The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries face the possibility of a prolonged recession that the IMF warns could deplete the region of its wealth in 15 years. As Gulf States continue to tackle the spread of Covid-19, the region’s governments are making interventions in their respective economies reeling from the dual crisis of the pandemic and its knock-on effect of slumping demand and price of oil. Questions loom over how they will balance painful spending cuts and continue to preserve the existing current social contract.
The revival in calls for austerity will not only compromise high profile projects and events in the GCC, but has been argued by many experts that it will change dynamics of the social contract between GCC states and their citizens. Discussions on the bargain that has historically redistributed oil wealth from the state to its citizens are likely to be revisited once again, especially after recent announcements for tax hikes, subsidy cuts, and/or decreases in salaries. The London School of Economics’ Middle East Centre and Gulf International Forum assembled this panel to address how austerity measures affect reform and the social contract of the rentier GCC states in light of the current dire economic situation caused by Covid-19.
Featured Speakers: Dr. Courtney Freer (moderator), Dr. Dania Thafer, Dr. Justin Gengler, and Dr. Steffen Hertog.
Dr. Courtney Freer (Moderator)
Research Fellow, the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics and Political Science; Non-Resident Senior Fellow, Gulf International Forum
Dr. Freer is a Research Fellow at the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her work focuses on the domestic politics of the Gulf states, with interest in Islamism and tribalism. She previously worked at the Brookings Doha Center and at the U.S.–Saudi Arabian Business Council. She holds a MA in Middle Eastern Studies from George Washington University and a Ph.D. from the University of Oxford. Her book Rentier Islamism: The Influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Gulf Monarchies was released in 2018 with Oxford University Press.
Dr. Dania Thafer
Executive Director, Gulf International Forum
Dr. Dania Thafer is the Executive Director of Gulf International Forum. Her area of expertise is on the Gulf region’s geopolitics, US-Gulf relations, and the political economy of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. She is also a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University.
Dr. Thafer been widely published on matters concerning the Arab Gulf states including several articles and publications. She has co-authored two edited books “The Arms Trade, Military Services and the Security Market in the Gulf States: Trends and Implications” and “The Dilemma of Security and Defense in the Gulf Region”. Dr. Thafer is currently writing a book focused on the effect of state-business relations on economic reform in the GCC states. Previously, she worked at the National Defense University’s Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies.
Dr. Thafer has a master’s degree in Political Economy from New York University, and PhD specialized in the Political Economy and International Relations of the GCC states from American University in Washington, DC.
Dr. Justin Gengler
Research Associate Professor, the Social and Economic Survey Research Institute (SESRI) at Qatar University
Dr. Gengler is a political scientist who studies political economy, political development, political behavior, public opinion, and survey methodology in the Middle East, especially the Arab Gulf states. He earned his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Michigan in 2011. He has recent or forthcoming publications in the British Journal of Political Science, Governance, Political Behavior, Middle East Journal, and Comparative Politics. He is the author of Group Conflict and Political Mobilization in Bahrain and the Arab Gulf: Rethinking the Rentier State (Indiana University Press, 2015). He is currently Research Associate Professor at the Social and Economic Survey Research Institute (SESRI) at Qatar University. In Fall 2020 he is also Visiting Associate Professor at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Qatar. Since 2006, he has lived and conducted fieldwork for a total of 12 years in Yemen, Bahrain, and Qatar.
Dr. Steffen Hertog
Associate Professor of Comparative Politics, The London School of Economics and Political Science.
Dr. Hertog research interests include Gulf politics, Middle East political economy, political violence and radicalization and he has published in journals such as World Politics, Review of International Political Economy, Comparative Studies in Society and History, European Journal of Sociology and International Journal of Middle East Studies. His book about Saudi state-building, “Princes, Brokers and Bureaucrats: Oil and State in Saudi Arabia” was published by Cornell University Press in 2011. He is the co-author, with Diego Gambetta, of “Engineers of Jihad: the Curious Connection between Violent Extremism and Education” (with Princeton University Press 2016).