GIGA Institute for Middle East Studies

The GIGA Institute for Middle East Studies is one of the leading institutes for Middle East research in Germany and Europe. Scholars examine topics such as state and regime structures, energy security, violent conflicts, forced migration, Islamist movements, and the reshaping of the regional order.


  • The GIGA Institute for Middle East Studies is a leading institute in Germany and Europe for the study of political, economic, and social developments in the Middle East and North Africa. Scholars of GIGA’s Middle East Institute examine topics such as state and regime structures, energy security, violent conflicts, forced migration, Islamist movements, and the reshaping of the regional order. The Institute has developed context‐sensitive approaches based in Comparative Politics, Political Economy, and International Relations for assessing the region’s societies. The growing interaction between the MENA and its neighbouring regions such as the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, and South Asia is being investigated in research projects that are informed by the GIGA’s signature approach of Comparative Area Studies. Strong expertise in political hotspots of the area and their development potential (e.g. Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, and Yemen) makes the GIGA Institute for Middle East Studies a key resource for decision makers and leading media. IMES researchers maintain deep ties in the region and collaborate closely with local partners. The Institute operates the GIGA Research Platform Middle East in Beirut and Tunis and is a core partner in the Merian Centre for Advanced Studies in the Maghreb at Tunis University. The GIGA Institute for Middle East Studies engages prominently in associational life. It is a member of the Euro-Mediterranean Study Commission (EuroMeSCo) and the advisory council of the World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies. GIGA Institute for Middle East Studies researchers are also active members of the German Middle East Studies Association for Contemporary Research and Documentation (DAVO).

    Prof. Dr. Eckart Woertz

    Director of the GIGA Institute for Middle East Studies

    T. +49 (0)40 - 428 25-504eckart.woertz@giga-hamburg.de

    GIGA Talk | 26/01/2022

    Has America Come Back? President Biden’s Foreign Policy towards the Global South

    With the election of President Joe Biden, the world hoped for the United States’ return to diplomacy, multilateralism, and to a values-based foreign policy. In this GIGA Forum, experts examine US foreign policy in the first year of the Biden administration vis-à-vis Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East.

    GIGA Talk | 11/01/2022

    Labour Migration in the Gulf – Building Wealth on Precarity

    Migrant workers live in precarious conditions in the Persian Gulf region. Migration regulations prevent naturalisation; for many, however, the region is a second home. This GIGA Talk offers analysis of the structural problems in the regional labour market and a discussion of the consequences for international cooperation.

    GIGA Focus Middle East | 7/2021

    Raisi’s Foreign Policy: Pragmatic Revolutionism and the Iranian Pivot to Asia

    This GIGA Focus sheds light on the new Iranian conservative president Sayyid Ebrahim Raisi, and his doctrine of “pragmatic revolutionism.” The author analyses what the Iranian Asia-oriented foreign policy entails geopolitically and geoeconomically, and suggests how the multilateralist tendencies can be used by policymakers.

    GIGA Focus Middle East | 6/2021

    Ageing, Temporary Migrants: Life beyond Retirement in Dubai

    The United Arab Emirates (UAE), while exhibiting one of the highest shares of migrant workers in its national work force globally, has very restrictive immigration policies. In this GIGA Focus, the Author analyses transnational inequalities premised on citizenship and social security in the Global South.

    Dr. İdil Akıncı

    Visiting Fellow

    In Brief | 12/11/2021

    Call for Papers: International Conference "Iraq Twenty Years After the US Invasion: Memory Politics, Governance and Protests"

    We invite paper abstracts for an international conference that sheds new light on the main factors shaping Iraqi politics and society since the US invasion of 2003. Please send your application until 20 January 2022. The event will take place in Hamburg, 29–31 March 2023.

    Contribution | 01/2022

    China-GCC Relations in 2022

    GIGA Focus Middle East | 7/2021

    Raisi’s Foreign Policy: Pragmatic Revolutionism and the Iranian Pivot to Asia

    This GIGA Focus sheds light on the new Iranian conservative president Sayyid Ebrahim Raisi, and his doctrine of “pragmatic revolutionism.” The author analyses what the Iranian Asia-oriented foreign policy entails geopolitically and geoeconomically, and suggests how the multilateralist tendencies can be used by policymakers.

    Research Project | 15/01/2022 - 14/12/2024

    COVID-19 and Executive Personalization in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America and the MENA Region

    In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, political leaders reacted by containment measures that, next to combating the spread of the pandemic, also presented a window of opportunity to bolster executives’ personal grasp on power. Personalization of power has been particularly worrying in the Global South where constraints on the chief executives were often already weak prior to the pandemic. This project assesses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the personalization of executive power in 36 countries of the Global South.
    DFG, 2021-2024

    Research Project | 01/01/2022 - 31/12/2024

    Explaining Middle-Power Engagement in External Regions: A Comparison of Iranian, Saudi, and Turkish Sub-Saharan Africa Policies

    By means of a comparative historical analysis of Iranian, Saudi-Arabian, and Turkish engagement in Africa following the continent’s decolonization processes and running up until 2020, this project seeks to make sense of middle-power engagement in external regions. First, the project will identify the periods of shifting IST engagement in Africa. Second, it will analyze the reasons why, and the conditions under which, IST have stepped up—or reduced—their foreign policy efforts in Africa. Third, it will develop mid-range generalizations on middle-power engagement in external regions.
    DFG, 2022-2024

    Dr. Jens Heibach

    Research Fellow

    Research Project | 01/06/2021 - 30/11/2021

    A Different Kind of Refugee: A Case Study of the Emirates’ Syrian Migrants Seeking Citizenship in Europe

    In the absence of access to citizenship rights and permanent residencies in the Gulf States, Syrian migrants of the Gulf are increasingly seeking alternative permanencies elsewhere. Through an ethnography in Berlin and Hamburg, this project aims to explore how Syrians, born and raised in the UAE, navigate the ‘asylum seeking route’ to Western Europe, taking into consideration the situation in Syria and its effects upon their relationship to citizenship and future plans, within the Gulf and Europe. AvH, 2021

    Dr. İdil Akıncı

    Visiting Fellow

    Research Project | 01/05/2021 - 31/12/2025

    SAGE-Centre: Sustainable Adaptation to Global Change in the Middle East

    In dealing with climate change, scientific cooperation between emerging countries and industrialised nations is of particular importance. The GIGA is part of the Climate and Environment Centre SAGE – one of four global centres on the topic, funded by the German Academic Exchange Service and the Federal Foreign Office. SAGE will contribute to empowering Middle Eastern societies to create a science-based, adaptive and sustainable management of natural resources in a changing world.
    DAAD, 2021-2025

    Prof. Dr. Eckart Woertz

    Director of the GIGA Institute for Middle East Studies

    Research Project | 01/04/2021 - 31/03/2024

    World Order Narratives of the Global South

    The decades since the late twentieth century are marked by the end of the bipolar world order and the rise of countries of the Global South. Most explanations focus on political and economic power shifts and do not pay much attention to ideas of order, especially those prevalent in the Global South. To provide a more inclusive perspective, this project researches world order narratives in Latin America, Africa, Middle East and Asia. It is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of its Area Studies strategy.
    BMBF, 2021-2024

    Research Project | 01/03/2021 - 31/08/2022

    COVID-19 and the Dynamics of (Post-)War Violence: Lessons from Colombia and Syria

    What are the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the dynamics of violence during and after civil wars? The project analyses the pandemic-related reconfiguration of social and political orders in a comparative study of Syria and Colombia at subnational levels. In this way, it will provide new knowledge on violence dynamics in two of the most complex conflicts today and be able to suggest crucial lessons for similar (post-)war contexts in other parts of the world.
    Volkswagen Foundation, 2021-2022

    Research Project | 01/10/2020 - 31/10/2021

    Policy Tracker on Gender-Based Violence

    The policy tracker aims to provide context, insight and analysis into governmental response to issues of gender based violence during the coronavirus pandemic. We will collect data globally, and engage in more detailed case studies of a smaller set of countries. Our goal is to create a publicly available knowledge exchange platform for policy-makers, scholars and advocates.
    BMZ, GIGA, 2020-2021

    Prof. Dr. Merike Blofield

    Director of the GIGA Institute for Latin American Studies

    Asma Khalifa

    Doctoral Researcher / Representative of Doctoral Researchers

    Research Project | 01/09/2020 - 31/08/2022

    Syria’s “Post-war” Landscape

    The architecture of “post-conflict” Syria is intrinsically linked to war dynamics, making it far from a tabula rasa but replete with a range of competing forms of authority. This project investigates the changing nature of the Syrian state and its interactions with non-state actors such as militia leaders, economic elites, tribal leaders, international organisations and investors. It focuses on three topics: local security providers and governance; legal identity; housing, land and property rights.
    Fritz Thyssen Foundation, 2020-2022

    Dr. Marika Sosnowski

    Research Fellow

    Team

    Hager Ali

    Doctoral Researcher

    Selman Almohamad

    Research Fellow

    Dr. André Bank

    Senior Research Fellow

    Dr. Sara Bazoobandi

    Research Fellow

    Dr. Khalil Dahbi

    Research Fellow

    Hayat Douhan

    Research Fellow

    Mirna El Masri

    Research Fellow

    Ardahan Özkan Gedikli

    Doctoral Researcher

    Dr. Jens Heibach

    Research Fellow

    Dastan Jasim

    Doctoral Researcher

    Dr. Maria Josua

    Research Fellow / Speaker Research Team

    Asma Khalifa

    Doctoral Researcher / Representative of Doctoral Researchers

    Markus A. Kirchschlager

    Doctoral Researcher

    Nils Lukacs

    Doctoral Researcher

    Dr. Alyssa Miller

    Research Fellow

    Diba Mirzaei

    Doctoral Researcher

    Dr. Thomas Richter

    Senior Research Fellow / Editor GIGA Focus Middle East

    Mona Saleh

    Doctoral Researcher

    Swantje Schirmer

    Doctoral Researcher

    Dr. Marika Sosnowski

    Research Fellow

    Dr. Hakkı Taş

    Research Fellow

    Prof. Dr. Eckart Woertz

    Director of the GIGA Institute for Middle East Studies




    Cooperations

    DAVO: German Middle East Studies Association for Contemporary Research and Documentation

    • DAVO is the leading association of Middle East scholars in Germany.

    • DAVO advocates a relevant, contemporary and interdisciplinary approach to Middle East scholarship.

    • Each year, DAVO holds an annual international convention, for which the IMES often organises panels.

    • The IMES assists in the publication of DAVO white papers.

    EuroMeSCo: Euro-Mediterranean Study Commission

    • Members of the EuroMeSCo network come from 33 of the member states of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM). EuroMeSCo unites the most salient research institutions working on relations between Europe and North Africa/the Middle East. Currently, 99 research institutions are integrated into EuroMeSCo.

    • EuroMeSCo’s research activities are oriented towards foreign policy and security policy and work to achieve the goals of the UfM.

    • Depending on the topic, the IMES participates in the development of EuroMeSCo’s annual research agenda.

    Cooperation Agreements

    Through the signing of cooperation agreements, the IMES has been able to expand its collaboration with leading research institutes and lay the groundwork for formal cooperations in research and knowledge transfer. Collaborations were agreed upon with the following institutions:

    • Lebanese American University, Beirut, Libanon (LAU)

    • Observatoire Tunisien de la Transition Démocratique, Tunis (OTTD)

    • Rabat Social Studies Institute, Rabat/Marokko (RSSI)

    Cooperation Partners

    Furthermore, in the context of specific research projects, the IMES works closely with other European, North African and Middle Eastern contracted partners, including:

    The IMES also provides a temporary home base to various visiting scholars.

    President

    Prof. Dr. Amrita Narlikar is President of the GIGA. Her research focuses on international negotiations, economic statecraft, and multilateralism. She has a special interest in India, Asia, and the BRICS.

    Office of the President

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