Three months in Doha, a PhD candidate researches geopolitics in the Middle East

Thursday 25 February 2016

Although the holy month of Ramadan was over and the heyday of the summer had already stayed behind, the friendly Middle Eastern environment and the warm temperatures of the desert were still felt in the Gulf. That was the impression Erick Viramontes got when he arrived in Qatar in September 2015 to conduct his field research.

Erick spent three months in Doha and, during that time, he was a visiting fellow at the Centre for Gulf Studies at Qatar University. As part of his field research, he interviewed a number of scholars, journalists and foreign diplomats. He also attended many of the events and conferences organized by the think tanks based in Qatar and by the many campuses of Western universities at Qatar Foundation.

Erick explains that interstate relations in the Middle East have been changing dramatically over recent years. Not only new actors that challenge the authority of the state have emerged, but also states that were once regarded as irrelevant have become central players in regional developments.

That is the case of the state of Qatar, which over the last two decades has displayed a foreign policy that outmatches it size and its traditional positioning as a satellite of bigger neighbours, he asserts. By so doing, Qatar has become not only a relevant actor in regional affairs, but has also increased its weight at the global stage.

In his research, Erick Viramontes inquiries about the nature of Qatar’s internationalism and asks whether Qatar can be considered a new middle power in contemporary world politics. He also reflects on the theoretical implications of considering Qatar as an emerging middle power.

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