The Dhow: A Weekly Newsletter from AGSIW

Upcoming Events 
    Thursday, May 19, 2016 
    4:30 - 6:00 pm  

SPEAKER Farah Al-Nakib
Please join us for a reception following the discussion.
    Thursday, May 26, 2016 
    4:30 - 6:30 pm  

SPEAKERS David Roberts, Kristian Coates Ulrichsen
Please join us for a reception following the discussion.
The Bridge blog
Waiting Out Obama

By Kristin Smith Diwan

It is no secret that the Saudi and wider Gulf leadership are not fans of U.S. President Barack Obama. Complaints range from the personal – that he hasn’t built strong ties to Gulf monarchs – to the strategic – that he has neither backed his Gulf partners nor backed up his own promises, most notably in Syria. There are deep misgivings about shifts in U.S. alliances: from a new opening with Iran, to a new pivot to Asia. 
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Market Watch
Understanding Vision 2030: Anticipating Economic Change in Saudi Arabia

By Karen E. Young

Were there surprises in the Vision 2030 announcement?

No, in fact, there was very little new information in the announcement of the Vision 2030 plan on April 25, which is in line with previous comments by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) in his interviews with Bloomberg and The Economist over the last few months. This was a strategy release, not a financial document or blueprint for implementation in any exact terms. MbS has proved adept at creating anticipation of his announcements, especially with his recent television interview on Al Arabiya in which he defended the plan in nationalistic terms, as a reclaiming of Saudi Arabia’s independence and strength in the era before oil. 
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Millennial Gulf
Abolish 153: Tackling Domestic Violence in Kuwait

By Samyah Alfoory
Abolish 153 is an awareness campaign started by a small group of women in Kuwait to eradicate domestic violence in the country. The initiative’s main target is Article 153 of Kuwait’s penal code, which stipulates that a man who murders his wife (or daughter, sister, or mother) after catching her in an adulterous act can receive a maximum punishment of three years in prison and/or a fine of up to 225 Kuwaiti Dinars (about $748). The group behind Abolish 153 has held several cultural and educational events to mobilize against Article 153 and gender violence, and to highlight women’s role in society. AGSIW spoke with Alanoud AlSharekh, co-founder of the initiative, to discuss the campaign’s founding, philosophy, and events, as well as its future.
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In the Media
AGSIW scholars commented on Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 plan, put forward by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Senior Resident Scholar Karen Young discussed socio-economic changes in the context of the plan in an interview with CBC Radio: "... we're already seeing a bit of dissent, in a very moderated tone, in Saudi Arabia with the cuts to subsidies to electricity and water. So many people were unhappy about that, and the minister of electricity and water was actually fired over the weekend in response." Young also noted the impact on Saudi identity in light of new efforts by the government to promote tourism in the kingdom in an interview with AP: "This notion of Saudi Arabia as center of the Arab world and really having ownership of not just Arab identity, but also Islamic identity. That’s a big goal."

Senior Resident Scholar Hussein Ibish discussed Vision 2030, in addition to the U.S.-Saudi relationship, in a segment with the Arab American Institute. Ibish noted that the "main impulse here is to wean the Saudi economy... away from oil." He argued that the plan is highly ambitious and may be risky, especially in light of the many restrictions on women.
In an article for The Washington Post, Non-Resident Fellow Fahad Nazer posited that new taxes and subsidy cuts could be "accompanied by a gradual expansion of the space available to citizens in the political-decision-making process."

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