Christopher is a British academic with a longstanding research interest in the comparative politics and international relations of the Middle East. Much of his work has focused on the ‘Gulf monarchies’ and the historical interconnection between Gulf and US/British foreign policies.
He previously taught for twelve years at Durham University (as lecturer, senior lecturer, then reader) and, prior to that, for three years at Zayed University in the UAE (as assistant professor). He is an associate fellow of the Royal United Services Institute, a fellow of the European Centre for International Affairs, and a fellow of the UK’s Higher Education Academy / AdvanceHE. He has held visiting positions at Leiden University College in the Hague (as fellow) and Kyoto University in Japan (as associate professor); and in April 2017 he was the Daoud Family Lecturer in Middle Eastern studies at Albion College, Michigan.
He holds degrees from the University of Cambridge (BA, MA), and the University of St. Andrews (M.Litt, PhD).
He has published six single-authored books, two edited books, and a number of scholarly journal articles and book chapter contributions. His 2008 book, Dubai: The Vulnerability of Success (New York: Columbia University Press / London: Hurst & Co.), was a book of the year for both the London Evening Standard and the New Statesman. It was reviewed by the New York Times, the New York Review of Books, the Financial Times, the Los Angeles Times, and numerous scholarly journals. His 2013 book, After the Sheikhs (New York: Oxford University Press / London: Hurst & Co.), was translated into both Arabic and Farsi and was reviewed by the Guardian, the Independent, and the Economist. His most recent book, Shadow Wars: The Secret Struggle for the Middle East (London: Oneworld), was published in 2016 and selected for both the Cambridge Literary Festival and the FT Weekend’s Oxford Literary Festival. He is an editorial board member for the Journal of Labor and Society (Wiley); codes for the University of Gothenburg’s Varieties of Democracy project (V-Dem); and edits the book series Power and Politics in the Gulf, co-published by Hurst & Co. and Oxford University Press USA.
At Durham University, he was the principal investigator on a three year-long project investigating the politics of sectarianism in the Middle East (employing a full-time postdoctoral researcher), and an ESRC-funded project exploring the roles of identity and mediation in the Middle East (employing a full-time doctoral researcher). In 2010 his research played a role in determining the outcome of Britain’s longest running extradition case, and in 2014 his findings formed the basis of a UK Research Excellence Framework impact case study.
As primary/lead supervisor he has supervised twelve doctorates to completion, with his advisees having taken up assistant professorships or postdoctoral fellowships at Georgetown University (Qatar), University of Tubingen, Exeter University, Durham University, Kings College London, Qatar University, Hamad bin Khalifa University, and the Emirates Diplomatic Academy. He has externally examined a number of doctorates internationally across a range of universities including Australian National University, Tel Aviv, Oxford, St. Andrews, Leeds, Exeter, the London School of Economics, Nottingham Trent, and Queens University Belfast. He has also externally examined undergraduate programmes, including Edinburgh University’s former BA in Middle Eastern Studies.
He has fifteen years of full-time teaching experience in higher education. At Durham University he developed and taught the long-running research-led module Politics of the Middle East Oil Monarchies (evaluations) and the survey module Middle East in the International System. He also convened or taught on a number of other modules including History of the Middle East in the Twentieth Century and Introduction to Middle East Politics. At Zayed University he taught on modules including Global Studies, State and Society, Comparative Politics, Development and Underdevelopment, and Power of the Social Sciences (research methods). In 2014 he was runner-up for the Durham Student Union teacher of the year award (for the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law). At Durham he held a number of departmental management portfolios, inter alia, acting deputy head of school, director of undergraduate studies, director of postgraduate studies (both taught and research), and lead admissions tutor with responsibility for widening participation.
He has delivered a number of invited and endowed public lectures at universities around the world, including: Stanford, Yale, George Washington, Sciences-Po in Paris, Leiden, Kyoto, Otago, Amsterdam, American University of Beirut, Oxford, LSE, SOAS, St. Andrews, Exeter, Leeds, Bath, and Aberdeen. As a debating panellist he has appeared at the Oxford Union, the Durham Union Society, the Doha Debates in Qatar, and (with the late Fred Halliday) El Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona.
In addition to academic work, he has contributed to the Encyclopaedia Britannica and has published policy-focused pieces in the New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, the Times Higher Education, and BBC Online. He has appeared on most of the major television and radio current affairs shows, including BBC Newsnight, BBC Radio 4’s Today and PM, CNN’s Connect the World, ABC’s Nightline, and NPR’s All Things Considered. In Arabic, his articles have been published by a number of leading newspapers, with his September 2009 article for Al-Akhbar, ‘The Great Dubai Crash / انهيار دبي الكبير’, credited with predicting the November 2009 Dubai crash.
He has delivered (academic) briefings or reports for a range of organizations and institutions including the US Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research; the US Department of State’s Foreign Services Institute, the US National Intelligence Council; NATO Intelligence (Fusion), British Intelligence (GCHQ); Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (policy unit, ambassadorial briefings, etc.); the London Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command (SO15); the Royal College of Defence Studies; the New Zealand intelligence services; the New Zealand, Canadian, and Netherlands foreign ministries; British Petroleum; Royal Dutch Shell; the Dubai Knowledge and Human Development Authority; and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 2016 he gave oral evidence on Britain’s Middle East policy to the House of Lords International Relations Committee and in 2017 his work was cited in a UK Parliament Select Committee’s inquiry report entitled ‘The Middle East: Time for New Realism‘.