Securing the Global Ambitions of a City-State

January 2017 9781849043250 356pp
EU Customers


Rarely has a state changed its character so completely in so short a period of time. Previously content to play a role befitting its small size, Qatar was a traditional, risk-averse Gulf monarchy until the early 1990s.

A bloodless coup in 1995 brought to power an emerging elite with a progressive vision for the future. Financed by gas exports and protected by a US security umbrella, Qatar diversified its foreign relations to include Iran and Israel, established the satellite broadcaster Al Jazeera, assumed a leading role in international mediation, and hosted a number of top-level sporting tournaments, culminating in the successful FIFA World Cup 2022 bid.

Qatar’s disparate, often misunderstood, policies coalesce to propagate a distinct brand. Whether to counter regional economic competitors or to further tie Qatar to the economies of the world’s leading countries, this brand is designed innovatively to counter a range of security concerns; in short, Qatar is diversifying its dependencies.

Qatar’s prominent role in the Arab Spring follows a similar pattern, yet the gamble it is taking in supporting Islamists and ousting dictators is potentially dangerous: not only is it at risk from ‘blowback’ in dealing with such actors, but a lack of transparency means that clichés and assumptions threaten to derail ‘brand Qatar’.


‘In this highly informative book, Roberts (King’s College London) explains Qatar’s global ambitions and analyzes potential pitfalls that lie ahead. … Highly recommended.’ — Choice magazine

‘I found this book to be one of the most gripping reads of the year.’ — Bloomberg

‘This is an ambitious and original attempt to describe, assess and explain the Qatar phenomenon by examining the country’s policies in the context of an overall strategy of regime and state security, including “branding”. It adds very considerably to the literature, which remains thin on the ground when it comes to Qatar, and makes a compelling, well-structured case.’ — Gerd Nonneman, Dean of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar

‘This book is a revelation: it provides a sophisticated and long overdue examination of the spectrum of Qatar’s foreign relations, and how the tiny state is seeking to carve an oversized place in the regional and global international order. A great many readers will find much of use herein: for scholars, the book is a unique contribution to the debate about Middle Eastern foreign relations, state “branding”, and the role of institutions such as media – the author dwells in some depth on Al-Jazeera, for example – while for practitioners, businesspeople, and others, the book shines a light on, and does much to explain, the complexities of this tiny but highly-influential state.’ — Matthew Gray, Professor of Public Policy at the Australian National University and Director of the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods


David B Roberts joined the Defence Studies Department at King’s College London in October 2013 and is based at the Royal College of Defence Studies (RCDS). He was previously the Director of the Qatar office of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI Qatar). He was awarded a PhD by the University of Durham for a thesis examining Qatar's foreign policy.  

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