New LSE Report on Gulf Monarchies' "Soft Power"
The LSE Kuwait Programme published this month a new report by Associate Professor Steffen Hertog titled "A Quest for Significance: Gulf Oil Monarchies'International 'Soft Power' Strategies and Their Local Urban Dimensions".
The report discusses several of the mega-projects that GCC countries have developed over the last few decades, such as museums, universities, and activities such as international festivals and conferences. According to the paper, "the GCC oil monarchies have been using their oil wealth to buy the accoutrements of 'good citizenship' and 'progressiveness' in the international arena through [these] costly policy projects that involve urban interventions".
The high profile of these countries which "they have achieved with their soft power initiatives, has made their domestic non-compliance with important international norms more visible and problematic". In the UAE, Dubai leads as a commercial centre, but other high-profile enclaves help building the liberal image of the state. Examples of this 'soft power' are the humanitarian city, the world's first zero-carbon city, Masdar City, or the Guggenheim, Louvre and New York University projects in Abu Dhabi. Despite international criticism over labour practices and the lack of success in terms of revenues, these initiatives are an attempt at gaining "social recognition and status in international society [...] independent of their role as hydrocarbons producers".
Read the full report here: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/69883/1/Hertog_42_2017.pdf