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Special Reports


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As a part of the series of reports on Saudi bilateral relations in the South Caucasus, following the latest two, Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia (2019) and Armenia and Saudi Arabia (2020), this third and last report in the series focuses on those of Georgia and Saudi Arabia. First, it provides a brief historical account of Georgian politics. Secondly, it examines the geopolitics in the South Caucasus, including territorial conflicts inside Georgia with Russia while considering Caucasus neighbors, Azerbaijan and Armenia, and regional players such as Turkey on one hand and Iran on the other. Thirdly, the report moves to shed light on the Georgia’s international relations, mainly
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Author: David Kenner and Kameal Al-Ahmad
This paper provides an overview of the US-Saudi economic relationship, excluding oil and arms sales. It begins by describing the growth of US exports to Saudi Arabia and the influx of Saudi students to the United States, and their impact on the US economy. It goes on to discuss US businesses’ investment in Saudi Arabia and their participation in new economic sectors opened by the Vision 2030 reforms. And it concludes with an examination of Saudi investments in the United States through a variety of privately and publicly owned institutions. The paper’s authors reach the conclusion that the economic relationship between the two countries is more co
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Author: Francisco Salvador Barroso Cortés and Joseph A. Kéchichian
With a dubious mandate, the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) remained a political football in the hands of wily politicians anxious to preserve cherished sectarian prerogatives, even if such steps proved to be detrimental both to the LAF as a military institution as well as the country. Notwithstanding their denials this excessive politicization benefitted senior LAF leaders since most staff officers aspired to higher, and often lucrative, positions, all of which required that they maintain very close connections with political elites, especially those from their own religious communities. This study examines what were the various pressures that compelled the LAF to transform itself
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Author: Joshua Yaphe
Discussions about post-oil planning in the Middle East were rather common around fifteen years ago, when experts sought to focus attention on the need for economic diversification and consultancies aimed to help clients prepare long-term strategic visions. Governments that had the foresight to recognize the scope of the problem and the political will to commit real resources to it, have already begun the lengthy, arduous process of changing public mind-sets, bureaucratic cultures, and regulatory regimes. Some will succeed, gaining a competitive advantage over regional neighbors in terms of technology, efficiency, and productivity, making them valued partners for the internationa
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Author: Mohammed Alrmizan
As a part of series of reports on the Saudi bilateral relations in the southern Caucasus, and following the first report on Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia (2019), this report analyzes the prospects of Armenia and Saudi Arabia, potential diplomacy, and current barriers. First, the report introduces the historical background and highlights Saudi foreign policy in the southern Caucasus. Second, it explores Armenia’s international relations and geopolitical strategies. And third, it focuses on potential Armenian–Saudi rapprochement while considering regional barriers. In the end, while this report finds some events that may lead to the rapprochement between the two countrie
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Author: Sarah Alotaibi
This report focuses on the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on domestic electricity consumption in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It includes a breakdown by percentage of how different energy sources, including gas and renewable energy (RE), are contributing to the total energy mix during the crisis. Finally, it highlights the importance of renewable energy sources for the sector after the pandemic.
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Author: Clemens Chay
The coronavirus pandemic has magnified the politics of exclusion in the Arab states of the Gulf, placing a huge strain on their institutional capacities. Amidst these uncertainties, Gulf authorities moved to repatriate a large segment of foreign labor. The bleak economic outlook will compel Gulf nationals into lower-paying private sector jobs, but there remains a mismatch in skillsets and wages. This paper argues that the post-pandemic era presents windows of opportunity to improve existing migration and spatial policies, whether by tapping into specific foreign expertise to cultivate local human capital, or improving the kafala (sponsorship) system that processes the i
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Author: Dr. Mohamed Al-Sbitli
This publication is available in Arabic only.
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Author: By Joshua Yaphe and Jaafar Altaie
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustapha al-Kadhimi faces the same challenges that brought down his predecessor - street protests, a flagging economy and entrenched political elites. Numerous comentators are ready to write him off, and he is unlikely to overcome all of the country's problems before the next elections. However, given the political malaise in Baghdad, Kadhimi has a real chance of coming out ahead with a mandate for reform. This report is available in Arabic only. Its English version has been published by National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations.
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Author: Dr. Najah Al-Otaibi
This report examines Saudi Arabia’s current dual approach to reforming the education system. On the one hand, Riyadh is working to weed out extremist narratives directly by encouraging the religious establishment to adopt and promote a moderate interpretation of Islamic rhetoric. On the other hand, the government is working to introduce modern content to the curricula, such as science, philosophy, music, and Chinese language that will help the Kingdom to build a modern economy led by the private sector.   Under Vision 2030, reform of the education system was presented as the means of implementing economic reforms; this deliberat
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