Policy Reports

Analyses of current topics in the Gulf region

Bioterrorist Activities in the Middle East/Gulf, the European Union and the United States

A Critical Review of the U.S.-dominated Literature Ranging from Super/Mega- to Low-tech/Amateurish Terrorism

Why have biological weapons (BW) not been widely used by terrorists? This longitudinal study takes a new look at this old question. It looks again at the almost forgotten initial comprehensive work on “Superviolence” 1972. It questions the main thesis of the Harvard/Belfer Center volume “America’s Achilles’ Heel” (1998) written in the shadow of the ‘bio-chem clouds’ of the lethal Tokyo incidents of 1995, which opened a new area in terrorism and research on this subject. Finally, it scrutinizes the writings of prominent and productive terrorist researchers Jeffrey D. Simon and Gar A. Ackerman especially closely.

Bright Lights, Smart City

Dubai Projects Its Future at Expo

This article explores the role of Expo 2020 in terms of its functions beyond the economic and tourism related gains to the UAE. It discusses the significance of such a mega event regarding the public diplomacy angle and highlights factors such as person-to-person diplomacy and the projection of green futures as being of equal importance to the government.

The United Arab Emirates in Yemen

From Direct to Indirect Engagement and Back

This article explains why the UAE changed its strategy in the war in Yemen from direct engagement in 2015, to indirect engagement in 2019, and why this strategy was reversed back in early 2022. It also discusses Iran’s connection to the Houthi attacks on the UAE, and the prospects for UAE direct engagement in the war.

Placemaking, a stress relief tool for deliverables in GCC smart cities

The city around the public space was the founding principle of the traditional GCC cities. Today, placemaking strategies can generate a sustainable, vibrant, and livable public space as the active interface of smart cities. Engaging with the community on PPPP projects could be an effective stress relief on economic burden and constructive support in decision making for the national and local governments.

Collective intelligence and cities’ smart growth in GCC

The involvement of local research centers, together with NGOs and young designers, makers, and future inhabitants of the newly developed districts, could generate urban and social smart growth as a unique benefit for GGC existing cities during their fast-growing process. It could strongly impact local communities in terms of optimizing resources, ensuring concrete results, and immediate application of best practices while empowering young adults to embrace and lead the transformation and activating a process of informed decision-making.

A new “Agenda for the Mediterranean” should include the GCC

Why is there a need for close relations between the EU and the Gulf states?

The last face-to-face meeting at ministerial level between the European Union and the Gulf Cooperation Council dates back to 2016. There are many reasons for this, both on the part of the EU and the GCC. A changed energy and geopolitical situation has also contributed to a decrease in mutual interest. The EU should use the realignment of its foreign and security policy, especially the relaunch of an “Agenda for the Mediterranean” in spring 2021, to also put relations with the Gulf States on a new basis. To do this, the EU does not have to give up its position on human rights issues. Instead an increased engagement with Gulf states will enhance its voice in the region.

Environmental retrofitting

A mandate for liveable GCC smart cities

Several strategies are in place in the main Gulf countries to create districts’ cooling systems. However, the target of livable and walkable districts requires a comprehensive approach, including macro and micro-scale interventions that cooperate to minimize energetic consumption and the related CO2 footprint for new and existing built environments. Reducing AC dependency through environmental retrofitting of the existing real estate would play a substantial role in fighting the heat island effect in the GCC’s cities.

Smart Cities and Quality of life

A report from the GCC

Main GCC Cities in 2021 are ranking 28th to 30th in the Smart City Index worldwide. The same cities are also scoring 14th to 55th in the Quality of Life Index. Besides the traditional urban management tools and implementation, this is showing a massive commitment in the last years to improve a comprehensive system of e-governance and services to the citizens in terms of quality of life.

Resilience, growth, and GCC smart cities

Moving toward a digital enabling cities instead of smart cities would shift the focus to a human-centric approach. And the ICT serving the social and human capital in terms of knowledge, inclusion, and participation would enhance a smart design strategy in making smart cities as a city with a focus on the high quality of life. Gulf Countries have all the tools in place for a citizen and environmental effective resilience, and are ready to give the last touch through smart design strategies.

Who is worthy of ‘Women’s Rights’?

Intersectionality in perspective in the Gulf

The series of the articles on “Women in the Gulf States” were solicited and edited by Dr. Zarqa A. Parvez with support from Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. In this final article of the series, Dr. Parvez makes a brief overview of the published articles and stresses the importance of intersectionality as a lens in addressing women rights in the Gulf States. She also calls for a more inclusive approach to women rights, and highlights direction for future research.

Invisible Intersections

Disability and Gender in Kuwait

There is a nascent realization amongst those advocating for gender equity in Kuwait that the work for women’s rights needs to be more inclusive. Although much has been achieved in preceding decades, the movement holds little relevance for women who do not conform to the able-bodied, elite, citizen default. Drawing on the author’s lived experience, this article discusses the intersection of gender, disability, and citizenship in the country in an attempt to sketch a broader horizon for the local feminist agenda.

Amplifying the Presence of Qatari Women in Public Space

The Case of ‘Women of Qatar’

In this article, the author informs us the story of the creation of Women of Qatar, a space for the Qatari women where they can share knowledge, enjoy visibility, and inspire one another to advance women’s participation in the public life and gender equality. The article reveals the motivations that inspired the author to create this space for women and the challenges she has faced and is still facing on maintaining this space.

By the Youth for the Youth

The university student initiative ‘The Future is Female' at Georgetown Qatar

In hopes to inspire young girls and empower the youth to do more, university student initiative ‘The Future is Female' (FIF) is employed to pave the way for more success in the community. FIF tries to bridge the gap between school students and successful women in the workplace. In the Policy Report, the author recounts her experience as president of FIF and at Georgetown while mentioning the obstacles faced.

The Gulf region 2022

Three scenarios

In 2022, much will be at stake in the Gulf sub-region. In this report, we analyze three unique scenarios that could possibly play out next year in the monarchies of the Arabian Peninsula. These various situations involve improvements in Iranian-Saudi relations, the future of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and the risks of Afghanistan’s chaotic instability spilling into the Gulf both directly and indirectly.

Challenges Facing Intersectional Feminism in the GCC

Border Checkpoints at the Nodes of Intersection

How do intrapsychic borders formulate in intersubjective relations? That is, how do we use or employ our fantasies, desires and affects to dehumanize, negate, disavow or affirm the other? This article explores the challenges emerging from establishing an intersectional movement in the GCC when structural, social and systematic racist, sexist and classist conditioning is introjected and unaddressed.

How can concrete industry contribute to smart cities in mitigating climate change challenges?

A GCC perspective

Cement and concrete are among the major manufactured materials used, and their environmental impact is constantly under debate. As their use increases, concrete and cement production results in significant GHG emissions and puts increasing stress on natural resources sustainability, especially water. Here, we explore the environmental challenges of cement and concrete industry transformation and highlight existing options that could be undertaken over the coming decades to mitigate environmental impacts of cement and concrete production. The analysis indicates that promising avenues exist for sustainable use of concrete, which reconcile societal needs, ecological imperatives, and technical capabilities.

Densification as New Urban Agenda implementation tool toward smart cities

The Riyadh's case

The challenge of applying the New Urbana Agenda in a sprawling city such as Riyadh, the capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is an interesting case to examine: A fast-growing city with an ambition to further stimulate economic growth and achieve prosperity and better quality of life. The policy report provides some historical background to why such expansion has occurred and tries to analyse challenges, proposing initial steps towards shifting the direction and setting it on a trajectory that would lead to achieving some of the objectives in the medium and long term.

Smart Cities and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Two pillars of Governance in the GCC?

The interlinking of two potent policy-making paradigms: Smart Cities and SDG 11, might support not only functional urban domains such as transportation, health, home but spanning over wider concepts as digital Governance, e-democracy, health care access, public-private partnerships, well-being. Smart connectivity can facilitate a qualitative experience for citizens and overall inclusion to better services and integration, making local governments the main actors of the urban transformation, and allowing the shift from "smart cities" to the smart growth of all cities.

Drop the H-Word


Activism of Khaleeji feminists and civil society organizations have sparked a public discussion of gender-based violence in the Arabian Gulf, demanding accountability for the aggressors and seeking support services for victims. The discourse as to why the problem occurs remains shallow, blaming traditions and honor as the motives for heinous crimes that takes the lives of women. This article highlights how the “honor killing” argument erases institutional factors that uphold patriarchal structures ripe to inflict more violence on the vulnerable.

Shared Mobility Solutions in the Making of a Smart-City

An update from Dubai

Dubai has become an important global city, and a well know destination for job seekers and tourists. In addition to spectacular architecture and urban projects, the adoption of smart city technologies has improved the quality of life considerably within the city. Some of these smart technologies are changing the transportation sector, and the introduction of shared mobility solutions has recently created an improved experience for the residents. Still, some problems within the built environment reduce the impact of these otherwise promising technologies.

The Dualities of Traditions and Feminist Movements on the Omani Twitter Platform

An Extension of the Patriarchal Actuality or an Attempt to Create a Safer Space for Women?

In the age of social media, the patriarchal practice of religious and societal guardianship on women extends to the internet in the majority of the countries he Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), it is seemly an attempt to impose religious and jurisprudential views on women in the digital world. However, such attempts are rejected and resisted by feminist voices disapproving of the concept of guardianship in its neo-traditional form.

Transit Oriented Development as a Smart City's Interface

A GCC Perspective

Train Stations are nodes of exchange, a manifestation of technology integration and social needs, designed and built on fluxes of trains, goods, and people. Less traceable are the flows when those spread in the city, commuting in different ways, by bus or bikes, cabs, or just by walking. As public, smart, hybrid, and micro, mobility is a big component of smart cities, with metro stations as the district's core: hyper connectors among multiverses. But, how different cities or districts (the multiverses) do exist around stations? That is where the smart city meets transit development oriented (TOD).

Citizenship in the Gulf

For Khaleeji women, citizenship is a paradox of simultaneous privilege and disenfranchisement. Citizenship in the Gulf is largely confined to nativist/tribalist economic privilege, and defines womanhood through religio-traditional and patriarchal lenses. Due to this tension, women who marry foreigners are perceived to be even more disadvantaged. Unable to pass on their citizenship, this exclusion dominates the discourse on citizenship and womanhood in the Gulf. Yet, marrying a foreigner is a right transgressively wrested from the patriarchal authority, and should be seen as an act of self-empowerment and emancipation. As such, I wish to propose a new lens by which to re-imagine exclusion as an avenue that allows for a subversive form of agency to emerge through which women can give their children the opportunity to escape the socio-political constraints of Gulf citizenship.

Green as a smart infrastructure for humanized cities in the GCC Anna Laura

Life in the GCC, dominated by an extremely hot climate, was possible thanks to the karstic underground water system and its manifestation as oases. Oases, offering water, shade, and palm groves, provided food and created substantial climate mitigation, making social life possible within the desert. Oases-based settlements and coastal urbanisms generated the unique circular economy system for what we know today as Gulf Countries. Green infrastructures, already a must in worldwide urbanism, have become a fundamental tool for the quality of life in future GCC cities.

How can cultural heritage serve human-centered smart cities in the GCC?

In common sense, historical buildings and settlements couldn’t be more distant from smart technology; however, those might play the main role in smart cities as a sustainable and human-centered urbanism model, creating a sense of belonging rooting on the local identity. Moreover, since Arab urbanism has been an exceptionally resilient and sustainable construct within extremely difficult environmental conditions, it has to be trusted as an incredible potential of traditional constructive strategies and implemented through the most modern technologies in the GCC smart-cities-to-be.

About this series

The Policy Reports of the Regional Programme Gulf States offer insights and analyses on current developments in the Gulf States and the Gulf region at large. They contribute to a better understanding of the region and serve as a platform for German, European and the Gulf scholars to exchange and disseminate ideas and knowledge about the region for the broader policy community.

Fabian Blumberg

Fabian Blumberg bild

Head of Gulf States Programme

fabian.blumberg@kas.de +962 6 59 24 150