The research programme assesses the state and evolution of the Gulf countries relations with Asian countries and explores ways of strengthening them.


  • Jan 2023 +

    Gulf-EU Strategic Engagement Via Gulf-Asia Lens

    Dr N. Janardhan


  • Jul 2022 +

    Gulf Economic Diversification Gets Real with Artificial Intelligence

    Dr N. Janardhan

    Gulf Economic Diversification Gets Real with Artificial Intelligence - This Insight delves into some of the defining developments in the Gulf’s AI-driven agenda, where data is viewed as the new oil. It does so by, first, highlighting global trends that are influencing the Gulf governments’ strategies, especially in the UAE and Saudi Arabia; second, showcasing how these governments are preparing long-term plans to use AI as an economic stimulus to upgrade workforce efficiency and enhance government’s delivery mechanisms; and third, underscoring the Gulf’s connect with some of the Asian countries that are leading the tech revolution. It also offers some recommendations to maintain the momentum and up the ante.


  • Feb 2022 + AGDA Insight

    Indian Diplomacy in Practice: Building a Strategic Partnership between India and the Gulf

    Amb. Talmiz Ahmad

    This Insight is a practitioner’s perspective, narrating the first-hand experience of the events that occurred at different times between 2001 and 2010 and the rationale behind the moves that culminated in diplomatic success for India. It documents the process that facilitated the reshaping of Indo-Saudi relations – moving from reopening political interactions in 2001 to achieving a ‘strategic’ partnership in 2010. It highlights the significance of good knowledge of the politics, society and culture of the state to which an ambassador is accredited, the importance of personal relationships, and a deep sense of empathy with the host country and its people which enables a diplomat to assess the opportunities available to promote bilateral ties.


  • Jan 2022 + AGDA Insight

    Indian Diplomacy in Practice: Negotiating Hostage Release in Iraq

    Amb. Talmiz Ahmad

    This Insight is a practitioner’s perspective on negotiating a hostage crisis in Iraq, narrating the first-hand experience of the events that occurred in 2004 and the rationale behind decisions that ultimately led to the successful release of the hostages. The case study revolves around the rescue of seven hostages – three Indians, three Kenyans and one Egyptian – who were kidnapped in Iraq in 2004. It gives a detailed account of the challenges faced by the negotiators, led by the author, specific problems that arose through the month-long negotiations with the hostage-takers, and the diplomatic skills that were needed to achieve the successful release of the hostages. The main aim of the personal account, analyses and observations in this Insight is to add value to the existing pedagogy of diplomacy.


  • Dec 2021 + AGDA Insight

    Gulf-Asia Energy and Trade Ties: A Challenge to the West?

    Dr Jean-François Seznec

    This Insight analyzes the trade links between the Gulf states, mainly Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar, with the Asian ‘Big Four’ – China, India, Japan and South Korea. It argues that the Gulf-Asia economic and financial flows are creating a base from which the influence of the economic importance of the United States and the European Union will continue to decline. It evaluates how present trade and monetary policies may affect the links between the Gulf currencies and the US dollar in favour of the China’s Renminbi. It ends with a few policy recommendations for the Gulf governments to consider, including evaluating the potential impact of a more universally used Renminbi on their own currencies, cash reserves and trade strategy; and enhancing their investments in advanced chemicals and renewable energy companies to become as dominant in both industries as they are today in the crude oil and natural gas sectors.


  • May 2021 + Working Paper

    The New Great Power Competition in Central Asia: Opportunities and Challenges for the Gulf

    Dr Mher Sahakyan

    This working paper delves into how in a changing world order, where the struggle for power between the East (China and Russia) and the West (United States and the European Union) is at a decisive phase, Central Asia will be an important theatre of competition. The author points out that while the Sino-Russian tandem has managed to retain its superiority in the region thus far, this could change depending on how the other great powers – Turkey, Iran, India, and the GCC countries – play their cards in the ‘modern great game’ in Central Asia.


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    Abraham Accords: Legal Interpretation and Scope for Collaboration with Asia Feb 2021 Prof. Eric Canal Forgues Alter and Dr Narayanappa Janardhan View More
    Feb 2021 + AGDA Insight

    Abraham Accords: Legal Interpretation and Scope for Collaboration with Asia

    Prof. Eric Canal Forgues Alter and Dr Narayanappa Janardhan

    The Insight underlines the potential for cooperation beyond the bilateral, with an emphasis on partnership opportunities with some Asian countries, which have made rapid strides in their engagement with both the UAE and Israel in the recent past, thus expanding the benefits of the Abraham Accords. The authors argue that in a post-Covid, multi-aligned, technology-driven world, the UAE, Israel and their common partners – especially, China, India and South Korea – will likely find that they have more common cause than they might have envisioned just a few months ago.


  • Dec 2020 + AGDA Insight

    Enabling the New Frontiers of Gulf-Asia Economic Ties

    Dr Robert Mogielnicki

    The Insight stresses the development, deployment and adoption of innovative technologies that are pushing interregional economic engagement into new and experimental realms. Focusing on the shifting contours of Gulf-Asia investment flows, especially given the Covid-19 outbreak and energy market developments of early 2020, it charts the likely trajectories of key relations within and across digital domains. China, India and Japan serve as the primary country case studies from Asia, whereas the Gulf cases largely focus on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It concludes with an initial set of recommendations on how Gulf officials could capitalize on the emergent dimensions of these important economic relations.


  • Oct 2020 + AGDA Insight

    Sino-US Maritime Rivalry in Southeast Asia: Post-Covid Lessons for the Gulf

    Dr Swee Lean Collin Koh

    This Insight argues that amid the US’s strategic uncertainties and intensifying Sino-US rivalry, smaller countries in the Indian Ocean region and Southeast Asia are likely to adopt three approaches. One, they will seek to bolster their defence and security self-reliance as the primary form of insurance for their long-term national interests. Two, these countries will seek to deepen internal security cooperation. Three, these countries will seek to establish new defence and security linkages, or expand existing ones, with interested regional powers other than the United States, including India and Japan. Irrespective of the outcome of such an arrangement, the Insight stresses that such an inclusive architecture looks set to be the way forward in the foreseeable future, both in Southeast Asia and, perhaps, in the Gulf too.


  • Aug 2020 + AGDA Insight

    India’s Evolving Maritime Posture in the Indian Ocean: Opportunities for the Gulf

    Abhijit Singh

    While identifying the differences in India’s and the GCC countries’ ties with Pakistan, Iran and China as challenges, the Insight also recognises enhanced India-Gulf collaboration in the Indian Ocean Region in the following areas – using Indian navy’s constabulary experience to deal with soft security issues; using Indian navy’s capabilities to share the burden of maintaining regional security in a post-COVID world, which could witness defence budget cuts; joint management of the commons, especially human security challenges; and training regional maritime forces.


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    Gulf-South Korea Ties: Special, Smart and Strategic Jul 2020 Dr Kwon Hyung Lee and Dr N. Janardhan View More
    Jul 2020 + AGDA Insight

    Gulf-South Korea Ties: Special, Smart and Strategic

    Dr Kwon Hyung Lee and Dr N. Janardhan

    This Insight examines the characteristics of cooperation since 2000 through the prism of energy, trade and investment sectors. Second, it sheds light on the new strategic partnership dynamics, especially with the UAE and Saudi Arabia, in projects promoting the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and the increasing interaction in the security domain. Third, it identifies a few South Korean political and ‘middle power’ diplomatic experiences that may serve as a template for the Gulf countries in their search for regional peace and stability. Finally, the Insight highlights challenges for their future partnership, notes the need to be flexible and innovative amid a global economic slowdown, and sets out nine policy recommendations for enhancing private sector cooperation, boosting SMEs, engaging in developing a hydrogen economy, delving into fintech opportunities, and increasing collaboration in third countries, among others.


  • Jul 2020 + AGDA Insight

    Gulf Security in a ‘Post-Free Riders’ World

    Dr N. Janardhan

    The Insight argues that with the United States no longer dependent on the region’s oil and the economic power center shifting from the West to the East over the last two decades, the Gulf and Asian countries’ – called ‘free riders’ – long-term interests are unlikely to remain dependent only on Washington for the security of their energy supply chain. The Insight stresses that in a world that is shaping to be multipolar, this opens possibilities for other players, including China, India, Japan and Russia, to engage in a broader security cooperation approach in the Gulf. It highlights the 2019 international vigil to protect oil shipping in the region’s waters as a precursor to the envisaged ‘collective’ security and argues that a such an architecture offers the Western countries, primarily the United States, a stage to remain relevant in the region’s affairs.


  • Apr 2020 + AGDA Insight

    The ‘Great Decoupling’: Drivers Shaping US-China Relations

    Prof. Steve Tsang

    The Insight argues that though the United States and China signed a “phase one” trade agreement in January as a first step towards controlling a trade war that began in July 2018, the crux of the goings-on in US-China relations is less about the trade war and more about the two countries becoming strategic competitors. It stresses that both countries are seeking to reduce interdependence that is likely to result in a bifurcation of globalisation. The Insight points out that as the decoupling process intensifies, the US-China differences are likely to widen, gradually forcing other countries, including those in the Gulf, to increasingly choose sides. It concludes that while there may be short-term opportunities in this process for third countries, the overall long-term effects could be negative for the world at large.


  • Feb 2020 + AGDA Insight

    Asian Diplomacy: Harmony and Contrast

    Amb. Kishan Rana

    This Insight focuses on diplomatic practices in Asia. It includes the foreign ministries’ priorities in policy delivery, training, human resource management, and on a wider canvas, the balance between political, economic, and public diplomacy tasks. It stresses that Asian diplomatic practices – some unique, others shared – are understudied. It also argues that in some cases diplomatic systems are weak at emulation and mutual learning. The Insight identifies some common diplomatic traits, partly due to post-colonial experiences, and also due to Asian ways of doing things. In terms of forecasting future scenarios, the Insight draws a tentative conclusion: the gap is widening between the practitioners of ‘smart’ diplomacy and those that use more old school methods in diplomacy.


  • Nov 2019 + AGDA Insight

    Addressing Geo-Environmental Security Challenges in the Indian Ocean Region: Setting a Regional Agenda

    Dr David Brewster

    This Insight explores some of the key geo-environmental challenges faced by the region by using three case studies to explore the complex interactions between environmental and conventional security threats. With the United Arab Emirates heading the Indian Ocean Rim Association from November 2019 to 2021, the Insight discusses ways in which the UAE can play an important regional leadership role by establishing a regional agenda to address geo-environmental challenges.


  • Oct 2019 + AGDA Insight

    Why Indian Muslims Reject Extremist Doctrines

    Talmiz Ahmad

    This Insight discusses how and why Indian Muslims have refused to join the cohorts of trans-national extremism that have attracted thousands of youth from different Muslim countries and communities across the world over the last few years. It examines several possible reasons – doctrinal, cultural and political – to explain this aloofness from faith-based violence. It discusses the belief-systems and practices of ‘popular Islam’ in India, particularly the influence of Sufism and the insistence that matters of faith remain part of personal conviction rather than agitated in the public domain.


  • Sep 2019 + AGDA Insight

    Flag Follows Trade – China’s Security Imprint in the Belt and Road Initiative, Indian Ocean and Gulf

    Dr N. Janardhan and Dr Christopher Colley

    This Insight focuses on two interconnected issues: one, the already-evident traces of the BRI’s economic-political-security linkages; and two, how this security feature may or may not expand to fit into China’s wider defence policy, which includes a naval plan extending into the Indian Ocean, comprising the Gulf countries. While doing so, it also seeks to undercut the notion that the United States is a ‘diminishing’ security player in the Middle East and the Gulf. The Insight concludes that while it is important for the Gulf countries to strengthen security ties with the United States, it is equally important to explore alternative mechanisms, including collective security, that include a role not just for China, but for a host of other countries that have a stake in the region’s stability.


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    Gulf-Japan Ties, Beyond the Energy Sector Jul 2019 Dr Jun Saito and Dr N. Janardhan View More
    Jul 2019 + AGDA Insight

    Gulf-Japan Ties, Beyond the Energy Sector

    Dr Jun Saito and Dr N. Janardhan

    This Insight discusses how Japan’s efforts to revive its economy and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries’ economic diversification programmes could combine to boost their non-oil trade in the future. Apart from listing the sectors of collaboration, it also points out how their ties impact markets beyond the Gulf region. The Insight also stresses that since the safety of the energy and economic supply chain is important, even security and defence cooperation is now becoming part of the diversified relations.


  • Apr 2019 + Insight

    Gulf-Central Asia Relations: Potential for Energy and Infrastructure Cooperation

    Dr Luca Anceshi

    In this AGDA Insight, Dr Luca Anceschi, Centre for Central Asian and East European Studies, University of Glasgow, examines prospects that could enhance the intensity of economic ties between the countries and the Gulf and Central Asia. Raising a few questions about the potential for hydrocarbon cooperation in the future, it highlights nuclear and renewable energy as two key areas to further entrench the partnership. The Insight also focuses on the opportunities and potential hurdles associated with large-scale infrastructure development taking place under the umbrella of the Belt and Road Initiative, which is presented as a vehicle for increased cooperation.


  • Oct 2018 + AGDA Insight

    AGDA Insight explores space diplomacy in Asia

    Dr N. Janardhan

    Coinciding with the launch of the UAE’s first home-made satellite, KhalifaSat, Dr N. Janardhan, Senior Research Fellow, Gulf-Asia Programme, Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy, analyses how technology-based diplomacy is becoming an important tool to strengthen bilateral and multilateral relationships, particularly in Asia. It analyses how space diplomacy is being used as tools of prestige, foreign assistance, business, and governance of global commons, among others. Using the recent developments in Chinese, Indian, Japanese and South Korean space programmes, the author recommends that the UAE should consider investing directly and becoming a stakeholder in Asian space exploration programmes, hosting an Asian space forum, and even appointing a ‘space envoy’ to facilitate these efforts.

  • Jun 2018 + AGDA Insight

    New AGDA Insight explores GCC’s opportunities and challenges in Belt and Road Initiative

    Dr Jin Liangxiang and Dr N. Janardhan

    In this AGDA Insight, Dr Jin Liangxiang and Dr N. Janardhan analyse the scope for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries’ involvement in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). They link this to at least two factors: one, the region’s financial liquidity; and two, the Gulf’s infrastructure capabilities.

  • Feb 2018 +

    New AGDA Insight explores ‘strategic’ opportunities in UAE-India relations

    Talmiz Ahmad

    In this AGDA Insight, Indian former ambassador to the UAE, Talmiz Ahmad, analyses how UAE-India relations have expanded beyond the traditional areas of energy, trade and community. Instead, the author says, the countries are tapping new opportunities in investments, infrastructure development, cooperation in space, nuclear and renewable energy technology, arid agriculture, and, above all, enhanced defence and security links. The author points out that the two countries have framed these new relations in a ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement’ that was signed in New Delhi in January 2017. Amb. Ahmad examines three specific areas of collaboration envisaged in the agreement: food security; enhanced maritime security cooperation in the Indian Ocean; and the promotion of regional stability.

  • Feb 2018 +

    AGDA launches Gulf-Asia Research Programme, explores ‘Look East’ policy

    Dr N. Janardhan

    The Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy launched its Gulf-Asia Research Programme with the publication of a new AGDA Working Paper titled “Gulf’s Pivot to Asia: Contextualizing ‘Look East’ Policy”. The author, Dr N. Janardhan, Senior Research Fellow, explores and highlights areas of Gulf-Asia economic complementarity, both in the oil and non-oil sectors, including trade and cross investments. Dr Janardhan discusses a few equally-important non-economic factors that may have contributed to intensifying Gulf-Asia ties. He also points out the potential areas of future cooperation in an era driven by economic diversification in the Gulf. He concludes by arguing that a robust Gulf-Asia relationship should find new ‘strategic’ political and security avenues to intensify collaboration in the future.