The third Virtual Roundtable for the Tafahum peoject, focusing on the interrelations between COVID-19 and climate change & ways of boosting regional cooperation on measures to help curb severe effects of climate change
This is the second session of the Working Group 5. This closed workshop held under Chatham House Rule, will look at the theme on Reconstruction Efforts in Syria, Yemen and Iraq. This workshop will look at the need for a regional stability paradigm and the importance of the role of education for post-conflict reconciliation
This is the second session of the Working Group 3. This closed workshop held under Chatham House Rule, will look at the theme on Counter-Terrorism and Security Sector Reform. This workshop will look on the concept of a regional security paradigm, as an initial step towards more effective regional integration
This closed seminar held under Chatham House Rule, looked at Austria’s relations with the GCC countries and especially Saudi Arabia, including diplomatic relations, economic relations and security and defense cooperation. In addition, speakers gave an overview of the various international organizations headquartered in Vienna that focus on international nuclear security and the member country dynamics within those organizations especially as they relate to the Gulf countries.
This is the second session of the Working Group 4. This closed workshop held under Chatham House Rule, will look at the theme on Media Narratives and Discursive Integration in West Asia and the Arabian Peninsula. This workshop will look at the discussions on how to develop education and training in media literacy and secondly look into whether or not (and how) such a regional media comfort zone can be created
This closed seminar held under Chatham House Rule, looked at the United Kingdom’s relations with the GCC countries and especially Saudi Arabia, including diplomatic relations, economic relations and security and defense cooperation. In addition, speakers gave an overview of the role of UK media in influencing domestic and foreign policy and how those dynamics can influence its relations with Gulf countries. During the seminar discussions, participants had the opportunity to engage with senior policy officials and academics on these key issues.
This closed workshop held under Chatham House Rule, will look at the theme on Security Sector Reform and Counter Terrorism. This workshop will try to examine the nexus between women and security through the lens of counter-terrorism. This is the first session of this working group
This closed workshop held under Chatham House Rule, will look at the theme on Media Narrative and Discursive Integration. This workshop will appreciate the variety of media landscapes in the region to make better sense of public discourse and narratives on a national and regional level. This is the first session of this working group
This closed workshop held under Chatham House Rule, will look at the theme on Reconstruction Efforts in Yemen, Iraq and Syria. This working group aims at developing a conceptual framework with concrete guiding principles for the reconstruction and reconciliation efforts in Syria, Yemen and Iraq. This is the first session of this working group
The Gulf Research Center (GRC) in collaboration with the Middle East Institute will be holding a workshop on the issue of “Yemen: Finding a Way Forward” on Monday July 17, 2017 at the Middle East Institute Office in Washington D.C.
This timely event comes at a time while prospects for ending the Yemen conflict face persisting political and security challenges and the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen perseveres despite international aid pledges.
The workshop will attempt to shed light on the status of the political process and negotiations to settle the conflict, on the current humanitarian situation inside the country and to discuss a forward-looking development agenda to be implemented both while the conflict continues and ones a resolution to the crisis is found.
The workshop is particularly meant to provide a forum from which key Yemeni experts and stakeholders can provide their perspectives on the issues defining the Yemeni situation and to be able to engage with a wider audience on the prospects for conflict resolution mechanisms.
Five years have passed since the initial uprising against the regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen, the poorest nation in the Middle East. The failed political transition of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi in 2011 has turned the state of Yemen into an arena of power struggles amongst various factions fighting for control. Yemen now suffers devastating humanitarian conditions, including 2000 deaths and counting, around one million displaced, and over 12 million on the brink of famine with no access to healthcare as political solutions over the years to resolve the conflict have proven to be nearly impossible. Therefore, ending the war in Yemen is vital and needs to become the international community’s priority for not only will it be for the future of Yemen’s own security and stability, but for that of the entire region, as conflict spillover remains to be a serious threat to neighboring countries.
It is in this context, throughout the next several months, the Gulf Research Center will be hosting a series of workshops in the United States and Europe, involving major stakeholders in the conflict, which will result in the publication of seminar reports on the best way forward to bring peace and security to Yemen. In order for workshops to be comprehensive of the multidimensional nature of the conflict, each event will address a specific theme or “layer” of the conflict, therefore ensuring that the debates are focused and lead to tangible conclusions and recommendations.
Over the years, the Gulf Research Center has been especially active in research on Yemen, and this expertise, in addition to its unique position among other think tanks to bring a “Gulf” perspective to regional politics, make it especially relevant in putting forward solutions to the ongoing conflict in Yemen.
The Gulf Research Center and Chatham House hold workshop on GCC-UK Relations
With the regional Middle Eastern environment facing a period of unprecedented turbulence, the Gulf Research Center and Chatham House held a two-day workshop in London on June 12 and 13 to explore the various dynamics of developments in the Middle East and the Gulf and the implications this holds for GCC-UK ties. While the UK and the GCC states can look back on a long period of close ties defined by many common interests, the discussion at the workshop pointed to the many new challenges that have emerged including the perception among the GCC states that the policies by the Western states including the UK have further exacerbated many of the regional crises. Participants agreed that mutual strategic interests still prevail, but there was also a sense from the GCC side that UK regional policy suffers from a degree of credibility and trust. The discussion further highlighted the fact that a return to some form of stability was an extremely complex undertaking and that one needed to look at regional issues from both a short- and long-term perspective.
The Gulf is experiencing significant new challenges to its security and to traditional thinking about its security policies. Some Gulf leaders fear a perceived reduction of American commitment to the region. The prospect of a negotiated agreement on Iran"s nuclear program has destabilized long-established security norms and practices. Syria"s war has become an arena for proxy competition between Iran and the Arab Gulf states, with significant risks of blowback from new jihadist groups and an expanding regional battlefield. The Arab uprisings have driven controversial new domestic and regional political initiatives to ensure regime stability within the Gulf. A newly assertive effort by some Gulf states to influence political outcomes in key regional countries such as Egypt has included support for its new military government and a broad campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood. Meanwhile, Gulf states have committed significant resources to these policies which could pose new challenges to fiscal security over the medium term. In response to these perceived new threats and opportunities, Gulf states have clashed with the United States and have considered new forms of regional integration and cooperation.
This workshop, organized in collaboration with The George Washington University and Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Doha, will bring together scholars from the United States, Europe and the Gulf, and comes at an important time to consider in depth the new security challenges and responses. The three panels held over the course of the day will look at the GCC and Iran"s Nuclear Program; Islamist Movements and Sectarianism; as well as Transnational and Human Security Issues.
Based on the event, there will also be a panel organized at MESA 2014 in Washington. Other deliverables will include several policy briefs, a roundtable report and a journal article.
The policy briefs resulting from the Venice meeting have been published and can be accessed here:
The Gulf Research Center and the Al-Ahram Center are hosting a workshop on the issues of Gulf states unity to be held in Cairo, Egypt. The workshop will bring together specialists and policy officials to look in-depth at the political, economic, security and defense aspects of Gulf integration and provide recommendations on how to operationalize the Gulf union concept. During the discussion, the various Arab views on Gulf integration will be elaborated on which in turn with inform the policy process. The workshop is part of a larger project the Gulf Research Center is conducting on the issue of GCC unity.
Energy trade always constituted a major chapter in EU-GCC relations. The EU has established new, ambitious targets for reduction of emissions by 2050, which envisage a substantial decline of the role of traditional fossil sources such as oil and gas. In parallel, the GCC countries have manifested growing concern for their own energy future and excessive dependence on fossil fuels, and have launched multiple initiatives for improving the uptake of clean energy solutions.
As part of the EU-funded public diplomacy project on “Promoting Deeper EU-GCC Relations”, EPU-NTUA in cooperation with the Gulf Research Center and Masdar Institute are organising a Renewable Energy Policy Experts’ workshop hosted in Masdar Institute, Abu Dhabi on November 26-27, 2013. The 2-day workshop is actively endorsed by the EU-GCC CLEAN ENERGY NETWORK, an initiative created jointly by the EU and the GCC to catalyse cooperation among the two regions on clean energy topics of common interest.
Within this framework, the event aims to discuss at high policy level the potential for cooperation in the promotion of clean energy. This will encompass both opportunities for bilateral agreements in various areas as well as exploration of common positions (or debate of points of divergence) with respect to negotiations in multilateral fora.
The workshop is divided into five sessions focusing on:
• EU-GCC energy policy co-operation in the field of Renewables: Status and Prospects
• Promoting co-operation on Energy Efficiency & Demand Side Management
• EU-GCC co-operation potential in the field of Renewables: Technology and Research perspective
• EU-GCC co-operation for integration of Renewables in the Grid
• Promoting EU-GCC co-operation on Water and Power generation
Each session will be introduced by a background paper followed by moderated discussion among the participants. Limited selected experts are invited to contribute to this high level event, including academics and specialists, members of various research institutes and policy officials from both the EU and the GCC side. The workshop will result in a publication to be produced in early 2014.
Twenty-seven students from the six GCC countries took part in this training session organized by GRC in the framework of the project “Promoting Deeper EU-GCC relations” funded by the European Commission. The students from the GCC were selected according to their fields of studies, either international relations or politics studies, and for their interest in issues linked to the European Union. The group included undergraduate students, graduate students, and young professionals. Five students from Brussels were also selected for the program to give the GCC students a different viewpoint on EU issues and a better insight into student life in Europe. The schedule of the training was divided between lectures, informative sessions, meeting with professionals, and visits. The training session provided GCC students with the opportunity to acquire deeper knowledge about the EU as well as to develop direct contacts with students from Europe, EU professionals and academics.
The Gulf Research Center (GRC) together with the Geneva Center for Security Policy (GCSP) hosted the panel discussion on “Security Implications of the Arab Spring” as part of the 10th International Security Forum held from April 22 to 24, 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland. Dr. Christian Koch, Director of the GRC Foundation chaired the panel discussion with presentations from Prof. Bahgat Korany of the American University on Cairo; Prof. Mohammed-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou, Head of the Regional Capacity Development Program at GCSP; and Dr. Mustafa Alani, Senior Advisor and Director of the Security and Defense Research Program at the GRC. The panel pursued three main questions – what security issues have been raised by the ‘Arab Spring’; how are these challenges playing out in the region and how are they been addressed by the different actors; and what are the implications in this changing security scene for the region’s international partners. All speakers highlighted the fluid nature of the situation while focusing on the phenomenon of the weakened state which in turn is highlighting the potential of an open-ended period of volatility for the entire Middle East. The presentations were followed by a lively debate and a question and answer session.
“The Podcast and panel summary is available on the ISF web site www.isf2013.ch”
The first day of the workshop “Political Transformation in the Arab world and its relevance for EU-GCC relations” organized by the Fundación para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Diálogo Exterior (FRIDE), the Gulf Research Center and the Gulf University for Science and Technology (GUST) under the Project “Promoting Deeper EU-GCC relations” funded by the European Commission, concluded on Sunday, March 3, 2013 at GUST University, Kuwait.
More than 50 persons attended the 3 sessions, each followed by discussions with the attendants. As an outcome: high level presentations, interventions of great interest, and heated but fruitful debates!
After a welcome introduction from Robert Cook (Vice President for Academic Affairs, GUST University), Richard Youngs (Director of FRIDE), Christian Koch (Director of Gulf Research Center Foundation) and Haila Al-Mekaimi (Center For Gulf Knowledge, Kuwait University), the discussions moved to in-depth assessment of the political development in the Gulf region and what the implications are for the European Union. Given that the EU follows events in the region closely and the EU parliament has passed resolutions on the situations in Bahrain and the UAE, one of the objectives of the workshop was to allow for an exchange of views and provide a perspective from the GCC states about the impact that the Arab transitions are having on their part of the world.
The first session dealing with the Geopolitical implications of the Arab uprisings was chaired by Richard Youngs with speakers N. Janardhan, a political analyst from the UAE and Mohamed Ghanem Alrumaihi from Kuwait University. The panel presented the diversity of the changes following the Arab uprisings, highlighting specifically the extreme complexity of the new situation as well as the resulting different implications. While there was agreement that the Gulf region has been impacted, there was a divergence of views on the degree that the geopolitical changes would force the GCC states to undertake their own reform effort in the near term. One participant mentioned that the GCC states were not facing an ‘Arab Spring’ but an ‘Oil Spring’. Much of the discussion also focused on the role of political Islam and what that means for the further developments impacting the Middle East.
The second session dealing with Domestic implications of the Arab uprisings was chaired by Kristian Coates Ulrichsen from the London School of Economics with speakers Prof. Abdulkhaleq Abdulla from the UAE and Hasan Al-Hasan, also from the LSE. The speakers explained how unlike other Arab countries, in the GCC there has been a strengthening of the status quo resulting in some change but also much stronger continuity. The monarchy system certainly has been challenged but they have also shown their resilience. Overall, there is a need to put developments in their broader context. To what degree the EU has handled the issue of human rights in a balanced way proved a serious point of debate.
The third session entitled Beyond identity politics: a role for civil society? was chaired by Jane Kinninmont of Chatham House with speakers Guido Steinberg of the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik in Berlin, Germany and Ahmed Al Omran of RiyadhBureau.com. The speakers presented the role and the evolution of islamist movements as part of the civil society, focusing on non-violent actors, transnationalism and Sunnite-Shiite sectarianism. The role of social media was also presented, through the example of their development in Saudi Arabia, as a tool to bypass the governmental restrictions regarding civil society organizations. Much of the discussion focused on the relationship between citizenship and entitlement and the impact this had had on the concept of national identity.
The workshop will continue on Monday, March 4 with the focus on the role of the youth in the Gulf and a wider discussion on what all of the developments mean for the relationship between the EU and the GCC
As part of the EU-sponsored project on "Promoting Deeper EU-GCC Relations" a 22-member group from the six GCC took part in a one-week training program on 'Understanding the Institutions and Policies of the EU and EU-GCC Relations.' The program is headed by the Gulf Research Center with the support of the Institute for European Studies at Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the Global Governance Institute. In addition to lectures on aspects of the EU, participants held meetings with members of the European Parliament, the European External Action Service and the European Social and Economic Committee.
Bringing together regional, security, and policy experts in order to assess the current situation in the Middle East, the Gulf Research Center, the Geneva Center for Security Policy and the Crown Center at Brandeis University are once again hosting a roundtable in Gstaad, Switzerland. During the meeting, an assessment of the Arab Revolutions, the overall geopolitical and regional dynamics as it pertains to the Levant, Turkey, the Arab-Israeli issue and the situation in Iraq, Iran and the Gulf region will be discussed. A summary of the proceedings will be published as part of the Geneva Papers of the GCSP. The meeting is by invitation only.
This event held with the Middle East Institute will include an examination of recent developments in the Gulf in the wake of the Arab Spring. The speakers will address the crises in Yemen and Bahrain, US-Gulf relations and the question of reform in the region.
Together with the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, the Gulf Research Center will be holding a panel discussion on the current situation in the Gulf region and the challenges for US policy. The session will be moderated by Dr. John Duke Anthony, Founding President and CEO of the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations.
The Gulf Research Center will be holding a two-day roundtable discussion on the current situation in Yemen with a particular emphasis on how the current regional and international political situation will impact existing and future development trends in Yemen. The workshop will explore the different scenarios that could come into play when it comes to the future of Yemen, to analyze in-depth the various development implications involved and to explore the ways and means in which regional and international institutions and organizations can work together to target their assistance and to increase their effectiveness.
The workshop will take place on the sidelines of the 2011 Gulf Research Meeting from 7-8 July 2011 at the University of Cambridge, UK and is supported by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) GmbH, working on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The workshop will bring together specialists, policy officials and representative of donor agencies including numerous persons from the GCC states as well as from Yemen.
The Gulf Research Center (GRC) and the Center for European Policy Studies (CEPS) are holding a one-day workshop on “EU–GCC Relations and Global Economic Issues” in Brussels, Belgium. The event is being organized in the framework of the Al-Jisr project on EU-GCC Relations with the support of the European Commission. The workshop will bring together prominent economists and policy officials from both the EU and the GCC side as economic relations between the GCC and EU have been developing over a wide area of common interest, primarily defined within the context of a free trade agreement and economic diversification. The purpose of this workshop will be to analyze in more detail the dynamics of the global economic financial crisis, the related focus on currency issues, its impact on GCC economic integration as well as issues of international trade and financial regulation and how this impact the GCC-EU relationship. A particular focus will be on identifying areas in which the EU and the GCC can work together more closely and improve their coordination.
A third research project workshop on the challenge and potential of economic growth and diversification in the GCC. A team of specialized researchers from both regions will be constituted and given access to all resources in the hands of the project’s partners. Once again, the strategy to establish such partnerships will prove to be precious as the resources and expertise of each partner will be fully used. The research project workshop will deliver a number of integrated future scenarios to judge the region’s regional and international economic role as well as the shifting functions of state and business in it.
The Gulf Research Center and the Institute for Diplomatic Studies of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia began on Sunday, April 18th, 2009, a 3 day long Training Session on the European Union (EU) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) relations. The training session will focus on communicating basic facts about the EU, its history, policies and institutions. In addition to more specific issues between the two sides including political governance and dynamics as well as economic, trade and financial relations. Then conclude with recommendations for improving relations between the EU and GCC.
This workshop will be hosted and organized by Bertelsmann Stiftung in
This workshop within the framework of the Al-Jisr Project on EU-GCC Public Diplomacy and Outreach Activities will explore the following questions: Can the
The Gulf Research Center (GRC) in cooperation with the Nixon Center of Washington, D.C. is pleased to announce a workshop on November 11 and 12, 2009 on the subject of “China’s Growing Role in the Middle East: Implications for the Region and Beyond.” The workshop will take place in the GRC conference room in Dubai and bring together about 25 participants from the Gulf region, the China, India and the US. Relations between the Gulf region and China have taken on multiple dimensions in the past years and it is important and necessary to take a more in-depth look at the strategic implications of this developing relationship. In addition to economic and energy issues which certainly serve as a driver for closer ties, there are also political and security dimensions that must be considered. The purpose of this workshop is to explore in more detail the dynamics that define Gulf-China ties and to analyze the perspectives that are presenting themselves for both sides. The meeting is also part of a study on the growing role of the major Asian countries in the Middle East.
The workshop was organised by the Fundación para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Diálogo Exterior (FRIDE) and the Gulf Research Center under the Al Jisr Project will focus on the status of political reform in the GCC states in order to provide a better understanding of the transition process occurring in these states. With human rights an integral part of the EU’s Free Trade Area negotiations, a thorough understanding of the drivers promoting political reform and an objective assessment of the reform measures being out in place is essential in order to better guide policy decisions. Among the issues to be discussed in this workshop are the roles of the Gulf monarchies as drivers of political reform, the role of parliaments and local councils, the prospects for judicial reform, the development of civil society, and the interaction between energy dynamics and political reform. A final discussion will look at how the political reform debate impacts on the overall GCC-EU relationship.
The Gulf Research Center, in association with the Center for International and Regional Studies at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar, organized the second research workshop of the "EU-GCC Al-Jisr Project on Public Diplomacy and Outreach devoted to the European Union and EU-GCC Relations".
This conference will consider the role of nuclear weapons in sustaining or undermining the security of the Gulf region. Its focus is on three linked concepts: extended deterrence, security guarantees, and nuclear proliferation. Its aim is to consider what kinds of conditions will be required to insure that extended deterrence and security guarantees continue to promote regional stability in and around the Gulf, as they have (for the most part) in the past; and conversely, what can be done to avert nuclear proliferation among the Gulf states and their immediate neighbors, as well as among extremist groups that seek to operate there.
The idea of extended deterrence is a product of the early Cold War. It reflected the shared concern of the nuclear Superpowers that the spread of nuclear weapons would complicate their relationship with each other, and make it more dangerous. Each accordingly declared itself willing to extend the protection of its nuclear arsenal to allies and clients. The widespread acceptance of this idea may seem surprising, to the extent that its credibility depended on the willingness of non-nuclear states to believe that their protector would expose itself to potentially mortal perils on their behalf. Nevertheless, it was widely believed that neither of the
Extended deterrence was supported by a system of security guarantees, most of which were of a familiar and traditional kind: a declared willingness by states to cooperate in each other’s defense, and to fight side-by-side in given circumstances. In the nuclear era, however, a new form of guarantee was introduced, one that was extended not merely to friends but to rivals and adversaries as well. States known to possess nuclear weapons promised not to employ them against any that did not, in exchange for a countervailing promise that states without nuclear weapons would not attempt to obtain them. This exchange of promises lies at the heart of the nuclear non-proliferation regime established in 1968.
Nevertheless, nuclear proliferation remains a major threat to stability in the
This conference seeks to explore the logic and functioning of extended nuclear deterrence and associated security guarantees in the
Such intervention, needless to say, would be profoundly destabilizing for the rest of the Gulf. So too would Iranian success.
The politics of nuclear weapons are also influenced by the politics of nuclear energy. Its attraction to states in the Gulf is a source of suspicion for some observers, who fear that such projects, particularly when conducted by states floating on an ocean of oil, can only be a mask for weapons development. Historically the connection between nuclear energy and weapons proliferation is not strong—though the fact that the Iranians have explained their own interest in nuclear technology in terms of a desire for nuclear energy has muddied the water in this regard. A number of
Attitudes toward nuclear weapons among
Israel is, in any case, but one of three nuclear-armed states—along with India and Pakistan—that have slipped the leash of the Cold War non-proliferation regime, and whose proximity to the Gulf necessarily influences attitudes toward nuclear weapons there. The picture is further complicated by the fact that all three of these governments enjoy warm relations with the United States—a source of reassurance, perhaps, but one that also casts doubt on America’s ability to extend the deterrent effects of its own nuclear arsenal elsewhere in the region, should that become necessary. It also suggests, somewhat ironically, that successful proliferators may have less to fear from the
Since the end of the Second World War protection from external threats in the Gulf region, for practical purposes, has been assured by the major oil-consuming states in the West. Their willingness to extend their military protection to the region was driven by their hunger for energy, and their determination to deprive the Soviets of influence and access there. The second of these motives has disappeared; though
The aim of this conference is to consider how, and how far, the logic and practice of extended nuclear deterrence and multilateral and bi-lateral security guarantees can be adapted to address current and future threats to stability in the Gulf. Military strategies calculated to ward off outsiders may not be readily applicable to the maintenance of regional stability, nor to containing rising regional powers like
Relations between the Gulf region and
As part of the Al-Jisr project on GCC-EU Public Diplomacy and Outreach Activities, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University and the Gulf Research Center will hold a two-day conference entitled: “The EU and the GCC: Challenges and Prospects under the Swedish Presidency of the EU” to be held in Lund, Sweden from June 8th to 9th, 2009. The meeting will bring together around 30 academics and government representatives from
Abdulaziz Sager, Chairman of the Gulf Research Center on the occasion of the 12th Kronberg Middle East talks of the Bertelsmann Foundation and held in Riyadh with the cooperation of the Institute of Diplomatic Studies of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Saudi Arabia and the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies launched the Arabic version of the Bertelsmann Transformation Index (BTI).The BTI was translated from English and published in Arabic by the Gulf Research Center. The BTI is a bi-annual global ranking that measures and compares transformation processes worldwide on the basis of detailed country reports. The BTI is unique in the sense that is a qualitative rather than a purely quantitative assessment of how countries have progressed vis-à-vis one another in a number of categories. Speaking at the event that launched the Arabic version, Mr. Sager emphasized that the
Institutional relations between the Gulf Cooperation Council states and the European Union have to be filled with life by deepening cooperation between the people and institutions of both regions. In the context of the Al-Jisr project on GCC-EU Public Diplomacy and Outreach, the
of special relevance to current affairs. The composition of the workshop participants will be balanced among EU and GCC representatives. Finally, tailor made dissemination activities will ensure that the widespread diffusion of the workshop outcomes will reach not only high level policy makers, but also academicians and key market actors from GCC and EU.
Nowadays, global warming poses certain constraints to energy usage with direct impacts on the international economic activity. In this respect, the determination of prospects and opportunities for the development of a sustainable energy economy is of outmost importance in order to pass from the current carbon constrained economy to new sustainable development paths.
In particular, the key shared interest on the above issues ranks high on the EU policy agenda and without a doubt the relevant cooperation with GCC Countries could be further developed. While there is a widespread view that the GCC region participates in the world energy scene through its vast oil and gas reserves, with little concern for environmental impact and with little incentive to invest in alternative sources of energy, there is a changing dynamic. Indeed, the use and development of Renewable Energy Sources (RES), Rational Use of Energy (RUE) as well as CO2 Capture and Sequestration could make a significant contribution to improving environmental protection and to guarantying continuation of oil supplies in conditions of stability and security. The GCC region offers massive business potential for national, regional and international companies involved in the power generation, lighting and RES energy industries. The potential development of RES in the GCC region would have mutual benefits for both the EU and the GCC countries. In this framework, both the UAE and Saudi Arabia have recently committed large funds to the climate fund from the last UN conference in Bali.
Based on the above, the current workshop envisions combining policy and technical expertise for the discussion of policy implications and opportunities of greater collaboration, in what has to be seen as a future green energy market. The final aim of the workshop is to further enhance the EU-GCC relations in key energy and climate change cooperation issues.
A first Al-Jisr research project workshop is the first in a series to look at the challenge and potential of economic growth and diversification in the GCC, including an analysis of how the benefits of the expected Free Trade Agreement (FTA) can best be reaped. The specific topics to be addressed within the framework of the larger research project are:
· the GCC economies’ comparative strengths and weaknesses related to the labour market, unemployment and migration; female participation in the economy; and education and economic development.
· changes in the Gulf business environment with respect to privatisation and government ownership, business regulation, and the strengths and weaknesses of the private sector, as measured by global indicators.
· the potential for economic diversification (downstream integration into refining, petrochemicals and other energy-intensive industries and its implications for EU industry and the global environment; the competitiveness of Gulf industry outside of the above-mentioned sectors; and the potential for specialisation in other services, including tourism).
· domestic energy consumption in the GCC countries including domestic pricing of various hydrocarbon and the recent trends towards acquiring a nuclear power generation component.
· the Gulf financial sector, focusing on trends of regulatory change, financial diversification, regional and international consolidation of banking intermediaries, the Gulf’s potential as regional and global hub, and the behaviour and future of the GCC’s Sovereign Wealth Funds.
· GCC monetary unification, discussing future scenarios of exchange rate policy, currency pegs and monetary policy.
· the Gulf region’s future position in the global economic context, with special reference to relations with the other Asian countries, with the European Union, the Mediterranean Arab countries, Iraq and Yemen.
On the basis of these sectoral and institutional lines of research, the project aims to arrive at a number of integrated future scenarios to judge the region’s regional and international economic role as well as the shifting functions of state and business in it.
Experts’ views of the capabilities and the potential role of the private sector in promoting economic and political reform in the Arab world are sharply divergent. Some view the private sector as still being primarily subordinated to the government and depending on government expenditure or other forms of government protection to be able to achieve profit in business. It is pointed out that there is a lack of international competitiveness except in sectors, such as petrochemicals, which are formally privatized but in fact still closely controlled by government; a lack of transparency and openness to international investment; excessive dependence on government contracts or other business opportunities essentially influenced by government decisions and initiatives. A contrasting view has emphasized that the private sector in the Arab world has come a long way since its beginnings in the 1970s and has now acquired capabilities that it did not have in the past. Therefore, while the picture of a business sector subservient to the government might have been correct 30 or 40 years ago, it is no longer accurate today. Besides, many private business groups have also greatly increased their financial capabilities through international investment and are increasingly engaging in business that caters to open and fairly competitive markets. The declared strategy of Arab governments to increasingly rely on the private sector is opening further opportunities for private sector investment and growth, progressively tilting the balance in the equation.
Pointing to this development, the Gulf Research Center Foundation (GRCF) and the Arab Reform Initiative have launched a two-year research project entitled “The Role of the Private Sector in Promoting Economic and Political Reform,” to explore ways in which the Arab business community can contribute to the progress and modernization of the region. In a comparative analysis, several Arab countries, including the GCC states, are being assessed. The overarching aim of the project is to conduct research on the capabilities and attitudes of the private sector towards economic and political reform, opening the door to a more sophisticated understanding of the evolving reality. The active involvement and participation of the region’s business communities therefore is of crucial importance and constitutes an integral element in guiding the academic work.
The project got off to a start on January 4, 2009, with a workshop at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry followed by a meeting at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in
The Gulf Research Center (GRC) in cooperation with the Nixon Center of Washington, D.C. will hold a workshop on November 12 and 13, 2008 on the subject of "Gulf-India relations." Relations between the Gulf region and
On November 2, 2008, Fihir Abuateeq, Dr. Eckart Woertz and Nathan Hodson of GRC gave a briefing at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) about an ongoing consultancy project about sustainable development and cluster based industrialization in the three governorates of Al Rabigh, Al Leith and Al Qunfudah. The workshop was attended by dignitaries and executives from the three regions and form institutions in Jeddah such as ministries and government agencies. It served to get input from various stakeholders in to the ongoing consultancy project, a final report will be released by January.
With relations between the Gulf region and East Asia expanding, the Gulf Research Center (GRC) in cooperation with
The Gulf Research Center (GRC) in cooperation with the Henry L. Stimson Center of Washington, D.C., held a half-day workshop on October 9, 2008 to discuss the draft report of the National Intelligence Council entitled Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World. The National Intelligence Council (NIC) is the center for mid-term and strategic thinking of the
The meeting included an introduction explaining the scope and context of the Global Trends 2025 report followed by a discussion of the overall approach, major trends and scenarios. The meeting then opened for a general discussion of specific issues of interest discussed in the report including the rise of emerging players, a new transnational agenda, the prospects for terrorism and conflict, the question of whether the international community would be up to the challenges that a shifting world presents, and role of the United States in a new multi-polar environment.
As part of the cooperation between the
The meeting on maritime issues is an open exploration of current realities and emerging concerns in the
The objective of this meeting is to closely analyze and promote topics that are of current mutual interest between the EU and the GCC. It comes at a critical time when the institutional relations between
Given the increased factors of demography and population growth, this meeting will focus on GCC Migration and its History: Demographics and countries of origin, changes in the GCC expatriate population since the 1980s including from neighboring Arab countries to Asian countries as well as an estimation of the future population composition in the GCC. There will also be a comparison with the migration and integration experience of the
The Fundación para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Diálogo Exterior (FRIDE), the Gulf Research Centre (GRC) and EGMONT - the Royal Institute for International Relations are organizing a seminar to respond to the publication of the EU’s new energy security strategy and to debate those aspects of energy security related specifically to European foreign policies.
During the last year, the Ukraine-Russia gas dispute, greater global competition for diminishing hydrocarbon resources and higher oil prices have jolted the European Union into debating the development of a comprehensive European Energy Policy. Europe"s increasing energy dependency, decreasing energy production and reliance on a small number of external suppliers have added to the urgency of these debates.
The Commission’s March 2006 Green Paper committed the EU to integrating energy issues more systematically into the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). It also promised that energy security would not compromise the EU’s commitment to promoting democracy and human rights. The Commission’s Strategic Energy Review published on 10 January 2007 further reinforced these commitments to a more effective energy security policy; this Review will now be debated by member state governments at the March 2007 EU summit.
In focusing on the foreign policy dimensions of energy security, our one day seminar will be framed around three broad issues:
a) Market versus geopolitical approaches:
Should competitive power-politics, expressed in bilateral deals/relationships with key suppliers prevail, or alternatively should key suppliers be incorporated into an international energy market? The seminar will explore this debate and the complex linkages between internal and external dimensions of energy security.
b) Can member state interests be reconciled and streamlined within a common European energy policy?
Member states currently pursue differing approaches to energy security. How can these different views be reconciled in one common energy policy? As the perception exists that energy security is one of the areas of greatest divergence and competition between national governments, it must be asked whether member states will really be willing to compromise enough to define a unified approach.
c) Will external energy policy act to the detriment of democratic development?
Are EU policies of democracy promotion becoming weaker in states that are either energy producers or energy transit countries? Many certainly judge that new energy security imperatives sound the death knell for democracy promotion. On the other hand, would it be preferable to pressure producer countries for improvements in governance so as to achieve a more favourable and stable investment climate in which IOC’s could operate? Is this feasible given the recent trend towards greater resource nationalism?
The relationship between the member states of the European Union (EU) and those of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is multifaceted and has over the years taken on a number of increasing dimensions. In light of recent security issues such as those related to terrorism and the US-led invasion of Iraq and its aftermath, ties between the EU and the GCC have also taken on a security component that up to this stage remains largely undefined and understudied. Yet, with the emergence of the European Security Strategy in December 2003 and other initiatives such as NATO’s Istanbul Cooperation Initiative unveiled in 2004, Europe itself is trying to define more concretely what a future European security role in the Gulf region could look like and to what degree Europe can assist the Gulf States from overcoming their perennial security problem. This debate features a number of salient issues including weapons trade and proliferation, terrorism, bi-lateral as well as multi-lateral security approaches to the region and the promotion of the soft security realm as a means to move towards a more comprehensive notion of the term security itself. This conference will bring together experts and analysts from Europe, the GCC States and “interested” other countries to illuminate the problem areas that Europe faces in the Gulf and to put the different approaches on the table into their proper context. Of specific concern will be how to move from the current still vague and largely theoretical notions of GCC-EU security cooperation into more policy-applicable and relevant approaches that build on past European experiences. The papers presented at the workshop will be published in an edited volume following the workshop’s conclusion.
The Geo-Economic Positioning of the GCC countries
Until the 1980s the position of the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in the international division of labour was clear: oil was exported and manufactured goods were imported, mainly from Europe and the USA. Nowadays the situation has changed. Although the importance of oil and gas revenues is still paramount, the GCC countries command an increasingly diversified economic structure with new sectors emerging in the fields of petrochemicals, utilities, services and tourism. They are the world market leader in polymer production and lay specific emphasis on the development of energy intensive industries like aluminium, steel and fertilizer plants. For theses industries they have to import now raw materials themselves from countries like Australia and South Africa. On the other hand the focus of their trading relations has shifted and moves eastwards. The USA only account for roughly 10% of imports nowadays (2004) while the European Union is contributing one third and the Asian countries about a quarter of overall imports. Thus, they have become the most important trading partners for the GCC, most notably Asia, which purchases about two thirds of GCC energy exports. How could these interdependences of foreign trade be mapped out in detail? How will the GCC countries react to these challenges? How do they position themselves in the WTO process and the ongoing negotiations of free trade agreements with the EU and the USA? Which chances and which threats emerge from the opening of their economies? Which sectors and companies will benefit (e.g. petrochemicals) and which will likely face difficulties in facing increased competition (e.g. agriculture, so far monopolistic telecoms, banks)? Will petrodollar recycling move away from simple buying of US treasuries and move towards strategic investments and other currencies like the Euro? And finally: is there a realignment of foreign policy discernible along the lines of geo-economic positioning?
The Gulf Research Center (GRC) and the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad (ISSI) will hold a joint workshop on Pakistan-Gulf Strategic Relations on March 8-9, 2007 in Islamabad. The aim of the workshop is to assess current strategic relations and forecast future trends in terms of the political, economic and security aspects of relations between Pakistan and the GCC States. There have been critical developments in these areas which not only impact inter-regional relations but also affect the political and economic environment within these states.
Pakistan’s geo-strategic position as well as its close and long-standing relations with the GCC States are an important factor in shaping their respective policies vis-à-vis other regional neighboring countries. For example, many states in South West Asia and Central Asia are keen on extending energy and trade links and developing crucial communication networks with the GCC States. Similarly, Pakistan’s importance as a key regional player in influencing and shaping developments in Afghanistan, as well as the significance of its close relations with China and Iran that could influence the regional security environment cannot be underestimated. The fact that Pakistan enjoys close relations with the GCC states could play a mutually beneficial role in political dealings with other regional players.
The workshop will provide a platform to look at some important issues that need to be explored in depth, considering the commonalities the two sides share. Some significant topics that will be addressed include the political environment in the region which remains threatened by the growing instability in Afghanistan, the Iranian nuclear program, and the forward movement in the peace initiative on Kashmir. The workshop will also focus on security issues. Terrorism, soft security issues such as narcotics and human trafficking, and the rise of militant Islam will be among the topics discussed. Another common security concern is the flow of illegal immigrants from Pakistan to the GCC states.
Pakistan and the GCC states have already demonstrated the need for a joint effort to combat terrorism. Collaborative efforts to counter terrorism and contain the threat posed by human and narcotics trafficking are already being made by the governments of both Pakistan and the GCC states. There is a further need to develop these efforts. Besides, it is necessary to devise a grassroots-level program and develop sustained long- term policies that will address the root causes of terrorism. Such policies should also be looking at developing a comprehensive educational curriculum for schools and religious institutions that by inculcating proper Islamic teachings could serve as an effective deterrent against vested interests seeking to incite hatred and violence by the misuse and abuse of Islamic education. It is also important to look at the rise of militant Islam and review measures which need to be implemented to combat the conflagration of extremism.
Pakistan has always played an active role in training and providing military education to officers in the armed forces and civic security institutions of the GCC States. The workshop will review the existing military ties including trade in arms and defense systems. It will also look at the possibility of extending potential support of the Pakistan armed forces for regional defense in case of external threat to the GCC States. Another significant contribution Pakistan could offer to the GCC States is to provide nuclear technology for developing a peaceful nuclear program, with the approval and supervision of the IAEA.
Political stability and regional security are factors that are inextricably linked to the development of better economic relations between the GCC States and Pakistan. The recent surge in GCC investments in key sectors such as telecommunications, real estate and infrastructure development, energy, steel and shipping is an indicator of the growing confidence in the stability and future potential of the Pakistan economy.
The GRC-ISSI workshop hopes to highlight the significant themes that define the relations between Pakistan and the GCC States. This will be a useful endeavor to bring into focus the above-mentioned key themes and chalk out future development of ideas that are mutually beneficial not only to Pakistan and the GCC States but also other regional countries.
Throughout 2006, the shortcomings of American foreign policy in the Gulf region have become blatantly apparent. Iraq has deteriorated to the point of open civil warfare, sectarian and ethnic conflict issues throughout the Middle East have been exacerbated, the determination of Iran to challenge the United States and its pursuit of a nuclear program continues without much restraint, the stability of Afghanistan hangs very much in the balance, and the threat of terrorism has not diminished to any significant degree. Slowly but surely, the Gulf region is not only faced with the possibility of further turmoil but with a complete lack of security. And of all this occurring while concerns over world energy supplies are once underscoring the region’s central strategic importance to the rest of the world.
The Gulf Research Center and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace held two meetings in 2004 and 2005 respectively focusing on the status of political reform in the GCC States. These meetings provided a broad overview of factors affecting political reform in the Gulf and an evaluation of the changes that have taken place so far in each country. The first GRC-Carnegie meeting, held in September 2004, made an important contribution to the understanding of the reform process by discussing the broad issues that affect political transformation in the area. The second meeting in November 2005 drew comparative lessons among the experiences of the GCC countries, as well as put forward ideas to reinforce the political reform process by strengthening civil society organizations even at a time of high oil prices, which cushions delaying reforms.
As political reform has become an integral part of the overall development process being implemented in the Gulf region, the GRC and the Carnegie Endowment have decided to continue their cooperation and conduct a third meeting on this topic. In order to make the third meeting as productive as the previous ones, the focus this time will be more specifically on the internal and external drivers of change and how each of these are influencing the current and future political reform process in the GCC States.
The November 2005 meeting called for the development of a quantifiable ‘democratic continuum’, where reform would not just be measured just in terms of elections but would also take into account policies dealing with constitutional development, women’s rights, freedom of the press, corruption, administrative transparency, human rights, and education reforms. In this context, the 2006 workshop would look in-depth at the domestic factors that can move the region into such direction. Specific focus will be given to the actors in the region such as political societies, civil society organizations, religious groups and a new middle class. It will equally be important to look at new emerging institutions such as parliaments, municipal councils to see the kind of impact they can generate.
In terms of economic transformation and the emergence of business and middle classes, the role of chambers of commerce needs to be looked at. During elections to the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce in December 2005 for example, two women were elected, a historic first for the Saudi kingdom. What are the implications, if any? The emergence of tactical alliances between new middle class members and the ruling elite implies questions about how this "partnership" functions. In the meanwhile, the ruling elites are struggling to initiate reforms dealing with youth unemployment and the socio-economic problems. What are the main obstacles that hinder a successful implementation of economic reforms? Finally from the domestic point of view, it will be relevant to look more closely at the ideas and debates that are contributing or hampering impending reform.
Looking at the external environment, the participants from the region in the November 2005 meeting stated that, while the September 11 events were a factor that has brought the issue of political reforms to the fore, it is certainly not the only catalyst for change. In some respects, US policies had in fact proved to be more of a “stumbling block.” A consensus opinion was that reforms will take place in the region “despite the US and not because of the US.”
Nevertheless, there can be no doubt that external factors do play a role whether positively or negatively. The workshop will thus take a multifaceted approach looking at how reforms taking place elsewhere in the Arab world are having an impact on political reform in the GCC countries, while also discussing the impact of direct external efforts to influence political reform in the Middle East on the GCC States. Specific emphasis is to be given to the perception in Washington and European capitals and the perception in the region and to a comparative analysis that looks at whether efforts have positive or mostly counterproductive effects and how such efforts can be improved upon.
The workshop has been designed so that each panel starts with two initial presentations, one by an analyst from a GCC country and one by an American or European analyst. This will make it possible to compare the different perspectives on what drives political reform in the area. It is also hoped that this will lead to ideas and/or suggestions about how the overall political reform process in the GCC countries can be reinforced and strengthened.
Objectives of the Workshop
• Focus on the Internal and External Drivers for Political Reform in the GCC States
• Look at how domestic factors have influenced and are likely to influence in the future, either positively or negatively, the political reform process in GCC countries
• Look at how external factors have influenced and are likely to influence in the future, either positively or negatively, the political reform process in GCC countries
• Provide a comparative perspective on the perception in the region, in Washington and in European capitals on the impact of various factors on political reform.
• Identifying common denominators shared by all drivers that can promote a reform process in the region and propose implementable policy alternatives.
• Understand the mechanisms of reform between new emerging actors and ruling elite.
• Provide an in-sight on economic networks financing ruling elites and civil societies.
The upcoming workshop will be the third in a series of meetings organized by the GRC as part of its Research project to promote declaring the Gulf region a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone (GWMDFZ). The Research Program was created following a workshop hosted by the GRC here in Dubai on December 11-12, 2004 which launched the initiative. High level representatives from countries in the region, as well as international experts and academics, along with representatives from a number of regional and international organizations took part in a two day -closed workshop discussion on the highly critical issue of WMD proliferation in the region and the ramifications of these developments on countries in the Gulf as well as the international community.
The initiative was very well received in the region following two successful meetings in Dubai and Stockholm. The second meeting was in fact co-sponsored by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) as part of their mission to conduct research on questions of conflict and co-operation for international peace and security and with the endorsement of the European Union. The gaining importance of the Gulf as a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone project in the region was exemplified in the endorsement of the idea by GCC Secretary-General Abdul Rahman Al Attiyah at the opening of the GCC Summit in Abu Dhabi in December 2005.
This upcoming workshop is being carried out with the support of VERTIC, an independent, non-governmental organization. Its mission is to promote effective and efficient verification as a means of ensuring confidence in the implementation of international agreements and intra-national agreements with international involvement. VERTIC’s contribution to this meeting is funded by the Global Opportunities Fund of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO.)
At this meeting, we are hoping that through the high level official representation from all the nine Gulf States we will be able to push the process from a Track II diplomatic path to a Track I official level. It is our hope that like other disarmament processes before, we can encourage regional governments to adopt this idea officially for our mutual security.
Purposes of workshop
1. to provide an opportunity for representatives of the nine states in the greater Gulf region to exchange views on establishing a regional ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone (WMDFZ)’ in support of the Gulf Research Center’s project to promote a Gulf WMDFZ;
2. to provide an opportunity for representatives to learn about national nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) weapons law, as well as UN Security Council Resolution 1540 (UNSCR 1540), in support of VERTIC’s project on national implementation measures (NIM) for international treaties, agreements and norms; and
3. to provide the GRC and VERTIC with an opportunity to learn more about the positions and concerns of the participating countries regarding non-proliferation of WMD in the Gulf region, including helping to identify any areas in which technical and/or legal assistance would be useful in implementing appropriate national measures.
The workshop supports VERTIC’s project, ‘Building capacity to implement nuclear and biological weapons treaties, norms and UN Security Council Resolutions’. This project focuses on national implementation measures (NIM), and has been developed to address the difficulties that many states, especially developing countries, face in understanding what measures are required at the national level to comply with the prohibitions in a wide range of nuclear and biological treaties, norms and UN Security Council resolutions (UNSCR), and how to implement them. While there are bilateral, multilateral and inter-governmental programs which offer some implementation assistance, depending on the agreement, there are still substantial gaps to be filled. Under this project, VERTIC is developing a guide to national implementation requirements under the agreements mentioned above, model national laws and/or legislative provisions, and a list of useful resources to help states find further assistance, and holding a series of seminars and regional workshops to raise awareness of implementation obligations and approaches.