Sport – soft power trend in Gulf foreign and domestic policy
CARPO Research Forum: Road to World Cup 2022

The upcoming CARPO research forum on 30 November 2021 aims to shed more light on the role sport plays in the Gulf region, highlighting obstacles and grievances, while also examining opportunities for future social and political development

The Gulf region is rife with examples of how leaderships strategically engage in global sports. For instance, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia organise sports mega-events such as the Formula One races and boxing matches.

Additionally, Gulf state organisations are heavily involved in sport business through large-scale investments in the French football club Paris St. Germain by Qatar or British football clubs such as Manchester City and Newcastle United by the UAE and Saudi Arabia respectively.

The FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar is the most recent climax in a series of events and initiatives related to sport politics in which the Gulf Arab region has emerged as an international hub.

The many implications of sport politics

Against this backdrop, CARPO’s second virtual Research Forum (CRF) looks at the multi-layered impact of sport politics in the Gulf region. Using a multidimensional perspective, we consider not only outward-oriented issues such as sportswashing or -branding, but also its inward-oriented implications on state-society relations in times of socio-economic transformation.

This includes the political trend to use sport and sport events as a soft power measure and foreign policy instrument of development co-operation, for instance. On the societal level, guiding themes and questions include sport’s impact on national identifications, culture, women empowerment, lifestyle and activism among others.


  • Danyel Reiche, Visiting Associate Professor, Georgetown University Qatar
  • Kristin Smith Diwan, Senior Resident Scholar, The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington
  • Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, Fellow for the Middle East, Rice University's Baker Institute
  • Ahmed Al Omran, journalist and political analyst
  • Kamilla Swart-Arries, Associate Professor, College of Science and Engineering, Hamad Bin Khalifa University


For further details on the programme, please take a look at the CARPO website. The event will take place via Zoom. You can register here.

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