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Economics Middle East


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies.


This course examines the economy/ies of the contemporary Middle East. It seeks to provide students with a comprehensive overview of the political economy of the region and its economic conditions and equip them to analyse these in a sound and critical manner. The course begins with a broad overview of the ways scholars have conceptualized Middle East economy and an exploration of the economic history of the region. It then tackles particular economic concerns in a thematic way, connecting these with the pertinent historical framework while rooting the discussion in relevant theoretical debates.


  1. Introduction: Conceptualising the Middle East Economy – Richards and Waterbury, Introduction – Hanieh, Chapter 1 – Djavad Salahi-Isfahani, “Rethinking Human Development in the Middle East and North Africa: The Missing Dimension,” Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Vol. 13, Issue 3, 2013: 341-370 – Giacomo Luciani, “Oil and Political Economy in the International Relations of the Middle East,” Ch. 4 in Lousie Fawcett (ed), International Relations of the Middle East (Oxford University Press, 2005), pp 79-102.

  2. Framing the Middle East Economy: Economic History and Development – Richards and Waterbury, Chapter 2 – Hanieh, Chapter 2

  3. Patterns of Economic Growth – Richards and Waterbury, Chapter 3 – TBA

  4. The State and the Economy – Richards and Waterbury, Chapters 7-8 and 13.

  5. Charting Neoliberalism – Richards and Waterbury, Chapter 9 – Hanieh, Chapter 3

  6. Economic Nationalism and Solidarism – Richards and Waterbury, Chapters 11 and 12 – Hanieh, Chapter 5

  7. Demographic Change and Labour Markets – Richards and Waterbury, Chapters 4, 5, 10, and 15

  8. Agrarian Change, Water, and Food Security – Richards and Waterbury, Chapter 6 – Hanieh, Chapter 4

  9. Oil and Rentierism
    Required: – Hazem Beblawi, “The Rentier State in the Middle East,” in Giacomo Luciani (ed), The Arab State (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1990), pp 85-98 – Review Richards and Waterbury, Chapter 3, pp 50-57 – Michael Herb, “No Representation without Taxation? Rents, Development, and Democracy,” Comparative Politics, Vol. 37, No. 3 (April 2005), pp 297-316
    Recommended: – Giacomo Luciani, “Allocation versus Production States: A Theoretical Framework,” in Luciani (ed), The Arab State, 1990

  10. Gulf Hydrocarbon Wealth, FDI, and Aid – Hanieh, Chapter 6 – Bessma Momani and Crystal A. Ennis. “Between Caution and Controversy: Lessons from the Gulf Arab States as (Re)Emerging Donors.” Cambridge Review of International Affairs. Volume 25, Issue 4, 2012: 605-627 – Bessma Momani, “Shifting Gulf Arab Investments into the Mashreq: Underlying Political Economy Rationales?” in Matteo Legrenzi and Bessma Momani (eds), Shifting Geo-Economic Power of the Gulf: Oil, Finance, and Institutions. Fanham and Burlington: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2011:

  11. (A) Islam and the Economy – Richards and Waterbury, Chapter 14 – TBA
    (B) Gender and the Economy – “Overview,” in Gender and Development in the Middle East and North Africa: Women in the Public Sphere. Washington: The World Bank: 2004. (Recommended to read full document – at least skim). – TBA

  12. The Financial Crisis and the Uprisings – Hanieh, Chapter 7 – TBA

Course objectives

Evaluate the course of capitalism throughout the region
Examine legacies of imperialism and their impact on current economic and political conditions
Deepen understanding of demographic challenges and opportunities
Articulate the costs and benefits of import-substitution industrialisation, neoliberalism, state-led capitalism
Discuss the impact of oil on the region and understand the resource curse debate
Examine income stagnation, poverty, and rising unemployment
Explore gender inequities in the region and the potential development benefits of closing the gender gap
Interpret the region’s economy in both state/civil society and state/class paradigms


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website

Mode of instruction

Lecture and tutorials

Attending lectures and tutorials is compulsory. If you are not able to attend a lecture or tutorial, please inform the tutor of the course. Being absent without notification can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the final exam or essay.

Course Load

Total course load for this course is 5 EC x 28 hours is 140 hours, broken down by:

  • 12 lectures: 24 hours

  • 4 tutorials: 8 hours

  • Preparation lectures and tutorials: 44 hours

  • Prrepation exams: 64 hours

Assessment method

Tutorials 30%
Midterm Exam 30%
Final Exam 40%

If the final grade is insufficient (lower than a 6), there is the possibility of retaking the full 70% of the exam material, replacing both the earlier mid- and endterm grades. No resit for the tutorials is possible.


Blackboard will be used. Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

Alan Richards and John Waterbury. A Political Economy of the Middle East, 3rd Edition. Boulder: Westview Press, 2008
Adam Hanieh. Lineages of Revolt: Issues of Contemporary Capitalism in the Middle East. Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2013.
Other course readings are available in electronic format through the library website or from other online sources. Other materials will be available through the course Blackboard page.


Students are requested to register through uSis, the registration system of Leiden University for this course. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. C.A. Ennis, email

For tutorials Middle East:

Economics Middle East