Qatar: Small state, big politics


Qatar has fewer than two million inhabitants, virtually no potable water, and has been an independent nation only since 1971. Yet its enormous oil and gas wealth has permitted the ruling al Thani family to exert a disproportionately large influence on regional and even international politics. Qatar is, as Mehran Kamrava explains in this incisive account of the emirate, a “tiny giant”. Although severely lacking in most measures of state power, it is highly influential in diplomatic, cultural, and economic spheres. In “Qatar: Small state, big politics” Kamrava presents Qatar as an experimental country, building a new society while exerting what he calls “subtle power.” It is both the headquarters of media network Al Jazeera and the site of the U.S. Central Command’s Forward Headquarters and the Combined Air Operations Center. Qatar was a major player during the European financial crisis, has become a showplace for renowned architects, has several U.S. university campuses, and will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Qatar’s effective use of its subtle power challenges how we understand the role of small states in the global system. With its outsized influence on regional and international affairs, the book is a critical and timely account of contemporary Qatari politics and society.

Mehran Kamrava