An eminent group of international scholars came together to discuss current and future trends in the Gulf region in terms of people, money and ideas at a 2-day conference on March 25 – 26 titled “Transnational Currents in the Gulf: People, Money & Ideas”.
Sponsored by the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future, the conference took place at the Rafik Hariri Building at Boston University’s School of Management. The conference comprised of three panel discussion sessions and a keynote dinner address. The conference was organized by Prof. Richard Norton from Boston University.
Session I, on Thursday, discussed issues related to “money” and the changing influences of “money” in the Gulf region. The session was kicked off by a discussion on the Dubai model and how it has evolved over time. The session also included a discussion on the growing middle class and the economic relations between Asia (in particular India and China) and the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries. The panelists highlighted the many contradictions that arise from economic issues in the Gulf and highlighted the new stresses in society that are being produced by these issues.
Panelists in Session II discussed the “people” element of the GCC countries and noted that human capital is highly sought after in the region with the focus on education and youth and the vast numbers of expatriates in many of the countries. However, the panelists also pointed out that human capital and economic development are often favored over citizenship and human rights.
Session III on Friday morning focused on Iran’s role in its relationship with the Gulf states and its role in the world, and on “currents of change” among the GCC nations. The panelists discussed the need to look at domestic issues in Iran to understand its role in the world in the future. The panelists also discussed the role of technology in bringing about rapid changes in the region.
The dinner on March 25 featured a keynote address by Ambassador Charles Dunbar, Professor of International Relations at Boston University and former Ambassador to Qatar and Yemen, on “Yemen and the Gulf”.
The conference program was as follows:
Thursday, March 25 2010
1.00pm Welcome remarks by Professor Augustus Richard Norton
1.15pm Session I: Money
Chair: Ali Banuazizi (Boston College)
The Dubai Model Evaluated – Ibrahim Warde (Tufts University)
The Growing Middle Class – Kristin Diwan (American University)
Markets – Nader Habibi (Brandeis University)
3.45pm Session II: People
Chair: Nazli Kibria (Boston University)
Expats – Judith Yaphe (National Defense University)
Youth – Mehdi Semati (Northern Illinois University)
Citizenship and Rights – Farhad Kazemi (New York University)
7.00pm Dinner (By Invitation Only)
Keynote Address: Yemen and the Gulf – Ambassador Charles Dunbar (Boston University)
Friday, March 26, 2010
10.00 am Session III: Ideas
Chair: Farhan Nizami (Oxford Center for Islamic Studies)
Waning Appeal of the Iran Model – Ali Banuazizi (Boston College)
Reflections on the Currents of Change – John Tirman (MIT)
The video of the seminar will be soon made available at the Pardee Center’s multimedia webpage.