The Gulf Research Center (GRC) organized a Policy Forum that addressed a range of policy issues related to the Gulf region. The Forum outlined the main findings of the Gulf Strategic Analysis 2022 report by the research team of the GRC. This report provided an overview of the regional developments during the past 12 months. At the forum, the key findings were discussed in two panel sessions focusing on the key current political/security and economic/energy policy issues impacted with the Gulf region. Show more
This is the first annual conference for the Tafahum project. This closed conference held under Chatham House Rule, will further outline and discuss how dialogue, cooperation and coordination on topics of shared interest and concern in the region can be structured.
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The conference brought together thought leaders from Iraq and several GCC countries for two days of private, structured discussions. The dialogue is focused on intra-regional relations and supporting efforts at more fully reintegrating Iraq into the Arab world. Iraq’s reintegration and the normalization of its relations with its Arab neighbors has been undermined both by the reckless regional policies pursued during the Saddam Hussein era and by the rising sectarian tensions that characterized the post-Saddam period. The current moment sees two countervailing trends: shared regional concerns about the spread of ISIS in particular and violent Jihadi Salafism in general, and escalating sectarian polarization, most notably in Syria and Iraq. In light of this backdrop, this proposed dialogue would seek to support the current efforts to improve Iraq’s ties with its Gulf neighbors, and the dialogue would initially reflect this by addressing mutual perceptions, common and diverging interests, and developing ideas for bilateral, multilateral and regional cooperation. With the rise of ISIS and the spread of sectarian conflict, the need for dialogue is acute to further regional security cooperation, avoid increased polarization and accidental escalation, and maximize post-ISIS stabilization and reconstruction efforts.
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Conference organised by the NATO Defense College Foundation in cooperation with the Gulf Research Center Foundation, the NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme, the NATO Defense College and the University of Jordan.
ROME, 25-26th of February 2016
Venue: Sala Anfiteatro – Auditorium Via Veneto, Via Vittorio Veneto 89
The Arab revolutions, the present turmoil together with the US-Iranian peace overtures, have changed in a significant way the strategic landscape of regional security even in countries where no political upheaval was experienced. In addition non-state actors increase significantly the risk of disintegration of countries in the area, while regional hegemonic competitions complicate an already volatile situation. In this difficult context there is a clear need to understand how external powers interests can be reconciled also through a web of partnerships and co-operative security arrangements
It is therefore important to analyze the perceptions and consequences of this changing environment. This is seen as the key to overcome short-term political turmoil as well as diplomatic disarray and craft effective policies guaranteeing the security and sovereignty of all countries of the area.
The NATO Defense College Foundation and the Gulf Research Center Foundation intend to better understand the roots of this geopolitical uproar, to put together different views on different priorities and to explore possible future outcomes. The purpose of the conference is ambitious but the time has come to tackle the right fundamental issues. The conference is structured in four panels. It has a circular structure consisting of two distinct and intertwining sets: one on soft strategic factors and one on hard security.
The Gulf Research Center Foundation is pleased to invite you to join the INCONET-GCC 2 International Conference entitled: Collaboration for Innovation; Linking GCC and EU on December 6-8, 2015 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Muscat, Oman.
INCONET-GCC 2 is a European Commission funded project which aims at establishing a Science, Technology and Innovation International Cooperation Network between the European Union and the Arab Gulf Countries aiming at the bi-regional coordination towards HORIZON2020.
The Gulf Research Center Foundation is part of the consortium of this innovative and ambitious project and we hope you will be able to join the debates & exchanges.
This international conference is organized by the INCONET-GCC 2 consortium and will gather around 100 representatives from all over the world. The first day, December 6th is dedicated to on-site visits to local Technology Parks, Incubators and Research Organizations. The second & third days will present the state of EU-GCC cooperation, collaboration opportunities & benefits as well as barriers to overcome, with a focus on Energy and Healthcare as well as Smart Cities, which have been identified as sectors of mutual interest and benefit between the EU and GCC countries.
For your information, the INCONET-GCC 2 project is the follow-up of the results of previous cooperation activities with the Arab Gulf Countries (INCONET-GCC 1st phase) as it focuses on selected societal challenges of mutual interest identified during the previous collaboration. INCONET-GCC 2 explores how to achieve win-win collaboration across national, multidisciplinary and cross-sector approaches, while also realizing and underpinning new-path-breaking kinds of capacity-building and organizing clustering activities around the selected research priorities: smart cities, smart energy & eHealth.
If you wish to participate in this conference, please contact:
Sébastien Lévy at firstname.lastname@example.org
or Sylviane Toporkoff at email@example.com
Please feel free to forward this information to any of your colleagues who may be interested to join this conference.
For more details, please also visit: http://www.inconet-gcc.eu/
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The Gulf Research Center, the Geneva Center for Security Policy and the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University convened in Gstaad for their annual discussions on developments in the Middle Eastern region. Bringing together renowned regional, security, and policy experts in order to assess the overall situation in the Middle East, the meeting focused on the changing strategic landscape and the geopolitical and regional dynamics at play, an assessment of the state and implications of the Arab Revolutions, as well as an in-depth look at the situation in the Levant, Turkey, North Africa, the Gulf region and Israel and Palestine. The meeting underlined that the Middle East was undergoing fundamental shifts and transitions including a move from state centric approaches to non-state issues and from a national to a transnational focus. With vacuums appearing in many place, the question of who or what will fill the vacuum is of central importance.
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The Gulf Research Center, in partnership with the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) and the Crown Center at Brandeis University, hosted the 12th Annual Conference on the Middle East in Gstaad, Switzerland on June 20-2, 2014. The conference brought together about 25 renowned regional, security, and policy experts in order to assess the current situation in the Middle East and North Africa. During the meeting, participants discussed 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. There was a session on the current nuclear negotiations with Iran and what it means for the wider region and its relations with outside powers. A policy brief summarizing the discussions has been released by the Geneva Center for Security Policy.
The national economy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has achieved unprecedented accomplishments not only in the Middle East Region, but also on a global level, especially in recent years, after the Kingdom was ranked as one of the richest twenty countries in the world, combined with the growth, strength and high flexibility achieved by the Saudi economy. This has enabled the Kingdom to overcome the global financial crisis that hit the global economy since 2008, while the consequences of subsequent economic aftershocks are still affecting most of the global economies. This proves the strength of the Saudi economy and its ability to grow as confirmed by the figures of the State Budget and the surplus achieved over the past years.
Proceeding from the mission of the Faculty of Economics and Administration in King Abdulaziz University in promoting scientific academic research, and serving the community, especially after the great success achieved by the Conference at its first edition held during the period of 7- 9 May 2012, the College will launch the second edition of this Conference (National Economy: Challenges and Ambitions) during the period of 22- 24 April, 2014. This Conference will discuss several key issues related to the reality and the future of the national economy and its impact on citizens, especially with regard to the economic sectors related to services. All this will take place within the framework of discussing the challenges and how to achieve the ambitions in this area.
The Gulf Research Center Foundation in Geneva will host the 1st GCC-Swiss Forum, to be held from September 3 to 4, 2013 at the InterContinental Hotel Geneva. This pioneering event will serve to identify the multi-faceted opportunities as well as address the status quo of the bilateral relations between Switzerland and the countries of the strategically important Arabian Gulf region. There will be plenary sessions on GCC-Swiss Economic and Political Relations as well as on Energy, Tourism, Banking & Finance and Education. Particular attention will also be paid to the recent Free Trade Agreement signed between the EFTA and GCC member states, and the opportunities this brings about for future GCC-Swiss relations. In addition to formulating a concrete set of policy recommendations that can promote and advance the diverse and growing ties between the two sides, the event will serve as an excellent networking opportunity between respective government and business representatives.
The GCC-Swiss Forum will bring together high-level representatives from both Switzerland and the Gulf region including numerous ministers, representatives from respective chambers of commerce as well as GCC and Swiss business leaders. We are pleased to be able to confirm that H.E. Maj. Gen. Dr. Abdul Latif bin Rashid al Zayani, the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council and H.E. The Vice President of Switzerland, Dr. Didier Burkhalter, have already confirmed their attendance and will address the event as keynote speakers. If this event has caught your interest, please register online today
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The Gulf Research Center, the Geneva Center for Security Policy and the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University held the 11th edition of their Middle East Annual Conference in Gstaad, Switzerland from June 28-30, 2013. Bringing together 25 specialists, the conference focused on the geopolitical and regional dynamics of the Middle East, an evaluation of the Arab Revolutions including developments occurring in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and the Maghreb, as well as an overview of the domestic politics and the various security implications when it comes to the Arab Gulf States, Iran, Iraq, Israel and Palestine. The meeting concluding with a panel on US policy and implications.
As part of the EU-supported project on “Promoting Deeper EU-GCC Relations,” the Gulf Research Center (GRC) along with the College of Arts and Sciences of Qatar University, the Global Governance Institute and the Institute for European Studies at Vrije Universiteit Brussels, hosted a two-day workshop on “Promoting an EU-GCC Dialogue on Foreign Policy Issues” on the campus of Qatar University in Doha on April 29 and 30, 2013. The workshop was divided into six sessions focusing on EU-GCC Relations, Yemen, Global Governance, the Mediterranean region, Non-Proliferation Issues and Syria. Each session was introduced by a background paper and was followed by a lively and animated discussion among the participants. In total more than 70 persons took part included 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 late summer 2013. For further information, also consult the project website under: http://eu-gcc.kcorp.net/
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Globalization has demolished barriers and increased economic interdependence. This in turn has positive and negative consequences for national economies. On the positive side, the rate of investments and capital movement among states has increased. On the negative side, the recent global economic crisis, including the US financial crisis and the debt problems of some EU countries, seriously impacted the world economy, especially developing economies.
As a reaction to the global economic crisis, governments, officials of national and international institutions, and academic institutions have engaged in studying and analyzing the various aspects of the crisis in order to understand its causes and consequences and to design strategies for dealing with the impact. They also seek to be better prepared in case such crises occur in the future. In addition, they want to evaluate the impact of the crisis on the economies of the developed and developing countries and study the challenges they faced and the solutions they adopted to deal with the new international economic environment.
The challenges facing the Saudi economy in such an unpredictable international economic environment led King Abdulaziz University – represented by the Faculty of Economic and Administration – to hold a conference titled "Saudi Economy: Challenges and Opportunities."
The relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia has for decades been strong and important to both countries, creating a mutual dependency based on oil and security. Relations have periodically been subject to tensions, notably after September 11, when the predominance of Saudi citizens among perpetrators led to strong U.S. criticism of Saudi policies. At present, tensions have risen yet again due to the divergent reactions of Washington and Riyadh to the Arab Spring. The speakers will discuss how the post-September 11 crisis was managed and resolved as well as how the present crisis is being addressed.
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Under the patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz "The Gulf-Africa Investment Conference 2010 - Fostering Economic Relations" was held in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from December 4 to 5, 2010 organized by the Council of Saudi Chambers in partnership with the Gulf Research Center. Thereby, the Kingdom is underlining the importance of the Gulf-Africa Investment Conference and stressing the commitment to developing the strategic relationship with the countries on the African continent.
The Gulf-Africa Conference brought together key leaders and personalities from government, business, academia and media to outline the issues and challenges facing more constructive economic and business-to-business relations between the key regions of Africa and the Gulf. The focus of the meeting was looking specifically into the various investment opportunities that are presenting themselves including the relevant strategies required to turn initial plans into more concrete actions. This includes opportunities in areas such as agriculture, minerals and natural resources, energy, telecommunications and infrastructure, as well as tourism and trade development. In all of these instances, the Gulf-Africa Conference was a unique gathering that added substance to much of the present rhetoric about GCC-Africa ties.
The Conference on Energy Security: Potential for EU-GCC Cooperation will be held on November 09-10, 2010 at the Diplomat Radisson Blu Hotel in
This high-level international conference is organized by the
The conference is one of the concluding events of SECURE, a research project funded by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme with the objective of building a comprehensive framework that covers the issues related to security of supply inside and outside the EU.
The conference will bring together some 150 energy security policy experts, among them Ministers of Oil & Gas / Energy from the region, representatives of the European Union to the Gulf Cooperation Council, Academics, CEOs of the major Oil corporations, civil servants and diplomats in the region.
The objective of the conference is to create a platform for discussion and dialogue on past, current and future energy security problems and solutions. The current and emerging energy and greenhouse gas challenges will also be addressed.
The conference will consist of six plenary sessions, introduced by a short presentation of SECURE research outcomes, followed by a panel of discussants composed of energy security policy experts from different backgrounds.
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The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which was officially launched this January, has announced that its headquarters will be located in
The aim of the event is:
·To focus on the main renewable energy challenges that the
·To exchange views with different experts in this field
·Discuss concept, ideas, projects and policy options that could be proposed as road map to governments in the region
In addition to traditional partners like the
The election for the next
The scope and depth of the
The number of questions associated with the future direction of US Gulf policy is long and complicated. Much of the focus will be on the continued military presence in
Beyond the political and military angle, there are a host of other issues that impact on the US-Gulf relationship including concerns over energy security, the role of the US dollar in Gulf financial markets, the overall position of the oil-producing states as a rising force in global financial affairs, and the impact of the global financial crisis on both the US and the regional economy. The new
The GRC is firmly convinced that a thorough assessment and analysis of US Gulf policy is both warranted and required. The fact that a changing of the guard will occur in
Objectives of the Gulf Forum 2009
· To undertake an assessment of the current status of
· To highlight the position of the GCC states and to analyze in-depth their foreign and security-related policies.
· To explore practical realities and to look at the policy steps being implemented by the regional states.
· To begin to understand the kind of policy approaches that can be expected from the incoming
· To outline the parameters of a US policy in the Gulf region that balances the need for security and a US presence in the area with the prerogatives of internal stability and more cooperative set of regional relations.
The WIR is the world’s authoritative compendium of trends in foreign direct investments (FDI) and is published annually. The press conference will outline the major findings of the WIR 2008 with regards to:
Bond markets, an indispensable means of financing and an important asset class, are relatively underdeveloped in the GCC countries. Much is left to be done in terms of government benchmarks, market makers, investor base and regulatory frameworks, although the number of issues and issue sizes increased considerably until the recent subprime crisis. The roundtable discussion will debate current issues relating to the nascent GCC bond markets.
The Middle East & Asia Energy Summit will address one of the most pressing issues of our time. Continuously rising demand, especially from emerging market countries like China, faces increasing supply challenges. Oil and gas extraction in a maturing industry requires more sophisticated technological solutions and huge investments, while the increasing cross border transport of energy calls for international cooperation. Geopolitical tensions have to be eased while innovative transport and strategic storage solutions have to be found.
The Middle East has 60 percent of worldwide oil reserves and 40 percent of worldwide gas reserves, about two thirds of its energy exports go to Asia, a dynamic industrious region that has developed into the “workbench of the world” and faces a striking lack of endowment with energy resources. Thus the dependence is mutual and the chances for cooperation manifold. The Middle East & Asia Energy Summit offers the opportunity to get first hand knowledge from senior speakers and industry insiders about issues such as:
• Asia’s growing oil thirst: Will the Middle East be able to quench it? The challenges of enhanced oil recovery
• Prospects of trade in Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)
• Country assessments: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran and Iraq
• Petrochemicals and refining: The necessity of cross border
• Tanker shortages, pipeline projects and transport of refined products
• Strategic storage solutions
• Choke points and the management of geopolitical risk: The straits of Hormuz and Malacca
The 8th annual Middle East conference sponsored by the Geneva Center for Security Policy (GCSP), the RAND Corporation, the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University and the Gulf Research Center (GRC) will take place in Gstaad, Switzerland from July 1-3, 2007. The conference will follow its traditional course of focusing on the changes and trends in the broader Middle Eastern security environment including looking at the regional and geopolitical dynamics, the Arab-Israeli conflict as well as the situation pertaining to Iraq and Iran nuclear program. The conference is unique as it reflects the views from the US, Europe, the Middle East region itself thereby providing a comprehensive assessment of the Middle East in 2007.
The Gulf Research Center (GRC) will be a strategic partner of the Saudi Law Training Center in organizing the Second GCC Capital Market Forum 2007 in Dubai. The conference will be held on March 3 and 4 in JW Marriot Hotel in Dubai. After the severe stock market corrections of 2006, the Forum will discuss problems and prospects of the GCC stock markets. Under the title “Managing the Crisis,” crucial topics like family businesses going public, internet trading, unification of Gulf stock markets and good governance issues will be addressed.
Building on the success of the first forum, sponsored by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance and Industry, the second GCC Capital Market Forum will be held with distinguished specialists, speakers and guests for the second consecutive year. Abdulaziz O. Sager, Chairman of the Gulf Research Center, will address in his inaugural speech the current condition of the GCC financial markets as well as the challenges they pose and the opportunities they present. A special study on the management of IPOs will be presented by two distinguished IMF experts on the Middle East, Mr. Fernando Delgado and Dr. Mohammed Omran. Dr. Eckart Woertz, Program Manager Economics at GRC, will present a study on the collapse of the GCC stock markets, the reasons behind it and the best means to deal with the situation. The Abu Dhabi Securities Market, the other strategic partner in the Second GCC Capital Market Forum, will present a paper on the effects of legislation and laws on the development and stability of securities markets.
The last event co-sponsored by NATO and the Gulf Research Center in September 2005 in Dubai sought to explore the practical possibilities of cooperation within NATO’s Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) and to see how the relationship between NATO and the member states of the GCC can be enhanced and promoted. The findings of this meeting concluded that an expanded role for NATO in the Gulf could contribute to greater security and stability in the region, in keeping with the aims of the ICI which was launched at the Alliance"s Summit in June 2004. NATO’s aim to contribute to long-term global and regional security by offering countries of the broader Middle East region practical bilateral security cooperation is of ever-increasing importance to the Gulf countries today.
As a follow up to the initial joint meeting between NATO and the GRC in which NATO laid out the “menu” of the ICI to their potential partners in the Gulf region, this second conference will build on the initial findings. With the Institute for Diplomatic Studies of the Foreign Ministry of Saudi Arabia as an additional sponsor, the focus will not only be on the overall geo-strategic picture of possible future co-operation, but will particularly aim to highlight specific and practical aspects of potential NATO involvement the Gulf in the realm of soft security issues. The overall objective of the meeting is thus to kick start real and meaningful engagement between NATO and its Gulf partners.
The conference proposes to look at four key areas and discuss practical ways that NATO can offer assistance to Gulf partners. Such areas include:
• Intelligence-sharing and co-operation as part of the overall fight against terrorism
• Cooperation regarding border security in connection with terrorism, small arms and light weapons trafficking
• Joint efforts to combat illegal human and drug trafficking and developing common strategies to tackle this problematic
• Civil emergency planning, including participating in training courses and exercises on disaster assistance, civil-military coordination, and crisis response to maritime, aviation, and surface threats
Through establishing a framework for practical co-operation and dialogue on such a focused set of topics, the Gulf Research Center, the Institute for Diplomatic Studies and NATO hope to push Gulf-NATO relations further down the path towards a strategic partnership. The meeting would be introduced by an overview of the NATO policies regarding the four above-mentioned topics as well as an assessment from the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) regarding the current level of threat that these issues represent. In addition, there will be a discussion on the post-Cold War transformation of NATO and the implications this also holds for the Gulf region. The workshop will conclude with a roundtable to provide policy suggestions.
Anticipated speakers and participants are representatives from NATO, GCC Foreign and Defense Ministries, members of the other various GCC defense and intelligence establishment as well as regional experts and analysts.
The Gulf Research Center (GRC) will hold its fourth annual conference on January 11, 2007 centered around the release and presentation of the GRC"s annual yearbook entitled “Gulf Yearbook 2006-2007.” This publication highlights the main and critical developments of the year for the Gulf region focusing on the major political, economic, security, and social trends. The conference will be opened by the GRC chairman to be followed by individual presentations on the Yearbook’s main findings and conclusions.
The Gulf Research Center (GRC) is releasing the Arabic translation of the International Energy Outlook 2006 (IEO 2006) with a high ranking roundtable about contemporary energy issues.
Trading relations between Asia and the GCC have been developing by leaps and bounds in the recent years. While the GCC is the most important energy supplier to Asia, the latter, in turn, exports machinery, cars and engineering goods to the Gulf countries. The GCC countries are also developing closer ties with Asia in security and cultural matters. South Korea is one of the most developed and most important countries in Asia and already entertains close trading relations with GCC.
The joint workshop between the Gulf Research Center (GRC) and the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP) deals with the status quo of the trading relations between Korea and the GCC countries and their future challenges. Specific attention will be paid to the energy sector, most notably Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). Other areas of discussion will include financial cooperation and foreign direct investment.
This follows the directions initiated by the GRC’s 2006 Annual conference titled “Dynamic Alliances: Strengthening Ties between the GCC and Asia” which addressed the GCC’s growing bilateral trade and investment relations with Asia along with the correlated political and security implications in January 2006.
It has been shown that in nearly every area of human achievements, from business, to the arts, to science, to sports and in the political arena there are teams of people that produce outstanding and innovative results by getting more than the full-value of the talent potential of the assembled individuals. Such work groups are referred to as Virtuoso Teams. Virtuoso Teams consist of star performers, at every level and are a powerful way to generate major change such as: creating radical new strategies, entering new markets, or the re-generation of a company. As such, they are unlike traditional teams which are typically made up of whoever is available. Leaders of Virtuoso Teams, meanwhile, put a premium on great collaboration and they are not afraid to encourage creative confrontations to get it.
The IMD Business Forum held in collaboration with the Gulf Research Center (GRC) and the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) will focus specifically on the role of virtuoso teams. The event will be led by Professor Bill Fischer, Professor of Technology Management at IMD International, who will share the outcome of his published research focused on how to systematically exploit the power of the Virtuoso Team method. The speakers and the discussion at this Forum will offer various insights from their experiences of how high performance teams are critical to achieving outstanding results
Dr. Omar Bin Sulaiman, Director General of Dubai International Financial Centre Authority (DIFCA) will make the opening address on the "Impact of Virtuoso Teams in Ultra Rapid Growth: The Dubai Story".
More speakers from the international and regional business communities will share with us their views on this topic.
Seeking solutions to the environmental issues that are on the horizon is a top priority today. Environmentalists across the globe are urging governments, authorities and the public at large to change their attitudes, approaches and actions towards the earth’s finite natural resources and the environment.
The driving force behind change in any sphere has to embrace every single section of society in order to influence thinking and action. It is, therefore, extremely essential that the youth of today understand, assimilate and demand answers to crucial environmental issues, which have affected their past and present and will drastically impact their future as well.
It is true that governments need to prepare and implement sound policies, laws and measures to protect our deteriorating environment and natural resources. But these need to be accompanied and sustained by wide-ranging awareness programs that educate and persuade the public, especially the children and youth, to be active participants in this process of change and shoulder equal responsibilities towards achieving a cleaner and greener planet.
This Youth Conference on Environment intends to promote environmental awareness and motivate young minds in the Gulf region to start looking around them, become aware of the damage to their environment and natural resources, realize the intensity and urgency of the situation, probe deeply into the existing threats and causes and suggest innovative and immediate solutions to stem the tide of destruction.
The conference will witness presentations from 10 student speakers – who have been chosen by an international panel of experts based on the abstracts received from university students in the UAE that have been judged on the basis of originality, the seriousness of the identified issue, the quality of the writing, the depth of research and the innovativeness of the proposed solutions.
In order to encourage these eager and committed students, the top three presentations will receive commemorative plaques and all 10 papers will be published.
This conference is part of the GRC’s vision for a Green Gulf and a greener planet. Realizing the importance of environment conservation and sustainable development, the GRC has widened the scope of its activities to include environmental research and awareness activities to facilitate solutions to the problems faced by the region and the world due to the degradation of the environment and depletion of precious natural resources.
One major initiative of the GRC in this field has been the “Green Gulf” project, which is a scientific attempt to address some of the most critical problems facing the region in the form of unsustainable patterns of production and consumption. Being carried out in cooperation with TERI, the Green Gulf study focuses on the natural resources of the region and the state of the environment, both critical for the future of the Gulf and the world.
Other proposed activities include creating a Web-based education module for instilling awareness about environmental issues; preparing supplementary Arabic reading material and conducting Arabic quiz programs; building a Web-based environmental database for the GCC countries, which will provide a storehouse of information on environmental and related issues; and an annual regional report on the environment.
The Gulf Research Center (GRC) will hold its third annual conference on January 4, 2006. Entitled “Gulf Yearbook 2005-2006,” the conference will see the release and presentation of the GRC"s annual yearbook entitled “Gulf Yearbook 2005.” This publication highlights the key developments of the year, focusing on the major political, economic, security, and social trends. Following the keynote address by H.E. Ong Keng Yong, the Secretary-General of ASEAN, select contributors to the Yearbook will present their findings.
The Yearbook will be divided into four parts, each of which will explore a theme relevant to the current situation in the Gulf. The first section will deal with political and social developments in the Gulf, and will cover municipal elections in Saudi Arabia, external factors and their impact on political reform in the Gulf, education curricula, the role of civil society and of NGOs as well as women and youth. The second section will deal with economic developments and will include articles on real estate, the GCC stock markets, oil production and energy, labor markets, and economic reform and growth prospects. The third section will focus on the international relations of the Gulf and will include analysis on developments in Iraq, Iran, Yemen as well as on the new Gulf focus on Asia and the US role in the Gulf. The fourth section will deal with defense and security issues and will include essays on terrorism and counterterrorism in the Gulf countries, NATO and the role of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, the future direction of US policy in the Gulf, as well as options for a Gulf regional security structure. The Yearbook will also include the latest statistical tables and other data in various relevant fields.
The Gulf Research Center together with the NATO Division of Public Diplomacy will be hosting a one-day specialized conference on Promoting Cooperation and Fostering Relations: NATO-Gulf relations in the Framework of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative. The event will take place on September 26, 2005, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
With its decision to adopt the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative in June 2004, NATO underscored its intention to work with interested countries in the Middle East, starting with the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, to foster mutually beneficial bilateral relationships and thus enhance security and stability. The purpose of this meeting to explore the practical possibilities of such cooperation and to see how the relationship between NATO and the member states of the GCC can be enhanced and promoted.
In addition to the expert presentations by leading specialists from NATO and the GCC States, the event will be attended by a number of high-level diplomats from both the GCC and the NATO side. This will make it possible to provide an in-depth look at the issue of a possible NATO role in Gulf security matters.
Abdulaziz O. Sager
Gulf Research Center
Allow me at the outset to extend a warm welcome to all the participants and attendees who have joined us today for this very timely and important meeting of the Gulf Research Center (GRC) and the NATO Division of Public Diplomacy on a discussion on NATO-GCC Relations in the Framework of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI). I am particularly pleased to have with us the Assistant Secretary-General for Public Diplomacy Mr. Jean Fournet, Dr. Alberto Bin and Mr. Nicola De Santis from the NATO Headquarters in Brussels who have agreed to sponsor this event with the GRC and who over the past year have expressed an intense interest to have a forum in the region under which NATO policy and especially its programs vis-à-vis the GCC states can be discussed and elaborated upon. I must really thank them for all the support and assistance they have provided us with and I want to extend a special welcome to them here in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates.
Over the past year, the GRC has undertaken a number of initiatives to build upon its relationship with NATO. In fact almost precisely to the date a year ago, we were very fortunate to be able to host Deputy Secretary-General Ambassador Alessandro Minuto Rizzo at the Gulf Research Center in September 2004 for a roundtable discussion that coincided with the Secretary’s initial talks with regional governments about the ICI and NATO’s offer of a broadened relationship. And just three weeks ago, the GRC under its Executive Leadership Program on European institutions took a group of twenty-five leading Gulf professionals and policy practitioners to NATO Headquarters for a visit and briefing by Ambassador Rizzo, Mr. Nicola De Santis and the American Ambassador Victoria Nuland. Again, we thank them for their cooperation. We found the visit to the hallowed halls of NATO to be extremely useful and informative.
Since first announcing its Istanbul Cooperation Initiative and stating its willingness to broaden its outreach to the Middle East region and specifically the Gulf, NATO has proceeded at a relatively rapid rate and has been able to conclude agreements with four of the six GCC States – Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates under the ICI umbrella. Discussions are continuing with Oman and Saudi Arabia and are likely to be brought to a positive conclusion shortly. This is a development to be welcomed as an expanded NATO role in the Gulf is likely to contribute to greater security and stability in the region.
At the same time, there is still a lot of confusion and uncertainty about the objectives and interests of NATO. Particularly as far as the public is concerned, there is little concrete understanding about what the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative is really about or what the purpose behind this new approach is. To overcome this information deficit and to be able to elaborate more fully about NATO’s intentions, we agreed to hold this joint conference so that people in the Gulf region will become more aware about this important initiative and so that NATO itself can enlighten us all about its intended and envisioned role in the near future.
Overcoming existing perceptions will be critical if NATO is to succeed in making the ICI a key component of a more inclusive regional security dialogue. In that context, it is important that one begins to better understand the composition of NATO as an organization, to comprehend the relationship between NATO and the United States as well as the rest of the member states and to get a better sense of the different components that make up the ICI. Here, it is not sufficient just to mention that the NATO initiative is one in which each member state can determine its own scope and rate of participation. Rather, it is the region itself that has to be informed about what role issues such as improving border security, the fight against international terrorism, the movement towards greater interoperability as part of military-to-military cooperation, or working against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction play within the thinking of NATO and how such cooperation is actually being enacted. Overall, the true nature and extent of the relationship between NATO and the GCC member states as well as the ICI initiative itself needs to be well and better defined.
In addition, there is a need to clear up existing misperceptions that also the GCC states as a whole must begin to understand. Although NATO was primarily established as a military organization that formed itself within the context of the Cold War period, the alliance has grown beyond its initial mandate to include a political component that is of equal if not greater importance. This is partly due to the fact that NATO is a multilateral organization that operates on the basis of consensus and where decision-making is done at the collective level. Over the past decade, NATO has already undergone a substantial transformation concerning its mission and objectives and it is today no longer the same organization that stood across from the Warsaw Pact countries only twenty years ago.
Given that history and the way that NATO has begun to structure itself today, there is a lot that the GCC States can learn from such an experience. Furthermore, it becomes both possible and necessary to relate that experience to how the two sides can begin to work together to promote mutual political interests and act against common security concerns. NATO’s knowledge and practice in constructing a multilateral alliance network, in burden-sharing as well as in promoting individual country specialization ultimately leading to a more effective coalition, is unprecedented and of direct utility for the GCC States.
From its action in both the Balkans and the current function that NATO is performing in Afghanistan, it is clear that NATO has a significant role to play in the shifting global security environment and one that is very much appreciated. Given the volatile security situation that currently exists in the Gulf, NATO can play a role in assisting the region to develop more comprehensive and lasting structures that can deal with the dangers with which the region might be confronted. This again is an area where initiatives such as the ICI can play an important function and one hopefully over which participants and delegates will engage in a substantive discussion over the course of the day.
It is in the tradition of events at the Gulf Research Center that we encourage everyone here to be as frank and open as possible and to take advantages of such a gathering to take a serious look at the issues that confront us. While we are only at the beginning in terms of focusing on what a future role for NATO in the region could look like, this is indeed a critical subject where the early interjection and involvement of as many people as possible will allow us to formulate what we hope are concrete and applicable policy prescriptions. This is something that I encourage everyone here to do.