The current wave of demonstrations sweeping the Middle East is a strong indication of the depth of discontent arising from failures in governance. What might be surprising to some is that oil-exporting states are not exempt. Despite the large literature on the rentier state and how it mutes popular desires for political participation, events have shown that hydrocarbon income does not guarantee passive populations. Although some contemporary oil exporters built their regimes on rentier income before the coming of oil, how they used it and how well they adjusted to the social changes that oil rents inaugurated explain some of the differences in state-society relations even among these classical examples cited by rentier state and other rational choice theorists. The chapter argues that a critical problem of governance by Middle Eastern states that are resource-rich is that their modern state-building exercises are embedded in rentierisme.