Policy Reports

Analyses of current topics in the Gulf region

What Drives President Biden’s Middle East Policies?

And what are their Impacts on the Gulf States?

In this article, Dr. Yaghi argues that although President Biden’s political views belong to the centrist camp of the Democratic Party, his policies in the Middle East will most likely lean more to the left for two main reasons. First, the Middle East is draining the U.S. scarce resources and is shifting them away from where they needed most, i.e., for competition with great powers and for economic recovery. Second, the progressive current in the Democratic Party is very strong, such that President Biden cannot turn his back to its political and economic demands. Accordingly, President Biden will avoid further military involvement in the Middle East and will adopt policies that will directly impact the Gulf States.


Strategic implications of economic diversification

The “Qatar National Vision 2030” sets the strategic goals for the State of Qatar. Economic diversification and development, coupled with social advancement, and comprehensive environmental management are at the core of Qatar’s current National Development Strategy. Although Qatar’s neighbors in the region put forward strategic goal systems for their national advancement as well, Qatar differentiates itself in the way it executes those strategies.

Humanitarian Foreign Aid of Gulf States

Background and Orientations

Foreign aid from the main Gulf donors (the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait) have been controversial for many years. This is due to the fact that Gulf foreign aid objectives and types are intrinsically intertwined. During the past fifteen years, humanitarian aid has transformed the Gulf states to become amongst the leading international humanitarian donors. However, the politicisation of humanitarian aid has done more damage to Gulf states than creating visibility and reputation. This article looks into the development of Gulf aid and the politics of humanitarian aid.

Education in Saudi Arabia

Challenges and Opportunities

Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 has made education a central part of achieving development goals related to overcoming unemployment, developing national talent and growing a diverse private sector. However, in tying educational excellence to economic outcomes, the Saudi education system has placed insufficient emphasis on the education process itself. By strengthening key components of the education system and schooling process, a stronger cohort of graduates will inevitably contribute to a growing economy. Steps toward greater flexibility and individual choice are underway, but more needs to be done in this area to deliver on the demands of the 2030 key performance indicators.

Yemen: Salafis and the war

In the context of the conflict in Yemen, Salafis of various shades have not made the headlines, nor have been the object of much expert analysis. This fact has been rather counter-intuitive considering how much Salafism had been scrutinized in the wake of 9/11. Obscured by other religious and political movements or state actors, their standing and evolution over the last five years in Yemen remains insufficiently understood. Yet they are undoubtedly playing a role in the fighting, and, simultaneously, are themselves being transformed by the war. Thus, the ambition of this policy report is to update our collective knowledge on such meaningful actors which are likely to remain a significant force should peace ever again become a realistic perspective in Yemen.

Bitter-Sweet Elections

The Oxymoronic Condition of the Kuwaiti Current Political Scene

The author of this article deals with the political scene in Kuwait during and after the last election term. She looks at some of the positive and not so positive electoral changes and the expected aftermath of these changes on the sociopolitical atmosphere of Kuwait. She also attributes significant space to the issue of Kuwaiti women in politics, using this brand-new womanless parliament as a case-in-study. The author also briefly provides basic electoral information as well as analyzes current results with mention of certain names and occurrences that were effectively operational during this election term.

Towards a Regional Security Mechanism in the Gulf Region

The Gulf region requires a regional security mechanism, based on both conceptual and operational baskets, through which regional as well as relevant external actors can engage with one another. Building on recent calls for de-escalation, Europe in particular should take the lead given the various tool of conflict resolution that it can bring to the table.

Migration and The COVID-19 Pandemic in the Gulf

A Study of Foreign Expatriate Worker Communities' Coping Attitudes, Practices, and Future Prospects in Dubai and Jeddah

In this study, Dr. Fahad L. Alsharif from King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, and Froilan T. Malit from the University of Cambridge examine the impact of Covid-19 on a sample of foreign expatriates in Jeddah and Dubai. The study specifically explores how Covid19 has affected foreign workers’ economic and welfare status in both Gulf cities mainly on the working and living conditions, access to medical services and dispute resolution system, remittance contribution, and current and future employment and security perceptions both in the Gulf and home country’s labour markets.

Kuwait after the Death of Emir Sabah

A first Assessment

On September 29th, Sheikh Sabah Salem Alsabah, the Emir of Kuwait, passed away. Emir Sabah was a diplomat par excellence. Under his aegis, Kuwait maintained good relations with a large number of countries and acted as a mediator in the Yemen war and the Gulf crisis. As an advocate of a multilateral order, Sabah was a driving force behind the formation of the Gulf Cooperation Council. He also used his skills in Kuwait itself to unite a sometimes very heterogeneous society and rival political camps. The decease of the 91 years old Sheikh Sabah Salem Alsabah, the Emir of Kuwait, poses two important interrelated questions: firstly, who is going to be Kuwait’s new crown prince and what does he stand for? And secondly, will Kuwait under the ruling of the new Emir change its regional foreign policies with regard to Iran, the Gulf crisis, and Israel?

Offensive Realism and Saudi Foreign Policy towards Iran

A zero-sum game?

The Arabian Gulf has long been one of the world’s tensest regions. Since 1980, three main wars occurred, and the region has undergone a military buildup ever since. Most of those in the Arabian Gulf states see the Iranian Revolution of 1979, which changed the face of the entire region, as the predominant causal factor for its instability. Since then, tensions and hostility have only increased between the two sides of the Gulf: the Arabian side, led by Saudi Arabia, and Iran. This article is an attempt to explain an iteration of this relationship between the two sides, via an examination of Saudi foreign policy (SFP) towards Iran.

The Political Effect of the Corona Crisis on the Arab Gulf States

The author of the article argues that COVID-19 has allowed governments across the globe to restrict individual freedoms, limit privacy and liberty, impose a policy of physical distancing and prevent gatherings on the pretext of protecting people from contracting the virus. This long-term outcome could apply as well to the Gulf States, whose governments have long depended on economic wealth and rentier fiscal policies to shape societies that were mostly less receptive to regional popular political mobilisation for change. He also argues that pandemic has demonstrated the urgency of the need in the Arab Gulf countries for a government role in the economic, security and social spheres. This, he contends, could establish the concept of "big government" in the Gulf countries, where governments play the largest role in the state’s political, economic and social Systems.

The Evolution of State Capacity in the Gulf Region

For a long period of time, the Gulf States’ revenues were external resource rents from oil exports rather than being acquired through traditional taxation. Consequently, the Gulf States skipped a traditionally pivotal step in the state formation process, namely, building a capable bureaucracy that is able to penetrate the Gulf societies. However, the drop of oil prices in 2014, coupled with the diminished dependence of the U.S. on the Gulf oil due to the development of the production of shale oil, have led the Gulf States to consider taxation, rolling back subsidies and imposing fees on the employment of migrant workers. All these measures required the creation of professional and skilled bureaucracy to carry out them; a mission the Gulf States achieved in a short period of time. Thus when the outbreak of Covid-19 occurred, the Gulf States were ready to deal with it effectively.

Religious Discussions on Coronavirus in Yemen

This policy report focuses on the religious discourses surrounding the pandemic of COVID-19 in Yemen. It aims at discerning this diversification and to point out to some discursive and theological implications that has to do with the current political conflict in Yemen, secularization processes and the polemical debates between the established traditional religious elite and the emerging young public intellectuals. Based on the author’s analysis of the data, they classify the Yemeni religious debate into two main trends: plain religious discourse and rationalized one. Within both trends, they find different voices that belong to different sects and schools of thought in Yemen. Nevertheless, the sectarian and religious orientations of the main interlocutors of this debate are not ignored.

The Gulf States and the Israeli Annexation Plan

Relations between Israel and the Gulf States rose to the centre stage when Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, declared his intention to annex the Jordan Valley and the settlements in the West Bank by early July this year. In this article, the authors outline the Gulf States reaction to Israel’s annexation plan. We argue that the Gulf States’ message is clear: the annexation plan will roll back, at least, the visible aspects of normalization with Israel. However, the extent of their reaction will depend on the scope of annexation. The authors also make it clear that the position of the Gulf States in regards to the normalization with Israel is not unified.

Kuwait During the Pandemic of Covid-19

Government Measures and the People Reaction

The researcher traces the government of Kuwait’s measures during the crisis of COVID-19 and the reaction of Kuwait’s citizens and residents to them. She argues that the government’s measures were transparent, and the Kuwaitis accepted them out of feeling of social responsibility and patriotism. She also explains the social changes in the behavior of social institutions and individuals that the crisis has brought about. She maintains that social gatherings that characterize the Kuwaiti society have been stopped and the Kuwaitis are spending less because of the closure of restaurants, entertainment facilities and shops.

The Public Opinion Orientations in Kuwait towards the Performance of the Government in Dealing with the Coronavirus Crisis

A Field Study

In early March 2020, the Center of Gulf and Arabian Peninsula Studies (CGAPS) at the University of Kuwait conducted a field study that aimed to examine the orientations of the Kuwaiti people towards the performance of their government during the emergence of the coronavirus crisis. It found that more than 60% of people agreed that “the government of the State of Kuwait has dealt with the emerging coronavirus crisis in the required manner.” In this article, Dr. Faisal AlSulaib, the president of CGAPS presents and analyzes the results of the poll.

The Gulf States Relations with Israel and Trump’s Plan for Peace

The author of the article examines the evolution of the relations between Israel and the Gulf States in the context of Trump’s Peace for Prosperity Plan. He argues that the Gulf States will not accept a peace plan that is rejected by the Palestinians. Further, he reasons that some Gulf States do not need Israel because of its mighty army, technological advancement, or in order to counter Iran’s influence in the region, but because they believe it can influence the trajectory of US foreign policy in the region. If Israel continue to lose this leverage, as it did during Obama’s presidency, the author argues, it also loses its attraction to the Gulf States. Finally, the author claims that the Gulf States are aware that they lose more than they gain from stronger ties to Israel, which makes very careful and cautious with regard to a potential amplification of such relations.

Die COVID-19-Pandemie

Maßnahmen und Folgen in den Golf-Staaten, Iran und Jemen

Der Policy Report stellt die aktuelle Situation in den Ländern am arabischen Golf, Iran und Jemen dar. Dabei werden die ergriffenen Schutzmaßnahmen, Governance-Kapazitäten, Verhalten der Bevölkerung, wirtschaftliche Folgen sowie der internationale Bezug aufgezeigt.

Media and Information Literacy Among Millennials and Generation Z in the Arab World

Filling the Gap Through A Skill-Based Approach

The Policy Report addresses the importance of establishing digital media literacy programs for the young generation in the UAE for the millennials (those whose age is between 23 and 39) and for Z-generation (those who are less than 22 years old).

Iran and the American Presidential Elections

The outbreak of the coronavirus might have relegated the US-Iran confrontation from the top news stories but the next months before the US presidential elections remain significant for Iran’s plan to influence American voters against the re-election of president Trump.

EU-GCC Relations

The Path towards a New Relationship

Policy Report No. 2, authored by Dr. Adel Abdel Ghafar and Dr. Silvia Colombo gives a brief historical appraisal of the EU-GCC relations, sheds light on domestic transformations and new geopolitical realities as well as ideas for the way forward in the EU-GCC relations.

The Yemen War

Actors, Interests and the Prospects of Negotiations

The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung has convened experts from Europe, Germany, the United States, and Yemen to provide informed opinions about the conflict in Yemen and on the best way to advance peace among the warring parties. In addition to an analysis of different local, regional and international perspectives on the conflict, the policy paper provides recommendations to German foreign policy.

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