Capital and Counterrevolution

Framing the Arab Gulf States

Time and Location

Thursday, 2 June 2022, 6:30- 8:30 pm
Arbeiterkammer Vienna, TGA Hörsaal, Plößlgasse 13, 1040 Wien, 4th floor

Language: English

Registration is required:


Adam Hanieh

Professor of Political Economy and Global Development at the University of Exeter, UK

Safa Al Ahmad

freelance journalist and filmmaker, Saudi Arabia

Rabab El Mahdi

Associate Professor of Political Science at the American University Cairo, Egypt


Helmut Krieger, Univeristy of Vienna


Magda Seewald, VIDC Global Dialgoue

Curated by

Helmut Krieger, Universität Wien
Magda Seewald, VIDC Global Dialogue

© Murad Subay, Yemen

On the occasion of the Men's World Cup in Qatar at the end of this year, this event will take a look at the region and explore the question of what role countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), or Qatar play in the financial architecture of global capitalism. Where do they invest and why? Not only their economic power but also their political and military interventions in the regional uprisings and conflicts will be critically examined by our speakers. The brutal military intervention of Saudi Arabia and the UAE in Yemen and their responsibility for the humanitarian tragedy in the country will serve as a starting point for the overall questions of how these regimes use their economic power for their interventionist policies. How are capital and counterrevolution linked and what impact does this have for social movements in the region?

The revolts in the Arab world in 2011 also fundamentally challenged the power of countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Qatar. Their regional military interventions over the last decade have had a devastating effect on the protest movements struggling for inclusive democracy as well as economic justice. In particular, Saudi Arabia and the UAE try to impose a new regional structure of dependency that also resulted in a conflict between Saudi Arabia and the UAE on the one hand, and Qatar on the other.
However, the Arab Gulf states do not only play a leading role in counterrevolutionary activities to contain the revolts in the Arab region. With their revenues from oil and gas exports and regional as well as global investments, they are of essential importance for the financial architecture of global capitalism as well.


Adam Hanieh

is a Professor of Political Economy and Global Development at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies (IASI), University of Exeter, and holds a Joint Chair in Area Studies (Middle East) at IASI and IIAS, Tsinghua University, Beijing. Previously, Adam Hanieh taught at the Department of Development Studies at SOAS, University of London. Most recently, he published Money, Markets, and Monarchies: The Gulf Cooperation Council and the Political Economy of the Contemporary Middle East (Cambridge University Press, 2018). In 2019, he was awarded the British International Studies Association International Political Economy Group Book Prize and the Political Economy Book Prize of the Arab Studies Institute.

Rabab El Mahdi

is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the American University in Cairo (AUC). Her research focuses on comparative political economy and development with a focus on Latin America and the Middle East, as well as state-civil society relations, social movements, and resistance. She currently directs the Alternative Policy Solutions (APS) research project at AUC. She serves on the board of a number of civil society and professional organizations, including the Arab Political Science Network (APSN).

Safa Al Ahmad

is a freelance journalist and filmmaker. Her film "Saudi's Secret Uprising", released by the BBC in 2014, documented uprisings in eastern Saudi Arabia and drew international attention to protests that had previously received little public attention. In 2017 she received two Emmy Awards for her film “Yemen Under Siege”. Her latest film on Yemen in 2019 “Targeting Yemen” for FRONTLINE exposed the US continued and escalating involvement in the war on Yemen. Al Ahmad has received many awards for her work, including the International Press Freedom Award in 2015. Currently, Al Ahmad works on a feature documentary on the history of resistance in Saudi Arabia.

Helmut Krieger

is a social scientist, researcher, and senior lecturer at the Department of Development Studies at the University of Vienna and a consultant at VIDC’s Global Dialogue department. His research focuses on development policies in conflict and war zones, the antagonism between Israel and Palestine, Islamic movements in the Arab world, critical theories of the state, and postcolonial approaches.

Magda Seewald

is a political scientist and is head of VIDC's Global Dialogue Department. Her regional focus is the Arab region.  As a gender advisor, she oversees the area of gender sensitization in the refugee context and works on the implementation of the Women, Peace, and Security agenda. She coordinates the funding program for feminist diaspora initiatives launched by VIDC and the Women Helping Women association.