Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Kingdom of Profit

The Kingdom is a hypothetical depiction of what happens when energy dollars are at risk. The film first explores the Saudi-US nexus of oil investment, and then shows what happens when a terrorist attack on an American compound upsets the balance struck within the Kingdom. The balance between US oil dollars and the cultural changes they bring, the Western friendly royal family, and the traditional values of their subjects all clash in the movie.

While some elements of the war of values may have been dramatized for cinematic effect, I believe the movie shows the basic power structure extant in the every world today. In small nations like the UAE, Kuwait and emerging fields like Azerbaijan, energy dollars have helped fuel incredible growth in a short period of time. However, not all the rapid expansion comes without a cost. In many cases, quick gains have meant a sweeping aside of traditional societal structures and their replacement with more Western ideals that have followed the investments. It seems that emerging energy alternatives, even if expanded to serve a wider market, would be more viral in growth and fit with less friction than most established oil bureaucracies. Many of these structures, as highlighted by the movie's opening presentation, have been inherited from colonial settlements, and thus have a much more profound effect on the countries they enter.

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