CONCLUSION
R E A S S E S S I N G G U L F S T U D I E S
citizenship, democracy, and the political
As with most ethnography, a great deal occurs in an anthropologist’s field
site between the time of research and the time when that research finally
becomes an artifact of knowledge production. It is no surprise, then, that
the Gulf Arab States and the Middle East more generally have changed sig-
nificantly since 2006, when I conducted the bulk of the fieldwork repre-
sented in this book. Since the global economic downturn of 2008, the car-
tography of development, migration, and urban life has shifted in many
Gulf cities. And more recently, widespread activism throughout the Mid-
dle East—commonly referred to as the Arab Spring—has toppled govern-
ments, produced new politicizations, and displaced thousands of people
from countries as far apart as Egypt and Bahrain.∞ Despite these enormous
changes and the impacts they have had on the daily lives of residents in the
Gulf—both citizen and noncitizen—media representations and academic
scholarship continue in many ways to rehearse tropes of spectacle, excep-
tionalism, and unbridled capitalism in their analyses of the relationship of
Gulf States and their residents to these larger regional and global shifts. I
am writing the conclusion of this book, for example, in Doha, Qatar, a city
that has in a way become the center of the Arab world because it hosts the
headquarters of Al-Jazeera, the most popular English and Arabic source of
news about the region. Ironically, Qatar itself is largely absent from discus-
sions surrounding the Arab Spring, for it has been proclaimed by pundits
and Middle East scholars to be one of the places most ‘‘protected,’’ along
with the United Arab Emirates, from the civil unrest spreading across the
region. This prediction is attributed to Qatar’s authoritarian government
and its supposedly complacent population of wealthy citizens, two condi-
tions political economists most often associate with rentier states. Recent
coverage of the country mirrors that of Dubai at the beginning of the mil-
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