Sunday 23 October 2022 saw the conclusion of the Ninth Annual Gulf Studies Forum in Doha. This year’s forum looked at the repercussions of the Ukraine crisis and regional and international competition on the future of security and energy in the Gulf, through the presentation of 23 research papers over 7 sessions and a public lecture.
The Future of Relations between Japan and the Arab Gulf States
Abdullah Baabood chaired the fourth session on “The Future of Relations between Japan and the Arab Gulf States in Light of the Ukraine Crisis.” The first speaker, Kazuto Matsuda, presented “Relations between Japan and GCC States from the Japanese Perspective,” which argued the interpretation of the increasing turn of GCC states to the East as a desire for greater economic and trade cooperation has marginalised and disregarded Tokyo's perspective on relations between Japan and Arab Gulf states. He concludes that Tokyo's proactive turn towards the GCC states indicates that it is willing to strengthen long-term cooperation with Gulf states.
Kazuo Sunaga, presented “Japan's Foreign Policy towards Arab Gulf States in Light of the Ukrainian Crisis,” arguing that the Ukrainian crisis has alerted Japan to the growing strategic importance of Arab Gulf states. Koichiro Tanaka followed with his paper, “The Impact of the Ukrainian Crisis on Energy Security in Japan and the Role of Arab Gulf States,” which examines the impact of the Ukraine crisis on Japan's energy security and explores possible future relations with states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, particularly Qatar. The final speaker on the panel, Satoru Nakamura, argued in his paper, “Is a New Chapter in Qatar-Japan Relations on the Horizon in Light of the Ukrainian Crisis?” that both Qatar and Japan are experiencing a dynamic transformation that requires continued dialogue to restructure their multipronged cooperation, especially in energy and security.
The Impact of the Ukraine Crisis on Energy Security
The fifth session was chaired by Hatim al-Shanfari and considered “The Impact of the Ukraine Crisis on Energy Security and the Role of the Arab Gulf States.” Majed Al Turki presented “The Regional and International Repercussions of the Russian-Ukrainian Crisis: A Reading of Riyadh's Position,” which discussed the prospects for Saudi political and diplomatic rapprochement with Russia, contemplating the future of a Saudi understanding with Russia within the OPEC + framework. Mustafa al-Bazarkan presented “A Global Hybrid Energy System: Energy Opportunities and Challenges in the Arab Gulf Region in Light of the Ukrainian Crisis,” which examines the EU's efforts to find alternatives to Russian oil, arguing that the war in Ukraine will reshape the global energy order anew. This represents a promising opportunity for Arab Gulf oil- and gas-producers and exporters, which possess productive capacities beyond those of other producers like the US. Nikolay Kozhanov argued that the war has shifted the international community's focus from demand security to supply security, which has in turn led Western states to look to oil-producing states in the Gulf as a potential alternative to Russia in the European energy market.
Naji Abi Aad followed with his paper, “The Impact of the Ukrainian Crisis on Global and Gulf Gas Production,” which argues that with the interruptions to Russian gas supplies to several European states, the continent was compelled to take energy-saving measures to reduce its dependence on Russian gas in favour of other energy sources, particularly coal and nuclear energy, with a special interest in renewables. He thus expects Europe to rely more heavily on LNG, in order to enhance the security of its gas supplies, and to import LNG, especially from the US, Qatar, Australia, Mozambique, and Canada.
The Impact of the Ukraine Crisis on the Economies of the Gulf
The sixth session, “The Impact of the Ukraine Crisis on the Economies of the Gulf” was chaired by Habib Allah Turkistani. Thomas W O'Donnell & Laurence al-Hinawi presented their paper “Impact of the Russian-Ukrainian War on Global and Gulf Energy Markets,” examining how GCC states could put themselves at the centre of today's chaotic market to enhance their short- and long-term centrality in the European, Indian, and possibly Chinese markets lost by Russia, which would strengthen their economies. The next speaker, Ayhab Saad, presented “Impact of the Ukrainian Crisis on Inflation in GCC States,” examining the impact of the Russian-Ukrainian war on inflation in GCC states and seeking to understand the differential impact of inflation in the GCC states and whether it exists. Rachid El Bazzim rounded off the panel with his paper “Gulf States and the Ukraine War: Between Climate Commitments and Energy Security Anxieties” which discusses Saudi Arabia and the UAE's stance on increasing oil production, putting them at odds with the US, with both of them showing a reluctance to align themselves to the position of any individual party on Ukraine. The paper seeks to answer a series of questions about the implications of the Ukraine crisis for the energy sector and the role the Gulf states play.
The Impact of the Ukraine Crisis on Food Security in the Gulf
The seventh session, “The Impact of the Ukraine Crisis on Food Security in the Gulf,” was chaired by Zafar al-Ajami. Mohammad al-Saidi presented “The Ukraine War and the Food Security Crisis: The Impact on Arab Gulf States,” which argues that, in addition to classic economic responses such as trade controls, the diversification of supplies, public subsidies, and government assistance, that Arab Gulf states could mitigate the damage caused by the Ukraine crisis by strengthening regional cooperation and assistance related to food security. Annamaria Mazzoni finished off the final panel with her paper, “Water, Food, and Energy Security in Crisis: Qatar Confronts the Ukrainian Crisis,” which contends that the Ukraine crisis is likely to reshape alliances around the world, including within Arab Gulf states. The paper evaluates food diplomacy and multilateral trade management and cooperation between Qatar and other Arab states, with due regard for the requirements of continued sustainability.