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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

03 May 2023
Religious tolerance in the Arab Gulf states: Christian organizations, soft power, and the politics of sustaining the “family–state” beyond the rentier model

The states of the Arabian Gulf present a novel case for the examination of relations between authoritarian governance and Christian organizations. The economic clout of the Gulf states has been central to political stability and legitimacy but they are increasingly seeking to expand and consolidate the soft power and resilience through political and diplomatic initiatives. This article examines how the Christian organizations established in recent decades by large migrant communities are incorporated into this strategy and how they are responding. It argues that religious tolerance has formed a central discourse in governmental policies and narratives that construct the Gulf states as modern progressive nations, despite their unique political systems based mainly on constitutional monarchies with limited political participation. This constructs local Christian communities as a source of soft power, despite their position as a religious minority.

Read the article on the Cambridge University Press website.