Gulf

The Gulf and the British Regional Divide

In a troubling symbiotic relationship, Britain’s so-called “levelling up agenda,” begun by Boris Johnson, aims to address the regional divide between the country’s North and South, in part, by courting investments from the Gulf. Within this agenda, football clubs—important local assets with emotional power and cultural significance—are perfect platforms for Gulf investors to shape local policy environments and gain political influence. Proudfoot and Reda analyze these developments within a longer history of economic ties between the Gulf and England’s North.

The Politics and Passions of Football

The Fall 2022 issue of Middle East Report, “Football—Politics and Passions,” examines the regional and global importance of the beautiful game in the lead up to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The authors of issue 304 reflect on the multiple ways football moves individuals and systems between South Asia, the Gulf states, Palestine, the Maghreb, Sudan, Egypt and Britain’s post-industrial North.

Who is “Indian” in the Gulf? Race, Labor and Citizenship

How do race and racism operate in the Gulf? Neha Vora and Amélie Le Renard closely examine how the term “Indian,” as it is used in the United Arab Emirates, refers to much more than national origin. They trace the role of colonialism, capitalism and the state in creating “Indian” as a racialized category in contrast to an imagined pure Gulf Arab identity. Attempts to police the boundaries between citizens and non-citizens obscures the Gulf’s truly multicultural and multiracial history and present.

Selling Normalization in the Gulf

Elham Fakhro 06.23.2021

When the UAE and Bahrain normalized their relations with Israel, the countries’ leaders justified their actions as beneficial to the Palestinian struggle for statehood. Elham Fakhro explains how this rationale quickly fell apart and shifted, revealing deeper economic and strategic goals. Fakhro also illuminates how the history of Gulf support for the Palestinians created a space for the diverse responses of civil society to the Abraham Accords.

Who is “Indian” in the Gulf? Race, Labor and Citizenship

How do race and racism operate in the Gulf? Neha Vora and Amélie Le Renard closely examine how the term “Indian,” as it is used in the United Arab Emirates, refers to much more than national origin. They trace the role of colonialism, capitalism and the state in creating “Indian” as a racialized category in contrast to an imagined pure Gulf Arab identity. Attempts to police the boundaries between citizens and non-citizens obscures the Gulf’s truly multicultural and multiracial history and present.

No Good Options for Migrant Workers in Gulf COVID-19 Lockdown

Andrea Wright 04.30.2020

Andrea Wright talks to South Asian migrant workers in the Gulf to find out how the pandemic is affecting their lives. They explain that if they stay in the Gulf, they risk abandonment by their employers and coronavirus infection from cramped living conditions. If they return to India under lockdown, they face starvation, mounting debts, joblessness and anti-Muslim sentiment. There are no good choices.

Regional Uprisings Confront Gulf-Backed Counterrevolution

Wealthy, ambitious and emboldened by US acquiescence, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have emerged as key protagonists in thwarting popular movements.

Paper Trails Pedagogy

In order to uncover the paper trails of the powerful, one has to first learn how to track down, read and decipher obscure planning documents that are often available in the public sphere.

The Secret Lives of UAE Shell Companies

The UAE’s growing number of free zones are providing secretive havens for offshore companies to avoid taxes, regulation and accountability at home. Shell companies and money laundering abound. But it is still possible for determined researchers to discover who controls and ultimately benefits from this expanding system.

Scholars, Spies and the Gulf Military Industrial Complex

Shana Marshall 09.4.2019

A military-industrial complex is growing in the Gulf states. In May 2018, a British researcher Matt Hedges was arrested in the UAE and charged with espionage for researching this industry as a spy, not a scholar. His colleague Shana Marshall explains why.

The UAE and the Infrastructure of Intervention

Rafeef Ziadah investigates the rise of humanitarian logistics hubs such as Dubai International Humanitarian City, which, although ostensibly humanitarian, have become a key mechanism of intervention and increasingly a central element in the projection of power for the Gulf regimes such as the United Arab Emirates.

Ambitions of a Global Gulf

From the wars in Syria and Libya to the catastrophic bombing campaign in Yemen, the Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been the main Arab forces involved in the region’s current conflicts. The Gulf also increasingly shapes the political and economic policies of other Arab states, promoting economic liberalization along with hardening authoritarianism and repressing social protest. Their destructive prosecution of the war in Yemen is an attempt to position themselves as the principal mediators of the maritime routes and territorial hinterlands located in and around the Arabian Peninsula—a strategic prize that will be decisive to shaping the Middle East’s future geopolitical landscape.

“The Dubai of…”

Over the last several decades, and particularly after upheavals in Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria, much of the urban center of gravity of the Middle East has shifted to the Gulf. To understand this trend and its consequences, MERIP editorial committee member Jillian Schwedler interviewed Yasser Elsheshtawy in Philadelphia on June 4, 2018.

From Gaza to Jerusalem to Iran

Joel Beinin 07.12.2018

By forging a regional alliance aimed at confronting Iran and its allies, the new coalition of the US, Israel and allied Sunni Arab regimes intend to relegate the Palestinian issue to collateral damage in order to succeed.

The Arab World’s Non-Linear Electricity Transitions

For many, especially in the United States, the Arab world is closely associated with fossil fuels. But over the past several years, a raft of news articles, opinion pieces and analyses have hailed the advent of renewable energy—especially solar power—in Arab countries. Many such pieces open with images meant to defy the reader’s expectations. In the first line of an essay in The Atlantic titled, “Why the Saudis Are Going Solar,” the author notes that according to his first impression, “Everything about [Prince Turki of Saudi Arabia] seemed to suggest Western notions of a complacent functionary in a complacent, oil-rich kingdom.” Yet he was surprised to find that “Turki doesn’t fit the stereotype, and neither does his country” because of the prince’s leadership in Saudi Arabia’s drive to develop a domestic solar industry. In a similar vein, an Economist article on the blossoming of solar energy in the developing world opens with an anecdote about solar arrays being built in an arid part of Jordan, accompanied by a Getty Images photograph of a solar panel resting in front of a sand dune in an unidentified locale—solar power making the desert bloom, so to speak. Also fitting this pattern, the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2016 misleadingly summarizes a “New Policies” scenario for Middle East power generation that includes oil, gas, nuclear, hydro, wind and solar energy with the statement, “Natural gas is gradually joined by renewables as the fuel of choice.” A more accurate summary of the IEA’s own data might read, “Oil and gas continue to dominate a more diverse energy mix.”

Arabia Incognita

The Editors 05.6.2016

A new anthology from MERIP and Just World Books explores the Arabian Peninsula as “a distinct political unit” whose upheavals reverberate regionally and globally.

The GCC Needs a Successful Strategy for Yemen, Not Failed Tactics

James Spencer 09.11.2015

For the last 45 years, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has tried to mitigate its Yemen problem through short-term tactics, rather than construct and give resources to a strategy for solving it. That policy has failed repeatedly. A bold and lasting transformation is needed, not the same ineffectual meddling.

Traditionally, the attitude of most GCC members toward Yemen has been fond but standoffish. The Gulf states have been fairly generous in funding projects and providing aid, but held populous Yemen at arms’ length, for reasons both demographic and ideological, the latter being fear of Marxism and republicanism.

Breaking Even, Breaking Down or Going for Broke?

Karen Pfeifer 05.22.2015

As of mid-May 2015, crude oil prices had fallen to the lowest level in recent years, under $60 a barrel for US domestic benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and about $66 a barrel for the international Brent benchmark. These market prices are compared to several types of “break-even” prices and affect decision-making by oil producers at several levels: whether price covers just production costs or incorporates a satisfactory level of profit, whether budgets balance and whether long-term capital investment is attractive.

Operation Decisive Storm and the Expanding Counter-Revolution

John M. Willis 03.30.2015

On the night of March 25 one hundred Saudi warplanes bombed strategic targets inside Yemen under the control of the Houthi rebels. A number of countries—the other Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) members minus Oman, as well as Egypt, Jordan, Sudan, Morocco and Pakistan—joined the effort either directly or in support capacities. Although the Houthis have been in control of the Yemeni capital Sanaa and the central government since September 2014, it was the flight of president ‘Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi to Aden and the subsequent Houthi attack on the southern city that constituted the breaking point for Saudi Arabia and the GCC.

Burying the Hatchet with Iran

Chris Toensing 11.5.2014

Don’t tell anyone, but the United States and Iran are getting closer — perhaps closer than ever — to letting go of 35 years of enmity.

No, Washington and Tehran aren’t going to be BFFs or anything.

But they do share a common interest in rolling back the so-called Islamic State, whose well-armed militants have declared an extremist Sunni caliphate stretching across Syria and Iraq.

The United States is anxious to restore the Iraqi government’s authority in oil-rich Iraq, while Iran is eager to defeat a murderously anti-Shiite militia on its western flank.

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