The United Arab Emirates: Modernity and Traditionalism in Petroleum Sector Management

  • Martin Hvidt


The Emirate of Abu Dhabi possesses 94% of the UAE’s hydrocarbon resources. As this chapter explains, the current decision-making system in Abu Dhabi relies on the traditional tribal system of rule—with highly exclusive decision-making processes in which only the members of ruling family and their closest associates play a role. There is hardly any public debate around the development of the petroleum sector, or even in relation to the introduction of nuclear power in the country. The only public debate concerns consumer prices on petrol and diesel. This is in line with long-established practices, whereby both external consultants and foreign oil companies holding concessions in the country provide expert advice to decision-makers. Abu Dhabi has accumulated one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, which is invested broadly and profitably, including in the development of Dubai, the main international city in the UAE. The UAE also invests heavily in renewable energy: it has financed the construction of the Masdar low-carbon city and hosts the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).


UAE Abu Dhabi Natural resources Oil Gas Petroleum governance Civil society Decision-making Renewable energy Subsidies Tribal rule 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Hvidt
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Contemporary Middle East StudiesUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdenseDenmark
  2. 2.Former (2013–2016) Professor at Zayed UniversityDubaiUAE

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