Nearly three million Muslims perform the Haj every year. The Haj pilgrimage, during which Muslims from around the world travel to Makkah in Saudi Arabia to perform religious rites, is considered to be one of the largest gatherings of people in the world. Allah says in the Quran: “Fulfill the pilgrimage and make the visitation for Allah. If you are prevented, then whatever offering that may be easy” (Surat Al- Baqarah, 196). Haj is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is a mandatory religious duty for Muslims, which must be carried out at least once in a lifetime by every adult Muslim who is physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey. Haj is not just a form of worship, but also a way of understanding the meaning of life. It teaches Muslims equality by bringing together people from different cultures and races to Makkah to worship God. It is well known that Haj is a spiritual and moral journey that helps Muslims to thank Allah for all the blessings. At the same time, protecting and conserving the environment and its natural resources is also a religious duty that all Muslims have to fulfill. However, very often during the Haj season, Muslims do not pay attention to the importance of protecting the environment and natural resources. This paper is structured in four sections: the first section addresses the environmental issues and concerns associated with the Haj; the second section looks at the Saudi efforts to overcome various environmental challenges associated with the Haj; the third section provides some insights into possible options and steps to deal with and alleviate some of the environmental stress associated with the Haj. The concluding section provides a short summary of the points raised earlier.
In September 2015, world leaders chose the sustainable development path for thenext fifteen years after agreeing on seventeen Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) with 169 targets. The SDGs were clubbed under the title “TransformingOur World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” They will build uponand replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the eight internationaldevelopment goals established in 2000 in the Millennium Summit of the UnitedNations. This paper discusses the major differences between SDGs and MDGs andassesses, briefly, each of the seventeen SDGs in relation to the Gulf CooperationCouncil (GCC) countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and theUnited Arab Emirates) in terms of current status and future prospects.
In a new GRC Gulf Paper, Shahram Chubin looks at the widespread changes occurring in the Middle East from the Levant to the Gulf which reveal a region in the midst of a comprehensive upheaval. The author argues that while the region is in an unprecedentedly fluid state, neither the length of the transition nor the outcome of the current transformation is predictable. A principal theme of the paper is the degree to which regional politics have been the product of local dynamics and forces and the marginal impact of outside powers, even in the Cold War and the decade of unipolarity following it.
The Gulf Research Center, the Geneva Center for Security Policy and the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University convened in Gstaad in June 2015 for their annual discussions on developments in the Middle East. Bringing together renowned regional, security, and policy experts in order to assess the current situation in the Middle East, the meeting focused on the changing strategic landscape and the geopolitical and regional dynamics at play, assessed the state and implications of the Arab Revolutions, and took an in-depth look at the situation in the Levant, Turkey, North Africa, the Gulf region, and Israel and Palestine.
Wars continue to ravage in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Refugees are wandering around aimlessly in the Middle East with many fleeing to Europe. Saudi Arabia and Iran are adding fuel to the flames. They are vying for supremacy while remaining highly suspicious of each other. A Conference for Security and Cooperation could help to ease existing tensions. Many years ago the CSCE was a resounding success. It could thus serve as a blueprint with the nuclear agreement with Iran as a starting point of such a venture.
Despite the fact that the EU finds itself confronted by a deep multi-faceted crisis at the institutional, economic, political and foreign policy level which undoubtedly has affected the EU’s attraction as an integration model and can be expected to hamper the EU’s image and reputation as a ‘source of inspiration’ further in the future, this paper argues that the EU continues still continues to set a relevant example for those regions and countries, such as the Gulf countries, which want to move forward on the path of regional integration. In the view of the authors, it is especially in the way that the EU has been coping with crises, and the solutions that have been found to the current challenges, that may provide invaluable lessons to other countries and regions which may face similar problems in the future.
“This paper aims at providing an outlook on the future of EU-GCC relations by framing the constraints and opportunities for closer cooperation within the debate about regionalism. Starting from the assumption that both the EU and the GCC are more or less successful examples of regional cooperation and integration, the paper argues that opportunities to strengthen GCC cooperation and integration at the regional level lie in the pursuit of an effective and strategic dialogue and cooperation between the two blocs. In particular, the paper offers both theoretical and empirical examples of the phenomenon of inter-regionalism, namely the possibility to draw on, copy, and link up with other regional experiences as well as to coordinate common strategies and policies among regional blocs. In this regard, two areas will be briefly investigated: fiscal and monetary governance, and foreign and security policy.”
This paper will chronicle ASEAN’s approach towards regional security, discuss some of the security architectures in the region, and conclude by offering a prognosis on whether ASEAN would be able to maintain its centrality and be the driving force in maintaining peace and stability in the region. It concludes by seeing what lessons can be drawn from ASEAN’s Security Cooperation.
Given the importance of economic growth for the governments and the people in the GCC countries, there is greater scope for consensus in the economic realm in the short and medium terms as far as the GCC’s future is concerned. Foreign and security policies, meanwhile, are being increasingly shaped in consultation and accommodation with other countries, either at the bilateral or multilateral levels. In the context of Asian countries seeking integration at various regional and sub-regional levels to maximize their economic, political, and security benefits, it would be in the interest of the GCC countries to seek cooperation with Asian countries as a bloc rather than bilaterally. The GCC countries and Asia share a common desire for peace, stability, and security in the region and value the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of all concerned countries. In the process of moving forward, the real test is how to turn the GCC-Asia economic bonhomie into a factor of regional security. The dilemmas in the Gulf region could ease if the GCC and Asian countries evolve new ideas of collective security that go beyond the restrictive paradigms of the past. This, in turn, makes GCC integration all the more imperative.
Analyzing economic and/or political integration among countries from the labor market/migration perspective is relatively uncommon, and more so for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. In this paper, the authors start off with an analysis of the current status of the labor markets in the region, and then try to make the case that it is in the best interest of these countries to seek common ground in their labor market policies. They do this by examining the impact on closer integration on issues such as data collection, remittances, advancing skill levels, as well as addressing income inequality and recruitment issues. The paper concludes by outlining numerous policy recommendations.
Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) as a regional space has been recently institutionalized by the creation of CELAC (Community of Latin America and the Caribbean States) in 2010. Additionally, there are a set of cooperation and regional integration mechanisms with different features, origins, and history, which exist side-by-side and also generate geopolitical convergence and sometimes divergence and even competition. The main aim of this paper is, firstly, to present a brief overview of regionalism in Latin America. Second, the paper will describe the current situation and analyze some of the obstacles that face regional integration processes. Finally, some parallels to the integration process among the GCC states will be drawn in order to highlight some complementarities.
This paper sets out a policy perspective on trade aspects of global economic integration of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as an important regional bloc as well as bilateral attempts by individual member states. The main objective of the paper is to critically assess the currents trends of external preferential trade agreements (EPTAs) of the GCC, identify hindrances, and lay out a policy perspective for the future. Given the increasing vulnerability due to the GCC’s overwhelming trade dependence, it is imperative to enhance economic integration with its main trading partners. While regional integration within the GCC has been moderately successful in terms of overall outcome, the GCC needs to also expedite the process of negotiating EPTAs with its main trading partners, as consolidating trade benefits of external economic integration is critical to its long-term economic growth and diversification
The need for an operational and effective regional body such as the GCC has never been greater. The geopolitical conditions of its birth and the region’s enduring instability provide the GCC with the imperative to deepen its institutions, but it is the effects of globalization (as an overwhelming external force) on the one hand, and the GCC states’ survival instincts (in terms of internal and regional challenges) on the other, which makes GCC’s convergence into a more closely-knit organization increasingly desirable, if not inevitable.
While high-level politics within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) can be contentious at times, regional economic cooperation has continued to develop involving private cross-border trade and investment. This includes, even if at a slower pace, technocratic cooperation on mundane regulatory issues. By many standards, GCC economic integration continues to be a success story. The public as well as high-level decision makers, however, have arguably focused on the wrong, highly visible but often too ambitious targets like monetary union. Even the much discussed customs union arguably is not as important for economic integration as less visible processes of gradual regulatory standardization and convergence that make cross-border investment easier. Therefore, more political capital should be devoted to the “nitty gritty” of common market integration, including the opening of critical sectors like aviation or banking, and further regulatory and administrative opening and convergence in retail, telecom, construction, tourism, and logistics
While promoting environmental integration among the GCC countries may seem to be a peripheral priority in political exchanges, it is an incentive as well as a tool for nurturing better relations among these countries. The overall aim of environmental integration is to pursue a sustainable development policy and thus achieve a better quality of life for people in different countries. For the GCC countries, this concerns common environmental policies, positions, and standards that are adopted by each member state in order to ease and facilitate economic and political integration. In fact, environmental integration in this regard aims at promoting sustainable development in order to provide a long-term vision that involves combining a dynamic economy with social cohesion and high environmental standards. As the GCC economies continue to expand and grow, environmental challenges and issues will grow as well. Thus, full environmental integration (i.e., on positions, policies, institutions, regulations, and projects) should be viewed as a mandatory step in the right direction. Otherwise, the GCC risks losing what has been achieved and even drawing back on development and quality of life
While cooperation on energy issues has been rather tardy among the member countries of the GCC, the fact is that such cooperation on issues related to energy including oil, gas and power generation can potentially be very beneficial. This is true at the global as well as at the regional level. Overall, energy is an area in which cooperation, albeit rewarding, remains very difficult, because low cost and security of supply are viewed as essential components of national development, hence sovereignty. Yet, this paper by Prof. Giacomo Luciani focuses on the areas in which cooperation might take place and underline how beneficial such cooperation might be. It argues that as the GCC states continue to place emphasis on medium- to long-term development and sustainability, the need to loosen some of the sovereignty restrictions by promoting their own energy integration. This is indeed a small price to pay in exchange for much greater benefits
The purpose of this paper is to set out the steps that members of the GCC would need to take in order to effectively implement their long planned currency union. While the preparatory measures themselves are likely to constitute some of the key economic benefits, Optimal Currency Areas (OCA) will only manifest within a single market in which labor and capital are mobile and in which banking operations and fiscal budgetary decisions are accountable, transparent, and subject to intra-regional institutional regulation and oversight. Thus, in taking steps toward a currency union (CU), participating members would first need to establish a single market and devolve, when required, some executive decision making powers in relation to monetary and macroeconomic matters. By doing so, they would create a larger and deeper market that would be considerably more attractive to domestic and foreign investors alike. However, if member states do achieve such precursors and form a “single” currency as opposed to a “common” one which, give or take, they effectively have with their extant relationships with the US dollar – the driving force will have been political, not economic, incentives
Economic growth in the GCC countries has been high over the last decade and has been comparable to growth in the emerging markets and considerably higher than in the world at large. In order to maintain such growth, the GCC requires a developed financial sector based on strong regulatory institutions. For the moment, however, the GCC financial sector is characterized by a lack of bond and derivative markets, difficult access to credit for small and middle enterprises (SMEs), dominance of international banks in the project finance market, and heavily concentrated equity markets in terms of sectors and ownership. In order to overcome such present shortcomings in the GCC financial sector and to fully capitalize on the benefits of greater integration, the GCC states need to increase liquidity and diversity of their capital markets, facilitate cross-border trading of securities, foster a nascent institutional investor class and, above all, strengthen and unify regulatory frameworks. Together, this will be an important component of a more effective and stronger GCC union.
In recent years, Russia’s Middle East policy has begun shifting back to the Soviet model, in which the region was regarded primarily through the prism of the strategic, geopolitical views of Russia, specifically in relation to its strategic competition with the United States. Under this model, economic interests are sidelined, being perceived as secondary to the greater political goals. The basic logic of the Soviet model is to achieve geopolitical goals at any financial or economic expense. The Arab Spring and the Syrian crisis have given further impetus to Russia’s policy toward such old Soviet logic. In the context of Iran, Russia continues to enjoy its position as a member of the P5+1 group and receive attention from states in the Middle East and beyond. The same is true for the Russian role as far as Syria is concerned. Moscow sees itself as a center of political gravity for the major regional actors, including the Arab Gulf countries, a role that is sustained despite Russia’s continued pro-Assad line. Overall, we can see a special, two-level model emerging in the Russia-Arab Gulf relationship: the political level reflecting agreement and disagreement over various matters and the business level where, to some extent, business deals prevail over politics.
ituating Egypt-Gulf interstate relations within the post-Mubarak regional dynamics, this paper highlights the regional constraints that upheld the Gulf-Egyptian informal alliance despite mounting tensions starting 2011. The paper looks at the Saudi and Egyptian states, which are the main social and political actors of this informal alliance. It depicts the politics and economics sustaining Egyptian-Saudi relations despite the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak who was a personal friend of the Saudi royal family. It also assesses the role of non-state transnational actors in supporting and/or contesting their state’s policies toward each other. The paper concludes with an assessment of the major challenges facing Egypt’s relations with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf despite the current restoration of the Mubarak-era pattern of interaction.
This paper was presented at the EU-GCC Renewable Energy Policy Experts’ Workshop, an international meeting organized by the Gulf Research Center, EPU-NTUA and Masdar Institute, and is being published by GRC within the framework of the Promoting Deeper EU-GCC Relations project supported by the European Commission. The paper focuses on integrated energy and water management. Electric power is required to produce, treat, distribute, and recycle water while water is required to generate and consume electricity. The goal of this position paper is to identify and motivate opportunities for the operations management and planning of the energy-water nexus. It proceeds in three parts. First, an exposition of the energy-water nexus especially as it applies to the GCC is given. This discussion focuses on the electric power system, the potable water distribution system, and the wastewater distribution system. Then, the paper shifts to opportunities in operations management where recent work in the Laboratory for Intelligent Integrated Networks of Engineering Systems has produced a number of optimization programs to support the deregulated operation of integrated energy-water markets. To highlight the viability of this idea, an energy-water nexus supply side economic dispatch is presented. Finally, the position paper shifts to discuss planning opportunities for the energy-water nexus for the sustainable development of water and energy resources. These include new methods that encourage renewable energy penetration and balance the portfolio of desalination technologies. It also includes integrated strategies for the design of water infrastructure to minimize embedded energy while reusing water of various qualities. The paper concludes with a description of opportunities for EU-GCC collaboration in the integrated energy and water management area.
This paper was presented at the EU-GCC Renewable Energy Policy Experts’ Workshop, an international meeting organized by the Gulf Research Center, EPU-NTUA and Masdar Institute, and is being published by GRC within the framework of the Promoting Deeper EU-GCC Relations project supported by the European Commission. The paper provides an analysis of the existing status of renewable energy in the GCC, specifically highlighting ongoing initiatives, future opportunities, and potential benefits from RE deployment, as well as barriers faced by the different GCC countries. With a third of the world’s oil reserves, patterns of domestic consumption have never been a significant issue in energy planning in the GCC. This, however, is set to change with the emergence of important energy challenges with economic and environmental implications. In particular, the region is experiencing astounding growth in domestic demand fueled by rising populations, economic growth, rapid industrialisation and infrastructure development. The rising demand and the current energy pricing structures are putting pressures on government budgets. The increasing consumption is also resulting in forgone export revenues, and in some countries, threatening the long term sustainability of fossil fuel resources. Finally, the reliance on fossil fuels and the regional consumption patterns, have already led to some of the highest per capita carbon footprints in the world. As a result, the GCC governments are exploring several ways to diversify their energy mix and introduce alternatives. It is in this context that renewable energy is emerging as one of the viable options for energy diversification in GCC.
This paper, which was presented at the EU-GCC Renewable Energy Policy Experts’ Workshop, an international meeting organized by the Gulf Research Center, EPU-NTUA and Masdar Institute, is being published by GRC within the framework of the Promoting Deeper EU-GCC Relations project supported by the European Commission. The paper presents a review of renewable energy applications, potentials and barriers for the GCC region. It also discusses the different challenges facing the integration of renewables into the grid of the GCC countries. Solar energy exhibits the highest potential for the region, followed by wind energy. Analysis of different solar technologies has demonstrated that solar thermal applications such as Concentrated Solar Power should be further researched for desert climates, as most current power plant implementations rely on water consumption for achieving good efficiencies. A comparison between photovoltaic solar technologies shows that the Concentrated Photovoltaic (CPV) technology is a promising technology for the GCC region because of its high efficiency and suitable operation in a hot climate. The barriers facing widespread application, as well as integration of renewables into the grid, are mainly related to lack of clear policies and regulatory frameworks in most of the GCC countries. The technological barriers are being investigated by many researchers in the region. It is recommended that the integration of renewables into the GCC grid be accompanied by the conversion of the current conventional grid into a smart grid. In order to accomplish this, well defined implementation road-maps for the smart grid and renewables must be developed urgently by each GCC country.
This paper was presented at the EU-GCC Renewable Energy Policy Experts’ Workshop, an international meeting organized by the Gulf Research Center, EPU-NTUA and Masdar Institute, and is being published by GRC within the framework of the Promoting Deeper EU-GCC Relations project supported by the European Commission. Collaboration efforts and synergies between the EU and the GCC relating to numerous thematic clean energy topics, including energy efficiency and demand side management (DSM), have attracted interest from both sides, which continues to grow. The aim of this paper is to utilize the existing know how in the field of Demand Side Management and investigate its potential applicability in the GCC environment. Following a thorough review of the existing situation in the GCC, it is clear that a number of barriers inhibiting the further promotion of DSM programs exist, the most important being structural, as well as market-related barriers. The paper suggests that the proposed DSM initiatives at this point should not focus on technological aspects, but rather primarily on relevant legislative and financial aspects. These DSM initiatives were discussed in depth with GCC stakeholders and energy experts, in order to create a priority shortlist for a number of DSM activities relevant for the region.
The European Union (EU) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have been interacting on a number of aspects of global governance for many years. Despite significant differences in size, structure, and political views on various topics, both organizations have managed to establish a level playing field wherein a tentative convergence of attitudes towards global governance has been possible. Until recently, this has predominantly been in the field of economic cooperation. The focus on economics has led some to view this cooperation as falling short of perhaps overambitious expectations in political issues, while others view the cooperation as fitting with the EU’s external relations and political incentives. While this paper focuses on the opportunities for cooperation in global governance, it is crucial to note that within the EU and the GCC the scope for engagement is heavily dependent upon the impulse provided by the member states of both institutions. The joint cooperation activities reveal that the EU-GCC relationship is flourishing, but in specific sectors rather than on global lines. This paper seeks to show a sample of these different areas, looking at a range of different global governance challenges and examining how the EU and the GCC can interact in these areas. This paper also suggests that the engagement of different types of actors in diplomatic relations will support the development of cooperation between the EU and the GCC.
Nuclear proliferation remains one of the key issues of the contemporary global security agenda and one of the major issues of the current strategic configuration of the Middle East. In the Middle East, nuclear proliferation is an issue of concern for two reasons: firstly, because of the degree of potential crisis in a structurally unstable region; secondly, the presence of a particularly evident strategic interdependence and political competition, existing above all between those countries belonging to the geopolitical Islamic space, which raises the risk of miscalculations. Thus, the nuclear issue remains central to the strategic calculations of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the European Union (EU). This paper explores the state of relations between the GCC and the EU, the state of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, and the approaches of the EU and the GCC concerning this specific topic. It also outlines some policy options and proposals on how the EU and GCC may foster a more meaningful and effective relationship concerning nuclear non-proliferation.
The main objective of this study is to understand the status quo of the middle class in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The study begins by attempting to construct a theoretical framework for understanding the concept of the new middle class, its constituents and various categories, as well as its importance within the socio-economic and political structure. It also explores how the Saudi middle class has emerged historically, its size within the Saudi socio-economic structure, and delineates its different sections, the upper, basic (middle) and peripheral (marginal).
While the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have a prominent global position in terms of their hydrocarbon wealth, their rapid socio-economic development and the soaring pace of energy consumption that feeds such expansion pose real sustainability challenges. The paper explores opportunities and challenges for the region to transition to sustainable energy systems that incorporate clean and renewable energy (RE) technologies. In particular, it examines the readiness of the GCC countries to deploy solar energy solutions in the mid to long term, and looks at different conservation and diversification measures as well as solar energy experimentation undertaken in the region. Giving special attention to the electricity and water sectors, it focuses on the extent to which the GCC countries are seriously pursuing RE opportunities and the obstacles that are preventing faster development and uptake of existing solar technologies and potential solutions. Against this backdrop, it is argued that for a solar energy transition to be successful, it should be tuned to the local socio-economic priorities of the GCC region – centered on competitiveness and economic diversification. The paper tries to come up with specific recommendations on what is needed now and how to pave the way for a long-term solar energy transition that enhances both sustainability and competitiveness of the GCC economies.
As part of its project "Promoting Deeper EU-GCC Relations", the Gulf Research Center (GRC) is releasing a Gulf Paper entitled “EU and GCC Countries’ Foreign Policies and the Mediterranean Neighborhood – Towards Synergetic Cooperation?” by Tobias Schumacher and Irene Fernández Molina. This paper was presented and discussed at an international workshop “Promoting an EU-GCC Dialogue on Foreign Policy Issues” organized by the GRC, the Institute for European Studies from Vrije Universiteit, Brussels, and Qatar University. The workshop was held at the Qatar University, Doha in April 2013. This paper aims to provide a comparative analysis of the EU’s reinforced, yet ongoing, foreign policy engagement in the Arab Mediterranean and the GCC monarchies’ widening foreign policy activism in the region with a particular emphasis on the period after the outbreak of the Arab Spring. It discusses both the extent to which collaboration between the EU and GCC countries in the Arab Mediterranean is possible and the reasons why such collaboration has not yet materialized and is unlikely to occur in the near future. The paper also looks at the evolving role of the EU and GCC countries in their Mediterranean neighborhood and the prospects of EU-GCC cooperation in their common neighborhood space.
As part of its project "Promoting Deeper EU-GCC Relations", the Gulf Research Center (GRC) is releasing a Gulf Paper entitled “What is the Status of the EU-GCC Relationship?” by Dr. Valentina Kostadinova, Lecturer in Politics at the University of Buckingham, UK. This paper was presented and discussed at an international workshop “Promoting an EU-GCC Dialogue on Foreign Policy Issues” organized by the GRC, the Institute for European Studies from Vrije Universiteit, Brussels, and Qatar University. The workshop was held at the Qatar University, Doha in April 2013. Over the years, the multifaceted EU-GCC relationship has been analyzed from the political, economic and security angles. This has provided an overview of the relationship, as well as its positives and negatives. In an effort to go beyond the existing literature, this paper argues that an important aspect of the relationship, so far not explicitly dealt with, has been the divergence in many of the fundamental norms/values held by the two organizations. Arguably, these have led not only to the very different institutional outlooks of the organizations but perhaps even more importantly, to at times (drastically) different social institutions. Thus, the paper provides a convincing complementary perspective on why despite the widely acknowledged commonality of many of the organizations’ interests, the EU-GCC relationship did not develop very smoothly. Furthermore, it points to one substantial area future interactions almost certainly will have to address, if more encouraging outcomes from EU-GCC interactions are to take place. Besides identifying the institutional, structural, material, and normative reasons that are holding back the development of the EU-GCC relationship, the paper discusses the possibilities for these institutionally very different organizations to establish a better working relationship and provides some policy recommendations.
As part of its project "Promoting Deeper EU-GCC Relations", the GRC is releasing a Gulf Paper entitled “EU-GCC Cooperation: Securing the Transition in Yemen” written by Edward Burke, associate fellow at the Fundación para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Diálogo Exterior (FRIDE). This paper was presented and debated last April at Qatar University, Doha as part of a conference organized by the GRC, the Institute for European Studies from Vrije Universiteit, Brussels and Qatar University on an EU-GCC dialogue on foreign policy issues. For the GCC, Yemen is an occasion to develop and prove its ability in terms of foreign politics. For the EU, it is an occasion to develop its relation with the GCC without being in the forefront of interventions in the Yemeni crisis. This paper highlights the GCC involvement in Yemen, its efforts to stabilize the country and its partnership with the EU. It discloses the author’s argument in favor of less region-to-region operations and more bilateral cooperation.
The Gulf region continues to be defined by multiple security challenges that have an impact on the outlook for stability in this critical part of the world and beyond. In addition to regional issues such as the Iranian nuclear program, uneven transition in Iraq, and prospects of state failure in Yemen, there are also challenges emanating from terrorism, piracy, transnational crime, and the lack of a regional security architecture. The impact of the Arab Spring since the outset of 2011 has only complicated the effort to bring about a more stable security situation. This paper presents an assessment of the key security issues confronting the Gulf region. It also includes an analysis of developments in Syria as seen from the GCC states.
This paper is primarily aimed at examining the question of why Saudi public opinion, in contradistinction to wider regional trends and despite active promotion of bilateral ties, continues to hold persistent negative attitudes about China. Due to limitations in available surveys and polls, the paper draws on material taken from the Saudi media covering the period 2006-2012 and focusing on a set of political and economic topics with the hope of identifying existing themes and images about China therein. By examining how China is perceived by the press, and how the perceptions are conditioned by political messaging and populist sentiments, this paper hopes to uncover some of the sources underlying the Saudi population’s negative perceptions about China. This study is a preliminary attempt at re-examining some of our widely-accepted beliefs regarding the dynamics shaping Sino-Arab relations, and especially public receptivity towards China.
Following the controversial presidential election in 2009, the political and economic environment in Iran has become increasingly complex. The divide between the conservative and reformist camps has increased, and disagreements have surfaced between Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini and President Ahmadinejad on a number of occasions. In the short run, a major political challenge will come in June 2013 when the country chooses a new president. On the economic front, sanctions have severely impacted the economy, and people’s dissatisfaction has been growing because of rising inflation and unemployment. The divisions among the ruling elite have made it difficult for the government to tackle the economic challenges. This paper analyzes some of the key political and economic events in Iran and tries to outline the emerging scenario in the country.
South Korea and the GCC countries have a multi-faceted and interdependent economic relationship that can be traced back at least to the early 70s. The economic take-off experienced by both sides since then has allowed a new synergy to emerge, mostly based on the twin pillars of energy and technology transfer. South Korea is the GCC’s fifth most important trading partner. In the context of South Korea's growing importance to the economic well-being of the Gulf, as well as its unprecedented involvement in non-traditional ventures such as the nuclear energy projects in both the UAE and Saudi Arabia, this paper presents an overview of South Korea-GCC economic relations. It analyzes the different aspects of the relationship from a macro perspective examining both its energy and non-energy dimensions. It provides an insight into the scope and intensity of South Korea-GCC linkages and how they have evolved as a whole.
Since 1990, the Middle East has gained importance geopolitically while the center of gravity of the region has shifted from the Levant to the Gulf. Among the key players in the region is the Islamic Republic of Iran whose revolutionary behavior and ambitious, if ambiguous, nuclear program have added to its neighbors’ anxieties about its goals. However, in the wake of the Arab Spring, Iran has found its influence waning. A new GRC paper points out that widespread regional instability has not been conducive to the extension of Iran’s power or influence. It adds that Tehran now faces a less tractable regional environment with allies weakened and adversaries emboldened.
Given that economic ties between Saudi Arabia and China have grown considerably in the last two decades with energy at the heart of the relationship, a new GRC Paper takes an in-depth look at Sino-Saudi economic relations starting from the late 1980s onwards. In addition to examining the oil and petrochemical partnerships spearheaded by Aramco and SABIC, the paper also includes wider issues such as the role played by Saudi corporate investors and Chinese companies operating in the Kingdom in cultivating this relationship. Besides, the paper highlights some of the comparative advantages and difficulties latent in the various sectors through which this engagement unfolds.
The volatile security environment in the Gulf region underlines the necessity for the GCC countries to interact in an innovative way with their neighbors both to secure their neighborhood and to generate greater cooperation on their foreign policies. A Gulf Neighborhood Policy (GNP) would create a framework covering the structure and implementation of a range of policies defining bilateral and multilateral ties between the GCC states and selected partner states. In its bid to delineate the outlines of an effective GNP, this paper draws upon the lessons offered by the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP). Besides detailing the strengths and shortcomings of the European example, it also looks at how the EU and the GCC can cooperate to make an effective GNP possible. It describes how the GNP can be an efficient tool for the creation of a secure and economically strong neighborhood for the Gulf monarchies.
Market-Based Instruments can play an important role in tackling environmental problems in the GCC countries. As a means of achieving environmental management objectives, non-economic regulatory measures have been adopted worldwide as well as in the Gulf region. Now, economic instruments (EIs) are being increasingly implemented in many countries, both developed and developing. Policy tools such as Command-And-Control (CAC) and EIs are used in various fields of life; however, in the environment field in the GCC, where there is urgent need to use both tools, the dependence has been solely on CAC. Experience has shown that specific environmental problems are usually addressed by employing a “policy mix” consisting of various CAC instruments, EIs and awareness programs. This policy mix is needed to address various environmental issues too. This research paper explains the difference between CAC and EIs, their role in environmental policy, and lists some examples of EIs along with selected international experiences. The paper also discusses GCC legislations and Multilateral Environmental Agreements in relation to CAC and EIs. Finally, the paper describes the prerequisites for applying EIs.
The GCC stock markets witnessed severe corrections in 2006 which raised questions about how to cope with the crisis. This paper discusses the major factors that led to the price slump, namely liquidity driven overvaluations and herd behavior in a market that has been dominated by retail investors. Based on this analysis, factors are outlined that could lead to a more balanced future development of GCC capital markets, most notably a broader spectrum of asset classes, increased participation of institutional investors, stricter control of margin lending, and improvement of market infrastructure and corporate governance.
Kuwait and Japan enjoy a partnership that is mostly rooted in trade. Since both countries are close allies of the United States, there is also a convergence of views on major regional and international issues, especially those related to Iraq, which was evident both during the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. This paper documents the various facets of their bilateral relationship and suggests that the recent Kuwaiti emphasis on a "Look East" policy holds the potential for a robust engagement in the future.
The recent dramatic increase in the use of information technology (IT) in daily activities by all types of urban actors in Saudi Arabia seems to have influenced the development of Saudi cities. Using a modified activity systems model and the Dammam Metropolitan Area (DMA) as a case study, this paper examines the effects on metropolitan development of residents’ attributes – their activity types, location, patterns, and domains – as well as their use of IT tools and face-to-face interactions to accomplish these activities. The research finds that the use of IT tools by DMA residents in their daily lives has influenced the emergence of a 'virtual' DMA as well as the transformation of the actual DMA.
Following the Second World War, the European powers withdrew from the Middle East but since then have made several attempts to come back to the region as economic and strategic partners. With the advent of the European Union, Europe has become an economic power with global interests. Energy needs, market access and security have been prime motives for the European return to the Middle East. For the EU, which imports more than a quarter of its oil from the Gulf, and whose energy needs are expected to grow, it is imperative to forge close relations with the region. The central theme of this paper is that the EU has not had a coherent approach towards the Gulf region. For various reasons, relations with the Gulf have been conducted on a bilateral basis, and have been kept separate from other EU initiatives like the European Mediterranean Policy (EMP) and the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP). However, there is now a need for the EU to address its critical interests in the Gulf with a more pronounced comprehensive policy.
This paper looks at economic diversification attempts in the GCC countries from 1993 to 2003. The analysis focuses on studying the terms and composition of trade and changes to the GDP composition to determine if significant shifts are occurring in the countries’ economies. Major economic diversification and value-added activity is now taking place, and has been for years, within the oil and gas sectors of the GCC countries. In addition, major industrial activity is on and infrastructure has been established in the region with varying success. Nevertheless, these successes do not lessen the dependence on oil as the main determinant of the economic wellbeing of GCC states. Diversification attempts, although bearing fruit in some instances, have, by and large, remained insufficient to effect real change. The oil boom in the last few years has given the countries a second chance to develop their economies in a more diversified fashion. However, major reforms need to be undertaken in order to further diversify the GCC economies and make them less dependent on oil and gas.
The Gulf countries lag behind other Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries in Internet liberalization. This study supports the idea that there is an important relation between the impact the Internet can have on democratization and civil liberties on the one hand, and governmental stances towards liberalization of the telecommunications infrastructure and competition in services on the other. The paper empirically verifies the relation between Internet diffusion and the voice and accountability indicator of the Kaufman, Kraay, and Mastruzzi governance index in its sample of 44 countries belonging to three regions including MENA. It identifies persisting MENA issues, such as abuses of dominance by the incumbent operator in the access market, and how content control policies have constrained the impact of the Internet on civil liberties. It suggests that liberalization is playing an important role in changing the levels of civil liberties by increasing the quality and quantity of information accessed.
More than three decades after the British withdrawal from the Gulf, change can be discerned in the countries of the region in a number of ways. This study by Dr J E Peterson concentrates on one aspect of political change in the GCC – political participation. Specifically, its purpose is to survey the role of national assemblies and consultative councils, and evaluate their impact on the Gulf states. In this paper, which can be considered an update of an earlier study, The Arab Gulf States: Steps Towards Political Participation, Peterson says that while the regimes recognize the need for economic reform and are taking steps toward that end, their willingness for political reform falls far behind and there is a reluctance to make dramatic, fundamental changes. In the mid-2000s climate it is expected that the regimes will continue to rely on a policy of continuity in political matters, with slight, irregular modifications.
This research paper examines Europe's willingness and ability to play a role in the Gulf, and describes how this fits in with America's role there. It describes US-European relations in the Gulf since the Cold War and outlines three possible scenarios: weak strategic convergence with America, notably on the subjects of Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the war on terror; some transatlantic cooperation involving NATO, especially through the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, and; an enhanced EU presence in the region, including in the form of a strategic partnership. The paper tackles the question of whether Europe can be a security player in the Gulf and examines the current lack of synergy between the US and Europe over Gulf issues.
The struggle to govern and shape future development in the Gulf requires new thinking and creative approaches. One contributing geographic scale that is rarely considered in policy and analysis is that of the urban. This paper argues for a reconsideration of the developmental potential of the Gulf city-system that underlies the economic, political and social dynamics of the region. Across the longue durée, this armature has provided for the continuity and power for regional development; today there is growing evidence that the day-to-day lived space of the highly urbanized Gulf reverberates with transboundary linkages useful for conflict resolution and growth. As part of a package of creative empowerment, the city-system, if promoted and encouraged, could make a renewed contribution to the developmental future of the Gulf.
This paper examines the development of EU-GCC relations and their movement from a bilateral basis to a more collective level. The paper begins with an examination of European ties with the broader region, and goes on to focus on recent initiatives and their implications, covering the periods of the Barcelona Process, the Greater Middle East Initiative, and the New Neighborhood Policy. It examines the impact on relations of the lack of GCC institutions, the different foci of the two blocs in terms of political and economic ties, and the conflicting roles of bilateral and multilateral relations. The paper also examines the EU's desire for political reform, discussing the differences between the GCC and the rest of the MENA region, and noting how these might help in the former's political evolution. It concludes with a number of recommendations for improved relations between the EU and GCC.
This paper highlights the trends in the out-migration flow of Indian workers to the Gulf countries in terms of volume and destination, as well as origin in India. It mainly focuses on contract workers who migrated under the Indian Emigration Act of 1983. Further on, it discusses the socioeconomic characteristics of migrants. This is be followed by a discussion of the administrative framework monitoring their movement and help, if any, in redressing their grievances. Finally, the impact of Indian migration on the Gulf countries as well as India and on Indo-Gulf relations is discussed, and demographic, economic, and socio-cultural factors are considered. The analysis is generally within a political economy conceptual framework.
The announcement of the opening, perhaps by late 2006, of a Euro-denominated Iranian Oil Bourse has sparked wide-spread discussions concerning the impact on the U.S. dollar. One common theme is that the bourse will weaken the demand for dollars, causing its value to fall over time, eventually terminating its role as an international means of payment. Is this likely to occur? Specifically: (1) given existing practices in the pricing of oil and the institutional setting of Iran, can we expect a large volume of oil to be denominated in euros in the near and foreseeable future? (2) In light of (1), is there a good chance the proposed Iranian Euro-denominated oil bourse might a direct role as the catalyst that sets off a movement away from the dollar? Or, (3) are there good reasons to discount the bourse attracting much attention and therefore unlikely to play a significant role in affecting the future value of the dollar? An analysis of these issues suggests that across a wide spectrum of possible events and probabilities, it is unlikely that the proposed Iranian Oil Bourse will be all that attractive to traders, taking a large volume of sales away from established markets. In addition, there are a number of elements tending to perpetuate the dollar’s role as a reserve currency in the international system. It follows that concerns over the dollar are premature.
A cabdriver who gives one unsolicited advice on hot picks at the stock market; fully booked planes from Saudi Arabia to the UAE because everybody wants to get an allotment in the latest Dana Gas IPO; investors merrily entering the market on margins and valuations that are considerably higher than in other emerging markets ," a cursory glance at the stock markets in the GCC countries reminds one of financial hype in the past and eventual busts and painful corrections. On the other hand, the boom has not been created purely out of thin air; oil prices remain at record levels and large amounts of funds have been repatriated in the wake of 9/11. This has helped finance increasingly diversified economies, with new industries in the fields of real estate, services, and petrochemicals. This study scrutinizes developments in the GCC stock markets, comparing them to past boom-bust scenarios on the international stage. Some of these were caused by an overvaluation of stocks in comparison to their underlying economic base (the US in 1929, Kuwait's Souk al Manakh in 1982, and the tech bubble of the 1990s), while others followed a currency crisis and the concomitant withdrawal of "hot money" (Mexico and Latin America 1994, Asia 1997/98). By drawing parallels and paying attention to the economic idiosyncrasies of the GCC countries, this paper discusses strategies to cope with the economic repercussions of a possible stock market crash in the GCC.
GCC countries are dollar dependent. Their currencies are pegged to the dollar, their main source of income (oil) is factored in dollars and the majority of their investments abroad are held in dollars. While after World War II, the US dollar was still backed by gold and current account surpluses it has turned into an empty paper promise since the 1970s. That spells potential disaster for GCC countries and calls for a stronger diversification of their currency reserves. The paper critically discusses a potential monetary role of gold by analyzing the failures of the historical Gold Standard and the topical attempt of Malaysia to introduce an Islamic Gold Dinar. Finally, it proposes that apart from “second worst” paper currencies like the Euro, GCC countries should take a closer look at gold, as it has an impeccable track record of asset protection over centuries.
To remain in an industry, industrial establishments need to be competitive and well managed. This situation can be assured by efficient and effective management systems, which encourage and develop the technical and administrative capabilities required of the employees, managers or owners of such organizations. In addition, these establishments have to follow up and adjust to any changes take place in the external environment - which is in a continual state of flux and constantly subject to change - to maintain the flow of their information and resources. All industrial establishments in the Sohar Industrial Estate (SIE) face problems irrespective of the differences in types of activities, size, and capabilities of the owners or managers. This research revealed that the major obstacles facing industrial establishments in SIE are internal and concern how these establishments are managed. With respect to the external forces, there are some obstacles, but of a lesser adverse impact on the operations of these establishments.
This paper explores the role of the UN in the Gulf region from a comparative perspective. In fact, in the past only the interests of the great powers were discussed by the UN Security Council. As such, the UN has not played a security role that serves the regional security of the Gulf. Expectedly, the UN role seems poised to undergo a change in the future as a reflection of the pressing need to preserve the new security architecture in the Gulf region in its multifarious fields, including the military, political, economic and social domains. Obviously, the role of the UN as far as the security of the Gulf region is concerned remains closely intertwined with international politics and the never-ceasing changes unfolding within the international order as it would develop new features over the coming years. By probing these themes along with other issues, this paper seeks to pinpoint the character of the UN role in the Gulf region through an analysis of the UN activities throughout its history. In parallel, the author assesses the UN role and identifies the factors that affect it. He also attempts to anticipate its future in the aftermath of toppling Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq.
Dubai and Australian Relationships’ is a broad-brush approach to Australian and Dubaian relationships associated with the history, economics, education, and social life in Dubai. It paints a picture of a developing relationship that is growing rapidly. The Australians involved appear not to be seeking to leave a physical or psychological mark on Dubai rather they are seeking to offer to Dubai the best they have to offer. In return they receive a work life that is stimulating for those involved and a private life that is safe, secure, and congenial while at the same time provides for their own futures. Both Australia and Dubai are benefiting socially and economically from this arrangement.