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 conflicts. This shift has deepened the divisions 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 end 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.