Qatar-based research has played a prominent role in the global development of the field of Gulf and Arabian Peninsula Studies, finds an article published by scholars at Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q), a Qatar Foundation partner and Qatar National Library (QNL).
The article appears in the 10th anniversary edition of the top journal in the field, the Journal of Arabian Studies. It offers the first-ever comprehensive survey of the global development of this field, charting its scholarly societies, centres, projects, publications, conference series, and graduate programmes since the mid-19th century. The authors show that the field of Gulf studies has experienced a meteoric rise, especially in the last decade.
Dr Gerd Nonneman, professor and former dean of GU-Q, and Dr James Onley, director of Historical Research and Partnerships at QNL, co-authored the article, and serve as editors of this double-blind, peer-reviewed international scholarly journal. It is indexed by the Scopus abstract and citation database, and accepts article submissions on the Arabian Peninsula, its surrounding waters, and their connections with the western Indian Ocean from West India to East Africa.
The findings show that GU-Q and QNL –– as well as other institutions within Qatar–– played significant roles in the recent development of the field, and in increasing the amount of research on Qatar. Qatar’s investment in preserving its history and providing resources for research began with the Amiri Diwan’s Documents and Research Department in 1974 and the National Museum in 1975, followed by other historical and cultural centres, but Qatar’s first academic research centre in the field was established in 2007 by GU-Q. The university’s Centre for International and Regional Studies quickly became “the leading social science hub in the region for the study of the modern Gulf.” Other research centres in Qatar were subsequently established.
QNL's contribution through the Qatar Digital Library (QDL), has been to place over two million pages of historical material on the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula online for the world to access, including the British Library’s important Gulf collection. This has resulted in a major increase in the number of scholarly publications in the humanities and social sciences focused on the region, Qatar in particular. Dr Onley explained, “ QDL is changing the way scholars and students research the history of the Gulf region. It is making the past more accessible than ever, leading to a sharp increase in the number of exciting new historical studies on the Gulf –– the least-studied region in the Middle East.”
Dr Nonneman notes that the history of the Journal of Arabian Studies began at the University of Cambridge in 1974 as Arabian Studies and then moved to the University of Exeter as New Arabian Studies in 1994, where it was published by the Centre for Gulf Studies until 2004. “When James and I re-launched the journal at Exeter in 2011, just before I moved to Doha, we expanded the scope beyond the humanities to contemporary topics and social science research. I am particularly pleased at the increasing number of authors from Qatar and the Gulf itself whose research we have been able to publish.”
The article summarises other major developments in the field, including the establishment of the Gulf Studies Programme and Centre at Qatar University, with the first MA and PhD in Gulf studies in the Mena region; as well as several major research projects on the history of Qatar undertaken by Msheireb Museums, UCL-Qatar, and the Qatar National Library, all with the support of Qatar Foundation.