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Ontological Security and the Gulf Crisis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-237
Number of pages17
JournalThe Journal of Arabian Studies
Issue number2
Published5 Apr 2021

King's Authors


Ontological security speaks to a kind of identitarian security and argues that actors need to have a surety and certainty in who and what they are in order to enjoy settled peaceable lives. As a furrow of international relations theory, it argues that states must attend to ontological security needs just as they are concerned about physical security needs. Applied to the Gulf context, analysis of ontological security concerns provides a set of coherent rationales explaining why ontological security pressures play in an exaggerated way on the United Arab Emirates and why, in this context, Qatar is a uniquely problematic Other. As such, uncovering these deeper, abstract security drivers provides a compelling explanation to explain the bitterness and animosity inherent to the UAE’s surprising decision to lead the 2017 blockade against Qatar.

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