Key shifts in the Arab ‘moderates’ position on Hamas and Israel

Published by Middle East Monitor

The Egyptian, Saudi and other Arab “moderates” position on the Gaza war has been presented in most media discussion and political analysis as a striking departure from previous policy and indication of a new shift towards Israel and its view of Hamas, “resistance” and other regional challenges to the global order. The fact is, however, that their Gaza policies are the consequence of over a decade of restructuring of Arab positions to accommodate the United States. Continue reading Key shifts in the Arab ‘moderates’ position on Hamas and Israel

UAE attacks in Libya: Not Zayed’s vision

First published at Foreign Policy and ECFR

One of the key principles of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Nahyan, who forged the United Arab Emirates (UAE) out of seven sheikhdoms, was to portray his small and vulnerable country as a friend to all Arabs. The federation he created evolved as an unusual hybrid, with cities as diverse as the liberal Dubai and the religiously conservative Sharjah next door. It has become one of the Arab world’s strongest economies, the second largest after Saudi Arabia despite a population one-sixth of the kingdom’s size, and continues to develop at breakneck speed. What Zayed — who passed away in 2004, leaving power in the hands of his ambitious son — would have made of his country’s involvement in the tangled revolutionary politics of Libya, several thousand miles to the west, is worth pondering. Continue reading UAE attacks in Libya: Not Zayed’s vision

From World Cup to the Brotherhood: worrying trends for Doha

Published by ECFR

Qatar’s World Cup bid is just one of a number of headaches facing the Gulf state and its new emir, Tamim bin Hamad. Last week the Sunday Times published news of a stash of emails that it claimed proved a “plot to buy the World Cup”. The allegations, centring on Qatari former FIFA executive member Mohammed Bin Hammam and money paid to FIFA delegates and officials to ensure Qatar’s win, are not new. Qatar’s response has been to distance itself from Bin Hammam, saying he did not act with official blessing. There is a general assumption that Qatar did indeed play dirty to bag the deal, but the bigger issue is the corruption of FIFA to allow such things to happen. Continue reading From World Cup to the Brotherhood: worrying trends for Doha

FT: Gulf states forge deal to end spat over Doha backing for Brotherhood

The Riyadh Document: What could it mean?

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are apparently on their way to resolving their dispute with Qatar over its backing for the Muslim Brotherhood. A foreign ministers’ meeting was convened in Riyadh on Thursday, leading to a statement issued later in the evening. Continue reading The Riyadh Document: What could it mean?

Art in the Gulf: “better to have it than not”

Youssef Nabil has made a career of immortalizing the famous in a unique photo-art style that has made him the belle of the ball on the international art circuit. Artist in residence at La Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris from 2003, then based in New York since 2006, Nabil started out in Cairo in the early 1990s with experiments in photography based on the colour tinting of old Egyptian portrait studios. Continue reading Art in the Gulf: “better to have it than not”

Islamists Empowered: Back to the Future

With the fall of Hosni Mubarak, victory in legislative elections and the presidential vote, and now the approval via referendum of a new constitution, Islamists have begun the work of putting their renaissance project into practice.

Unlike Salafism, which dreams of a recreation of the pre-colonial moment, political Islam has aimed more to repatch together the Islamic state but in an unambiguously modern, post-colonial context. The Brotherhood does not aim to return clerics to man a reestablished classical Sharia court system, rather it seeks to distribute the dominion of Sharia via parliament, legislation and an advisory role for clerics via Al-Azhar. Laymen play a key role in the process of Islamicization that they would not have had before the irruption of Western hegemony and modernity – something alien, for example, to Wahhabi Salafism which simply recognizes the sovereign powers of the temporal ruler in return for the clerics’ advisory role in policy and control of courts, mosques, education and their own coercive force (‘the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice’). Continue reading Islamists Empowered: Back to the Future

Analysis – Some Gulf rulers wary of U.S. shifts on Islamists, Iran

By Andrew Hammond and Rania El Gamal

DUBAI | Wed Sep 5, 2012 3:43pm BST

(Reuters) – The rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and its ideological affiliates in the Arab Spring uprisings has stoked fears among Gulf Arab governments that the United States may one day abandon its traditional allies as it warms up to Islamists. Continue reading Analysis – Some Gulf rulers wary of U.S. shifts on Islamists, Iran

Some Emiratis glad Dubai’s ambitious plans dented

By Andrew Hammond – Analysis

DUBAI | Wed Dec 2, 2009 4:02pm IST

(Reuters) – Dubai nationals were alarmed by the fallout from the emirate’s debt standstill, but many hope the crisis may stem the torrent of foreigners into the conservative Gulf Arab city, where locals are outnumbered ten to one.

The freewheeling emirate, one of seven that form the United Arab Emirates, sent jitters through global markets last week when it announced that one of its flagship developers had asked for a six-month repayment freeze on some debt. Continue reading Some Emiratis glad Dubai’s ambitious plans dented