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Edited by Dionysis Markakis
Over the last few decades, individual member-states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have engaged in an endeavor of unprecedented scale. Reliant on their abundant but ultimately finite hydrocarbon reserves, states such as Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have sought to diversify their economies, initiating transitions to more sustainable “knowledge-based” economies. Placing an emphasis on fostering higher education, entrepreneurship, research and design, information and communications technology, and similarly progressive sectors, the fundamental objective is to create indigenous, sustainable, and enduring economies. The articles in this special issue of The Muslim World journal emerged out of a two-year research initiative undertaken by the Center for International and Regional Studies of Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Qatar. They explore what “knowledge” constitutes, its myriad relationships to the economic system, and the means by which “knowledge-based economies” have been pursued in the context of the Persian Gulf. Across the individual countries and the region as a whole, the authors examine the achievements and opportunities, challenges and failures, faced in this endeavor.
CIRS Occasional Paper no. 15
Laurent A. Lambert, Europaeum, Oxford University
This paper shows that the GCC cities’ remarkable capacity to provide water to all their inhabitants despite the regional aridity should not be explained solely by apolitical factors such as the availability of desalination technologies and massive energy resources. Although acknowledging their importance, this paper demonstrates that the historical evolutions and achievements of the water sectors in Abu Dhabi and Kuwait city over the twentieth century are first and foremost the product of local and regional politics, and of reformist leaders’ agency at various times. Major changes in water governance can also be seen as a tool for, and as a signifier of, broader state reforms and changing politics. After independence, the manufacturing, subsidizing, and massive allocation of desalinated water were part of a political strategy aimed at redistributing oil rent to facilitate the tribes’ allegiance to the regimes, and to legitimize the increasing power of the new states. By contrast, the region’s recent trend of water privatizations, as in Abu Dhabi, Doha, and Riyadh, for instance, represents a strategy of gradually streamlining the rentier states and liberalizing their economies with a post-rentier perspective.
CIRS Newsletter 17 was published in Fall 2014. This newsletter highlights all CIRS activities over the spring, summer, and fall of 2014, including the latest research initiatives, publications, faculty research, as well as conference participation and exhibitions.
Monshipouri, Mahmood ed. Inside the Islamic Republic: Social Change in Post-Khomeini Iran. London: Hurst, 2014.
Since 1989, the internal dynamics of change in Iran, rooted in a panoply of socioeconomic, cultural, institutional, demographic, and behavioral factors, have led to a noticeable transition in both societal and governmental structures of power, as well as the way in which many Iranians have come to deal with the changing conditions of their society. This is all exacerbated by the global trend of communication and information expansion, as Iran has increasingly become the site of the burgeoning demands for women’s rights, individual freedoms, and festering tensions and conflicts over cultural politics. These realities, among other things, have rendered Iran a country of unprecedented—and at time paradoxical—changes. This book explains how and why. Read more from Hurst publishers
Kamrava, Mehran, ed. Fragile Politics: Weak States in the Greater Middle East. London: Hurst, 2014.
The 2011 Arab uprisings precipitated the relatively quick collapse of a number of Middle Eastern states once perceived as invincible. The Tunisian and Egyptian states succumbed to revolutionary upheavals early on, followed by that of Qadhafi’s Libya. Yemen’s President Saleh was also eventually forced to give up power. A bloody civil war continues to rage in Syria. These uprisings highlighted weaknesses in the capacity and legitimacy of states across the Arab Middle East. This book provides a comprehensive study of state weakness—or of ‘weak states’—across the Greater Middle East. Read more form Hurst Publishers
The CIRS Summary Report no. 11 titled, Fragile Politics: Weak States in the Greater Middle East, details the findings of the larger CIRS research initiative on "Weak States in the Greater Middle East." It begins with a critical analysis of current definitions and terminology of weak and fragile states, scrutinizing the political implications of the prevailing discourse within the setting of the broader Middle East. The research also examines the domestic, regional, and global causes and consequences for the Middle East of the “fragility” of states stretching from Afghanistan and Pakistan in the east to Libya in the west. Employing multidisciplinary perspectives, we study the causes and implications of conceptual notions of state fragility across the region in relation to areas such as politics and security, economics and natural resources, intra- and inter-state relations, migration and population movements, and the broader regional and global political economies.
Potter, Lawrence G., ed. Sectarian Politics in the Persian Gulf. London: Oxford University Press, 2014.
Long a taboo topic, as well as one that has alarmed outside powers, sectarian conflict in the Middle East is on the rise. The contributors to this book examine sectarian politics in the Persian Gulf, including the GCC states, Yemen, Iran and Iraq, and consider the origins and consequences of sectarianism broadly construed, as it affects ethnic, tribal and religious groups. Read more
Babar, Zahra, and Suzi Mirgani, eds. Food Security in the Middle East. London: Hurst, 2014.
This volume comprises original, empirically-grounded chapters that collectively offer the most comprehensive study available to date on food security in the Middle East. Some of the major themes examined include the ascent and decline of various food regimes, urban agriculture, overseas agricultural land purchases, national food self-sufficiency strategies, distribution networks and food consumption patterns, and nutrition transitions and healthcare. Read more
Kamrava, Mehran, ed. Beyond the Arab Spring: The Evolving Ruling Bargain in the Middle East. London: Hurst, 2014.
The Arab Spring occurred within the context of the unravelling of the dominant "ruling bargain" that emerged across the Middle East in the 1950s. This is being replaced by a new and inchoate system that redefines sources of authority and legitimacy through various devices (such as constitutions), experiences, and processes (mass protests, civil wars, and elections), by reassessing the roles, functions, and at times the structures of institutions (political parties and organisations, the armed forces, the executive); and by the initiative of key personalities and actors (agency). Read more from Hurst Publishers
Benjamin Shepherd uses data generated from fieldwork in Ethiopia to evaluate the country as a potential long-term source of agricultural staples for Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states as part of their national food security strategies. Part of the larger CIRS research initiative on "Food Security and Food Sovereignty in the Middle East," the report identifies the risks and well as the opportunities of investing in the agricultural sector of Ethiopia.