A $US500,000 research project led by a UK university is examining how the increase in Gulf investments in port infrastructures in the Horn of Africa has affected citizens and politics in the region.
Backed by funding from the influential grant-making foundation, the Carnegie Corporation New York, researchers led by the University of Birmingham will explore the relationship between the Middle East and East Africa – focussing on port infrastructures and transport corridors.
The two-year study will be led by the University of Birmingham with research being carried out in the United Arab Emirates as well as three East African cities: Djibouti, Bossaso (Somalia), and Berbera (Somaliland). The research will explore global power shifts on citizens and politics, from heavily contested infrastructure investments.
Infrastructure investment symbolises modernity and increases connectivity between nations. The Horn of Africa's geo-strategic significance has led to heavy investment in its infrastructure, turning the region into a space for competition among Gulf States and other powers such as the USA, China and Turkey.
Project leader Dr May Darwich, from the Birmingham University's Department of Political Science and International Studies, said: 'This project seeks to further knowledge and understanding of how infrastructural investments across regions shape political dynamics at regional, national, local and individual levels.
'The project also examines how conflicts and rivalries in the Middle East – particularly in the Arabian and Persian Gulf – can be transmitted to a neighbouring region, such as the Horn of Africa, thereby affecting everyday lives of East African citizens.'
Researchers will produce several academic publications and policy reports, and develop a website providing a range of resources on port infrastructures in the Horn of Africa, and relations in the Arabian/Persian Gulf.