Power play: The United Arab Emirates’ new approach to geopolitics

Content Type
Journal Article
Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
Issue Number
Publication Date
The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
Power – be it tangible, intangible, natural, military, or economic – shapes the capacities of the state and its role within the international system. The Middle East is no exception to this realist reading of international affairs. The Arab Spring, the Syrian conflict, the war in Yemen and the Iranian nuclear deal have all created a battleground, often quite literally, for state power interests to compete with one another. How are these power configurations linked to identity? The United States sees itself as a stronghold of liberal democracy, Japan as the quintessential trading nation, and Switzerland is comfortably ensconced in its 200-year-old neutralism. This “sense of self,” or who states are, shapes and defines what they do. Power and identity routinely mould and inform each other. For a country like the United Arab Emirates, described by many analysts as a middle, regional, or rising power, these questions hold particular relevance as the UAE reshapes its position in the world.
Foreign Policy, Power Politics, Soft Power, Identities, State
Political Geography
Middle East, United Arab Emirates, Gulf Nations