AJ Forum in the News

16 April 2019: Forum launches this weekend with 30 speakers, hundreds of participants from around the world  

Al Jazeera Centre for Studies convened a press conference at its headquarters in Doha April 16,  2019 to highlight the topics and panels of the upcoming  13th Al Jazeera Forum. This year’s focus is on the theme “The Gulf: From Crisis to Decline of Strategic Influence.”

The Forum’s organisers expect the participation of 30 speakers, including analysts, academicians, opinion makers, and politicians from several geographies. Nearly 500 guests from inside and outside Qatar are expected to attend the annual event at Sheraton Grand Doha Resort and Convention Hotel on Saturday and Sunday, 27th and 28th of April 2019.

During the press conference, AJCS Director Dr. Mohammed Mukhtar Al Khalil explained this year’s forum addresses several inter-related political, strategic and media issues. One of them is the stalemate relations between the GCC states and the open-ended crisis that broke out between some of them, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Bahrain, and Qatar in June 2017. He pointed the speakers will present their observations and analyses of these relations amidst the decline of the strategic significance of Arab Gulf countries, particularly Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Kingdom has drifted from the presumed status of ‘guarantor of security and stability’ for the GCC to a direct stakeholder in a conflict that impacted the regional Gulf alliance and the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in his country’s consulate in Istanbul last year. Riyadh remains perplexed by the negative twist in its reputation and credibility in the eye of the world public opinion.

Al Khalil also indicated that the forum will shed light on US policy towards the Middle East and its implications for the Palestinian cause, especially with the upcoming announcement of the so-called “Deal of the Century” coinciding with the accelerating normalisation of certain Gulf countries with Israel.

One of the Forum panels will address, as Al Khalil pointed out, the impact of the recent round of US sanctions against Iran and their potential effect on Iran’s military capabilities and regional influence.

AJCS director told reporters one of the Forum panels will probe into the role of the media in exposing political crime, as well as the mobilization of global public opinion against the misdeeds of certain politicians and diplomats. The coverage of Khashoggi’s murder in October 2018 in world media has been a clear-cut case of standing up to power and exposing unethical acts of political assassination.

The 13th Al Jazeera Forum will conclude with a look into of the future of the Gulf and the Middle East. This year, more indicators have solidified the emergence of new balances of power and regional alliances alongside the strategic decline of the GCC, arms race, and the continuous outbreaks of conflict that hinder the security and stability of the region and exhaust its resources.

Since 2004, Al Jazeera Forum has been the most prominent annual event organized by Al Jazeera Media Network and sub-entities. It has provided a platform for researchers, opinion makers and politicians, from different philological and political backgrounds, to gather in a balanced and respectful setting to exchange views on regional and international issues of interest. The Forum receives international attention from the media, think tanks, NGOs, and individuals interested in Middle East affairs.


17 March 2019: Al Jazeera’s 2019 Forum to Focus on the Decline of Gulf States

The 13th annual Al Jazeera Forum will be held in Doha, Qatar, from 27-28 April 2019, under the theme, “The Gulf: From Crisis to Decline of Strategic Influence.”

Organised by Al Jazeera Centre for Studies, the forum will host decision-makers, researchers and thought leaders from around the world. This year’s sessions will focus on the major political, strategic and media-related issues facing the Gulf region. Chief among those challenges is the relationship between the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the damage done to this organisation since the beginning of the diplomatic rift between some GCC members and Qatar in June 2017.

The forum’s prestigious panel speakers will delve into the current state of affairs in the Gulf and the general decline of influence enjoyed by Gulf states, especially Saudi Arabia. In addition, the forum will explore how Saudi Arabia, which traditionally played the role of a guarantor of stability and security in the region, shifted in recent years to become a contributor to – and active player in – the region’s divisions. This shift has deepened the rifts among Gulf countries and changed the region’s alliances.

Compounding the disarray is the damage done to Saudi Arabia’s reputation after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in his country’s consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

The forum will take a deep look at U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East, especially the Palestinian issue, at a time when U.S. officials have been threatening to release their plans for the region (the so-called Deal of the Century) and several Gulf countries scurry to normalise their relations with Israel.

Panelists will also discuss Washington’s re-imposition of economic sanctions on Iran and possible effects on Tehran’s military and regional influence.

The functions of a vibrant media in exposing political crimes will be a focus of one of the sessions, with an emphasis on the role the media played after the assassination of Khashoggi.

The two-day event will conclude with a panel on the future of the Gulf and the Middle East in light of fluctuating balances of power, shifting alliances, the strategic decline of the GCC, a regional arms race, and the continuous rise of active conflicts that threaten the stability and safety of the region and weigh heavily on its resources.

Since 2004, the Al Jazeera Forum has been the most prestigious annual event organised by Al Jazeera Media Network, welcoming journalists, think tank researchers and Middle East experts from the region and worldwide. It provides an opportunity for researchers, media professionals and politicians from across the political spectrum to come together and exchange their thoughts on current affairs in a balanced, respectful setting.