SOAS University of London

London Middle East Institute

Qatar and the Arab Spring: Policy Responses and Consequences

Kristian Coates-Ulrichsen, Baker III Institute of Public Policy at Rice University in Houston

Date: 21 January 2014Time: 5:45 PM

Finishes: 21 January 2014Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Khalili Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Lecture

Coates-Ulrichsen will offer a frank assessment of Qatar's startling rise to regional and international prominence, describing how its distinctive policy stance toward the Arab Spring emerged. In only a decade, Qatari policy-makers led by the Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, and his prime minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al-Thani catapulted Qatar from a sleepy backwater to a regional power with truly international reach. 

In addition to pursuing an aggressive state-branding strategy with its successful bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar forged a reputation for diplomatic mediation that combined intensely personalised engagement with financial backing and favourable media coverage through the Al-Jazeera. These factors converged in early 2011 with the outbreak of the Arab Spring revolts in North Africa, Syria, and Yemen, which Qatari leaders saw as an opportunity to seal their regional and international influence, rather than as a challenge to their authority, and this guided their support of the rebellions against the Gaddafi and Assad regimes in Libya and Syria. From the high watermark of Qatari influence after the toppling of Gaddafi in 2011, that rapidly gave way to policy overreach in Syria in 2012, Coates Ulrichsen will analyse Qatari ambition and capabilities as the tiny emirate sought to shape the transitions in the Arab world.

Kristian Coates Ulrichsen is a Research Fellow at the James A. Baker III Institute of Public Policy at Rice University in Houston and an Associate Fellow at Chatham House. His research focuses on politics and security in the Gulf States. He is the author of Insecure Gulf: the End of Certainty and the Transition to the Post-Oil Era (2011) and, forthcoming, of Qatar and the Arab Spring (2014).

Chair: Nelida Fuccaro, SOAS

Organiser: London Middle East Institute

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