July 21-23, 2020, Cambridge UK

3 DAYS / 10 Workshops
MORE THAN 200 ACADEMIC PAPERS

The GCC and the Indian Ocean: Economic Opportunities and Political Challenges

The Indian Ocean may well constitute the most critical dimension of GCC foreign policies over the coming 10 years. It will be critical to the GCC states economically, politically and strategically. The importance does not stem only from the varied interests of the states which have coastlines on the Gulf, but also from the wider range of “users” of the Indian Ocean – the states whose navies and commercial fleets traverse and have a prese ...


The Indian Ocean may well constitute the most critical dimension of GCC foreign policies over the coming 10 years. It will be critical to the GCC states economically, politically and strategically. The importance does not stem only from the varied interests of the states which have coastlines on the Gulf, but also from the wider range of “users” of the Indian Ocean – the states whose navies and commercial fleets traverse and have a presence in the waters of the Indian Ocean. In the former category (the coastal states) the roles, interests, and strategies of the states of the eastern part of Africa, South and SouthEast Asia, and Australia all need to be taken into account. In the latter category, the key user states are China, Japan, South Korea, the US, and EU states. It is essential that the 2 GCC states develop a coherent and if possible unified approach to this vital region. At present there seems to be no such approach. This workshop is intended to lay the basis for Gulf governments and elites to develop an appropriate response to the opportunities which the Indian Ocean offers, and the challenges which it poses, for them. There is an emphasis on identifying the full range of factors – economic, political, environmental, strategic, cultural and social – which are likely to affect the GCC states’ relations with the other states involved, and integrating these into a coherent analysis of opportunities and benefits. Every attempt will be made to ensure that the workshop is as wide-ranging in its geographical and topic-based coverage as possible. Projections of how new developments in communications infrastructure (roads, railways, and oil pipelines), the build-up of naval strength, and the creation of new institutional frameworks for cooperation among the states concerned will impinge on inter-state relations and regional peace are all relevant to the analysis. 

Perspective Of all the dimensions of GCC foreign relations, that which relates to the Indian Ocean may well be the most critical to the future of the GCC states over the coming 10 years. Yet, although attention has been given to GCC relations with some individual countries around the Indian Ocean, there has in recent years been no systematic attempt to provide a comprehensive analysis. At an earlier stage (in the 1970s and 1980s), there was considerable research done on the Gulf countries and the Indian Ocean in terms of the perceived Soviet threat to the sea lanes which transported Gulf oil to the Western industrial nations; from the end of the Cold War, however, such research was deemed to have lost its relevance. In the meantime, the Indian Ocean region has in practice become more important to the global economy, as also to the global strategies of major and regional powers. It has also become critically important to the external economic and political relations of GCC states. Most of the GCC’s trade is now transported across the Indian Ocean (eastwards and southwards), rather than along the fringes of the Ocean towards the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. With this dimension of economic involvement and mutual dependence there are major political and strategic issues which inevitably ensue. It is vital that GCC governments and elites engage with these issues, economic and political, and develop an approach which is comprehensive – taking into account the interests and strategies of all the littoral states of the Ocean, as also those of the powers whose navies and commercial fleets are present in the Indian Ocean. This workshop is intended to lay a basis for GCC governments and elites to develop such an approach. 




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Workshop

Directors


Amb Talmiz

Ahmad

Ram Sathe Chair for International Studies / Former Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Oman and the UAE -
Symbiosis International University



Prof. Degang

Sun

Professor and Deputy Director -
Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University



Prof Tim

Niblock

Emeritus Professor of Middle East Politics -
University of Exeter


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