The Gulf States and Iran

Muslims in a Global Context
Friday, April 5, 2013 to Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Gulf States and Iran

This resource is part of a series organized by regions around the world based on their role on the world stage, their importance within the Muslim world, and the critical influence they play in the global community. The material seeks to illuminate the various perspectives of the Muslim Community around the world. Drawing upon the expertise and research of participating faculty from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh and our partners at institutions around the world, the mini course series seeks to have students gain understanding of the religious, culture, economics and political influences of Muslims in a global context.

Course Learning Outcomes:
At the end of the course, students will gain an understanding of history, governance, economics, law, gender education and political dimensions of the peoples and regions focused for each resource.

Engaging the Muslim World - Cole, Juan, St, Martens Press (2009).

The Muslims in the Global Context series offers the opportunity to examine the factors and trends that are having major impacts on these diverse regions and their relationships with other world regions and countries. The mini-courses consist of presentations on topics of critical importance to the understanding of Muslims in diverse regions of the world. In addition to attendance at all lectures, students enrolled for credit are required to develop and write a research paper on one of the themes of the mini-course and answer reflection prompts during the course. One- credit is provided for the completion of each mini-course.

Sponsored by: University of Pittsburgh: Global Studies Center Carnegie Mellon University: Office of the Provost and Division of Student Affairs

Unity within Diversity or Diversity within Unity? & Islam as a Factor of Integration or Disunity?

Lansiné Kaba, Visiting Professor of History, Carnegie Mellon University at Qatar

  • UNITY WITHIN DIVERSITY OF DIVERSITY WITHIN UNITY? Prompt: Did the prophet and his companions deal with the rights of the minorities in Medina?  How?
  • ISLAM AS A FACTOR OF INTEGRATION OR DISUNITY?  Prompt: In political terms, how do you describe the contemporary Arab Gulf States?


Cites of the Gulf: Old and New

Rami el Samahy, Assistant Teaching Professor of Architecture, Carnegie Mellon University

Prompt: In what ways are cities in the Gulf similar and in what ways are they distinct?

PowerPoint Presentation:

  • Iran - Cities of the Gulf Old and New

Part 1

Part 2

Higher Education in GCC Countries: Access and Innovation & Women in the Arab Countries of the Gulf Region: the Ordinary and Extraordinary

Marina Tolmacheva, Professor of History, Washington State University


  • HIGHER EDUCATION THE GCC COUNTRIES: ACCESS AND INNOVATIONPrompt: Higher education in GCC countries has taken off. The future looks bright for local students, and many developed countries are interested in participating. Identify some current trends in higher education in the region and give examples of what appears to be the right model or course of action for the host countries. What do you think the new universities still need in order to achieve genuine success in producing not only knowledgeable students but educated citizens?
  • WOMEN IN THE ARAB COUNTRIES OF THE GULF REGION: THE ORDINARY AND EXTRAORDINARYPrompt: Women Citizens of the GCC countries have achieved more than the American public often thinks. What have been the major areas and means of their advancement so far? What do you think will be needed in the near future to increase their success? 

PowerPoint Presentations:

Reccomended Readings:


Rethinking Iran: Foreign Policy, Domestic Policies, Economic Conditions, and Impact on Global Energy Balance

Flynt Leverett, Senior Fellow, New America Foundation; Professor, Pennsylvania State University School of International Affairs

Prompt: "Is the Islamic Republic of Iran a 'threat'--to the United States, to Israel, or to the free flow of Persian Gulf oil supplies to international energy markets?  If so, how?  If not, what does that say about U.S. policy toward the Islamic Republic?"

Reccomended Readings:


Law, Policy and Islamic Finance in Middle Eastern Jurisdictions: Interaction

Michael J.T. McMillen, Partner of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP

Prompt: Given the global dominance of interest-based banking financial and economic philosophies and related mechanisms, do you accept the proposition that a degree of “permissible variance” or “permissible impurity” from strict interpretations of the Sharīʿah, and associated “cleansing” or “purification” mechanisms, should be accepted at the current stage of development of the Islamic finance, investment and banking industries? Why or why not?

What mechanisms would you recommend for the development of these industries in light of your previous answers?

PowerPoint Presentation:

Suggested Readings: 

The Second Generation Gulf Countries: Sixty Years of Oil

Maggie Nassif, PhD in Post-Colonial Theory, Cairo University; Masters in Comparative Literature, The American University in Cairo

Prompt: Do the commonly used tools of returns on investments, full employment and self sustainability apply to GCC economies?

Other possible topics: Between excitement and skepticism over skyscrapers, museums, and ski slopes, how do you measure success in the Gulf?  What is really there beyond the real estate phenomenon in terms of potential and challenges?

PowerPoint Presentation:


Iran, the Persian Gulf and American Security

Ambassador Dennis Jett, Professor of International Affairs, School of International Affairs at Pennsylvania State University

Prompt: If Iran develops the capability to produce a nuclear weapon, what should the United States do? What actions by Iran should trigger a U.S. attack?

PowerPoint Presentation:

Reccomended Readings:


The effects of the Gulf States on the Arab Spring

Sami Hermez, UCIS Visiting Professor in Contemporary International Issues; PhD in Anthropology, Princeton University

Prompt: How have the Gulf monarchies been able to maintain control in the midst of the uprisings sweeping the region?

PowerPoint Presentation:

Reccomended Readings:

Additional Resources