Research Updates

My research currently revolves around the following themes:  

1. International relations and politics of the Gulf

My main interest lies in the international relations (theory), foreign policy analysis and the politics of the Gulf states with a focus on Saudi Arabia and Iran, but with a broader interest including some of the smaller Gulf states such as the UAE, Oman and Qatar.

My latest research paper titled “Small State Aspirations to Middle Powerhood: The Cases of Qatar and the UAE” was for a roundtable hosted by the Center for International and Regional Studies (CIRS) at Georgetown University Qatar. It recently been published in a volume titled Unfulfilled Aspirations: Middle Power Politics in the Middle East (Hurst/OUP). My forthcoming textbook New Perspectives on Middle East Politics: Economy, Society and International Relations with AUC Press covers thematic aspects which relate to Gulf States and foreign policy. I continue to research in this area, including a chapter titled “Pushing the Envelope of National Security and State Influence in the Hinterland: Saudi and Iranian Competition in the Horn of Africa” for a forthcoming volume on Gulf state – Horn of Africa relations which I am editing with Simon Mabon. My next monograph International Relations of the Gulf: Strategic Competition in an Uncertain World is forthcoming with Manchester University Press.

In 2019 I presented my research on the Gulf to audiences in Lebanon, at Princeton University, and at Tsinghua University in Beijing. I am currently a Fellow with the Sectarianism, Proxies and De-sectarianisation project (Carnegie Corporation funded) based at Lancaster University where I have contributed to a report on Gulf security. I am also a Non-Resident Fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington where I have co-authored (with Prof. Gawdat Bahgat) a paper on nuclear power in the Middle East, followed up by a blog in August 2020 after the United Arab Emirates’ Barakah plant began to come online. My further commentary on Gulf politics has appeared in The Cairo Review of Global Affairs, The Globe Post, The New Turkey, Die Welt, and The Hill.   

2. Asia – Middle East relations (“Look West” and “Look East” policies)

My research in this area is emerging and is partly linked to the reorientation of Gulf policies towards Asia as well as the rising importance of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. I am currently writing an article on China’s relations with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Israel. I have been commissioned to write a chapter “China and Regional Stability in the Middle East”, in Yahia Zoubir (ed.) Handbook on China – MENA Relations. (Routledge) in 2020/21. A novel part of my current research agenda looks at Gulf relations with states such as Indonesia and Malaysia. 

I have also been involved in a number of high profile events in this area. In 2017, I co-hosted the 14th Korea – Middle East Cooperation Forum in Seoul, sponsored by the ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I have met with ROK ambassadors to Egypt and Jordan to discuss regional affairs. I co-organised an Egypt – Japan symposium in Cairo in conjunction with the Japanese embassy and gave a presentation at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in 2019. I have given interviews on this theme to the South China Morning Post and Radio France International.

3. Euro-Mediterranean relations (encompassing various aspects such as security threats, political economy, migration, counter-terrorism cooperation and relations with Turkey and Russia) 

I have written extensively on Euro-Arab relations in International Politics of the Arab Spring: Popular Unrest and Foreign Policy and Mediterranean and Transnational Security Cooperation

I have also contributed to think tank work on the subject. For example, in 2018 I was invited to participate and give feedback on the role of Russia in the MENA region. I have written extensively on Russia and the MENA region in Middle East Policy and alongside notable Russian analysts. I continue to engage with networks such as EUROMESCO by writing policy briefs such as “Recovering EU – Egypt Relations, But Core Political Issues Remain.

In 2019 I convened an EU – Middle East Policy roundtable in Cairo, including the participation of a number of European ambassadors and League of Arab States officials. For details see: Research Impact.