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Engulfed in the Gulf?

On A Search for Europe's Future Role in A Turbulent Region

Presence Conference



The Gulf is a region in turmoil that faces numerous challenges. For Europe this region is crucial. Located in its closer vicinity, all negative developments and trends that the Gulf region sees are felt with only slight delays in Europe. It was often said that Europe is only at the sideline when it comes to the Gulf and that only the big powers such as the United States have a say in the region. However, the nuclear deal with Iran which EU member states helped to negotiate since 2003 onward, shows that Europe could play a positive role in the region and that it has stakes in the game if it only accepts the challenge of thinking and acting strategically in a joint way.

The purpose of this conference is to elaborate on Europe’s future role in the Gulf region and about which policy fields the EU and its member states could address in the upcoming years to contribute to a more stable, peaceful, and prosperous region.

You are cordially welcomed to join!

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Mittwoch, 25.11.2020
14:00 Uhr
Arrival, Registration & Welcome Coffee

14:15 Uhr
Words of Welcome

Thomas MÜLLER-FÄRBER, Program Director International Affairs, Protestant Academy Loccum

14:30 Uhr
FORESIGHT PANEL│ Exploring the Future of a Complex Region – How the Gulf Might Look Like in 2030?


Eckart WOERTZ, Director, Institute for Middle East Studies, GIGA (German Institute for Global and Area) Hamburg, (confirmed)

Dina ESFANDIARY, Fellow, The Century Foundation, Washington D.C./London (confirmed)

Simon MABON, Professor for Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancester University and author of the recent book “Houses built on Sand: Sovereignty, Violence and Revolution in the Middle East”, Lancester (confirmed)

Moderation: Ali FATHOLLAH-NEJAD, Non-Resident Senior Fellow, Afro-Middle East Center (AMEC) and author of the forthcoming book "Iran in an Emerging New World Order: From Ahmadinejad to Rouhani", Berlin (confirmed)

16:00 Uhr

16:30 Uhr
1st INTERVIEW ROUND │ Evaluating the Outcome of the US Presidential Elections in Terms of Washington's Future Policy Towards the Gulf

Elisa CATALANO EWERS, Adjunct Senior Fellow, Center for a New American Security and former Director for Middle East and North Africa at the National Security Council, Washington D.C. (confirmed)

17:00 Uhr
PLENARY DISCUSSION │ Europe in the Gulf - Mapping a Complex Inter-Regional Relationship

THE PAST – What Are Key Takeaways from the History of Europe’s Involvement in the Gulf Region?
Anoush EHTESHAMI, Professor of International Relations in the School of Government and International Affairs, Durham University (confirmed)

INTERESTS & DESIRES – What Are the Goals of Europe’s Current Policy towards the Region?
Gabriel Munuera VINALS, Head of Division Arabian Peninusla and Iraq, European Action Service, Brussels (confirmed)

(MIS)PERCEPTIONS – Walking on Edward Said’s Trail and Exploring Europe’s (Mis)Understandings of the Region
Susanne KOELBL, Journalist, Foreign Correspondent at Der Spiegel and Author of the Book “Behind the Kingdom’s Veil”, Hamburg (confirmed)

18:30 Uhr

19:30 Uhr
2nd INTERVIEW ROUND │How Is Europe’s Gulf Policy Perceived by Saudi Arabia?

Abdulaziz SAGER, Founder and Chairman, Gulf Research Center, Jeddah (confirmed)

21:00 Uhr

Donnerstag, 26.11.2020
08:15 Uhr

10:00 Uhr
IDEA WORKSHOP – Policy Fields for Europe’s Engagement with the Gulf Region?

Unlike the other parts of the conference, the hybrid roundtable discussion will be held under the CHATHAM HOUSE RULE.

HYBRID ROUNDTABLE I│Arms Control and Nonproliferation Policy at the Gulf Region

Martin-Pierre CHARLIAT, Disarmament and Nuclear Nonproliferation Division, Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Paris (invited)
Fabian HINZ, Research Associate, The James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), Montorey/Berlin (confirmed)
Katharina LACK, Head of IAEA and Nuclear Non-Proliferation Unit, German Foreign Office, Berlin (confirmed)
Farzan SABET, Project Researcher, Middle East WMD Free Zone Project, United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), Geneva (confirmed)
Azadeh ZAMIRIRAD, Deputy Head of the Middle East and Africa Division at the German Institute for International and Security (SWP), Berlin (confirmed)

Moderation: Thomas MÜLLER-FÄRBER, Protestant Academy Loccum

HYBRID ROUNDTABLE II│ Smarter Economic Links – Could New Technology and Digital Industry Lead to a More Cooperative Relationship between Europe and the Gulf?

Ayad AL-ANI, Professor for Change Management and Consulting at the School of Public Leadership at the University Stellenbosch and the University Basel, Member of the Einstein Center Digital Future (ECDF), Vienna/Berlin (confirmed)
Fatima ALSEBAIE, Research Fellow, Bahrain Center for Strategic, International and Energy Studies, Riffa (confirmed)
Sandor SZELEKOVSZKY, Directorate General for Trade of the European Commission, Brussels (confirmed)
Nader KABBANI, Director of Research at the Booking Doha Center and Senior Fellow for Global Economy and Development, Doha (confirmed)
Zahraa KAREEM, Monitoring & Evaluation Specialist, “The Station”, Baghdad and Mosul (confirmed)
Dalia SAMRA-ROHTE, Delegate of German Industry & Commerce for Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Yemen, German-Saudi Arabian Liasion Office for Economic Affairs (GESALO), Riyadh (confirmed)

Moderation: Tobias ZUMBRÄGEL, Fellow, Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient (CARPO), Bonn (confirmed)

12:00 Uhr
5th INTERVIEW ROUND │ Perspectives from Extra-Regional Powers on the EU’s Policy towards the Region


Irina ZVIAGELSKAYA, Head of Center for the Middle East Studies at IMEMO and Professor of the Oriental Studies Department of the MGIMO University, Moscow (confirmed)

Galip DALAY, Richard Weizäcker Fellow at the Bosch Foundation and non-resident fellow at the Brookings Doha Center, Berlin (confirmed)

12:30 Uhr

14:00 Uhr

HYBRID ROUNDTABLE III│ Bridging Divides – Is there Room For De-escalation, Dialogue and a More Security Cooperation in the Gulf Region?

H.E. Mohamed AL HASSAN, Permanent Representative of the Sultanate of Oman to the United Nations, New York (confirmed)
Cinzia BIANCO, Senior Analyst at the Gulf State Analytics and Visiting Fellow at the Europen Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), Berlin (confirmed)
Justin MEYERS, Associate Director, Al Amana Center for Trust and Peace, Muscat (confirmed)
Michael OHNMACHT, Head of Division, Middle East and Arabian Peninsula, German Foreign Office, Berlin (confirmed)
Henry ROME, Senior Analyst, Middle East & North Africa, Eurasia Group, Washington D.C. (confirmed)
Emma SOUBRIER, Visiting Scholar, Arab Gulf States Institute, Washington (preliminary confirmed)
Adnan TABATABAI, Executive Director, Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient (CARPO), Bonn (confirmed)
Sanam VAKIL, Deputy Director and Senior Research Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme, Chatham House, London (confirmed)

Moderation: Christian KOCH, Director of the Gulf Research Center Foundation, Geneva (confirmed)

HYBRID ROUNDTABLE IV│ States and People – The Situation of the Civil Society in the Gulf Region and Europe’s Current and Future Ways of Engagement

Thomas DEMMELHUBER, Professor of Middle East Politics and Society at the Friedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen-Nürnberg (confirmed)
Ali FATHOLLAH-NEJAD, Non-Resident Senior Fellow, Afro-Middle East Center (AMEC) and author of the forthcoming book "Iran in an Emerging New World Order: From Ahmadinejad to Rouhani", Berlin (confirmed)
Leopold GRITSCHNEDER, Middle East and Central Asia Department, Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO), European Commission, Brussels (confirmed)
Dunja RAMADAN, Journalist covering the MENA region, Süddeutsche Zeitung, München (invited)
Larbi SADIKI, Professor of Arab Democratization, Department of International Affairs, Qatar University and non-resident Fellow at the Brookings Doha Center, Doha (confirmed)
Sayed YUSUF, Vice-President of SALAM and former fellow of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (confirmed)

Moderation: Cornelius ADEBAHR, Non-Resident Fellow, Carnegie Europe, Berlin/Brüssel (confirmed)

16:15 Uhr

16:45 Uhr

Shuttle Service to Wunstorf Train Station and Hannover Airport (HAJ)

Freitag, 04.12.2020
18:00 Uhr
EUROPE ENGULFED IN THE GULF? How Shall Europe’s Future Engagement with a Region in Turmoil Look Like?

Hannah NEUMANN, Member of the European Parliament (Greens/EFA), Chair of the Delegation for the Relations with the Arab Peninsula, Vice-Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights and member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Subcommittee on Security and Defence Policy, Brussels/Berlin (confirmed)

Dorothée SCHMID, Head, Turkey and Middle East Program, IFRI (French Institute of International Relations), Paris (confirmed)

Niels ANNEN, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office and Member of the German Parliament (Social Democrats), Berlin/Hamburg (confirmed)

Cornelius ADEBAHR, Non-Resident Fellow, Carnegie Europe, Berlin/Brüssel (confirmed)

Moderation: Thomas MÜLLER-FÄRBER, Program Director International Affairs, Protestant Academy Loccum

19:30 Uhr
End of discussion