Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Iran are experiencing significant socio-political shifts while continual rivalries and mistrust feed region-wide perceptions of insecurity. Systemic dysfunctionalities in the Gulf security order have so far prevented the emergence of any sustainable and inclusive peace and cooperation framework. US-Iran tensions, Saudi-Iranian rivalry, intra-GCC mistrust and the emerging Arab-Israeli alliance confronting Turkish-Iranian interests are only examples of the existing faultlines. These dynamics have already generated broader conflicts in the MENA region. If left unchecked there is a risk of wide-reaching international security repercussions.
The 2021 Middle East Directions (MEDirections) Annual Conference will provide an opportunity to discuss these issues and the findings of the MEDirections e-book Stepping Away from the Abyss: A Gradual Approach Towards a New Security System in the Persian Gulf (April 2021). It will be the first major event organised in the framework of the MEDirections new Regional Security Initiative.
The conference will bring together scholars, researchers, practitioners, policymakers and a distinguished group of international experts who contributed to the e-book to discuss options to design a cooperative security system in the Gulf region. It will provide a platform for critical analysis of theoretical frameworks and practical options through a multi-disciplinary approach.
The conference is organised in three public panels and one closed-door high-level policy dialogue. Each panel features one guest speaker and several panellists. The panels will start with a guest speaker intervention (15 minutes) followed by 5-7-minute initial introductions by the panellists. Discussion with other invited participants and the public audience will follow. The chairs will strictly manage the time.