The Dhow: A Weekly Newsletter from AGSIW

The Bridge blog
The Diwaniyya in the Digital Age

By Bayly Winder
Tradition matters in the Gulf. Alongside the shimmering skyscrapers and fancy new malls, there are constant reminders of a culture that draws deeply from the past. In the heart of Kuwait City, such reminders exist in the form of diwaniyyas. Some of these diwaniyyas are far older than the country itself, having achieved independence in 1961. These historic diwaniyyas have a museum-like feel, with wooden beams on the ceilings and walls lined with archival photographs and letters. Yet diwaniyyas continue to play a major role, not only in the Kuwaiti national discourse but in the fabric of everyday life. This role, however, is being challenged by alternative public spaces and wildly popular technology.
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EQUAIT: Promoting Tolerance Among Kuwaiti Youth

This interview with Equait serves as the inaugural post of Millennial Gulf, a bi-monthly series published by AGSIW reporting on youth-led initiatives in the realms of culture, politics, technology, and entrepreneurship in the GCC.

Equait is a community project founded by two young Kuwaitis, Faisal al-Fuhaid and Leanah al-Awadhi. The two are on a mission to make Kuwait a more open and accepting environment for its diverse population. To promote social equality and encourage tolerance among people, Equait has organized a number of activities, including distributing lunch bags to construction workers and other laborers during Ramadan, an anti-bullying walkathon, and frequent discussion forums, called cross-cultural diwaniyyas, where anyone can join to express opinions and experiences related to a specific theme.
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Market Watch
What Would Russia Do? Why Saudi Arabia’s Break with Iran Makes Bad Economic Sense

By Karen Young
The decision to break diplomatic ties with Iran will have some important economic consequences for Saudi Arabia. While it is true that historically Saudi Arabia and Iran have not shared strong trade links, there is reason to believe that the few economic engines of the region in the coming years will necessarily include Iran. Meeting in Davos this week, economists and business leaders are addressing pockets of economic opportunity, possibilities for economic reforms, and job creation targeting youth in the region, where growth is expected to be low, at three percent or less in 2016. HSBC economists suggest that if Brent oil prices remain at $30 per barrel, GCC oil earnings will be down more than half a trillion dollars from their peak in the last decade.
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King Salman’s First Year: Saudi Arabia Reshapes Regional Power Dynamics

By Sigurd Neubauer

During King Salman bin Abdulaziz’s first year on the throne, he has transformed Saudi Arabia from a status quo power to one that actively seeks to reshape the region’s complex power dynamics. Since taking power, following the death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz on January 23 last year, King Salman has established a formidable Arab military coalition which aims to restore Yemen’s President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power following widespread violence imposed by Houthis, militias hailing from the country’s northern provinces and which Riyadh considers to be an Iranian proxy.
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In the Media
AGSIW Senior Resident Scholar Karen Young was recently quoted in Sputnik International on trade between China and the Gulf States: “More and more, as I have argued elsewhere, the Gulf has had its own 'pivot to Asia.' Gulf oil exports are largely focused on Asian markets."
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Millenial Gulf Logo Competition
Millennial Gulf is a bi-monthly series published by the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington (AGSIW) reporting on youth-led initiatives in the realms of culture, politics, technology, and entrepreneurship in the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The series profiles the efforts of individuals and organizations engaged in innovation and the promotion of social change, and highlights creative expressions in literature, art, and social media. The goal of Millennial Gulf is to elevate the voices of youth in the GCC and to deepen understanding of their concerns and aspirations.

AGSIW is running a competition for an original logo and header design for the Millennial Gulf bilingual webpage. We are looking for a design that captures the essence of youth-led change and the intention of the series as stated above. Submissions must be accompanied by a design statement and artists are encouraged to incorporate both English and Arabic into the design.

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