The Dhow: A Weekly Newsletter from AGSIW

The Bridge blog
The Saudi National Transformation Program: What’s in It for Women?

By Hala Aldosari
In December 2015, the Council of Economic and Development Affairs in Saudi Arabia announced the National Transformation Program (2020). The core of the plan is economic reform with a focus on increased employment, privatization, and monitoring of ministerial performances. With the reduction of the public sector, there will be a shift in employing Saudi nationals in the private sector, currently dominated by low-skilled and low-paid foreign workers. There is a large downward gap of about 70 percent between the wages of the public sector, where most Saudi nationals are currently employed, and private sector, making the latter a rather unattractive option.
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Market Watch
Market Watch: GCC Bank Sector Under Pressure

By Karen Young
The commercial bank sector across the Gulf Cooperation Council is a product of a particular pattern of economic development that has relied heavily on state investment in, and (at least partial) state ownership of, major industry. That industry, as the key driver of economic growth within the Gulf states, is tied to commodity export markets. As oil and gas prices increased in the boom periods of 2003-14 (with a short gap during the global financial crisis of 2008-09), governments have been able to invest in infrastructure and real estate, as well as the traditional commodity export industry.
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Ties that Bind or Blind? Iranian – U.S. Rapprochement and its Effect on GCC Threat Perception

By Karen Young

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or P5 +1 nuclear agreement, as its signatories emphasize, is a single issue agreement. It is not necessarily a signal that Iran is opening politically, nor does it indicate that the U.S. has forgotten Iran’s history of supporting terrorist groups. There is a growing suspicion among Arab Gulf states, however, that the U.S. is pursuing a managed diplomatic opening with Iran that will begin with the nuclear issue and spread to commercial and political ties.
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U.S. Strategy: Accelerate Syria Talks, Defeat ISIL?

By Sigurd Neubauer

Amid uncertainty over whether U.N.-sponsored talks will take place in Geneva on Friday, the High Negotiations Committee - representing 35 opposition groups - insists it will not participate unless the Syrian regime stops its barrel-bombings and starvation policies against rebel-held areas. The regime’s denial of humanitarian organizations from providing basic supplies to rebel-held areas has added yet another dimension to the country’s humanitarian catastrophe. So far, more than 250,000 civilians have been killed and millions of desperate refugees have fled to Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon.
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UAE Security Forum 2016
The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington is proud to present the inaugural UAE Security Forum: Bridging the Cybersecurity Talent Gap on February 21 in Abu Dhabi. With the increasing digitization of Gulf societies and the massive amounts of personal and sensitive information circling the globe every nanosecond, it is all too clear that strong cybersecurity is vital to keeping government, private sector, employer, and citizen information safe from malicious hacking, state-sponsored cyber espionage. To help bridge this talent gap, AGSIW, in partnership with Raytheon and Khalifa University, is bringing government officials, educators, and employers together to work to inspire the cybersecurity talent of tomorrow.

For more information and to register, please visit
Millennial Gulf
AGSIW is running a competition for an original logo and header design for the Millennial Gulf bilingual webpage.

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. 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.

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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On Wednesday, January 20, AGSIW Board Member and Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University Bernard Haykel testified in front of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs at the hearing "Inside the Mind of ISIS: Understanding Its Goals and Ideology to Better Protect the Homeland." In his testimony, Haykel stated: "Thinking of the Islamic State in purely ideological terms offers only a partial explanation of the jihadist phenomenon in Iraq and Syria. To understand its emergence and appeal, one also has to look at the brutal political, economic, and social realities of the modern Middle East."
Watch hearing video
In the Media
AGSIW Senior Resident Scholar Karen Young was recently quoted in Sputnik International on the proposed OPEC meeting and the low price of oil: “For oil service firms, which work for both large corporates and national oil companies, they have been hit hard and we see this even in the Gulf Cooperation Council oil exporting states."
AGSIW Senior Resident Scholar Hussein Ibish discussed the Palestinian-Israeli peace process in an article for Bloomberg. Ibish noted, "The working assumption of the early Bush administration was that a democratic Palestinian society would be more receptive to peace with Israel, but the legislative elections that Hamas won upended that equation entirely."

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