Rents and Protests in the Sultanate of Oman




Johnson, Eric B

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This thesis uses rentier state theory (RST) as a framework for understanding the origins of the protest movement in the Sultanate of Oman during the so-called Arab Uprisings. The discussion will focus on the evolution of RST, historic and cultural factors related to the Sultanate’s modern development, and the unique characteristics of Oman’s political economy, especially during the 2003 to 2013 timeframe. It will argue the rentier state model has led to dual dependencies: oil for revenue and expatriates for labor. These dual dependencies have created real economic conditions that differ substantially from the publicly stated goals of the Omani government and have led to the grievances expressed by Omanis during the 2011 protest movement. Using a mixed methods approach and relying on original in-country research conducted by the author from April to June 2014, the research will demonstrate the protest movement occurred not simply because of a region-wide contagion effect, but because of the underlying characteristics defining Oman’s political economy.



Oman, Rentier state, Arab uprisings, Protest movement, Sultan Qaboos, Middle East