Qatar: A Modern History

By DiMeo, David D. | Military Review, July-August 2014 | Go to article overview

Qatar: A Modern History


DiMeo, David D., Military Review


QATAR: A Modern History

Allen J. Fromherz, Georgetown University Press, Washington, DC, 2012, 204 pages, $29.95

Few would challenge Allen Fromherz's contention that the tiny state of Qatar is "able to pack a punch far beyond its weight." With less than 250,000 citizens, Qatar changed Arabic news media, served as an international mediator, and is a key regional ally of the United States. Fromherz's challenge is to prove that Qatar is not simply a "classic rentier state," living off its massive oil and gas wealth, but possibly, "a new model of modernity"

"Rather than following the typical course of angst and anomie normally associated with rapid modernization," Qatar has forged its own unique "neo-traditional" identity. Fromherz's study focuses on the ruling al-Thani family, and particularly the current (at the time of publication) emir. Sheikh Hamad's adroit balancing of internal and external powers strives to shield Qatar from the reckoning that the author believes is inevitably coming to the Gulf monarchies. Historically appealing to British, Iranian, and later U.S. interests, the al-Thani family has avoided the extremes of the ostentatious consumerism of the United Arab Emirates; softened, while ostensibly maintaining the Wahhabism of the Saudis; and provided strong support to the United States, while placating Iran a short distance across the Gulf. Equally impressive has been the al-Thani's complicated relations with the clans and families inside Qatar, which Fromherz analyzes in a detailed, tribe-by-tribe manner. Through it all, the al-Thani family comes across as benevolent and savvy, yet powerful rulers. …

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