Between Caution and Controversy: Lessons from the Gulf Arab States as (Re-)emerging Donors

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the Cambridge Review of International Affairs, Volume 25, Issue 4, December 2012. A paid subscription is required to access.


The history of Gulf donorship, its trajectory and underlying motivations, continues to be an understudied aspect of foreign aid. While the Gulf Arab states are not new donors, their manner of regional coordination, branding, and aid management are distinct. Often helping fellow countries of the South, particularly Arab and Muslim countries, these countries have moved towards stronger private sector involvement and into social spending programmes. Owing to their oil wealth, Gulf Arab states’ are increasingly generous and yet they are also cautious after 9/11 about how and by whom their aid is channelled. Nevertheless, with oscillations in oil prices, continued controversy over rising Islamism post-Arab-Spring, the future of Gulf aid remains a valuable subject of study.

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