Along the Kuwaiti-Saudi Border, Stability Is Built on Flexibility

Author
Bader Al-Saif
Content Type
Working Paper
Institution
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Abstract
Over time, the Kuwait-Saudi border has developed a unique, flexible approach of firm physical boundaries but open economic boundaries. This approach allows both countries to resolve border disputes, such as an oil-related dispute from 2009 to 2019, but more investment could further strengthen Kuwait-Saudi ties. In a divided zone along their border, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have introduced a flexible arrangement based on a rigid physical border and a fluid economic border. This flexibility, leading to the co-management and equal profit sharing of hydrocarbons, has largely averted conflict. It rests on constructive ambiguity and avoidance of direct confrontation. The approach has its challenges but showed its merit in 2009–2019 when the two resolved a major dispute over the zone.
Topic
Political stability, Conflict, Borders, Investment
Political Geography
Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Gulf Nations