Kristin Smith Diwan

Senior Resident Scholar

Kristin Smith Diwan is a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. Her current projects concern generational change, nationalism, and the evolution of Islamism in the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Her analysis of Gulf affairs has appeared in many publications, among them Foreign Affairs, Financial Times, and The Washington Post.

Diwan was previously an assistant professor at the American University School of International Service and has held visiting scholar positions at the George Washington University and Georgetown University. From 2013-14 she served as a visiting senior fellow at the Atlantic Council where she published on youth movements and participated in the Strategic Dialogue for a New US-Gulf Partnership.

Diwan received her PhD from Harvard University and holds an MA from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. She completed her undergraduate degree at Baylor University in Texas, her home state.

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Bahrain’s Royal Family Adjusts for the Future

The recent elevation of Bahrain’s young prince, Nasser bin Hamad al-Khalifa, to national security advisor is the latest indication of maneuvers to secure the future hierarchy of the monarchy.

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Saudi Ambition Confronts New Vulnerability

Saudi Vision 2030 champions national pride and a new economy of tourism and technology. But a direct hit on the kingdom’s central oil processing plant at Abqaiq ruthlessly reveals: As yet, the kingdom’s future still depends on allies, and oil.

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The Manama Workshop and the Course of Normalization in the Gulf

The “Peace to Prosperity” workshop in Bahrain may have been less about Palestinian prosperity and more about drawing Arab, especially Gulf, countries into the Middle East peace process – and into deeper normalization with Israel.

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In a Region Beset by Zero-Sum Conflicts, Oman Remains Open to All

Avoiding provocation of international powers and regional neighbors, Oman remains determined to make its connections to all sides a strategic asset.

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Saudi Arabia’s New Security State Reflected in Treatment and Trial of Women Activists

The case of the detained women activists in Saudi Arabia illustrates shifting power dynamics in the kingdom as King Salman has centralized control in the hands of the crown prince, complicating an already fraught political environment for intellectuals and activists.

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The Pope’s Visit and Emirati Soft Power

Pope Francis' historic visit to the UAE, the first by the head of the Roman Catholic Church to the Arabian Peninsula, represents the most high-profile of a series of initiatives positioning the UAE as a champion of interfaith dialogue, moderation, and pluralism.

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Saudi Arabia Reassigns Roles within a More Centralized Monarchy

As Saudi Arabia moves toward more centralized authority over national security and intelligence functions, will these measures serve to check or further empower the crown prince?

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Bahrain’s Carefully Managed Elections Remake Parliament

On November 24 and December 1 Bahrain held elections for the lower house of Parliament and municipal councils. The new members – absent representation by once-influential opposition societies and dominated by political independents and newcomers – will face a strenuous test with austerity measures looming.

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MbS – with an Assist from the King – Shores up Support at Home

In the wake of the Khashoggi affair, Saudi Arabia's King Salman is rallying royals and courting the public on behalf of his embattled son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Will this injection of traditional prestige and patronage reassure MbS’s skeptics at home and abroad?

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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.