Qabila in the 21st Century

The Role of Tribes in the Domestic Politics of the Gulf

Principal Investigator: Dr Courtney Freer
Duration: January 2017–January 2019

Camels crossing sign in Qatar, Philip Lange /

This research project analyses the political role of tribes within Gulf societies, often described as intensely tribal. It seeks to answer critical questions about the degree to which tribes hinder or advance popular participation in government, as well as to reveal how and to what extent tribes exert domestic political power. By constructing political histories of major tribes and analysing their role in domestic political life, this study shows the means in which tribes serve as major political actors in the small Gulf states, beginning with case studies of Kuwait and Qatar.

Principal Investigator


Courtney Freer

Courtney is Research Fellow at the Kwuait Programme, LSE Middle East Centre.




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