With respect to its unique and distinguished position in the Islamic world, the Makkah Region is now preparing for the world’s most significant construction endeavor relative to its magnitude, and its numerous urban, service-related, and cultural development projects that are currently underway. In the forefront of these is the Grand Mosque Expansion Project, the largest of its kind in history. This huge undertaking will also be supplemented with billions of Saudi riyals going towards developing facilities and services in the city of Makkah and Islamic holy sites, which are now being prepared for development. Falling under the government strategy to best serve Hajj and Umrah pilgrims, these development, service and investment projects will inevitably lead to the diversification of the facilities, services and development in cities and governorates throughout the Makkah Region. Therefore, the purpose of this conference and exhibition is to introduce this huge network of projects and services, both those that are in the early stages of implementation and those which are expected to be completed within the next few years.
Nonetheless, the primary objective of this conference and exhibition is to shed light and true understanding on the future of Makkah’s infrastructure, cultural and service sector development in the coming years. In addition, the aim is to send a strong, informative and important message not only to Arab and Islamic countries but to the rest of the world that Saudi Arabia is exerting all its efforts and working with utmost diligence to build, serve and develop this Region that is so dear to the hearts of all Muslims. In doing so, the conference and exhibition will present video and audio material concerning current and future projects within the Grand Mosque, holy sites and throughout the city of Makkah and other cities and governorates of the Makkah Region. These will highlight the facts surrounding Saudi Arabia’s continued maintenance and service to the Two Holy Mosques, Islam’s other holy sites, and the countless Hajj and Umrah pilgrims, the care of which has gone uninterrupted throughout the history of this blessed country. Indeed, the facts presented will respond to any unreasonable accusations to the contrary.
Under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Khaled Al-Faisal bin Abdulaziz, Advisor to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Governor of the Makkah Region, President of the Makkah Region Development Authority and Chairman of the Central Hajj Committee, the conference and exhibition organizing committee would like to emphasize the importance of participation in the various major ongoing projects and their implementation in addition to the future projects in the city of Makkah, the holy sites, and the remaining cities and governorates in the Makkah Region. It is our humble aspiration that the conference and exhibition will fulfill this purpose, God willing
The Gulf Research Center (GRC) and the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) are holding a “European-Saudi Arabia Dialogue Meeting” at the ECFR offices in London
Given the deepening regional instability in the Middle East, the need for Europe to have a more informed strategic engagement with Saudi Arabia is becoming ever more apparent – and urgent. Following the official Middle East-focused European Global Strategy Review meeting hosted by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) in January 2016, the ECFR and the Gulf Research Center (GRC) will be convening a group of prominent and well-connected Saudi specialists and analysts together with European policy makers and analysts with the aim of gaining a better understanding of Saudi thinking and positioning in the region, as well as exploring areas for better alignment and cooperation in regional policies.
Europe’s understanding of the Kingdom’s interests and polices is too often clouded by a lack of knowledge and given the Kingdom’s centrality to any hoped-for stabilizing drive, ECFR and GRC are aiming to help facilitate a more informed strategic dialogue.
The conversation between the two sides will be driven by events in Syria but will also look at the broader situation, including in Yemen as well as the fall out of the Iranian nuclear deal. An additional focus will to explore the reasons behind, and the impact of, current Saudi energy policies and how that fits into the regional geo-political context. From a European perspective, it will be useful to explore what the Kingdom is seeking from its European allies, but also to test out ideas with Saudi officials and analysts in terms of cementing areas of convergence and working through areas of divergence.
Both the ECFR and the GRC are well placed to draw on both European and Gulf thinking and allow for such dialogue to occur. The event will be structured as an off-the-record event with a private dinner starting on Monday 4th April with senior officials and opinion formers from the worlds of politics, the media and academia, followed by a full-day workshop on Tuesday 5 April to allow for in-depth discussion on the issues outlined above.
On May 7, 2013, a group of decision-makers from Saudi Arabia attended a day-long meeting at NATO Headquarters where they were briefed by senior NATO officials on the role of NATO in the Gulf region, its policies, and the status of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative. Wide-ranging discussions about NATO-Gulf relations also took place. The visit was organized by the Gulf Research Center under its long-standing commitment and ties with NATO. Among the key speakers from the NATO side were James Appathurai, Acting Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy; Ambassador Stephen Evans, NATO’s Assistant Secretary General for Operations; Nicola de Santis, Head, Middle East and North Africa Countries Section, Political Affairs and Security Policy Division; Ambassador Francesca Tardioli, Deputy Assistant Secretary General, Planning Directorate, Operations Division; Commodore Emil Eftimov, Deputy Director Cooperation and Regional Security Division, NATO International Military Staff; and Patrick Touzé, Head, Policy, Plans & Partnerships Section, Defense Investment Division. The group also met with Joseph Manso, Deputy Permanent Representative of the United States of America on the North Atlantic Council, and Sule Öztunç, Deputy Permanent Representative of Turkey on the North Atlantic Council.
The third and final meeting of the GCC-India project meeting spearheaded by the Gulf Research Center and the Ministry of External Affairs of India will take place on October 16, 2010 at the GCC Secretariat in Riyadh. During this meeting, the final recommendations of the various working groups will be discussed and then put forward to the GCC and the respective foreign ministries. The GCC-India project is an eighteen months efforts that has as it core objective to assess the current trends and patterns of GCC-India relations from economic, political, security, educational, cultural, environmental and international political economic perspectives; and projecting a near and medium term horizon for deepening the already existing multifaceted relations. Particular emphasis is given to identify the potentials as well as challenges in a comprehensive effort to devise policy recommendations.
Energy Intelligence Advisory and Research (EIR&A) has once again examined the major and emerging supply regions, demand centres, and industry deals to produce an authoritative survey of the global LNG landscape. Presenting EIR&A annual World LNG Outlook: 2010 -2011, on the 25th of May at the Gulf Research Center in Dubai; Senior Analysts Ian Nathan and Rana Samaha will provide a critical look at drivers behind the rapid growth in this sector of the gas industry, as well as the short term and long term outlooks on both the supply and demand side. LNG in the medium term is faced by the reality of a global gas glut, which has created a buyer’s market of LNG as the launch of new liquefaction ventures chafe"s against sluggish gas demand during the global economic contraction. Yet, the incremental liquefaction capacity from both new and veteran exporters is helping LNG become an even larger portion of the world’s traded gas. EIR&A is the independent research and advisory arm of Energy Intelligence Group (EIG), which was formed in 1951 and is the publisher of, among others, Petroleum Intelligence Weekly (PIW), the International Crude Oil Handbook and International Oil Daily. EIR&A publishes widely-used research tools, provides research services and advises a wide variety of corporate, governmental, educational, research and international organizations on important energy matters.
The project aims at strengthening energy cooperation between the European Union (EU) and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries (GCC). A permanent network of institutions from the EU and the GCC countries will be established to act as a catalyst and coordination entity, in order to provide a practical instrument for the development of cooperation activities among various stakeholders in the EU and GCC countries on clean energy and related policy and technology aspects. The project and the eventual Clean Energy Network will address clean energy issues in the following areas: Renewable Energy Sources; Energy Demand Management and Energy Efficiency; Clean Natural Gas and related Clean Technologies; Electricity Interconnection and Market Integration; and Carbon Capture and Storage.
The informative meeting will take place in the offices of the Gulf Research Center in Dubai on April 1st, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. Prof. Giacomo Luciani, who is the Team Leader in the implementation of the EU-GCC Clean Energy Network project will address project objectives and content as well as the ultimate benefits of establishing the Clean Energy Network.
As part of the quartely briefing for Premium Members, analysts of the Gulf Research Center provided their assessment of the key issues dominating regional Gulf affairs during the first three months of 2010 from a regional security, international relations, economic and energy perspective. In his opening remarks, GRC Chairman Abdulaziz Sager gave a panoramic overview suggesting that while the first quarter of 2010 had been relatively stable, a broad array of challenges remain with the Iranian nuclear program, the situation in Yemen, and the implications of the global financial crisis staying in the forefront. Prof. Giacomo Luciani, Director of the Gulf Research Center Foundation in Geneva, gave his assessment of development in the energy sector by highlighting the oil contracts being signed in Iraq, the unexpected continued high demand for oil coming from China, and the issue concerning the oversupply of LNG and its implications for Qatar. Dr. Mustafa Alani provided an overview of the security issues by listing Iraq, Iran, Yemen and Afghanistan as the immediate areas of concern. On Iraq, he mentioned that while the election process went ahead smoothly, the result is greater uncertainty about the future political stability of the country. On Iran, the possibility of military conflict over the country’s nuclear program remains and possible Israeli action on this issue cannot be discounted. On the international relations front, Dr. Christian Koch, Director for International Studies highlighted the general disappointment of the region with the first year of the Obama administration, especially as far as the Arab-Israeli peace process is concerned, but he also expressed his view that the next few months might witness a more active American President now that the domestic debate about health care in the United States had been finished. Overall, the GCC states are continuing their policies to diversify their international relationships. A key indicator is that while no European Head of State had visited the GCC countries so far in 2010, the region had seen numerous dignitaries from Asia including the visit of the Indian Prime Minister to Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s Emir had visited Brazil and Argentina. Finally, Dr. Mohammad Raouf, Senior Researcher for GCC Environment issues highlighted the growing relevance of more encompassing green economic policies for the region although the actual implementation within the GCC region remains slow and generally haphazard. For example, while the issue of water scarcity is acute, the problem lies more in water management than anything else. In the discussions that followed, much focus was on the outcome of the Iraqi elections, the validity of the oil contracts now being signed in Iraq, and the dilemmas facing the Obama administration as it tries to find a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue.
The GCC-India Research Group is a two-year project spearheaded by the Gulf Research Center and the Indian Embassy in the UAE to assess the current trends and patterns of GCC-India relations from economic, political, security, educational, cultural, environmental and international political economic perspectives; and projecting a near and medium term horizon for deepening multifaceted relations. Particular emphasis will be given to identify the potentials as well as challenges to visualize a future trajectory in order to devise enabling policy regimes. The broad themes to be covered in the study can be identified as follows: Historical linkages and Current Patterns; Economic Relations: Trade, Investment, Labor Supply, etc.; Political Relations: Changing Geopolitical Spectrum and Foreign Relations; Security and Strategic Aspects; Energy and Environment; Education and Human Resources; Culture and religion; Medium term (5 year) and long term (10 year) Scenarios; and Policy Recommendations.
The outlook for the GCC countries in April 2009 is one of cautious optimism. The global financial crisis has underscored the links in the global economy, and in this sense the GCC states are certainly not immune from the negative repercussions of the current downturn. Any hopes that they could decouple from the general trend have proven to be wishful thinking. For example, some sovereign wealth funds have lost more than 30 percent of their assets; there has been a dramatic increase in refinancing costs for cash strapped corporations and a precipitous decline in the price of oil from a high of nearly $150 in July 2008 to almost $30 at the outset of 2009.
But while the consequences of the economic crisis have certainly been felt, there is also a lot of exaggeration and fear-mongering in current media coverage of the region. The fact is that the GCC countries are in a privileged position to deal with the present situation. Oil prices are likely to recover due to global supply constraints even in a scenario of sluggish demand. While the various diversification efforts in the Gulf in heavy industries trade and tourism have arguably reached critical mass, these efforts will not simply disappear. At reduced price levels, they can in fact offer good value. Furthermore, due to their accumulated savings, the GCC governments have the ability to step in to provide stimulus and bridge financing for various ongoing projects. Far from being a dark scenario, there are many silver linings to be explored.
On the regional security and political fronts, the picture is more uncertain although here as well there are developments that reflect a sense of cautious optimism. Overall, the security concerns have increased for the GCC states over the past six months with piracy and international maritime security having been added to the continuing challenges as exemplified in the volatile security situation in Iraq, the deep concerns over the Iranian nuclear program and the Islamic Republic’s expansionist policies in the region, and the ever-present threat of terrorist activities within the Gulf region. The unstable situation in
At the same time, the election of a new administration in
The visit by Amb. Schulte comes at a critical time as there are renewed concerns about the future direction and scope of the Iranian nuclear program and US-Iran relations. In addition to the IAEA’s report, there are also discussions in the UN Security Council over possible additional sanctions to be imposed on Tehran. This follows renewed pressure by the US which recently imposed its own unilateral sanctions on Iran. Given the widespread implications for regional Gulf security, it is necessary to fully understand the US position on this issue and get a sense of the direction that near-term developments could take.
With the US strategy being at the center of the current policy debate in the region, the Gulf research Center will host a roundtable discussion on “US Policy in the Gulf Region” with Ambassador R. Nicholas Burns, third-highest ranking official in the US State Department.
Coinciding with his visit, Ambassador Burns will deliver a key policy statement and then be available for a question and answer session.
Immediately after the policy statement and roundtable discussion, there will be a press conference in the GRC Training Room.
This meeting was opened by the GRC Chairman, Mr. Abdulaziz Sager. Mr. Sager thanked all board members for accepting to take part in the GRC Academic Board. He pointed out that the GRC has managed to successfully disseminate information about the Gulf region in a non-partisan way. Mr. Sager also stressed that the GRC is determined to continue to deliver its message and enhance its growth and networks despite obstacles and difficulties sometimes encountered in the region. He emphasized that the GRC mission is to protect the interest of the Gulf region and its peoples, and that the GRC pays special attention to the human factor.
The chairman of the GRC then outlined the progress accomplished in several fields:
In the field of education, he mentioned three ongoing programs:
- Executive Learning Programs which is designed to provide leadership development opportunities in all aspects of public policy;
- The MA Degree Distance Learning Program in International Relations with the Free University of Berlin in which the GRC is used as a platform and facilitator for in-house classes run at the GRC in Dubai; and
- The development of e-learning blue print solutions on which a workshop attended by some 50 people has already been organized.
In the media field, specific mentioning was made of Gulf in the Media Program which brings up-to-date news about the region and beyond. E-mail alerts are currently reaching some 25,000 people on a daily basis.
In the field of consultancy, the chairman noted that the GRC is receiving more offers than it can accept, although the GRC plans to increase its consultancy work. A promising consultancy project in which the GRC is currently involved is that with the German Institute for Technical Cooperation, GTZ.
As far as publications are concerned, it was pointed out that the list of GRC publications is steadily growing. One of the GRC’s flagship publications, The Gulf Year Book is currently printed in 10,000 copies – both in English and Arabic – and distributed internationally by Amazon and IB Tauris.
The GRC runs also an internship program in which about 30 local and international students and academics have participated so far.
Mr. Sager informed the participants that the GRC plans to expand internationally. The Gulf Research Center Foundation is in the process of being established in Geneva under the direction of Professor Giacomo Luciani and plans are under way for GRC offices to be opened in Singapore and Washington DC.
Dr. Christian Koch took the opportunity to point out that increasingly the focus of the GRC was to produce research in-house through its publications. Thus, for example, current publications like the Gulf Year Book, the new Gulf Monitor, GRC commentaries and analyses as well as GRC book reviews all represent outputs by the research department of the Center. Regarding specific research program, Dr. Koch pointed out to the progress made in the field of GCC-EU relations where numerous Memorandum of Understandings with partner institutions in Europe had been signed and where overall the GRC has made a contribution to the development of GCC-EU relations. In particular, the GRC has established a tradition to organize a workshop with the holder of the EU presidency and plans are underway to attract participation in such workshops of other EU members. In terms of other program related to the Gulf and its international environment, the GRC runs programs in the field of GCC-Asia relations as well as GCC/Russia/CIS relations. In both cases, edited volumes are planned for later in 2007.
Dr. Mustafa Alani spoke about the work conducted in the Security and Counter/Terrorism Research Program. He noticed that the GRC continues to be focused on its initiative to declare the Gulf region a “Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Free Zone”, on which theme the GRC has published a major work (entitled The Case for WMD Free Zone in the Gulf) both in English and Arabic. Dr. Alani stated that research is also being conducted on “soft” security issues such as human and drug trafficking in the region as well as the phenomenon of suicide bombing in countries such as Iraq, Chechnya, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. A research bulletin on security continues to be published by the GRC every three months.
Dr. N. Janardhan briefed the Academic Board on Gulf-Asia relations. He pointed out that the Gulf-Asia Relations Program was added to the GRC research programs last September upon the realization that the increasing significance of Asia as an economic ally for the Gulf countries could influence the political economy of the region and shape its international relations in the future. Dr. Janardhan stated that as part of this program, the first issue of Gulf-Asia Research Bulletin, a quarterly periodical, has just been published and plans are afoot to produce an edited volume on the political, economic, security and social dynamics of Gulf-Asia relations by specifically looking at future prospects.
Dr. Eckart Woertz presented an overview of the GCC Economies Program which deals with the economies of the GCC and the three neighboring countries, Iraq, Iran, and Yemen. He noted that whilst special attention is given to the still paramount oil and gas sector, diversification attempts in trade, services and tourism are also analyzed. In addition, this Program considers prospects for energy alternatives besides nuclear energy such as coal and solar energy. Dr. Woertz informed the Academic Board that two research projects are currently being considered, namely: worldwide gas export options in the GCC; and the role of petrodollar recycling in the world economy.
Dr. Oskar Ziemelis briefed the Academic Board on the GCC Environment Program which seeks to deepen the awareness and understanding of environmental issues in the region and publish pioneering research related to the region’s environmental problems. A key research project entitled The Green Gulf Report was published in 2006 which documented the state of the environment and natural resources in the GCC countries. Dr. Ziemelis informed the Academic Board that the GRC has launched a new project Green Gulf 2020 to be worked upon over the next two years.
Following the presentations about the GRC research activities, the meeting proceeded to an open discussion forum where board members could provide their comments and suggestions. It was again emphasized by the GRC that it was important to hear the board member’s views as the GRC continues on its path to develop a comprehensive research agenda.
In the discussion session the members of the Academic Board expressed satisfaction with the progress made by the GRC to-date and reiterated the need for the GRC to continue to be a bridge between the region and the rest of the world. In brief, the members of the Academic Board offered the following suggestions to be considered by the GRC:
• The GRC should think not only in Gulf terms but also along Muslim and Arabic lines.
• Study of population movements in the region; migration patterns
• Focused research on unemployment and demographic issues which can draw together also social and cultural matters.
• Expatriate labor issues
• The political economy of labor market in the Gulf
• Patterns of investment of Gulf capital in the Arab countries
• Banking in the GCC
• Research on the role of cities as well as issues of governance and political participation
• Work of parliaments/elections/budgets/technical expertise of legislatures
• A comparative study on the wars in the Gulf.
• Formation of a Conflict Resolution Group from the region whose members could come from the governments and civil society
• Establishment of a study group to work on confidence building measures in the Gulf region
• Identification of Asian institutions with an interest in Gulf issues with a view to deepening contact and collaboration.
• Stronger regional network with local institutions and universities
• Working more on training the new generation in the Gulf region
• Joint supervision involving a supervisor from the region and another from a Western University could be useful in this regard. The GRC’s qualified personnel could also be used in prospective training programs.
• Explore participation in UN Corporate Programs to expand training opportunities
• The GRC can offer translated texts that can benefit Arab audiences. It was suggested that such text could be introduced by an author from the region to provide a sort of indigenous context to such books.
• Possibility of translation from other languages than English, particular considering the vast literature that exists in India.
• Titles of works to be translated to be circulated among board members
Some debate ensued about the division between the academic approach of the GRC as compared to the need to maintain an active policy advocate role.
Here it was mentioned that the GRC will continue to take public critical positions when necessary but that the overall output would have to comply with producing quality innovative research.
In closing, it was reiterated that one of the function of the Academic Board is to also assist in promoting the activities of the GRC in order to reach as wide an audience as possible. Board members were encouraged to keep in close contact with the GRC and to forward any comments and suggestion in between the regular board meetings.
Given the current regional climate, the Gulf Research Center feels it necessary to provide a closer in-depth look into the political and security implications of events in the Gulf region as well as the associated economic repercussions of recent developments. As such, the meeting includes the following brief keynote presentations:
• On Security by Dr. Mustafa Alani, Senior Advisor and Director of Security and Terrorism Studies at the GRC,
• On Regional Politics presented by Dr. Christian Koch, Program Director
of GCC-EU Relations, GRC; and
• On Regional Economics by Professor Giacomo Luciani, Professor of Political Economy at the European University Institute, Florence, Italy and a member of the GRC Editorial Board.
The presentations will be followed by an open roundtable discussion forum in which questions can be raised and other issues of concern can be elaborated upon.
The Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies (Cairo), the Gulf Research Center (Dubai) the Institut Diplomatique et des Relations Internationales (Algiers), the Centre Tarik Ibn Zyad (Rabat) have agreed to form a Consortium of Research Institutes, with the participation of the Governments of Canada and Denmark. Their objective is to jointly run three major conferences in 2005 to consider the creation of a Framework for Regional Co-operation and Security in the Middle East and North Africa.
This Track Two project will build upon previous work on the subject, notably a project which was run at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute - SIPRI (1995-1999) and a project in 2003 to draft a Regional Security Charter for the Middle East, sponsored by UCLA and the Danish Government.
The Consortium will invite experts from across the Middle East and North Africa, acting in their personal capacities. Also invited to participate in their personal capacities will be experts from regional organizations, such as the Arab League, the Gulf Co-operation Council and the Maghreb Arab Union. Finally, experts, in their personal capacities, will be invited from certain countries and multilateral organizations external to the region.
The first conference will be hosted by the Centre Tarik Ibn Zyad in Morocco in June, 2005, on behalf of the Consortium. The second will be hosted by the Al Ahram Center in Egypt in the autumn of 2005, also on behalf of the Consortium. The date and location of the third will be announced shortly.
At the conclusion of the three conferences, the Consortium members will jointly release a policy paper summarizing the three conferences and outlining a possible strategy towards the creation of a Framework, or Charter, for Regional Co-operation and Security in the Middle East and North Africa. The Consortium members recognize that the success of any strategy to develop such a Framework is dependent on a number of factors, including the success of the Peace Process.
The meeting participants included: Military Adviser at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo - Major General (Retd.) Dr Mohamed Kadry Said; Head of Political Affairs at the Embassy of Canada in Abu Dhabi - Isabelle Martin; Policy Adviser for Strategic Policy and Planning at the Canadian Privy Council Office - Dr. Peter Jones; former Moroccan member of parliament and representative from the Centre Tariq ibn Zyad in Rabat - Hassan Benaddi; Head of the Department for the Middle East in the Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Rasmus Grue Christensen; and Director-General of the Institute Diplomatique et des Relations Internationales in Algiers - M. Smail Benamara.