it gained independence in 1971. It’s a short book and covers the modern history of the peninsula, the somewhat complicated politics of the region, and the events that led to Qatar’s massive economic growth.

I learned a great deal about the small powerhouse that is Qatar. There’s a lot of names and dates to remember, but the overall message is that Qatar is poised for a good future of political and social stability as well as economic growth. If Qatar can continue its current political trend and learn to survive without depending so heavily on oil revenues, then this message will bear out. The beneficial political landscape in Qatar is mainly due to a lack of severe religious splitting amongst the people as well as a large population of expatriates tempering potential nationalist tendencies. The leaders also go a decent job of maintaining diplomatic relationships with many different countries even under times of duress.

One of the main flaws of this book is that the author keeps telling you what he’s going to tell you. The book would be a bit shorter if he just got to the point sometimes. At times this book reads like a long infomercial for the country, but Kamrava makes sure to address a few of Qatar’s flaws as well. There’s a bit of animosity for the United States’ involvement in the region, but it isn’t pervasive in the writing. All in all, it was an interesting read about a much-overlooked country.