Podcast Episode 1 – Interview with Prof. Giacomo Luciani on Economic Diversification


On our inaugural episode, IEI’s research fellow and associate editor Yesar Al-Maleki meets with Prof. Giacomo Luciani, the co-director of the Executive Master in Oil and Gas Leadership at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. Also, the Scientific Director of the Master in International Energy of the Paris School of International Affairs at Sciences-Po and a Princeton University Global Scholar attached to the Woodrow Wilson School and the Department of Near Eastern Studies. Luciani’s research interests include Political economy of the Middle East and North Africa and Geopolitics of energy. His work has focused primarily on the economic and political dynamics of rentier states and issues of development in the GCC countries. His works “The Rentier State (with H. Beblawi in 1987)” and “The Arab State (in 1989)” are fundamental reads for understanding the political economy of Arab oil states.

This conversation has covered the basics of what defines a rentier state or economy and the difference between an allocative and productive state. Also, discussed recent initiatives for economic diversification like Saudi’s Vision 2030 and whether previous policies have come to fruition in the GCC. Focusing on Iraq, can the country benefit from the GCC diversification experiment since the 1980s? Are authoritarian systems more capable of succeeding in implementing diversification policy than institutionalized ones? Can oil revenues be utilized for financing non-oil sectors in a volatile price market? Finally, what Iraq’s new government needs to focus on to bring investment to non-oil sectors of the economy?