For the French president, hosting the two Gulf leaders in July may have been a calculated risk amid a more forgiving domestic and regional political context.
Non-Resident Fellow, AGSIW; Visiting Scholar, Institute for Middle East Studies
Emma Soubrier is a non-resident fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. Her research focuses on the security strategies and foreign policies of the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, particularly the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, and the political economy of arms trade in the Gulf. Soubrier has published numerous articles and book chapters in French and English on Gulf security issues. Her work looks to promote a renewed approach to security that no longer focuses merely on the political and military aspects of security but includes a broader look at people-centered dimensions (human security, particularly societal security and environmental security). Her forthcoming book, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates: Diverging Paths to Regional and Global Power (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 2022), is based on her PhD thesis, which received a Dissertation Award from the Institute for Higher National Defense Studies (France) in 2018.
Soubrier is a professorial lecturer and a visiting scholar at the Institute for Middle East Studies at the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, where her class focuses on U.S. policy in the Gulf. She is an expert with the Forum on Arms Trade. As part of a research team with the World Peace Foundation (Tufts University), she is working on a project on “Defense Industries, Foreign Policy and Armed Conflict” funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
Soubrier was previously a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre Michel de l’Hospital, Université Clermont Auvergne (France), a visiting scholar at the Institute for Middle East Studies for one year, and a visiting scholar at AGSIW for two years. She worked for three and a half years at the French Ministry of Defense and for three years at Airbus Defence and Space. She received her PhD in political science from the Université Clermont Auvergne in 2017 and holds an MA in international relations from Sorbonne University (Paris, France).
This first World Defense Show in Riyadh captured a moment in time when the kingdom’s economy, its international relations, and particularly its strategic relationship with the United States all seem to be at a turning point.
A new Conventional Arms Transfer policy based on human rights could have a major impact on the global arms trade and U.S.-Gulf relations, but questions remain as to whether recent announcements will lead to concrete policy shifts.
The UAE is increasingly looking to the maritime domain as an area of regional and global cooperation but also as a vessel of continued power projection.
The signing of the Al Ula agreement ending the GCC crisis may finally allow the Gulf countries to establish a regional security system, an endeavor that has been decades in the making.
The UAE’s Hope Consortium and Hope Probe illustrate a growing shift from a focus on hard power to a broader consideration of human security and the incorporation of new technologies.
Abu Dhabi’s arms show confirmed the importance of the defense industry for the UAE as a major customer and an emerging and credible player within the global arms trade.
The diverging priorities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai have given the UAE room to maneuver, and, increasingly, elements of the two emirates’ specific approaches are being consolidated within a unified strategy.
The new direction taken by the Biden administration might reopen the doors for the United States and European allies to cooperate to bring more security and stability to the Gulf region.