The literature on state capacity is often at odds with what constitutes state capacity, how to operationalize it, and how to measure it. Nevertheless, it is important for us to attempt this endeavor given the importance of state capacity, and its effect on a number of political and social dynamics. With the proliferation of quality surveys in the Arab world in recent years, we also have an unprecedented opportunity to examine state capacity in a new light, according to citizen perceptions in addition to material measures. Thus, in this paper I will examine variations of state capacity measurements using the Arab Opinion Index data. I will provide evidence to show that many political phenomena can only be understood if the conditions surrounding state capacity are accounted for.