The 10th Annual Gulf Studies Forum, held by the Arab Center in Doha from 2-4 December 2023, came underway in Doha on Saturday 2 December. This round is organized into two tracks: “Relations between the Gulf States and China: Continuity or Transformation?” and “Cultural Policies of the Arab Gulf States”. Researchers from the Gulf, other Arab states, and beyond will present a total of 38 research papers across 13 sessions, in addition to an opening lecture and a dialogue session with Qatari Minister of Culture Sheikh Abdulrahman bin Hamad Al Thani. The forum coincides with Ostour’s symposium titled “Historical Writing in the Gulf Countries”, which will feature ten papers.

The forum began with opening remarks from Alanoud Abdulla Al-Khalifa, researcher at the ACRPS Gulf and Arabian Peninsula Studies Unit. Proceedings came underway with an opening lecture chaired by Marwan Kabalan, Director of the ACRPS Political Studies Unit. Two papers were presented: “Gulf-Chinese Relations and Their Prospects for Development” by Abdulaziz Hamad Aluwaisheg, and “Global China in the Third Term of Xi” by Kerry Brown.

Gulf-China Relations and Cultural Policies in the Gulf States

The forum’s first session was split into two tracks. The first track was chaired by Suhaim Al Thani and featured three papers: “Cornerstones of Gulf-China Relations” by Abdul Aziz bin Othman bin Saqr; “Gulf States’ Relations with China and the United States” by Abdullah Alshayji; and “The Expanding Relations between Gulf States and China” by Abdullah Baabood. The second track, chaired by Abdullah Aljasmi, featured “Arab Gulf States’ Cultural Policies” by Mohammad Al-Rumaihi; “The Development of Cultural Policies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” by Ulrike Freitag; and “Management of the Legislative and Policy-Making Structure in Qatar” by Lehbib Bellia, Mohamed Reda Soltani, and Brahim Boulfelfel.

Challenges of Gulf-China Relations and Cultural Policies in the Context of Transformations

In the second session, Ghanim Al Najjar chaired the first track with “Gulf-China Relations in Light of US-China Competition” by Asaad Saleh Al-Shamlan; “China-Gulf Security Relations” by Rory Miller; and “Relations between the Gulf States and China” by Jonathan Fulton. The second track, chaired by Aisha Al-Ammari, featured three papers: “Cultural Shifts in Saudi Arabia” by Zaid Ali Al Fadeil; “Vision 2030” by Abdullah Abu Loz; and “Arab Gulf States’ Cultural Policies in the Face of Globalization” by Jasem Hassan Al Ghaith.

Development of Gulf States’ Interrelations with China and the Sociology of Cultural Policies

The first track of the third session was chaired by Faisal Abu Sulaib. Two papers were presented: “Qatar-China Relations, 1988-2023” by Muhammad Al-Musfir and “The Future of Iraqi-Chinese Economic Relations” by Hade Mashaan Rabe. The second track, chaired by Baqer Al Najjar, featured two papers: “Similarities and Differences between Urban and Tribal Cultures” by Yagoub Al-Kandari and “The Cultural Formation of the Gulf Citizen” by Mohamed bin Salim Al-Mashani.

Minister of Culture Discusses Culture and its Role in Society

Qatari Minister of Culture Sheikh Abdulrahman bin Hamad Al Thani concluded the day’s events with a dialogue session titled “Culture and its Role in Society”, chaired by Abdulrahman Albaker. The Minister began the session by mourning the victims in Gaza, adding that the Gazan people’s resilience is proof that culture can indeed aid preparation for crises, then noted Qatari society’s relationship to culture as a deep-rooted national concern.

The forum’s events continue until Monday 4 December, as outlined in the agenda. Day 2 will feature seven sessions on the forum’s tracks. On day 3, the Ostour symposium will take place via three consecutive sessions.