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About

~ This is a personal blog. All views expressed here however childish, intelligent, wrong, prescient, offensive or judicious are my own personal thoughts, prejudices, ideas, issues and assumptions. ~

For the best part of a decade now, I’ve been nurturing an academic, personal, and professional interest in the Persian Gulf region. This has entailed living, working, and researching throughout the states of the region as well as studying Arabic in Kuwait, Damascus, Cairo, Doha and Edinburgh.

I am currently working for King’s College London in the UK, having returned from Qatar in January 2015. In Doha, I worked for King’s first foreign outpost and, prior to that, I directed the Qatar office of the British security and defence think-tank the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).

Durham University awarded me a PhD in 2014 after several arduous full and part-time years of study. The fruits of these travails, my first book Qatar: Securing the Global Ambitions of a City State, will be published in 2015.

In terms of my wider background, I started out studying International Relations at the University of St. Andrews and went from there to Nottingham University to complete a Masters degree in Diplomacy. After this I decided to go abroad for a time. I arrived in Kuwait in September 2005 and left in May 2007. I taught in a British International School which was – to say the least – an enlightening experience. I also used Kuwait as a jumping off point to travel throughout the Levant and much of the Arabian Peninsula; to have a few wonderful holidays in Sri Lanka and Thailand; an underwhelming trip from Syria to Hungary via Italy; and an epic odyssey from Istanbul by car, boat, train, taxi, bus, bike, tractor and Llama to Shanghai via the ‘Stans. After obtaining a full PhD scholarship (thanks, CASAW) which included a stint in Cairo and Edinburgh, I disappeared to Qatar for nine months to research and continue Arabic studies at Qatar University before returning to the UK before returning to Qatar before returning to the UK once more.

If you’ve got some burning issue that you want to discuss privately, some praise so effusive that it’s not fit for public consumption or some criticism so venal that it’d clearly offend ordinary, up-standing readers of this here blog then send me an email at:

thegulfblog [SQUIGGLY THING] gmail.com

Legal!

By the way, everything here is totally under my copyright. Any stealing of my stuff will result in instant legal dismemberment by a trained team of vicious lawyers.

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Comments»

1. Michael - 27, February 2008

Good Day,

Because of your interest in the French military base in the UAE, and with war games set to start this weekend, I wanted to let you know that tomorrow, 2/28, The Issue (www.TheIssue.com) will be running a feature story on the war games, the ongoing debate over the military base in Abu Dhabi and western occupation in the middle east. As a reader of Sino Suadi, I think you and your readers will be interested in the feature.

Feel free to quote, respond, or comment to the feature.

Cheers,

Mike McGregor
The Issue| http://www.TheIssue.com

2. david lepeska - 11, November 2009

hey, i’m an American writer-journalist recently landed in Doha, you seem like a good chap to know, thought I’d give a shout hello, see if we could chat or meet up sometime.

best,
D

3. davidbroberts - 11, November 2009

David – I just sent you an email…have a squizz.

4. Ahmed - 24, March 2010

Salam Aleikom
Keif al Hal?

I’ve been a follower of your blog for quite a few months. I believe you have studied International Relations, I plan to do the same in university.
What is your advice? How is the pay/benefits?
I’d greatly appreciate any advice.

Ahmed.

davidbroberts - 24, March 2010

Ahlan w sahlan.

Advice on notions of pay and benefits after obtaining a degree in IR is exceedingly difficult to give. A degree in IR is – obviously enough – not really that vocational: i.e. it’s not like a degree in Accountancy or Engineering where there is a prescribed job path. True, some jobs require IR-type degrees, but your CV will have to be full of other good stuff before you can apply for those straight away, I’d have thought. These things also depend on what class of degree you obtain and, I suppose, where you get it from.

Sorry I can’t be of more use.

5. Me - 18, April 2010

Unfortunately and despite all the “education” you have receive, you are still illiterate when it come to the historical and official geographical name for a very important part of the world that you pretend to know about. I am referring to the wrong name you are using for the Persian Gulf. For your information the “Gulf” does NOT exist.

davidbroberts - 19, April 2010

Calm down my dear. Deep breaths.

TheGulfBlog.com is just a slightly snappier name than ThePersianGulfBlog.com which is a bit long winded. In a similar vein, I might have a blog called thestatesblog.com as opposed to theunitedstatesofamericablog.com . True, some literalist pedant such as yourself may well come along and say that “states” is not the name of a country, but for the sake of brevity and a snappier title, I could live with it.

All comments are welcome but are there no more pressing domestic and international Iranian issues to concentrate on?

Oh, and by the way it should be “have received” not “have receive”.

6. Gina - 1, May 2010

David, if you want people to respect your copyright, you should spell it right, not write. I mean, copyright, not copywrite. You have other typos, too.

Try making friends with a proofreader, if you can’t afford one… ; )

Gina

7. Gina - 1, May 2010

David, I hope my comment didn’t sound rude; it wasn’t meant to be!

Gina

davidbroberts - 1, May 2010

You’re hired.

8. Gina - 1, May 2010

David, if you’re serious, contact me at spellinspector@gmail.com — as you can see from my email address, I really am a professional editor/proofreader.

Gina

davidbroberts - 1, May 2010

Thanks. But unless you’re willing to work for approximately £0.50p per hour or 10p per spelling mistake found, I don’t think we can do business. Cheers though.

Daivd

9. Gina - 1, May 2010

So I’m fired, already?

davidbroberts - 2, May 2010

Well, in this age of austerity when purse-strings are being yanked ever tighter, one must seek to limit one’s expenditure. However, I am not an unreasonable person and will thus improve my already substantial offer to a whopping 15p per incorrect word. Generosity is my middle name, after all. The ball is, as they say, in your court.

10. Gina - 2, May 2010

No, no, you fired me. I want my compensation package!

I’ll settle for one million. Dollars, not pesos, rupees or riales.

Gina

davidbroberts - 2, May 2010

Cheque’s in the post. Been a pleasure doing business with you.

11. Gina - 2, May 2010

I see you made your own correction. You didn’t need me after all. Keep up the good work!

Gina

12. Ellie Kirby - 20, May 2010

Hello,

Just to introduce myself, my name’s Ellie and I’m writing on behalf of the Global Peace Index (GPI).

First of all we would like to sincerely thank you for previously including the GPI in your blog in the past.

As you’ll be aware, the GPI is a ground-breaking piece of research in the study of peace, which not only ranks nations by their peacefulness but also seeks to identify the drivers of peace. Now in its fourth year, the Index is produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace, a global think tank dedicated to the research and education of the relationship between economic development, business and peace. It is collated and calculated by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

We’re getting in touch to alert you to the fact that the next Global Peace Index will be launched on June 8th 2010. We’ll be providing you with further information closer to the time – unless you tell us that you’d rather not hear from us again – but thought you might appreciate the heads-up in the meantime.

You might want to join us on Facebook too:

http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Global-Peace-Index/92288319748?ref=ts

and follow us on Twitter

http://twitter.com/GlobPeaceIndex

If you’ve got any thought or questions about the Index, our methodology, or our organisation, please get in touch. We hope you find our research interesting and informative, and look forward to sharing this year’s findings with you in a few weeks’ time.

Best Wishes,

Ellie Kirby

davidbroberts - 20, May 2010

Ellie.
Thanks for your message. Do keep me/us/everyone posted.

13. Veronica - 16, June 2010

Hi David!

I am an avid reader of your blog, when I came across this website and thought it might be interesting to you and your other readers: http://www.olivetreenews.com.

It is unbiased, indepth coverage of Middle Eastern news. Additionally, you are able to contribute some of your own breaking news stories.. if you find some!

Thought you might want to check it out!

Thanks!

14. Curzon - 20, September 2010

David, are you still in Doha or have you left as of July 2010? Please be in touch if you’re still in the region at my e-mail address.

davidbroberts - 20, September 2010

Alas I’m back in London now, though I may return to Doha sometime in the spring. If so, I’ll let you know.

If you’re ever over this way…drop me a line.

ps. Your blog/website looks excellent.

15. MAS - 17, November 2010

Hello David
Interesting to note your field is International Relations .. I’m from KSA, and have recently started an executive masters program also in Int’l Relations of course with a bit of politics .. browsed a few of your posts .. noting your strong views .. what is your take on the region? What advise would you give to a Saudi gal as a thesis topic? I may not agree with you, but I appreciate people who make me think 😉

thegulfblog.com - 18, November 2010

My take on the region? As a whole? All of it? That’s quite a question.

It seems to me that the key ‘question’ of the Gulf (aside from interesting Iranian related security issues) is whether its people will be able to escape the rentier cycle. Whether its people can accept that their current state of affairs – that of an exorbitantly generous welfare state, where there is relatively little (if any) real onus on nationals to actually do any work – is transient and not an immutable fact of their lives: simply “because I am Qatari/Emirati” etc.

Before you send me a terse reply at this point, clearly distinctions need to be made. A Bahraini’s life is significantly different from a Qataris whose life is different to a Saudi’s. Bahrain seems to be relatively far on the way to realising that ‘normal’ life and its economic realities will eventually intervene. KSA is also clearly in a vastly different place compared to the Emirates and Qatar: despite its riches with its large population it can’t afford the indulgences of olden times too much longer. Essentially, it’s all a question of the post-oil/gas future.

As for your thesis topic…it – obviously – depends.

There is a huge lacuna in international politics and even in Gulf studies of really good Gulfy scholars. They suffer, I suppose, from the typical Gulfy syndrome of not ‘wanting to rock the boat’ and a questionable work ethic. So first you need to decide what you want to do: forge a career in the West, taking a critical look at Saudi and the Gulf, or do something non controversial which can be done based in the Kingdom.

As I say, there is (a lot) of room for a critical [not ‘critical’ for the sake of being critical in a polemic-type way, but critical in an academic way: as a mantra; a tool that you bring to any and all of your scholarly endeavors] appraisal of Gulfy affairs by someone ‘from the inside’. A fascinating topic that would be of huge interest now would be some kind of study of Saudi succession: what will happen when the next generation takes power. How is it all worked out, what are the family politics involved etc. Of course, you’d need quite some access for this…so perhaps your thesis topic should simply be defined by the type of access that you can get: use your wasta for good and not evil.

If your family is in the…telecoms business, use this, perhaps. Don’t forget that if you’re after a topic that you’ll be studying for a year or so, that you’ll have to be very interested else it’ll be painful to force yourself to keep on reading, writing, redrafting etc.

Best of luck.

16. Anonymous - 11, February 2011

“an epic odyssey from Istanbul by car, boat, train, taxi, bus, bike, tractor and Llama to Shanghai via the ‘Stans”
By Llama? Perhaps you mean Bactrian or Dromedary Camel?

thegulfblog.com - 11, February 2011

Dunno. Some 4 legged woolly thing that looked like a Llama.

17. Dorotea - 3, March 2011

Hi David,
I’m leaving in Doha since 2 years and I follow regularly yr blog. In the last few days I’ve read something about Qatar that surprised me and scared a little bit too. I quote hereunder:

“Report: Coup in Qatar Aborted
Reports on Monday said that an attempted military coup in the Gulf state of Qatar was aborted last week. A group reportedly sought to replace the country’s current leader, Sheikh Hamed Ben Khalifa, with his brother, Abdelaziz Ben Khalifa ben Hamed.

The coup coincided with a petition presented by the Qatari opposition, signed by 16 members of the ruling family, accusing Hamad of working “hand in hand with Israel and the United States.”The opposition groups posted the petition on Facebook, in an attempt to gain popular support for their efforts, but the army remained loyal to Hamad, the report said.”

What’s yr opinion as acute observer of the Region.
Rgrds,

thegulfblog.com - 4, March 2011

In short: a load of rubbish. I think the author has maliciously and deliberately confused the facebook shenanigans that I’ve mentioned with some fictional plan for an Al Thani to return who hasn’t lived here for 15 years to take over as Emir. Silliness.

18. Sarah - 22, March 2011

could you please pass me your e-mail as i want to ask you some questions regarding ad banners.

thegulfblog.com - 22, March 2011

WordPress.com can’t do ad banners!

19. Ahmed - 5, April 2011

Hello
I have commented on this section before regarding the study of international relations. I have received an offer of admission to the premier undergraduate international relations program in the country of my residence (Canada). I am of Middle Eastern background and have a keen interest in the politics, economics, history and military balance in the MENA region. I also have the ability to read, write and speak in a few of the regions languages. The reason of my post aside from a rant is to ask about how difficult is it to get a posting in one of the think tanks and similar entities which focus on the region within the region. For me to study the region from across the world does not appear very “exciting”… and I believe that is a view similar to your own (according to what you have written above)

Thank you in advance

thegulfblog.com - 10, April 2011

Hi. The key is to be different. ‘Everyone’ has degrees – often good ones – these days. Write a blog; go to conferences and meet everyone there giving out your business card like confetti; write for regional newspapers; learn arabic and or farsi: in this world you can, to a large degree, make yourself un-unemployable (you’re so good, they’ve just got to hire you). Best of luck

20. luca schiano - 20, April 2011

in Rome (Europe) same protesters assailed the embassy of Libya and destroied the green flag of Gheddafi Government, replacing it with the rebels flag, the triband red-black-green; it was interesting to see the crescent depicted on that flag with a simple chalk.

21. Rima Sacre - 17, May 2011

I’m writing on behalf of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), the international research institute which produces the Global Peace Index (GPI). As you have covered the GPI in the past, we thought you might be interested in knowing that this year it will be launched on May 25th 2011. We’d like to send you further information and the results at that time.

As you may recall, the GPI is the world’s only ranking of nations according to their peacefulness. Now in its fifth year, the Index not only measures the relative peacefulness of 153 countries but it also seeks to identify the drivers of peace. Comprising both qualitative and quantitative indicators, the GPI is collated and calculated for the Institute by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

If you’d like to speak to someone from the Institute of Economics and Peace about the GPI or interview them for your blog, do let us know and we would be happy to set this up for you.

If you’ve got any thoughts or questions about the Index, our methodology, or our organisation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

GPI results, interactive maps, a video and charts will be available from May 25th at our comprehensive consumer website, http://www.visionofhumanity.org. We look forward to sharing this year’s findings with you soon.
Best wishes,

22. thegulfblog.com - 17, May 2011

Hi there. Send over the info when it’s free and I’ll give it a look over. Best

23. BigManInOman - 5, June 2011

I find it very scary that ‘not religiously forbidden’ supersedes ‘not morally forbidden’ and that enslaving women is preferable to adultery and corruption.

http://www.kuwaittimes.net/read_news.php?newsid=MzQxNDA4NDA2

24. Garth - 29, June 2011

A good article which argues that the success of a revolution in a given country hinges on the nature of that country’s military-government relationship: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-13941523

25. Simon - 18, April 2012

I’ve recently been noticing the prominence of what I call the “Qatarisation” of news on Al Jazeera; by this I mean that many, many news stories that seem to either directly or indirectly involve Qatar or Qataris – name dropping if you will. I am aware Al Jazeera is owned by the Qatari government and so on yet I find it strange that such a blunt, blatant, in-your-face tactic would be used by a government which has, at points, seemed quite keen to (at least publicly) distance itself from the news agency. Just wondering about your thoughts on the issue are? Just another way for Qatar to bask in the limelight it so desperately craves?…or am I imagining things!

thegulfblog.com - 18, April 2012

Is this an example of confusing correlation with causation? As in you’re insinuating (not unreasonably) that the fact that Qatar pays for Al Jaz means that now Al Jaz is in someway shape or form promoting Qatar: causation.

But surely it’s equally possible that this is but correlation; that these days Qatar is involved everywhere: Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Libya, Gulf Affairs, Iran, Sudan, Mauritania, etc. If they’re going to report the news ipso facto they’re going to be reporting on Qatar’s deeds.

I think that truth lies somewhere in the middle, if not quite a bit nearer the latter and not the former. All conjecture though!

26. Charlie - 5, April 2013

Dave I am doing some research on Kuwait and would like to ask you some questions if you have time.

27. thegulfblog.com - 6, April 2013

Email address is above…

28. Anonymous - 18, September 2014

I think your ‘PHD’ is some sort of bullcrap…. You are so deluded and brainwashed with these retarded ‘opinions’ you made about every country you mentioned. Your blog is utter nonsense.

thegulfblog.com - 22, September 2014

Judicious criticism, thanks.

29. samer - 22, August 2015

the coalition’s aim of re-establishing control in the north will require it to win the support of allies of Al-Islah, Yemen’s biggest Sunni political party.
Members of Islah are concerned they will be enlisted to fight the Houthis, only to be later marginalised by Abu Dhabi because of their party’s alliance with the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, which the UAE strongly opposes. Islah is likely to seek UAE assurances that it will be part of any postwar settlement before committing its supporters to a fight in the north.

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/0d895c96-45ae-11e5-b3b2-1672f710807b.html?siteedition=intl#axzz3jX2HuwMR

Are these fears real? … and what is the solution?


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