Date of Graduation

Spring 2014


Master of Global Studies



Committee Chair

Dennis Hickey


Rentier states, rentierism, monarchies, omnibalancing, realism, Middle East, Arab Spring, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait

Subject Categories

International and Area Studies


This thesis explores the decision making process within Persian Gulf monarchies. Contrary to the popular narrative that Persian Gulf monarchies are governed by an absolute monarch, this thesis argues that key coalitions built by monarchies before the discovery of rent resources still impact the decision making process today. Omnibalancing, the theoretical framework that argues policy outcome should be evaluated on the basis of internal and external constraints on the actor is used to determine the key actors in each of the three case studies: Qatar, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. To test the relative salience of key determinants in the monarchies, the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is used as an inflection point. Domestic and foreign policies in each monarchy are evaluated for changes caused by the Arab Spring and salience levels in key actors. The hypothesis that changes in the salience level of key actors impact the decision making process was supported in the cases of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, with Qatar offering mixed results. The thesis concludes with a discussion on the limited explanatory power of omnibalancing for the Persian Gulf monarchies and future research options.


© Margaret Mae Kildegaard Petersen

Campus Only