Occasional Papers

The Center for International and Regional Studies publishes original research on a broad range of issues, including international relations, political science, economics, and Islamic studies, among others. Papers dealing with issues of relevance to the Persian Gulf and the Middle East region are preferred. We invite manuscript submissions for the CIRS Occasional Paper series throughout the year. CIRS Occasional Papers are registered under ISSN 2072-5957.


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CIRS Occasional Papers

Qatar’s Natural Sustainability: Plans, Perceptions, and Pitfalls

Mari Luomi, "Qatar’s Natural Sustainability: Plans, Perceptions, and Pitfalls," CIRS Occasional Paper no. 11 (Doha, Qatar: Center for International and Regional Studies, 2012).

This paper analyzes Qatar’s present and future challenges relating to natural resources and environmental sustainability through the concept of “natural sustainability,” which is defined as the use of natural resources in a way that ensures prosperity for humans and the environment, presently and in the future. By doing so, it proposes an alternative standpoint on sustainable development. The paper asks three broad questions: How is the relationship between development, economy, and the environment understood by different actors in Qatar? What implications do these different views have for planning and definition of desired outcomes in the areas of natural resource use and environmental sustainability? What can a more environment-centered focus contribute toward solving the existing unsustainabilities of development in Qatar and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)? By refocusing attention from the economy and growth to the environment and its limits; and from technology and efficiency to institutions, people, and resourcefulness, Qatar and the GCC states might be able to avoid an impending collapse stemming from their fast exacerbating natural unsustainability.

Transformations of Regional Economic Governance in the Gulf Cooperation Council

Fred H. Lawson, "Transformations of Regional Economic Governance in the Gulf Cooperation Council," CIRS Occasional Paper no. 10 (Doha, Qatar: Center for International and Regional Studies, 2012).

Most studies of regionalism in the Middle East fail to distinguish among divergent types of regional formations, and make little effort to chart the developmental trajectory that regionalist projects display over time. This paper lays out a typology that can be used to elucidate crucial differences across regional formations in the contemporary Arab world, and also to highlight significant changes in the kind and level of governance that take place in any particular regionalist experiment. The utility of the framework is demonstrated through an analysis of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). This regional formation has undergone two major transformations since it took shape in 1981, and at the present time exhibits a substantially different form of economic regionalism from the one it boasted three decades ago. Four alternative explanations for shifts from one form of GCC regionalism to another are outlined as an invitation to further investigation.

Workforce Nationalization in the Gulf Cooperation Council States

Kasim Randeree, "Workforce Nationalization in the Gulf Cooperation Council States," CIRS Occasional Paper no. 9 (Doha, Qatar: Center for International and Regional Studies, 2012).

In recent decades, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have become reliant on migrant workers to the extent that foreign inhabitants constitute nearly one-third of the total GCC population. Qatar and the UAE are at the extremity of the situation, where indigenous citizens constitute only one-quarter and one-fifth of their national populations, respectively. Consequently, workforce nationalization—the concept of reducing expatriate employment by bringing more citizens into the workplace—has become the human resource management strategy of all GCC countries. In this first attempt to review all six GCC nations, this paper takes an exploratory-cum-constructivist approach and argues that closer cooperation and unified policy structures on nationalization are needed across all GCC countries. Education, training, the transfer of knowledge from expatriate to citizen, better approaches to encouraging citizens into the private sector, and the greater inclusion of women are all significant issues that need to be tackled in order to fulfill the desired goal of nationalizing the labor force across all GCC states. A clear and unified policy in terms of structural reform across GCC countries needs to be collectively defined, although methods of implementation would need to be more tailored and distinctive from one country to another.

Free Mobility within the Gulf Cooperation Council

Zahra Babar, "Free Mobility within the Gulf Cooperation Council," CIRS Occasional Paper no. 8 (Doha, Qatar: Center for International and Regional Studies, 2011).

Stipulations within the formal protocols of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) established free movement of nationals as an essential component of the region’s movement towards full economic integration. This paper analyzes the protocols within the broader construct that stresses human emancipation and freedom of mobility as fundamental human rights. Throughout the GCC, states face the peculiar dilemma of supporting full freedom of mobility for citizens while also severely limiting and curtailing the mobility of the dominant, non-national population. This paper questions how normative debates on the freedom of movement apply to the Gulf region and examines the policy and practice of strictly managing the movement of international migrants while at the same time freeing up movement for citizenry. This paper proposes that in the GCC, the regional political economy and the processes of regionalization and globalization have combined to tighten controls over mobility and migration.

A Theory of "Late Rentierism" in the Arab States of the Gulf

Matthew Gray, "A Theory of 'Late Rentierism' in the Arab States of the Gulf," CIRS Occasional Paper no. 7 (Doha, Qatar: Center for International and Regional Studies, 2011).

Rentier state theory (RST), which seeks to explain the impacts of external payments—or rents—on state-society relations and governance, has been in wide usage for over two decades, and is still routinely cited by scholars writing on the Gulf or other parts of the world. Its tenets are widely—if by no means unanimously— accepted, and retain a strong validity at the broader level. However, RST has not adapted enough to explain the dramatic changes in the political economies of the Gulf in the past two decades or so, including the responses of Dubai, Bahrain, and more recently Qatar and Abu Dhabi, to globalization, new technologies, freer trade and investments, social changes, and development imperatives. It is argued here that a new phase of RST—“late rentierism”—should be applied to the wealthy Arab Gulf states. The case for late rentierism is made with an emphasis on the shortcomings or oversimplifications of other rentier approaches. This study also describes and explains late rentierism through a discussion and elucidation of its major features and characteristics, including how these vary, or not, from those of other rentier explanations.

The GCC States and the Shifting Balance of Global Power

Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, "The GCC States and the Shifting Balance of Global Power," CIRS Occasional Paper no. 6 (Doha, Qatar: Center for International and Regional Studies, 2010).

This paper maps the changing engagement strategies of the six member-states of the Gulf Cooperation Council in the global order. It examines how and why the Gulf states have emerged as visible and powerful global actors in recent years and contextualizes these strategies within the shifting balance of global power. This approach ascribes agency to policymakers in the Gulf states, and shifts the focus of scholarly attention toward the motivations and objectives that guide their engagement and interaction with the international system. The paper also considers the broader implications for the future of global and regional politics in light of the emergence of new international linkages and blocs, and the reformulation of frameworks of global governance in both its normative and structural dimensions.

Web-Based Learning in Qatar and the GCC States

Alan S. Weber, "Web-Based Learning in Qatar and the GCC States," CIRS Occasional Paper no. 5 (Doha, Qatar: Center for International and Regional Studies, 2010).

This contribution surveys the historical development and current state of e-learning in Qatar and the GCC states, including the educational, political, social, and financial factors that led to the adoption and development of current systems and initiatives. Although significant challenges have arisen in the use of e-learning technologies, such as general computer literacy, interoperability and cross-platform issues associated with the flood of learning objects on the market, the lack of Arabic language learning objects, and Internet bandwidth and reliability, e-learning is poised to usher in considerable educational changes in the learning populations of the Gulf region. In the face of declining hydrocarbon reserves in some Gulf nations, this paper analyzes the ways in which e-learning initiatives have been designed to help create the post-oil knowledge economies, which Gulf rulers hope will propel GCC countries into the top tier of technologically advanced societies in the world. 

Britain and the Gulf Shaikhdoms, 1820-1971: The Politics of Protection

James Onley, "Britain and the Gulf Shaikhdoms, 1820-1971: The Politics of Protection," CIRS Occasional Paper no. 4 (Doha, Qatar: Center for International and Regional Studies, 2009).

This article examines Britain’s protection of Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the Trucial States (United Arab Emirates), and Oman during the era of British hegemony in the region: 1820–1971. It argues that Britain’s role as guardian of the Persian Gulf, beginning in 1835, was not imposed coercively, that Britain largely conformed to local expectations of a protector’s duties and rights, and that its record in Eastern Arabia was far better than its record elsewhere in the Middle East. It begins with an overview of regional insecurity before the Pax Britannica. It then examines why Britain came to defend Eastern Arabia and the advantages and disadvantages that entailed for the local rulers. It explains the legal status of the Gulf shaikhdoms and Oman resulting from their treaties with Britain and their close relationship with the British Empire. It also discusses Britain’s post-war attempts to develop these states, the nature of Anglo–American relations in the region, and the growing challenges to Britain’s position in Eastern Arabia in the 1950s–60s. It provides a new account of Britain’s withdrawal from the Persian Gulf, showing how Britain introduced defense arrangements that remain in place forty years on. It finishes with a reflection on Britain’s legacy in the Gulf today. 

Fixing the Kingdom: Political Evolution and Socio-Economic Challenges in Bahrain

Steven Wright, "Fixing the Kingdom: Political Evolution and Socio-Economic Challenges in Bahrain," CIRS Occasional Paper no. 3 (Doha, Qatar: Center for International and Regional Studies, 2008, 2010).

Bahrain has entered into a more ‘progressive’ phase of its history under King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. Various parliamentary and legislative restructuring, in addition to discernable changes within civil society, have taken place. Yet genuine socio-economic challenges remain on the horizon, which may pose risks to the political order. The reforms were drive by a recognition that far reaching political and economic changes were needed in order to combat the risk of a return to the widespread riots that Bahrain was plagued with during the late 1990s. The focus of this study is to show that internal power politics within Bahrain’s ruling elite largely explain the manner in which the reforms have been implemented in the initial years of King Hamad’s reign. A key aspect of this was a desire by the King to enhance his autonomy vis-à-vis the Prime Minister through a populist mandate. This study also surveys key social and political developments in Bahrain and illustrates some of the important challenges which remain within the Kingdom.

Conservation in Qatar: Impacts of Increasing Industrialization

Renee Richer, "Conservation in Qatar: Impacts of Increasing Industrialization," CIRS Occasional Paper no. 2 (Doha, Qatar: Center for International and Regional Studies, 2008, 2009).

Industrial development in the State of Qatar is taking place at an unprecedented rate. Such development is putting the environment at the risk, threatening ecosystem services and biological diversity. While Qatar is currently developing the legislation, regulatory bodies, and management agencies for successful ecosystem management and conservation efforts, the full implementation of these protective measures has yet to be achieved. This is in part due to a lack of scientific expertise and trained personnel as well as the early stage of environmental development in the country. While strides have been taken by the State of Qatar, the question remains whether they can be implemented in a timely fashion to ensure that current and future development projects support the country’s goal of sustainable development.