Tobias Borck

Discipline: Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies

Project Summary

Working Title: “Stability from Disorder in the Middle East: Comparing the Perspectives of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar”

Research Questions:  The thesis seeks to answer three main research questions: 

1) How do Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar perceive the regional environment in the Middle East in the 21st century? 

2) What does the stability and order they are trying to maintain/(re)build in the region look like? 

3) How do these perceptions and visions compare to one another?

Concept and Objectives: In the early 21st century, the Middle East is going through a period of transition, characterised by instability and disorder—at both the individual state and regional levels. Western governments are increasingly looking to work with partners in the region to resolve crises and find ways to foster stability and order. In particular, they are focusing on Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar, which have emerged as the most active and influential Arab foreign political actors in the Middle East, especially in the aftermath of the 2010/11 Arab Uprisings. Yet, it appears clear that the regional foreign policies of these three states differ significantly.
By answering the research questions, the thesis therefore pursues three main objectives:

- to add to the academic literature by focusing on the foreign policies of Arab states towards other Arab states and the region as a whole, an area that remains understudied;

- to contribute to the theoretical and practical understanding of stability and order in the Middle East as objectives of foreign policy; 

- and to support the public debate surrounding European and North American governments’ policy formation towards the Middle East, especially with regard to partnering with governments in the region. 

Supervisory Team

First Supervisor: Dr Lise Storm

Second Supervisor: Professor Gareth Stansfield

Wider Research Interests

My wider research interests include: 

  • Extremism, radicalisation and terrorism, especially in North Africa
  • Change and stability in North Africa
  • Egypt's post-2011 development
  • European foreign policies towards the Middle East (especially British and German)