Karen E. Young

Senior Research Scholar, Center on Global Energy Policy, Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs

Karen E. Young is a political economist focusing on the Gulf, the broader Middle East and North Africa region, and the intersection of energy, finance, and security. She is a senior research scholar at the Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy. She was a senior fellow and founding director of the Program on Economics and Energy at the Middle East Institute. She was a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and has been a professorial lecturer at the George Washington University, teaching courses on the international relations of the Middle East. She regularly teaches at the U.S. Department of State Foreign Service Institute. Earlier, she was a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington and a research fellow at the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She led a seminar series on emerging markets in the Middle East and North Africa at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. At the American University of Sharjah, she served as an assistant professor of political science from 2009-14. Prior to joining AUS, she held research and administration roles at New York University in New York City.  

Young’s second book, The Economic Statecraft of the Gulf Arab States: Deploying Aid, Investment and Development Across MENAP, was published at the end of 2022 with I.B. Tauris/Bloomsbury. Her first book, The Political Economy of Energy, Finance and Security in the United Arab Emirates: Between the Majilis and the Market, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2014. She founded and wrote dozens of articles for Market Watch at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. She has published articles in the Financial Times, Bloomberg, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Lawfare, Al Monitor, ORIENT, Oxford Analytica, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the Conservative Middle East Council, The National and Gulf News, Journal of Arabian Studies, Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, Current History, Gulf Affairs, Security Dialogue, Internationale Politik, and Middle East Policy, among many academic and analytical outlets. Her comments have been featured on NPR, CBS, CBC, and AFP and in The New York Times, Financial Times, Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Reuters, Al Arabiya, Arab News, Debtwire, MEED, and MEES. Her work has been supported by grants from the Smith Richardson Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Fulbright Program (Ecuador 1997-99; Bulgaria 2005-06), International Research and Exchange Board, American Council of Learned Societies, Woodrow Wilson Center, U.S. State Department Middle East Partnership Initiative, American Political Science Association MENA Fellows Program, and Emirates Foundation (via LSE).  

Book Launch – The Gulf States and the Horn of Africa: Interests, Influences and Instability

On April 7, AGSIW hosted a discussion examining the complex interactions between the Gulf Arab states and the countries of the Horn of Africa.

Petro Diplomacy 2021: Gulf Countries in a Net-Zero World

For the seventh consecutive year, AGSIW convened its Petro Diplomacy conference.

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The Geoeconomics of Reconstruction in Yemen

The conflict in Yemen has exacted a disastrous toll on the country. This paper considers the outside forces in the conflict, seeking to elucidate who they are, what the nature is of their involvement, and what their converging and conflicting interests mean for reconstruction.

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Spending to Grow in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is seeing some positive news in the return on investment in its outwardly placed capital in new technology.

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Privatization in Saudi Arabia: Vision 2030 Ready to Sell

There have been four important changes to the kingdom's economic policies that may pave the way for increased foreign investment, though not likely immediate job growth.

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A Home of One’s Own: Subsidized Housing as a Key Lever of Gulf Domestic Policy

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed announced a new social support program for citizens in the emirate to double the number of the government's annual subsidized housing loans.

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Unwinding the JCPOA Opens Doors for China and Amplifies Risk in the Gulf

For traditional U.S. partners and allies in the Gulf and beyond, the unwinding of U.S. participation in the JCPOA will create some multidimensional consequences.

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Tying the Region in Knots: How the JCPOA is Tethered to Gulf Economic and Security Challenges

U.S. President Donald J. Trump faces a deadline for the recertification of sanctions relief on May 12, when a waiver of a key sanctions law expires, and would need to be renewed lest the sanctions provided for in that law snap back into force.

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Trade Wars and Bond-Offs: Side Effects of Tariffs and Tactical Borrowing Hit the Gulf

There are simultaneous efforts by Qatar and Saudi Arabia to attract investors for new bond issues this week. The “bond-off,” or race to sale, is yet a new example of the use of economic means to achieve political ends.

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U.S.-Saudi Economic Ties: Why Saudi Arabia Matters

Though the Oil Link may be broken, the United States and Saudi Arabia remain linked by economic and investment ties, energy markets and a shared interest in global economic stability.

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Saudi Economic Reform Update: Saudization and Expat Exodus

Saudization, or the reservation of certain jobs and sectors for Saudi nationals, is part of the government’s effort to transform its private sector.

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Payment Delayed: The Economic Risk of Gulf Contracting Practices

If you are in the construction business and a Gulf government is your client, be sure to be paid in advance.