The sizable financing provided by the Gulf countries, in particular Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Egypt since the popular uprising in 2011 led many observers to conclude that Gulf states have started using their vast resources to shape the region, direct political developments, and mold strategic relationships; in other words, the Gulf is now engaged in “geoeconomics”—the use of economic instruments to achieve geopolitical objectives.
But Gulf countries have in fact used geoeconomics instruments for several decades and their financing of Egypt following the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in January 2011 does not represent any kind of policy shift. Rather it is a continuation of a strategy they followed consistently in their relations with countries in the region, and on a few occasions with Western countries—in particular the United States. Their two main geoeconomics instruments? Oil and money.