Sean Foley


Sean Foley is a professor of history at Middle Tennessee State University and specializes in the history of the Middle East and the cultural, political, and religious trends in the wider Islamic world. He has published widely and delivered public presentations to major institutions and conferences around the world. His second book, Changing Saudi Arabia: Art, Culture, and Society in the Kingdom, was published by Lynne Rienner Press in 2019 and is based on extensive in-country research and interviews. An Arabic version of the text with an updated introduction will soon be published. His first book, The Arab Gulf States: Beyond Oil and Islam, was published in 2010 by Lynne Rienner Press. He has also won multiple fellowships, including Fulbright grants to Syria, Turkey, and Malaysia. For more on his work, see his website or follow him on Twitter @foleyse.

Blog Post content-type in which the post is published

“Listen to the Artist”: U.S. and Saudi Artists Develop Cultural Ties

Saudi and U.S. cultural programs provide an opportunity to bridge cultural differences – and showcase artists and performers blending artistic influences from the two countries – while harnessing sources for creativity and innovation.

Millennial Gulf content-type in which the post is published

The Meccan Modernist: Hatem Alzahrani, Poetry, and a New Saudi Synthesis

For Saudi poet Hatem Alzahrani, overcoming dualities is essential when understanding his own work and that of other Arabs.

Millennial Gulf content-type in which the post is published

The Gulf’s New Sound: Indie Music and Global Change

There is a new talented class of musicians in the Gulf states. Their music is a clarion call for personal change along with sociocultural renewal from Jeddah to Manama and New Orleans.

Blog Post content-type in which the post is published

Storytelling in Today’s Saudi Arabia

The drama series “Al-Asouf” vividly captures the trend of telling Saudi stories with Saudi actors and its power in shaping the public’s perceptions and aspirations.

Change from the Bottom Up: Art, Society, and Southern Saudi Arabia

In this presentation, Sean Foley draws on his extensive research in Asir, Najran, and Jizan to trace the rise of the Saudi contemporary artistic movement while explaining what it tells us about the kingdom’s society in the 21st century.