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South Arabian Geopolitics: Omani visions of a post-oil economy

Authors: Feras Klenk*, University of Arizona
Topics: Political Geography, Economic Geography, Middle East
Keywords: Oman, Middle East, Geo-Politics
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The Sultanate of Oman has recently initiated its latest development plan Oman vision 2040 to decisively shift the national economy away from oil and gas towards knowledge production via technological leapfrogging. The official desire here is to create an entrepreneurial oriented society who is actively involved in private economic activities that generate value. Although not spoken loudly, the geopolitical dimension of Oman’s development plans are never far from the surface. Oman’s friendly rivalry with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), inter-state rivalry between the GCC States and Iran, and the on-going civil war in Yemen have placed pressure on the Omani state to maintain it’s territorial sovereignty. Moreover, these geopolitical worries are entangled with affective anxieties around peak oil and the health of Sultan whose physical body symbolically represents the “health” of the nation-state. Using Tanfeedh (implementation), a program for national economic diversification, as a case study, will critically explore the entanglement between the economic and the political in the Persian Gulf context.

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