Robert Mason

Non-Resident Fellow, AGSIW; Non-Resident Fellow, Gulf Research Center

Robert Mason is a non-resident fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington and non-resident fellow at the Gulf Research Center. Previously, he was a fellow with the Sectarianism, Proxies and De-sectarianisation project at Lancaster University and an associate professor and director of the Middle East Studies Center at the American University in Cairo. He was also a visiting scholar in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, a visiting research fellow at the University of Oxford, and a visiting research fellow at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh. He specializes in Gulf politics and the international relations of the Middle East.

Mason has been involved in policy initiatives ranging from co-hosting the 14th Korea-Middle East Cooperation Forum in Seoul in November 2017 to convening an European Union-Middle East policy roundtable event in Cairo in May 2019. He has engaged in various policy-related events and presented his research at leading academic institutions. He is a regular commentator on regional and international affairs. His latest books include New Perspectives on Middle East Politics: Economy, Society and International Relations (Cairo: AUC Press, 2021), Reassessing Order and Disorder in the Middle East: Regional Imbalance or Disintegration? (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2017), and Egypt and the Gulf: A Renewed Regional Policy Alliance (Berlin: Gerlach Press, 2016). He holds a PhD in Middle East politics from the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter.

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The UAE Leads the Way on Gulf-South America Ties

Gulf state economic diversification, led by the UAE, is driving a surge in relations with South America, reinforced by shared leadership outlooks, bilateral trade, and security considerations.

Book Talk – Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates: Foreign Policy and Strategic Alliances in an Uncertain World

On October 17, AGSIW hosted a discussion on the foreign policies of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

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Looking to Moscow, Iran Steps Up Measures to Bolster Its Air Power

Drone exports and cooperation with Russia are part of a quid pro quo strategy that could provide a much-coveted boost to Iranian air defense and military hardware.

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The European Union’s “Strategic Partnership With the Gulf”: Half-Speed Ahead

The EU’s Gulf strategic partnership strategy can best be read as a statement of intent and independence, establishing a new baseline for cooperation in the face of a series of major systemic and state challenges.

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.

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A New Era in German Defense and Foreign Policy: The Source of Broadening Relations in the Gulf?

Germany is upgrading its military, moving into a more assertive and central role in European and NATO defense. This, coupled with changes to its energy policy, could facilitate closer cooperation with select Gulf allies.

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Security, Energy, and Identity Dominate Gulf Positions on Ukraine

The Russian invasion of Ukraine crystallizes existing Gulf policies and could form the backdrop to further regional polarization and instability.

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Federalism and Conservatism in the UAE: The Case of Sharjah

As the pace of reforms quicken in the UAE, Sharjah is differentiating itself through its conservatism and independent voice.

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Saudi-Russian Military Cooperation: Signaling or Strategy?

Saudi Arabia is positioning itself to build greater interdependence with Russia. If this is a serious strategy, it poses real risks for Saudi Arabia’s defense relationship with the United States.

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Russia and the UAE: Monetization, Economization, and Militarization in the Gulf and Red Sea

A fresh look at an integrated Red Sea framework and associated diplomacy could help avoid a security dilemma resulting from overlapping spheres of economic interest and militarization.

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Is the Sky the Limit to the China-Gulf Partnership?

China’s engagement in the Gulf could help Gulf states meet economic diversification goals, yet it could also exacerbate existing security challenges.

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As UAE Nuclear Power Plant Comes On Line, Attention Turns to Saudi Plans

The Gulf appears to be approaching a new, uncertain era: a scramble for sources of uranium, possibly followed by the acquisition of dual-use technologies, enrichment, and a capacity for breakout.

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Civil Nuclear Energy in the Middle East: Demand, Parity, and Risk

Highlighting the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, this paper studies the security policy implications of civil nuclear programs and assesses the prospects for indigenous nuclear industries and relationships with international suppliers.