It has often been argued that Arab states are arbitrary political creations, lacking historical or present legitimacy. This book, first published in 1990, provides a different picture of ‘the Arab state’, drawing on historical, economic, philosophical and sociological perspectives to give a balanced and convincing view of the complex reality of contemporary Arab politics. The contributors, from the Arab countries, from Europe and the United States, investigate the roots of the nation state in the Arab world, evaluating in particular the economic bases of individual states. They discuss the evolution of Arab societies and the way this is reflected in different states, and examine the problems of domestic and international integration in the Arab context. Original and comprehensive in its findings, this is an essential text on the fundamental political structure of the Arab world. Its interdisciplinary breadth makes possible an entirely new reading of the political reality of the Middle East.