GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Virtual enlargement in practice: the comparison of the branding efforts of Qatar and the UAE after 2008
Paper Proposal Text :
Branding is a primary feature and key tool for small state foreign policy in the 21st century. Compensating from the difficulties and obstacles deriving from smallness and relatively limited resources, such entities conduct public diplomacy, major investments and other postmodern forms of external communication to shape the image of their country among other political players and societies.
The article aims to present, describe and interpret the branding efforts of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates in the European Union after 2008 in a comparative manner. The theoretical and methodological framework will be provided by the theory of virtual enlargement by Allan Chong. According to him, small states have basically three tools to virtually enlarge their importance to outside players: to demonstrate their political economic potential, to show their model of good governance or to mediate in political conflicts.
In this conceptual frameworks, the article will explore the different strategies played by Qatar and the United Arab Emirates in the EU. The first hypothesis is that the economic crisis presented an opportunity for the two small states to virtually enlarge their importance and visibility in the European Union. Secondly, I will also explore how the economic investments were coupled with the tools of public diplomacy with advertisement, social media usage or the work of the embassies. The methodology will include elements from comparative foreign policy analysis with a special emphasis on separating aims, means and tools of this activity. An other important goal of the analysis will be to identify how these two small states used their enlarged visibility and image in their foreign policy strategy, both regionally and globally.
The structure of the paper will be based on three parts. The first, theoretical chapter will elaborate on the importance of virtual enlargement strategy for small states and the different ways in which a country can conduct its branding activity. Moreover, the structure of the comparison for Qatar and the United Arab Emirates will be outlined as well. The second chapter will focus on the comparison itself, demonstrating the efforts made by Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to capitalize on the economic crisis and to better their public and political image. I also plan to include case studies in this part. Lastly, in the third part, the conclusions of the comparison will be made which will be put back into the theoretical framework, thus developing the existing analytical frameworks in the subject.
The two countries – Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – where chosen due to three reasons. First of all, both countries intended to enlarge themselves in Europe and in other parts of the world. Secondly, both entities can be conceptualized as small states; as a matter of fact, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) also aims to better its image, nonetheless due to the huge differences in size, the inclusion of the KSA into the comparison would be less fruitful. Third, the two countries used the results of their strategies in different ways during the Arab Spring, the causes of which is not self-explanatory.