As President Obama prepares to travel to Saudi Arabia for a regional summit, several of the rulers he will meet are contending with dramatic changes at home. Plunging oil prices and soaring deficits are compelling Gulf countries to upend their decades-old social contract. In a region where government largesse has long ensured popular support, Saudi Arabia and others are implementing spending cuts and economic reforms, slashing subsidies for scholarships and building projects, and preparing to impose new taxes on citizens unaccustomed to paying them. The cuts haven’t (yet) constrained foreign policies of the region’s most active nations—Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar—but could soon.
The above excerpt was originally published in The National Interest.
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