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Research Report

Qatar:: The Limits of Nouveau Riche Diplomacy

Gil Feiler
Hayim Zeev
Copyright Date: Apr. 1, 2017
Pages: 61

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. 1-4)
  2. (pp. 5-6)
  3. (pp. 7-8)
    Gil Feiler and Hayim Zeev
  4. (pp. 9-11)
    Gil Feiler and Hayim Zeev

    Qatar has made a name for itself in the new millennium. Its AAA-rated economic rise has been as indisputable as its diplomatic activity has been contentious.

    The tiny (4,473 sq mi/11,586 km²) emirate reflects the influence of many elements — deep-rooted Bedouin tribalism, conservative Islam, and, most significantly, enormous wealth, the product, to a certain extent, of certain risky commercial decisions taken in the 1990s to develop its enormous oil and gas reserves.

    Qatar has shown truly disruptive entrepreneurial leadership. It has launched and subsidized the global media giant Al Jazeera, poured billions into its unrivalled liquefied natural gas (LNG)...

  5. (pp. 11-28)

    Qatar’s diplomacy is intertwined with its economic miracle. The emirate has the world’s third-largest reserves of natural gas — but because it has the most sophisticated liquefied natural gas (LNG) infrastructure in the world,² it is the world’s largest gas exporter.³ Qatar achieved this status after decades of investment, risk-taking, substantial capital expenditure on maintenance,⁴ and the raising of more than US$100 billion in long-term debt from dozens of countries.⁵

    Qatar exports LNG across the globe: its largest customers include the United Kingdom, India, Japan, and other countries in southeast Asia.⁶ The emirate has invested strongly in gas-to-liquids (GTL) production...

  6. (pp. 28-44)

    In his 2011 work The Future of Power, Joseph Nye coined the terms “hard” and “soft” power, defining power as the ability to influence the behavior of others to get the outcomes you want. “Hard power” is characterized by military options, including coercion via threat and financial inducement. According to Nye, a country's “soft power” rests on three resources: "its culture (in places where it is attractive to others), its political values (when it lives up to them at home and abroad), and its foreign policies (when others see them as legitimate and having moral authority).”75 Soft power co-opts rather...

  7. (pp. 44-46)

    In the economic realm, Qatar has proven a responsible member of the global order. In the diplomatic sphere, by contrast, the emirate has shown itself to be erratic.

    Qatar has an entrepreneurial leadership and its relative power has grown inexorably since the coup that brought Sheikh Hamad to power in 1995. The country’s development of its LNG infrastructure has required vision and flexibility and the resulting long-term LNG contracts with partners in Japan, Asia, Europe and the US have made it a respected energy superpower.

    Economically, Qatar has earned a place next to the dynamic UAE and differentiated itself from...

  8. (pp. 47-59)
  9. (pp. 60-60)