Kuwait was officially formed in the mid 1920’s under the Sykes-Picot Agreement. The al-Sabah family has ruled ever since. On advice from Saudi King Fahd, the al-Sabah clique dissolved Kuwait’s Parliament in both 1975 and 1986 when opposition to the emir grew too loud. 
Kuwait’s parliament is window dressing, since no opposition leaders are allowed to serve in the Kuwaiti Cabinet. Currently 25% of the cabinet ministers are al-Sabah family members. Women are not allowed to vote. Political decisions can be overridden by decree from the emir.
The wealthy bloodline elite who rule Kuwait rely on imported serf labor to carry out such unseemly tasks as making breakfast or going to the store. A full 80% of Kuwaiti labor is done by imported workers from poor Asian countries like Bangladesh, the Philippines and India. These workers, who make up 63% of the country’s population, are often not paid. Rape of domestic female servants is commonplace.
The economy of Kuwait is tightly controlled by less than twenty families. Ruling Sheik Jaber Ahmed al-Sabah, who died in 2006, was worth $4.8 billion. Like the Saudi Sudeiris, the al-Sabah’s dip into Kuwaiti government coffers whenever they feel the need. The al-Sabah clan is infamous for its opulent lifestyle. It is reported that most of Kuwait’s $6-10 billion in annual oil revenue is spent on luxury items. Many of the al-Sabah youth have been involved in embarrassing incidents involving prostitutes, gambling, alcohol and drugs. On one occasion a nephew of the emir was caught smuggling heroin in France. The New York Times once called Kuwait, “less a country than a family-owned oil company with a seat at the U.N.”
Another powerful Kuwaiti family is the al-Ghanims, who gained their great wealth by helping BP and Gulf form the Kuwait Oil Company. In 1945 the al-Ghanims employed half of all Kuwaitis and frequently lent money to the al-Sabah family. They own Yusuf Ahmed Alghanim & Sons which in the late 1970’s became the largest overseas distributor for General Motors. The Al-Ghanims are agents for Isuzu, Holden, Phillips, Frigidaire, Link Belt Cranes, BP Lubricants, Learjet, Kirby, Hitachi, Qantas, British Airways, Gulf Air and Air India. By 1990 the al-Ghanim family was knocking down $400 million a year. In 1975 Kutayba Alghanim bought Houston-based Kirby Industries.  Other powerful Kuwaiti families are the Behbehanis and the al-Kharafis.
In Qatar the ruling al-Thani family has intermarried throughout the population to consolidate its power. In June 1995 King Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani was vacationing in Switzerland when his Cambridge-educated son Hamad seized the reins of power. Despite junior’s moves towards democracy, such as the launching of Al Jazeera television and a decree allowing women to vote, many in the Gulf saw the takeover as a CIA palace coup, since the elder al-Thani was a corrupt alcoholic and had become an embarrassment to Washington. 
Qatar sits atop the second largest natural gas reserves (900 trillion cubic feet) in the world after Russia. Soon the US established Camp Snoopy on the outskirts of Doha and was positioning fighter jets at two Qatari air bases — As Sayliyah and Al Udeid. In November 2001 Qatar played host to the annual meeting of the World Trade Organization amidst a Doha building spree that included a Starbucks, a McDonalds and a Kentucky Fried Chicken.
The al-Thani monarchs rule by decree and serve as sales agents for many multinational corporations, including BMW and International Harvester. They run several Western franchise operations in Qatar including Ramada Hotels. Another family close to the al-Thanis which wields considerable power in Qatar is the Darwish family. They represent Austin, Pirelli, Union Carbide, Phillips, Dunlop, GE, Hobart, Volkswagon, Audi and Fiat. The Almana family is also influential, representing Peugeot and other multinationals.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a conglomeration of seven different emirates which the British granted independence in 1971. UAE Prime Minister Sheik Rasid bin Said al-Maktoum is a member of the ruling al-Maktoum monarchy. His estimated net worth is $4 billion. His four sons hold the offices of Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance & Industry, Minister of Defense and Commander of Dubai Defense Forces. Two of them are also billionaires. 
The al-Nahiyan family rules the UAE emirate of Abu Dhabi. Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahiyan became the biggest shareholder in BCCI, which served as paymaster for CIA operations around the world during the 1980’s. Later al-Nahiyan launched Flying Dolphin Airlines, cited by the UN as having ferried “contraband” from Afghanistan, while smuggling weapons in defiance of a UN arms embargo to African hot spots like Sierre Leone.
In Bahrain, long an important British outpost and home to the Chevron Texaco-owned Bahrain Petroleum Company, Sheik Isa bin Salman al-Khalifa and his clan preside over the oil kitty. Al-Khalifa was an investor in George W. Bush’s Harken Energy, which was awarded an unprecedented offshore oil concession in Bahrain waters just before the Gulf War broke out. Saudi Arabian merchant families hold sway over much of the remainder of the Bahrain economy. The Dhahran-based Kanoo family is especially prominent.
The Kanoos represent Exxon Mobil, BP Amoco, Norwich Union Insurance, Holland Persian Gulf Lines and Royal Nedlloyd Lines. Their forte is shipping so they ship crude for all of the Four Horsemen, calling mainly at the Port of Bahrain and the giant Saudi Ras Tanura refinery, which was built by Bechtel in the mid-1940’s. The Kanoos recently added the Kuwaiti Shipping Company to their empire. Another important family in Bahrain is the Almoayyeds. Bahrain is home to the US 5th Fleet and serves as an important offshore banking center for J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup and other global mega-banks who specialize in recycling petrodollars. Not coincidentally, a large percentage of Saudi crude is refined in Bahrain under the watchful eye of the US 5th Fleet and the international bankers.
Oman is ruled by the al-Qaboos family. The country enjoys particularly close relations with Britain and the US, hosting major US military bases and frequent joint US/British military exercises. The National Bank of Oman was owned by BCCI and it, in turn, owned a big chunk of BCCI stock. The bank served as a conduit through which GCC sheiks funded CIA covert operations.
Sheik al-Qaboos, Oman’s monarch, was given a valuable piece of property near the Port of Karachi in Pakistan as payback for his support of the CIA’s decade-long war in Afghanistan, then handed it over to the US Navy. Exxon Mobil has a huge presence in Oman. In 1990, 28% of the company’s US-bound crude came from Oman.
Dean Henderson is the author of five books:Big Oil & Their Bankers in the Persian Gulf: Four Horsemen, Eight Families & Their Global Intelligence, Narcotics & Terror Network, The Grateful Unrich: Revolution in 50 Countries, Das Kartell der Federal Reserve, Stickin’ it to the Matrix & The Federal Reserve Cartel. You can subscribe free to his weekly Left Hook column @www.hendersonlefthook.wordpress.com