PIR Center Publishes a New Analytical Report on the Potential of the Persian Gulf States in High-Tech and the Prospects for Promoting Russia`s Interests

January 25, 2024

MOSCOW. JANUARY 25, 2024. PIR PRESS. «The report represents valuable research material that makes a significant contribution to the understanding of contemporary geopolitical and economic processes in the Middle East, and its conclusions can be useful for making strategic decisions in the realm of foreign policy and economics. Further research on the topic is recommended, taking into account socio-cultural and socio-economic aspects, as well as possible scenarios for the development of the high-tech sector in the Gulf countries. The report deserves highest assessment for its informative content, in-depth analysis and practical significance», — Mr. Andrey Yarnykh, independent expert, member of the Board of the Regional Public Center for Internet Technologies, member of PIR Center Advisory Board, reviewer of the report On Both Sides of the Persian Gulf: the Development of High-Tech Business in the Region and Russia’s Interests.

PIR Center published a new analytical report, dedicated to the potential of the Persian Gulf states in the field of high technology and the prospects for promoting Russia’s interests in this area. The report was prepared by Mr. Leonid Tsukanov, Consultant of the PIR Center`s Global & Regional Security: New Ideas for Russia Program under the scientific supervision of Dr. Vladimir Orlov, PIR Center Founding Director, Professor at MGIMO University.

Against the backdrop of ongoing global transformations, the role of the Middle East in the system of regional relations is gradually changing. There is a consistent trend towards developing competencies in emerging technologies and technological independence. The profile market of the Gulf states is expanding most dynamically, which is due to the desire of regional powers to take advantageous positions in the new high-tech world.

Russia, like other global players, shows increased interest in developing the region’s potential, seeing it as an opportunity to achieve its own long-term goals, including entering new markets. In this context, questions related to assessing the potential of regional powers in the high-tech industry (as well as evaluating potential points of intersection with Moscow’s interests and opportunities) become particularly relevant and significant.

The research focused on studying several categories within the high-tech group, to which Moscow pays increased attention:

  • cybersecurity and emerging technologies (cybersecurity, fintech industry, robotics, cryptocurrency operations);
  • energy (renewable energy sources, nuclear energy);
  • space research (satellite and space programs);
  • biotechnology (advanced medical technologies).

It is also worth noting that, due to the specificity of Russia’s interests in the region, the scope of its technological cooperation is not limited to the Gulf Cooperation Council states (the so-called Monarchies of the Gulf). In this regard, the classic boundaries of the concept of the Persian Gulf were slightly expanded: in addition to the Monarchies of the Gulf (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait), the analysis also includes Iran and Iraq.

Methodological foundation of the research contains materials from international organizations, reports and documents from regional ministries and agencies, media materials, and statistical databases. Various methods of scientific inquiry were applied, such as systems analysis, event analysis, modeling, SWOT analysis, case-study, and others.

According to the report, the technological segment of the region’s economies is rapidly evolving, with the vast majority of states predictably seeking to strengthen their positions in the high-tech market — either in all directions at once (Saudi Arabia, UAE), or in specific niches (Qatar, Bahrain, Oman). However, the desire to procure ready-made solutions rather than produce their own still prevails. The countries of the region are focused on individual megaprojects, with the implementation of collective initiatives hindered by internal and external factors, as well as the exclusion of some actors (Iran, Iraq).

External players’ competition is escalating, with new countries entering the market competition. China, the USA, and India demonstrate the most activity in this regard. The interests of EU countries, Israel, and Turkey are represented to a lesser extent.

The region has all the necessary conditions for Russia to gradually increase its presence there. The most promising areas under current conditions include the markets of financial technologies (FinTech) and digital education (EdTech), digital protection of critical infrastructure (cybersecurity), and the biotechnology market (with an emphasis on advanced pharmaceuticals). Moreover, premises have emerged for strengthening Moscow’s positions in the regional nuclear energy market.

Russia’s media image in the region (influenced by a massive critical campaign) has somewhat deteriorated, although the decline is not critical. Moscow’s reputation in the eyes of the business community, according to survey data conducted as part of the study, remains stable.

This analytical report was prepared within the framework of implementing the PIR Center and MGIMO University joint project “Global Security, Strategic Stability, and Arms Control” under the auspices of the Priority-2030 Strategic Academic Leadership Program. 

In case of any questions please contact Ms. Elena Karnaukhova, PIR Center Deputy Director-Education & Training Program Director, executive editor of the report, via email edu@pircenter.org. 

Key words: Persian Gulf; High-Tech; Global Security