The Iranian and Persianate Societies Studies Unit focuses on the academic study of modern Iranian politics, international relations, energy security, intellectual history and culture, and their broader significance for the history of the region, as well as those of other Persianate societies. Given Iran’s geostrategic position in the Gulf and its many contributions to statesmanship and scientific learning, a comprehensive and analytically sophisticated understanding of this country is indispensable to grasping regional dynamics and transformations, both past and present. The unit endeavors to draw upon the latest theoretical and methodological approaches offered in the disciplines of political science, sociology, history, economics, philosophy, and anthropology for the study of modern Iran and Persianate Societies and to publish research findings in these fields


For more information on Iranian and Persianate Societies Studies in the Research Department at KFCRI:






Political Economy

(Currently under preparation)

The Political Economy Unit was created in 2017. The Unit covers a range of key issues concerning the political economy of Saudi Arabia, including energy, economic diversification, labour market, and human capital development. The Energy Studies Unit, which existed between 2015 and 2016, has been merged into this Unit. 

In the academic year 2017-18, the Unit particularly pursues the KFCRIS Five-Year Strategic Goal No. 3: “Focusing on the production of research”.

Contact: myamada@kfcris.com


Acting Head:

Makio Yamada, Research Fellow, 2016-  

Publications at the KFCRIS:

"King Salman's Visit to Tokyo: In Search of New Concepts for Saudi-Japanese Relations", Commentary, 2017.

"Saudi Vision 2030 and the Transformation of Saudi-Japanese Economic Relations", Special Report, 2017.


Research Fellow:

Noura Al Saud, Research Fellow, 2015- (currently on leave)

Publications at the KFCRIS:

"A New Price Era in a Time of Climate Action: Towards a Resilient and Responsive Saudi Economy", Commentary, 2016 (co-authored with Mashael Al-Shalan).

"Addressing Claims on Saudi Arabia's Oil Market Motivations", Commentary, 2015. 


Associate Fellow:

Mark C. Thompson, Senior Associate Fellow, 2017-

Assistant Professor, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals


Publications at the KFCRIS:

“Youth Perceptions of ‘Uneven Globalization’ in Saudi Arabia”, Commentary, 2017.

"A Decade of the Saudi National Dialogue, 2003-2013", Masarat, 2014 (anonymous).



Sadad Al-Husseini

President, Husseini Energy; former board member of Saudi Aramco


Visiting Fellow:

Hesham Alghannam

University of Exeter (Doctoral Researcher)




Lecture: Mark C. Thompson, "Being Young Male, and Saudi: Identity and Politics in a Globalized Kingdom", 20 April 2017.

Lecture: Makio Yamada, "The Political Economy of East Asia-Saudi Arabia Relations", University of Hong Kong, 13 March 2017 (in collaboration with the Asian Studies Unit). 

Presentation: Makio Yamada, “Economic Transition in Saudi Arabia”, Workshop with the German Federal Academy for Security Policy, 20 February 2017.

2016 (Energy Studies Unit)

Lecture: Steffen Hertog (London School of Economics), "Wealth Sharing in the GCC and its Effect on Living Standards", 17 May 2016.

Lecture: Jason Bordoff (Columbia University), "Oil Price Collapse and Changing Energy Landscape: US Perspectives and Implications for Saudi Arabia", 13 April 2016.

This foundational unit is concerned with research, teaching, training, and innovation in the field of the Arabic language. It addresses the learning and instruction of Arabic in Arabic-speaking societies, as well as Arabic as a second language in the West. The unit studies and produces literary critiques as well as writings by learners of Arabic related to the subject of the Arabic language. The unit emphasizes collaboration with linguists of various East Asian languages to enrich the language references for Arabic and East Asian languages.

For more information on Arabic Language Studies in the Research Department at KFCRIS:

Dr. Arwa Obaidat, Senior Fellow

Head of Arabic Language Studies

+966 1 14 65 22 55

ext. 6649

The North African and Arab Maghreb Studies Unit is the regional research unit concerned with North Africa in general and the Arab Maghreb in particular. Its research areas span geopolitical, political, cultural, and social studies, as well as developments in the area. The unit focuses on the study and analysis of the shifts in the region and on presenting assessments of the changes, phenomena, and future of Maghrebi regimes and societies. It follows and analyzes trends and active forces in various sociopolitical arenas and monitors internal and regional conflicts, tracing their sources and consequences.

For more information on North African and Arab Maghreb Studies in the Research Department at KFCRIS:

Dr. Mohammed Sbitli, Senior Fellow

Head of North African and Arab Maghreb Studies



The Contemporary Political Thought Unit aims to study the rise of contemporary political thought and its influence on the political structure of Islamic and Arab societies by shedding light on the development of political ideas in the political movements that are currently shaping the political scene. The unit encourages interdisciplinary approaches, encompassing theory, politics, culture, society, and religion in studying these ideas, movements, and societies so as to provide a broader picture and a better analysis of the development of political thought and movements in Islamic and Arab societies.

For more information on Contemporary Political Thought in the Research Department at KFCRIS: Faisal Abualhassan,

Research Fellow Head of Contemporary Political Thought abualhassan@kfcris.com

The Saudi Studies Unit specializes in the study of the historical traditions and culture of the lands that make up contemporary Saudi Arabia, with a focus on archaeology, historical anthropology,  sociology as well as the study and documentation of oral history and poetry, notably Nabatean. The unit focuses on heritage predating the unification of the Kingdom in 1932, as well as that predating the First Saudi State (1744–1818). The unit also occupies itself with archaeological and anthropological heritage studies regarding historical cultures, peoples, and societies on the Arabian Peninsula in general, including pre-Islamic ones.


For more information on Saudi Studies in the Research Department at KFCRIS:

Prof. Solaiman Al-Theeb , Senior Fellow

Co-Head of Saudi Studies



The Asian Studies Unit is dedicated to the study of Asia and Asian societies in the cultural, social, political and religious spheres. It was formed as a response to the growing need for informed research on Asia at a time in which Arabo-Asian engagement is becoming ever more complicated and fraught with potential risks, yet ever more relevant and full of opportunities. As one of the regionally specialized units at KFCRIS, this unit aims to promote greater understanding of Asia within the Arab world, with a particular eye on enhancing the quality of academic, journalistic, and policy making discussions surrounding it.


For more information on Asian Studies in the Research Department at KFCRIS:

Mohammed Al-Sudairi , Nonresident Research Fellow

Head of Asian Studies



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