Workshop Summary

Chatham House

This is a summary of discussions that took place at a roundtable discussion held in February 2012 at the Gulf Centre for Policy Studies at the Gulf University of Science and Technology in Kuwait City.

Part of Chatham House’s Future Trends in the GCC research project, the discussion brought together a group of academics, civil society representatives, entrepreneurs, journalists and bloggers from different GCC countries to discuss some of the key trends shaping GCC politics, with a focus on parliamentary politics, political engagement and youth movements.

Key points that emerged from the discussions, in the views of participants, included:

  • The concept of citizenship will eventually need to be renegotiated across the GCC states as a result of generational and economic changes. 
  • Reforming early and pre-emptively will be to states' long-term advantage. In the GCC, there has often been a tendency to delay political reforms at times of economic plenty – yet the cost of reforms will be greater if they are delayed until times of hardship. 
  • As society is changing, there are important constituencies such as young people, women, naturalized citizens and expatriate workers who lack meaningful representation.
  • Governments and societies need to find ways for these groups to be represented, possibly through more empowered parliaments, so they can be consulted and can have peaceful, accepted means to voice their concerns.
  • Some GCC states are facing economic pressures for change earlier than others. Part of the explanation for the uprisings in Bahrain and Oman is that these states have to make the transition to post-rentier economies ahead of others.

Further Resources

Kuwait Study Group: Identity, Citizenship and Sectarianism in the GCC 
Workshop Summary, February 2012