Is there a sustainable future for the Gulf countries?


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The continuing education initiative «Arab and Muslim worlds: language, culture and society» invites you to a round table focused on sustainability in the Gulf countries. This round table concludes the module “Culture and society: the rich Gulf countries” and will be followed by a reception featuring culinary specialties from the region.

Seizing on the upcoming world football cup in Qatar, the continuing education program “Arab and Muslim worlds: language, culture and society” offered ten lectures this Spring semester exploring the Gulf countries. Of all the issues raised during these conferences, the question of a sustainable future for the Gulf is of particular interest. It shows us that the future, although uncertain by definition, is already being built in the choices and decisions made today.

Moreover, the terms “Gulf country” and “sustainability” will be discussed, as they appear to be contradictory in at least two ways. First, the development of the Gulf countries depends considerably on income linked to fossil resources.  Qatar’s CO2 emissions (metric tons per inhabitant) are the highest in the world.1 However, use of these resources is limited and their sustainability raises a number of questions. Namely, how can the future be envisioned when these resources will at some point be exhausted? Second, financial gains from using these resources has led to high standards of living. Will it be possible to maintain such levels in the future? Finally, sustainability is a collective construction, defined and negotiated in international arenas. What role do the Gulf countries play in this?

We will have the pleasure of debating and discussing these questions with a panel of researchers working on the themes of sustainability, energy and economic transitions in the Gulf countries. Specifically, the following aspects will be taken up:

  • Sustainability: What do the Sustainable Development Goals mean in the context of the Gulf region?
  • Economic transition: The race towards carbon neutrality has been launched. What are the new initiatives for a circular, green economy?
  • Energy transition: How can fossil energy be abandoned?
  • Social transition: What societal changes are needed to enter into sustainability?


  • 6 :45p.m.: Welcome and introduction, Prof. Silvia Naef - Professor of the Arabic Unit, Director of Arabic Continuing Education, University of Geneva
  • 6:50 p.m.: Round table with the speakers, moderated by Dr. Brahim Oumansour, followed by an exchange with the public
  • 8:00 p.m.: Closing reception with drinks and appetizers 

The round table will be preceded by the conference "Climate change, energy transitions and sustainability in the Gulf countries" with Noura Mansouri and Manal Shebabi. Uni Les Philosophes - room 211, 17h30-18h30. Details and registration: mam(at)




Dr Mohammed Abdelraouf

Dr Mohammed Abdelraouf

Dr Mohammed Abdelraouf is the Sustainability Research Program Manager of the Gulf Research Center. He holds a Ph. D. in Environmental Economics from Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt and has done an advanced training program in Environmental Economics at the University of Augsburg, Germany. Dr Raouf was the lead author for UNEP GEO-5 and 6 Reports, West Asia chapter on Environmental Governance section. He is a part-time lecturer of Environmental Economics at various universities in the MENA region. Dr Raouf writes articles and commentaries in Arabic, English and French in various media outlets in the MENA region and globally. He published various policy papers on different environmental issues in MENA Region and authored five books. His recent book, co-edited with Dr Elie Azar, titled “Sustainability in the Gulf: Challenges and Opportunities”, published by Rutledge in 2018.

Dr Vera Lalchevska

Dr Vera Lalchevska

Dr Vera Lalchevska is a politicologue and currently acts Senior Researcher at the Gulf Research Center Foundation in Geneva, where she is also in charge of strategic partnerships. She holds a Master’s degree in International Development Policy from Duke University and a PhD in Development Studies from Geneva’s Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. Her focus is on the human rights angle of sustainable development – namely, SDG numbers 16, 10, 11, 8, 5, 4, and 3. Previously Deputy National Coordinator for the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie in her country’s government, she was also a long-time UN Press Officer, covering, inter alia, the Human Rights Council, the Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.  She has also advised the UN Human Rights Office on integrating the human rights mechanisms within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals system. In her twenty-year career, Dr Lalchevska has co-founded several non-governmental organisations promoting human rights and development and has worked for a handful of think tanks in Washington DC and Geneva, as well as several UN bodies in the field and in headquarters.

Dr Noura Mansouri

Dr Noura Mansouri is a Research Fellow at KAPSARC, a Research Affiliate at MIT, and an Expert at WEC. She served as the (Lead) Co-chair of T20 Task Force 2 on Climate Change and Environment / Sustainable Energy during both the Saudi and Italian G20 presidencies. Dr Mansouri accumulates over 16 years of research and professional experience. Including working for the Center for Global Energy Studies (London), and the French nuclear company AREVA. She earned her MBA and PhD degrees in sustainability and energy transitions from the University of London. She is the author of ‘Greening the Black Gold: Saudi Arabia’s Quest for Clean Energy’. Dr Mansouri completed a post-doctoral research fellowship at MIT. She served as a member of the Zayed Sustainability Prize Review Committee for 2018 and the Selection Committee for 2019-2022 and received the 2015 Women Excellence Leadership Award. She has many publications on climate change and sustainable development.

Dr Manal Shehabi

Dr Manal Shehabi

Dr Manal Shehabi is an applied economist with recognised expertise in energy, economics, and resource sustainability in resource exporters, focusing on the Middle East. She is an Academic Visitor at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University, and Founding Director of SHEER Research & Advisory.  She is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies and a Research Associate of the Economic Research Forum.  She publishes in high-impact journals, books, and policy reports. Her research offers important contributions to understanding and modelling energy and economic sustainability and policy alternative in Gulf hydrocarbon economies following the energy transition and hydrocarbon price volatility.  This research examines areas of hydrogen and decarbonisation, economic diversification, subsidy reform, expatriate labour, oligopoly rents and policy alternatives.  The impacts of her research on policy include constructing an economic model for policymaking in Kuwait, reviewing Kuwait’s national hydrogen strategy, conducting capacity building for policymakers, and serving as an expert with the UNFCCC.  She contributed to various international policy reports, including in the capacity as lead co-author of policy briefs to the 2021 T7 Germany (of the G7) and the 2021 T20 Italy (of the G20); co-author of a report to the UNFCCC on the impacts of response measures in developing countries, presented at COP 26; co-author of Kuwait Energy Outlook 2020; and Contributing Author to the IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate.  A regular speaker at international seminars and conferences, she has been interviewed and cited in major international media outlets (such as Time Magazine, Bloomberg, Aljazeera, Al-Arabiya, Sky News Arabia, ABC radio, and the BBC). She has experience advising policymakers and multinational firms in various industries, mainly energy and mining, including Fortune 500 companies. A polyglot, her language skills include French, Spanish, Arabic, and Mandarin Chinese.


[1] Source : World Bank