Discriminatory attitudes are not solely directed towards migrant workers and racism in the Gulf does not exist solely as an “us versus them” phenomenon. The discrimination and privileged status within the native population, especially in regards to tribal affiliation, skin color, citizenship, nationality, religious beliefs and social status, play a massive role in dictating attitudes amongst and between Gulf natives and residents.
Discrimination is both sociopolitical and systemic, and progress will require a deep questioning of historical dynamics, social norms, political power, and economic policies. How can intersectional and anti-racist behaviors be embodied in the Gulf in order to correct for discriminatory frameworks? In the face of a global pandemic, how will attitudes towards the disenfranchised continue to evolve? And how do we untangle these discourses of race and privilege in order to better understand and improve them?
Featured Speakers: Dr. Dania Thafer (moderator), Dr. Haneen Ghabra, Dr. Clemenc Chay, and Abrar Alshammari.
Dr. Dania Thafer (Moderator)
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. Haneen Ghabra
Assistant Professor, Kuwait University’s Department of Mass Communication
Dr. Haneen Ghabra is an Assistant Professor at Kuwait University and author of the book, Muslim Women and White Femininity: Reenactment and Resistance (2018). Her areas of interest include exploring hegemonic and racist narratives via text, images and bodies (in media and popular culture). Through an Intersectional Feminist Ethic she focuses on systemic privilege and oppression through class, gender, race and sexuality. Dr. Haneen’s methodological research is conducted through rhetorical criticism, ethnography and auto ethnography. She is very much invested in postcolonial critique and in methods of disrupting systems of white and masculine ideologies. She recently was the recipient for the Book of the Year Award, at the National Communication Association’s (NCA) International and Intercultural Division in 2019. She was also the recipient for the Outstanding Article of the Year Award, NCA’s Feminist Division in 2018 and has won top paper awards numerous times at various academic conferences. Her work has been published in Communication Inquiry, Text and Performance Quarterly and Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies. She is also the editor of Negotiating Identity & Transnationalism (2020). Dr. Ghabra also has eight years of work experience both in the government and private sector in Kuwait in Public relations and campaign planning. She earned her PhD from the University of Denver (2017) and specializes in Rhetoric and Cultural Studies with a focus on Third World Women and Intersectionality.
Dr. Clemens Chay
Research Fellow, the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute.
Dr. Chay is a Research Fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute. His research focuses on the history and politics of the Gulf states, with a particular emphasis on Kuwait. His most recent publication is featured in The Routledge Handbook of Persian Gulf Politics (2020), entitled “Parliamentary Politics in Kuwait”. He also wrote “The Dīwaniyya Tradition in Modern Kuwait: An Interlinked Space and Practice”, appearing in the Journal of Arabian Studies. He holds a Ph.D. from Durham University, where he was formerly the Al-Sabah fellow.
Kuwaiti Researcher and Writer
Abrar Alshammari is a Kuwaiti writer and researcher interested in sociopolitical issues relating to the Gulf region and wider Arab world, particularly the intersection of cultural production and politics, as well as issues of identity, race and discrimination within Gulf societies against marginalised communities.
Alshammari is an alumna of the MA in Arab Studies program at Georgetown University’s Centre for Contemporary Arab Studies. She has published numerous articles in both Arabic and English.