POMEPS Studies 50: The Politics of Migration and Refugee Rentierism in the Middle East

How does the rentier concept apply in the context of the regulation and governance of human mobilities? Given that the hosting of forcibly displaced populations grants political actors the ability to extract revenue in a manner akin to oil rentier states via refugee rent-seeking (Tsourapas 2019), what broader lessons may we draw if we link migration and the rentier state? Similarly, in the case of labor migration in the Gulf, state actors delegate their ‘authority over migration to private actors and turns citizens into migration rentiers’ (Thiollet 2022, 1649). How does rentier state theory explain the politics of migrants and refugees in the Middle East? The relationship between rentierism and human mobilities formed the core of a Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS) workshop organized on 22–23 September 2023 at the University of Glasgow. The workshop sought to unpack the linkages between cross-border mobility and rentier state theory in the Middle East.



Introduction – Rentierism in Middle East Migration and Refugee Politics

Marc Lynch, George Washington University and Gerasimos Tsourapas, University of Glasgow


Refugee Commodification and Syrian Integration into Jordan’s Public Schools

Elizabeth Parker-Magyar, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Establishing the Refugee Rentier Subject: Forced Migration, Aid, and the Politics of Integration in Jordan and Türkiye

Shaddin Almasri, Danube University Krems


Marketing Jordan’s Refugee-Hosting Capacity

Rawan Arar, University of Washington


Azad Visas in the Gulf: Exploring Migration Rentierism and its Implications

Zahra R. Babar, Georgetown University in Qatar


The Donor Side of Refugee Rentierism and Migration Management Aid

Nicholas R. Micinski, University of Maine and Kelsey P. Norman, Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy


“Not Our Burden”: A Principal–Agent Analysis of Morocco’s EU-Style Migratory Policies

Ilyssa Yahmi, Temple University


Health Rentierism and Displacement: The Case of Syrian Refugees in Jordan

Sigrid Lupieri, Stanford University


Threatening Refugees: Refugee Rentierism and Arms Deals in Jordan, 1967–77

Lillian Frost, Virginia Tech


Migration Proxy Warfare: Exploring the Role of Non-State Armed Actors in Libya’s Refugee Rentierism

Alexandre Bish, University College London


The Intersection of Refugee Rentierism and Domestic Politics: The Anti-Refugee Far-Right in Türkiye

Ezgi Irgil, Swedish Institute of International Affairs


“We Fund Their Political Projects”: Refugee and IDP Rentierism in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Abdullah Omar Yassen, Erbil Polytechnic University and Thomas McGee, University of Melbourne Law School


A Tale of Two Municipalities: The Local Politics of International Assistance During Refugee Crises

Reva Dhingra, Independent Scholar


Outsourcing Domestic Migration Management in the Gulf: Public–Private Partnership Models as Immigration Rentier Quasi-State Actors in the United Arab Emirates

Froilan Malit, Jr., American University in Dubai


Non-Monetary Rent? Examining the Rentier Migration Diplomacy of the GCC States’ Relations with Countries of Origin

James Worrall, University of Leeds


Migration Rentierism in the Middle East

Hélène Thiollet, Sciences Po CERI and Gerasimos Tsourapas, University of Glasgow