The Qatar FIFA World Cup 2022 in November and December will be the first World Cup in the Middle East. This CIRS research initiative provides a platform for academic engagement with the tournament. Under the guidance of GU-Q Visiting Associate Professor Danyel Reiche, the initiative examines the implications of staging “the world’s greatest sporting event” on the social, political, and economic development of Qatar as well as on regional and global affairs. This CIRS project builds on the center’s previous research initiatives related to sports and society in the region. “Sport, Society and the State in the Middle East” and “Football in the Middle East" both resulted in edited volumes containing original research: Sport, Politics, and Society in the Middle (Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2019) and Football in the Middle East (Forthcoming).
This project examines how Qatar is not only competing with traditional centers of global sport but also pursuing broader aims, such as contributing to national reputation and security. By hosting the FIFA World Cup 2022 and other major sporting events, launching the beIN Sports global network of sports channels, sponsoring soccer clubs all over the world (i.e. Bayern Munich via Qatar Airways), and owning the French soccer club Paris Saint-Germain via Qatar Sports Investment (QSI), Qatar has strongly positioned itself in international sports networks.
This CIRS research initiative follows a multidisciplinary approach to studying Qatar, sport, and society, and will also include comparative analysis between the 2022 FIFA World Cup and previous ones. The research initiative webpage houses a variety of academic research and scholarly commentary on all issues related to the Qatar FIFA World Cup 2022 tournament, including expert blog posts and analytical articles by our network of regional and global scholars as well as a podcast series and interviews with major stakeholders involved in global football and in the organization of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Nearly a decade after the outbreak of the uprisings that toppled iconic figures of Arab authoritarianism, the Middle East and North Africa region continues to experience turbulent developments. Hopes for social and political change that fueled the initial uprisings have not materialized and turmoil continues across the region. Although Tunisia has charted a different path which put it on a promising course, it remains mired in a difficult transition politically, socially, and economically. A decade after its revolution, Tunisia emerges as a liminal state that is characterized by perpetual fragility. To better understand these complex and evolving dynamics, CIRS launched a research initiative entitled "Tunisia in the Aftermath of the Arab Uprisings."
In 2019, the Center for International and Regional Studies (CIRS) launched a new research initiative on “Football in the Middle East.” The aim of this research effort is to provide original academic insight on the political, economic, and social dynamics of football within the region. The project will adopt a multidisciplinary approach, examining a broad range of political, social, and cultural dimensions of the sport. It aims to explore a wide range of topics, including the relationship between the sport and international relations and issues related to gender, tourism, social mobility, media broadcasting rights, the 2022 World Cup, and sports infrastructure.
On June 5, 2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, and Bahrain severed diplomatic ties with Qatar. The quartet also imposed a land, maritime, and airspace blockade on Qatar, and restrictions on travels of their nationals to Qatar and Qatari nationals to their countries. The Maldives, Mauritania, Senegal, Djibouti, the Comoros, Jordan, the Tobruk-based Libyan government, and the Hadi-led Yemeni government soon joined the quartet, and severed their ties with Qatar as well. The aforementioned countries claimed that the severing of ties is a reaction to Qatar’s unceasing destabilizing endeavors in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf region, and failure to abide by international commitments and agreements. Such allegations were contested by Qatar claiming that they are “absolute fabrications.” To better understand the causes and consequences of the dynamics at work, the Center for International and Regional Studies launched a multi-year research initiative that examines the social, political, and economic consequences of the ongoing GCC crisis.
The CIRS research initiative on “The Political Economy of the Contemporary Middle East” adopts a multidisciplinary approach, examining a broad range of political, economic, social, and geographic dynamics in the region. It aims to explore a variety of topics, including prospects of globalization in the post-2011 Middle East; neoliberal policies in the post-uprisings period; military-private sector relations; state-business relations; development policies; the shifting boundaries of economic integration; state bureaucracy; mechanisms and instruments of informal economies; and the dilemma of foreign direct investments. The CIRS initiative addresses these increasingly important, but largely understudied, topics in Middle Eastern studies, and invites a number of experts to take part in in-depth, critical analysis of these pertinent issues.
In late 2018, the Center for International and Regional Studies (CIRS) at Georgetown University’s Qatar campus launched a multi-year research initiative to study Russia’s increasingly proactive and consequential strategic involvement in the Middle East region. While diplomatic, economic, and military relations between Russia and the Middle East have considerable historical roots, Russia’s current, deepening strategic engagement with the region, particularly since the eruption of the Syrian civil war in 2011, appear to signify more fundamental shifts in global and regional realignments. In exploring these shifts and realignments, this research initiative aims to study a variety of related topics, among which: the driver’s behind the mutual interest of partnership between Russia and the Middle East; Russian-Middle Eastern economic cooperation; the prospects of a Russian “sovereign democracy” in the Middle East; Islamic extremism and Russian foreign policy towards the Middle East; contemporary migration patterns between Russia and the Middle East; Russia “responsibility” to protect; and Russia’s relations with Iran, Syria, Israel, the Maghreb, Yemen, and Turkey. A small number of scholars will be invited to take part in in-depth, critical analysis of the nature of the Russian-Middle Eastern relations post the 2011 Arab-uprisings.