Academic biography

Robert Mason is a graduate of the University of Westminster (BA Combined Hons International Relations and Politics, 2002), The Diplomatic Academy of London (PG Certificate, 2004), and the University of Exeter (PhD Middle East Politics, 2012). His primary research interests are the international relations of the Middle East and Gulf politics, Asia – Middle East/Africa relations, and Euro-Med relations (as detailed below). Much of his work therefore deals with small states, regional powers, threat perception, economic factors in foreign policy decision-making, geostrategy, alliance building and deconstruction, regional security, peace building, conflict resolution, great power relations, balance of power, soft power, normative influence, arms sales and development assistance. Robert has carried out fieldwork on these topics in Saudi Arabia, Iran, UAE, Israel, Palestine, USA, Russia and Germany. This has been funded by a Prince Alwaleed Al Saud scholarship, a British Institute of Persian Studies travel grant, a London School of Economics Middle East Centre grant, and an American University in Cairo (AUC) field research grant.    

Robert is currently a Non-Resident Fellow with the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington and a Non-Resident Research Fellow with the Gulf Research Center in Jeddah. Prior to this, he was Associate Professor and Director of the Middle East Studies Center at AUC where he won a faculty research award and was co-chair of the Regional Conflicts and Security Working Group. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and the founding editor of the Lexington Books series on The Gulf States in International Affairs. Robert was an at-large member of the International Studies Association Foreign Policy Analysis Section executive committee (2020-2022) and is a co-convener of the British International Studies Association Foreign Policy Working Group (2022 – ). His op-eds have been published in Financial Times, The National Interest, The Hill, RUSI Newsbrief, Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, The National, The Diplomat, New Turkey, Iran Review, The Cairo Review of Global Affairs, OpenDemocracy, LSE IDEAS and LSE British Politics and Policy Blog. 

1. International relations of the Middle East and politics/political economy of the Gulf

Robert’s main interest and expertise lies in the international relations of the Middle East and the politics/political economy of the Gulf region.

Relevant publications include: 

2. Asia – Middle East/Africa relations 

Robert has been involved in a number of high profile events in this area. In 2017, he co-hosted the 14th Korea – Middle East Cooperation Forum in Seoul, sponsored by the ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He co-organised an Egypt – Japan symposium in conjunction with the Japanese embassy in Cairo, and gave presentations at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in 2019 on regional issues. He regularly gives interviews on this theme to outlets such as the South China Morning Post and Radio France International. In 2014-15 Robert was a Visiting Fellow at the Centre of International Studies at the LSE. 

Robert is currently writing a book with Professor Yahia Zoubir (KEDGE Business School) on China – Maghreb/Sahel relations.

Relevant publications include: 

3. Euro-Mediterranean relations  

The European Commission funded Robert’s academic – policy project in 2018 which included research, teaching and public outreach components. He convened a new post-graduate course on Mediterranean Politics and arranged a two-day post-graduate conference on The EU, Middle East and Africa in the 21st Century at AUC. He also convened a rare EU – Middle East Policy round table in Cairo in 2019, including the participation of a number of European ambassadors and League of Arab States officials. For details see: Research Impact

Relevant publications include:

4. Islam and the state

The position of Muslim communities in Europe, Africa and Asia. Also of interest are issues such as human rights and governance within Islamic perspectives. 

Relevant publications include: 

5. Teaching and Learning 

Robert is currently working on a number of research projects related to teaching and learning in the Middle East and Africa. He has also laid out his view on decolonising the UK higher education curriculum here