Oman in the not-too-distant past could be described as a nation searching for a viable state, whereas now it is more a state seeking to deepen the nation. Among the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, Oman stands alone in enjoying an ancient feeling of nation. The national identity of the smaller states is in large part a creation of the last few decades while Saudi Arabia is a collection of disparate regional identities cobbled together over the course of less than a century.
In recent years, the display of military symbols, through parades, public speeches and clothing, has become a salient feature of National Day celebrations in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This dimension of national holidays tells much about social and cultural transformations in these countries: through these displays, rulers are promoting some sort of militarized nationalism among citizens to enhance social cohesion, thus intertwining military strength with shared identity and patriotism.
In the current moment it is not possible to consider trajectories of museums and nation-building in the Arabian Gulf without taking into account the ongoing diplomatic crisis, or blockade that began on 5th June 2017. On this date, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt abruptly closed their borders and cut diplomatic ties with Qatar amidst accusations that the small Gulf state supported terrorism, had become too close to Iran and was meddling with their own internal affairs.
When it comes to nation-building strategies in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the role of religion, and particularly of sectarian differences, is difficult to ignore. In the below, we explore the ways in which Bahrain and Kuwait, two states with sizable Shiʾi populations and relatively active legislatures, formulate national narratives around these sectarian differences.
In their efforts to prepare for a post-petroleum era, Gulf monarchies are scrambling to update their strategies of citizen and nation-building. The challenge is significant. In the past, such strategies emphasized the distribution of resource wealth. Rulers built cradle-to-grave welfare states, often in previously impoverished societies, for which citizens were generally very grateful.
In this summer of geopolitical realignments, Oman confirms to be the subtle centre of Middle Eastern diplomacy: in these days, Muscat has been hosting informal talks on the Yemeni crisis and seeks to find a minimum room for dialogue about Syria. Oman is the first Arab country that has received Damascus’ foreign minister since 2011.
Abstract Historically, Iraq stands out as one of the cultural, religious and political centres of the Middle East, a leading country which has constantly exerted a relevant impact on the regional system. However, after years of wars and sanctions and, most recently, the Iraqi Freedom military operation, Iraq crumbled into a difficult period of transition which culminated in the civil war between 2005 and 2006. In 2011, the restoration of its full sovereignty opened up a new phase in this process of transition towards a new internal balance of power. At the same time, Iraq’s government regained the capacity to determine its foreign policy. This contribution aims to give an overview of the recent developments in Iraq’s efforts to reposition itself in the international and regional system, detailing the ratio of Iraqi foreign policy with a specific focus on the relationship between Baghdad, Tehran, Riyadh and Ankara. Paolo Maggiolini, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Foundation for Interreligious and Intercultural Research and Dialogue.