chapter
14 Pages

Introduction

ByJEAN-FRANÇOIS SEZNEC

The Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University (CCAS) organizes yearly symposia on issues of importance to the Arab world. In 2007 and 2008, it became obvious to many observers of the Arab-Persian Gulf that major changes were taking place in the GCC countries. Indeed, it seemed that the region was growing at a pace unseen elsewhere in modern days. The growth of Dubai, the boom in high technology industrial plants in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and the regional explosion of such enterprises as housing, roads, airports, and harbors were nothing short of mindboggling. Industry was taking hold of the region via massive investments by both states and private individuals, or even more often by joint investments between the private sector and the states. Not reflected in the mere listing of investments and products such as oil, gas, chemicals, metals, and cement are the numerous societal changes, such as labor migration, educational reforms, declining natality, and shifting gender roles, that this growth has triggered.