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Modernising diplomacy in the Gulf Region

Diplomatic services across the world are trying to keep up with the times. In Abu Dhabi Jan Melissen, Senior Fellow International Relations and Diplomacy at ISGA and the Clingendael Institute, experienced how non-Western spaces can be among the more stimulating ones for practitioners of diplomacy to share experiences, generate new ideas and expand networks. And such environments are an important source of academic inspiration.

In the United Arab Emirates, Jan participated in the Abu Dhabi Diplomacy Conference 2018, which took place on 14-15 November. Themes under discussion included the potential of culture in diplomacy, the impact of social media, training and education, and how to empower female diplomats in their careers. Remarkably, the UAE aims to carve out a diplomatic niche in its own region by emphasizing gender equality as a priority for its foreign policy apparatus.

More female ambassadors

Over 60 per cent of recent graduates from the Emirates Diplomatic Academy (EDA) are women and the UAE Ambassador to the UN is one of their role models. Many countries have a growing number of female ambassadors, but some are doing better than others. In the league of G20 ambassadorial postings to fellow G20 countries, for instance, Australia and Canada (36 %) are leading, while big powers such as China, Russia and Japan still have none.

Jan Melissen


Another hot topic in diplomacy today is the security of citizens in foreign lands. Jan Melissen provided a training for Emirati junior diplomats on assistance to nationals abroad. He also participated in a panel on Fake News in the Age of Digital Diplomacy at New York University-Abu Dhabi. A couple of spare hours sufficed to take in universal treasures in the Louvres-Abu Dhabi and have a swim under the palm trees, bringing back ideas for teaching and research to the Leiden-Clingendael MSc International Relations and Diplomacy and ISGA.

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