Socioeconomics Unit

The Socioeconomics Unit was established in 2020. The Unit highlights the development of contemporary socioeconomic issues, concepts, and theories. In addition, it aims to study the significance of socioeconomic issues on specific societies and/or constituencies, with emphasis on Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and wider Arab and Muslim worlds. The Unit encourages interdisciplinary approaches, encompassing socioeconomic theory, sociopolitics and sociocultural topics and issues in order to provide a broader picture as well as a nuanced analysis of the questions arising from the intersection between economies and societies.

The Unit was first created as the Energy Studies Unit in 2015 and was converted into the Political Economy Unit in 2017 before becoming the Socioeconomics Unit.



Mark C. Thompson - Unit Head

Fahad Alsharif - Senior Research Fellow

Hanaa Almoaibed - Research Fellow 



Fahad L. Alghalib Alsharif, "Kafala Sponsorship Reforms in Saudi Arabia: Converging Toward International Labor Standards," Commentary, February 2021. 


Mark C. Thompson and Hanaa Almoaibed, "Sustainability in Saudi Arabia: The Question of Food," Commentary, November 2020.

Clemens Chay, "The Post-Pandemic Era in the Gulf: Rethinking Migration and Spatial Policies," Special Report, November 2020. (Guest contribution)

Mark C. Thompson, "Ramifications of Coronavirus Disruption to Saudi Education: Student Concerns," Commentary, August 2020.


Faris Al-Sulayman, "State-Business Relations in the Reform Era: Growing Pressures and Diverging Economic Policy Agendas," Special Report, November 2018. 

Steffen Hertog, "Can We Saudize the Labor Market without Damaging the Private Sector?," Special Report, November 2018. (Guest contribution) 

Makio Yamada, "Skilling Youth: Japan’s Experience in “Joint Training” of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises," Commentary, October 2018. 

Mark C. Thompson, "Addressing the Key Challenges Facing the 'Entrepreneurial Streak' in Young Saudis," Commentary, January 2018. 


Makio Yamada, "How Did Japan Achieve a 1% Unemployment Rate?: Facilitating the Education-to-Employment Transition," Dirasat 30, December 2017. 

Othman Almazyad, "Reasons for the Continuity of Long-Lasting Japanese Companies," Special Report, December 2017. (Arabic only) 

Faris Al-Sulayman, "Distributed Renewables and the Shaping of the New Saudi Economy," Commentary, December 2017. 

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

Mark C. Thompson, "Youth Perceptions of 'Uneven Globalization' in Saudi Arabia," Commentary, May 2017. 

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


Noura Al Saud and Mashael Al-Shalan, "A New Price Era in a Time of Climate Action: Towards a Resilient and Responsive Saudi Economy," Commentary, January 2016.


Noura Al Saud, "Addressing Claims on Saudi Arabia's Oil Market Motivations," Commentary, October 2015. 



Conversation: "Education System in Saudi Arabia: Of Change and Reforms," 21 June 2021.

Panel Discussion: "The Effect of COVID-19 on Social Life in Riyadh," 5 April 2021.

Panel Discussion"Driving Investment and Entrepreneurship in the Middle East," 16 March 2021.

Panel Discussion"Documenting Saudi Food Patterns and Styles of Local Consumption," 3 March 2021.


Panel Discussion"Discussion with Najah Al-Otaibi: Religious Education Reform in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," 12 November 2020.

Panel Discussion: "Sustainability in the Gulf Post-Coronavirus: Shifting Patterns of Consumption in the Fashion, Food and Transportation Sectors," 27 October 2020.

Panel Discussion: "Key Elements of Saudi Social Transformation Post-Coronavirus," 11 August 2020.

Panel Discussion: "Enhancing Technical & Vocational Training in Saudi Arabia," 13 July 2020.

Panel Discussion"Education and Distance Learning in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf During Covid-19 Pandemic," 22 June 2020.

Lecture: Mark C. Thompson, "Being Young, Male and Saudi: Identity and Politics in Globalized Kingdom," 5 May 2020.

2019 (Political Economy Unit)

Lecture: Mark C. Thompson, "Being Young, Male and Saudi: Identity and Politics in Globalized Kingdom," 8 October 2019.


Lecture: Steffen Hertog, "What Would it Take to Transform Saudi Arabia into a Post-Oil Economy?," 7 November 2018. 

Presentation: Faris Al-Sulayman, "Sino-GCC Economic Cooperation in the Era of Renewable Energy," Second International Seminar on Belt and Road Initiative and Energy Connectivity & Innovation, Beijing, October 2018. 

Presentations: "World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies; Makio Yamada, “Post- or Neoclassical?: Vision and the Future of Rentierism”; Faris Al-Sulayman, “State-Business Relations in a Transforming Saudi Economy: Opportunities and Challenges”; Mark C. Thompson, “Redefining the Saudi ‘Distributional’ System: Domestic Stakeholders and Public Expectations in a Low-Oil Price Era," University of Seville, 18 July 2018. 

Presentations: Faris Al-Sulayman, Chatham House workshops, (a) London, 9 April; (b) Amsterdam, 2 May 2018. 

2017 (Political Economy Unit) 

Lecture: Steffen Hertog (London School of Economics), "Can We Saudize the Labor Market without Damaging the Private Sector?", 12 December 2017. 

Workshop: "Vision 2030: Opportunities and Challenges", Brussels, 1 December 2017 (co-hosted with the European Council on Foreign Relations). 

Book Launch: Mark C. Thompson & Neil Quilliam, "Policy-Making in the GCC: State, Citizens and Institutions", 8 November 2017. 

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). 

2016 (Energy Studies Unit) 

Lecture: Steffen Hertog (London School of Economics), "Why Are Gulf Rulers So Generous to Their Populations?: Historical Reasons and Current Consequences", 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. 


Past Fellows

Makio Yamada - Head of Political Economy Unit (2017–18)

Faris Al-Sulayman - Research Fellow (2017-18) (currently in Asian Studies Unit)

Othman Almazyad - Research Fellow (2017) (currently in Asian Studies Unit)

Noura bint Turki Al Saud - Head of Energy Studies Unit (2015–16)