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State-business relations and employment nationalization policy in the Persian Gulf

Final Activity Report Summary - CRAMGULF (State-business relations and employment nationalisation policy in the Persian Gulf)

This research project concentrated on the economic and social transformation experienced by the states of Bahrain and Oman in the last decade. The transformation was caused by the ending of the rent-based welfare state model in the Persian Gulf. The two countries are viewed as laboratories of reform policies implemented to address the challenges of socio-political and economic sustainability in the post-oil social and economic context.

As originally planned, two dimensions were envisaged: first, a comprehensive panorama of the most important economic actors in Bahrain and Oman; and second, coverage of the policies implemented by these governments. The latter was in term of: 1) indigenisation of jobs; 2) economic liberalisation and privatisation; and 3) economic diversification in a post-oil strategy of development. This strategy was pursued, with careful analysis of both dimensions. The comparative and multi-disciplinary approach adopted, decisively inserted into the broader debate on the stability and durability of authoritarian regimes in the Middle East, brought new perspectives on the correlation between state-business relationships and political stability, and on the challenges to political legitimacy induced by the current structural reforms. Data were collected during a wide series of interviews conducted in Bahrain and Oman with local political, economic and social actors. A substantial part of the results of this research concerning Oman is included in my monograph published in September 2009 and entitled Oman. Politics and Society in the Qaboos-State (London: Hurst; New York: Columbia University Press).

Moreover, I have presented preliminary and consolidated results of the research on both countries in international conferences in Europe and the Middle East. I have published one peer-reviewed article and two chapters in collective books, while an article was accepted by the most important American peer-reviewed journal on the Middle East and is to be published in April 2010 (for the complete list of publications and invited presentations, see attachment). A fundamental step of this research is the publication of a paper conceived as the academic final result of this comparative study; this article is currently in preparation and will be submitted to a leading English-language peer-reviewed journal in spring 2010. Besides this, I participated substantially in teaching and doctoral student training over the two years I spent at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies.

I delivered a total of 72 hours of lectures and training courses, from an Undergraduate Level-2 module taught in 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 to several Master's level modules co-taught in 2008-2009 within the Gulf Studies Programme and two Master's Dissertations on Oman and the UAE supervised. From this point of view, the research project itself benefited greatly from my intensive involvement in teaching and supervision responsibilities which considerably enriched my previously French-only teaching experience and gave me the opportunity to be, from the first day of the fellowship, fully integrated into the host institution by feeling the trust put on me and by exchanging with doctoral students and colleagues.