However, it is possible, as Miller shows, to take a highly nuanced view on this rapid transition. Despite their cultural and economic similarities, these countries have significantly distinctive identities, and have experienced vastly different trajectories. Qatar is not Kuwait, Bahrain is not Oman, the UAE is internally very different from even itself, and no other country in the world is anything like Saudi Arabia.
Miller goes through their respective histories in fine detail, exploring the local, regional, and international incidents over the past four decades which have shaped this part of the world, their fortunes frequently as volatile as the oil price on which they are so heavily dependent. Whether because of neighbours (Iran, Iraq, etc.) resorting to violence, the crumbling of the global financial system, or oil prices hitting rock bottom, the Gulf has time and again shuddered with ramifications, whether positive or negative. The irony is that for most Gulf countries, stability has been valued above all else, hence the measured responses to the ‘Arab Spring’, which toppled regimes in North Africa, but wilted in the Gulf.
Certainly the Gulf states are not blind to the changing of the winds, and reform is an accepted policy across the region, the need to adapt to a new, post-oil age, one which does not end in societal collapse. Sustainability is key here, creating new economies and societies that can stand the test of time, instead of collapsing as fast as they rose. Then, Miller explains, these new desert kingdoms may truly become global powers.