RSIS Seminar by Mr Abdulnabi Alekry and Mr Jasim Husain
Forces for and against the Arab Spring
The two speakers intend to provide an integrated seminar on the Arab Spring with focus on the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Abdulnabi Alekry will speak on the flare of Arab Spring, which started in Tunisia in late 2010, reaching the shores of some GCC states notably Bahrain and Oman. Dissent and protest was expressed in social media across the region, undermining existing social contracts concerning loyalty to the regimes; amongst others, corruption, authoritarianism, monopoly of wealth and power, denial of civic and political rights and unemployment served as root of the dissent and protest. In return, GCC states resorted to a mixture of economic tips and stringent repression, yet the crises continued due to lack of comprehensive reforms at all levels and fields. For his part, Jasim Husain will focus on the moves of some GCC states of using their wealth to counter and overcome socio-economic and socio-political forces in Arab Spring countries. Amazingly, GCC countries control about 38 per cent of the global Sovereign Wealth Funds or SWFs thanks largely to petroleum resources. Notably, the UAE has committed a significant amount of funds for addressing economic challenges facing Egypt to meet foreign policy objectives. Closer to home, well-off GCC countries opted for providing financial aid to Bahrain and Oman as a means of addressing critical socio-economic challenges rather than making political concessions.
About the Speakers:
Abdulnabi Alekry is a researcher and activist on civil society, development, democracy and human rights, who has presented academic and non-academic papers at multiple conferences on the Middle East, The Gulf and Arab World. In addition he has written and translated numerous books. Alekry, writes a regular column in Bahrain’s Alwast daily and Oman’s Afak daily has published in media like The Guardian. He is a member of boards of the Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRO), Bahrain Transparency Society (BTS), Arab NGOs for Development (ANND) and Social Watch (SW).
Jasim Husain is an independent scholar and writer who traces economic developments of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). His current research interests include sovereign wealth funds (SWFs), petroleum resources, and economic diversification of the GCC. Husain’s papers have been published by institutions such as the Al Jazeera Center for Studies. The Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research published in 2010 Jasim’s book on the advantages and disadvantages of linking GCC currencies to major currencies like the US dollar. Jasim has contributed numerous publications to the Economist Intelligence Unit. He was elected twice in 2006 and 2010 as a Member of Parliament in Bahrain and served on its finance and economic committees.