Asian Studies Program

The Asian Studies Program (previously Unit) was created in 2015. The Program is dedicated to the study of Asia and Asian societies. As one of the regionally-specialized Programs at the KFCRIS, the Asian Studies Program aims to promote greater understanding of Asia within the Gulf and the wider Arab world. It also seeks to enhance the quality of academic, journalistic, and policy-making coverage and discussions surrounding Asia and its ever more complex relationship to Saudi Arabia and the broader Middle East (alternatively identified as West Asia). It is also purposed toward building connections with other Asia-focused research institutions and think-tanks around the world.

The Program’s research agenda is bifurcated between a focus on contemporary Asian international relations, politics, economics, and security topics on the one hand, and a concentration on historical, anthropological, and cultural-social issues on the other. This broad research agenda enables the Program to engage with multiple disciplines, generate a diverse set of studies, and embodies the spirit of the KFCRIS as a think-tank and academic institution. 



Mohammed Al-Sudairi - Program Head

Faris Al-Sulayman - Research Fellow

WAN Lei - Senior Associate Fellow

WANG Tingyi - Senior Associate Fellow

HUNG Tak Wai - Associate Fellow

Umer Karim - Associate Fellow

Latifa Abdullah Al Saud - Associate Fellow




The GCC-ASEAN Summit: Charting Regional Interests and Future Challenges,” Masarat, January 2024.


The G20 and the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor,” Masarat, December 2023.

Alexander Rhea, “Dirty Sicknesses and Duwa Sugar: Crossing and Making Boundaries in the Supernatural Worlds of Qinghai Muslims,” Dirasat, October 2023.

John P. Burns, “The Chinese Communist Party in Hong Kong, Postscript,” Masarat, August 2023.

Suhaib Alam, “Glimpses of the Contemporary History of the Merchants of the Arabian Peninsula in India,” Dirasat 67, May 2023.

Diana Galeeva, “The Utilization of Islam in Russia’s Foreign Policy: Pathways of Engagement Between Muslim Russia and the States of the Gulf Cooperation Council,” Special Report, February 2023.


Alvin Camba and Asma Alkaabi, “The Philippines and the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries in the Twenty-First Century,” Special Report, October 2022.

Umer Karim,"Pakistani–Saudi Ties: Anatomy of a Unique Relationship,Dirasat 56, September 2022.

Agha Hussain, “Turkey’s Relations with Pakistan: Friends, But Not Allies,” Commentary, September 2022.

Amal Kandeel, “Climate Crisis, COP27, and a Constructive Role for the GCC in West Asia,” Commentary, August 2022.

Maryam Alshaikh, “An Assessment of the Aftermath of the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War and its Regional Impact,” Commentary, August 2022.

Tommaso Previato, “Love, Death and Self-Transformation in Jahriyyah Hagiographies and Ma Dexin’s Commented Translation of Qaṣīdat al-Burda (The Mantle Poem),” Qira'at 16, July 2022.

Umer Karim, “Political Change in Pakistan: What Should We Expect from the New Sharif Government?,” Commentary, July 2022.

Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat, “Developments in Indonesian–Saudi Relations Under President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo,” Special Report, June 2022.

Rizwan Rafi Togoo, “Recent Domestic Power Shifts in Malaysia and the Prospects for Enhanced Saudi-Malaysian Relations,” Commentary, June 2022.

John P. Burns, “The Chinese Communist Party in Hong Kong,” Special Report, June 2022.

Mohammed Alrmizan, “Turkish Foreign Policy in Central Asia in the Era of Erdoğan: The Convergence of Pan-Turkism, Pragmatism, and Islamism,” Dirasat 64, May 2022.

Mohammed Al-Sudairi, “China and the Russo-Ukrainian War: A View from the Gulf,” Commentary, March 2022.

Zaki Shaikh, “Kazakhstan’s Disturbances: Internal Dynamics and External Dimensions,” Commentary, March 2022.


Noura AlZaid, “Saudi Arabia and Intellectual Property: Learning from China’s Approach,” Dirasat 63, December 2021.

Faris Al-Sulayman, “Rethinking State Capitalism in the Gulf States: Insights from the China-focused Literature,” Special Report, November 2021.

David R. Stroup, “‘Arabic Style’ Mosques and Sinicization of Islam in China’s Hui Communities,” Commentary, November 2021

Mohammed Al-Sudairi, “The Prophet’s Dao along the Yalu: Muslim Histories in Northeast Asia,” Dirasat 62, November 2021.

Kameal Al-Ahmad, “The Uncertain Road Facing Afghanistan,” Special Report, September 2021.


Eram Ashraf, “Economic Visions and the Making of an Islamabad Beijing-Riyadh Triangle: Assessing Saudi Arabia’s Role in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor,” Dirasat 58, August 2020.

Jacopo Scita, “The China-Iran Agreement is not a Game-changer,” Commentary, July 2020.

Umer Karim, “Sino-Indian tensions in Ladakh and impact on Pakistan,” Commentary, July 2020.

WAN Lei, “Hardships from the Arabian Gulf to China: The Challenges that Faced Foreign Merchants Between the Seventh and Thirteenth Centuries,” Dirasat 57, July 2020.

Alanoud Al-Sabah and Mohammed Al-Sudairi, “‘Chinese’ Development Zones in the Gulf: The Case of Kuwait’s North Economic Zone (Silk City),” Special Report, May 2020. 

Umer Karim, "Pakistan and Saudi Arabia: Anatomy of a Unique Relationship - from Interpersonal to Institutional Engagement," Dirasat 56, May 2020.

Latifa Abdullah Al Saud, Deployments of Japan’s Self-Defence Forces in the Middle East: Reaction and Reassurance,” Commentary, April 2020.

HUNG Tak Wai, The Birth of Religious Tolerance for Foreign Religions in Late Imperial China: A Brief Review from the Perspective of the Relationship between Religion and the State,” Dirasat 55, April 2020.

Barbara Kelemen, “Engaging the Houthis in Yemen: A Repeat of China’s Afghanistan Mediation Strategy?,” Commentary, February 2020.

Mohammed Al-Sudairi, "The People's Republic in the Red Sea: A Holistic Analysis of China's Discursive and Material Footprint in the Region," Dirasat 52, January 2020


Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat, “China’s Efforts to Legitimize the Implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative in the Gulf,” Dirasat 50, November 2019.

Andrea Ghiselli and Mohammed Al-Sudairi, "Syria’s “China Dream”: Between the Narratives and Realities," Commentary, September 2019.

Kyle Haddad-Fonda, “What Knowledge is sought in China? Arab Visitors and Chinese Propaganda,” Dirasat 48, August 2019.

WAN Lei, "The Chinese Islamic National Salvation Association and the Hui Minority: 1937–1948," Dirasat 45, May 2019.


Shahad Turkistani et al., "The Policymaking Process to Restart Japanese Nuclear Power Plants,KAPSARC Discussion Paper, December 2018 (collaboration with King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center).

Habib Al-Badawi, "Japan and the Diplomacy of Soft Power: Indian-Pacific Ocean Strategy, Free and Open Area," Dirasat 39, October 2018.

SUN Degang, "China’s Soft Military Presence in the Middle East," Dirasat 31, March 2018.


WAN Lei, "The Earliest Muslim Communities in China,” Qira'at 8, November 2017.

MA Hailong, "The History of Chinese Muslims’ Migration into Malaysia," Dirasat 27, September 2017.

Mohammed Al-Sudairi, “Some Observations on the Significance of President Xi Jinping’s visit and the Problem of the Sino-Saudi Relationship,” Commentary, September 2017.

Mohammed Al-Sudairi, “Changing State-Religion Dynamics in Xi-Jinping's China: And its Consequences for Sino-Saudi Relations,” Dirasat 19, January 2017.

WAN Lei, “The First Chinese Travel Record on the Arab World - Commercial and Diplomatic Communications during the Islamic Golden Age,” Qira'at 7, January 2017.


Hyeju Jeong, A Song of the Red Sea: Communities and Networks of Chinese Muslims in the Hijaz,” Dirasat 13, July 2016.

WAN Lei, “Etymology and Evolution of the Term Huizu,” Qira'at 3, April 2016.




Journal Special Issue Project

The KFCRIS collaborated with the Asian Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies on the publication of a journal special issue (Volume 14, Issue 4, 2020) commemorating the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Sino-Saudi diplomatic relationship. 

Translation Project

Translation of Chinese-language archival material on the Arab world from the Tang and Song eras, overseen by Dr. WAN Lei

Reconnecting Asia Project

Cooperation with the Center for Strategic and International Studies CSIS’ "Reconnecting Asia" project in Gulf-related data collection.  

The reconnecting Asia initiative tracks infrastructure developments that are reshaping economic and geopolitical realities across the Asian continent. Through data curation and objective analysis, the project aims to fill Asia’s infrastructure-information gap. The objective of this partnership is to share data, increase transparency, and enable analysis. 

To know more about this project, click here.

ChinaMed Research Project

Cooperation with the ChinaMed Project. The ChinaMed Project was jointly launched in 2011 by the Center for Mediterranean Area Studies of Peking University (CMAS, 北京大学地中海区域研究中心) and the Torino World Affairs Institute, part of the TOChina Hub developed by the University of Torino. It aims at offering independent and objective analysis on the deepening interconnections between the greater Mediterranean region and the People’s Republic of China.The objective of the cooperation with the ChinaMed Project is to exchange data, analyze trends and developments, and help produce research on various aspects of China’s engagement with the Middle East and broader Mediterranean region.


Past Fellows and Visiting Scholars

Julia Gurol - Visiting Fellow (2022)

Othman Almazyad - Research Fellow (2018-21)

Shahad Turkistani - Assistant Researcher (2017–20)

Alanoud Al-Sabah - Visiting Fellow (2020)

Hyeju Jeong - Visiting Fellow (2017)