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The Gulf Research Unit (completed)

Will the current regimes in the Gulf countries remain stable in the coming years? Will the tide turn towards more democratic regimes, or will authoritarian leaders tighten their grip? Will these resource-rich countries remain important energy suppliers, or will a financial restructuring take place? These are questions the Gulf Research Unit will look into over the next three years.

The Gulf Research Unit it says with letters. And something like a drop. Logo.

About the project

The Gulf Research Unit (GRU) is an interdisciplinary project based at the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages (IKOS) at the University of Oslo. GRU consists of 11 sub-projects, organized in the following three research clusters:

  • Dynamics of Political Change
    The research cluster on "dynamics of political change" will challenge the static view of politics that prevails in rentier state theory, and seek to identify actual and potential factors for political change in the Gulf region.
  • Understanding the "Gulf Model (s)"
    This cluster will aim to achieve a comprehensive grasp of how the Gulf economies function. What is the interrelationship between natural resources, decision-making institutions, social class, distribution and development?
  • The Oil-Belt Micro-Region
    The research cluster on the oil-belt "micro-region" from South-western Iran to the Eastern province in Saudi Arabia will have geopolitics in a very literal sense as the point of departure.

As one of the project's main aims is to advance the field of Gulf studies, recruitment is an essential part of our work. Thus, the project announces two sholarships for master students every year. The sholarships are aimed at students who write within the project’s field of study; one for an economics student and one to a student of other relevant social sciences and humanities. Moreover, in order to convey our results, the project holds open mini seminars once a month, as well as an annual conference. In addition, we run our own blog, with weekly updates and analysis of the situation in the area.


The project aims to build an interdisciplinary research unit with expertise on the Gulf region, with close contacts to the similar institutions abroad. Moreover, GRU aims at advancing the understanding of political, social, legal and economic aspects of development in the resource-rich Gulf countries. Key countries for the project includes Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.


The project spans five years and is funded through the Norwegian Research Council’s PETROSAM program.


The project has participants from various departments and institutions, such as the Department of Economics at the University of Oslo, SSB, NHH, Fafo and NUPI.

Read the full project description here.

Published May 6, 2010 9:14 AM - Last modified Apr. 6, 2020 12:27 PM


Project manager:
Bjørn Olav Utvik
+47-22856808, +47-97133256

Project coordinator:
Kai E. Kverme