Christopher is a visiting fellow at Leiden University College in the Hague and a fellow of the UK’s Higher Education Academy. He taught for twelve years at Durham University in the UK (as lecturer then reader) and, prior to that, for three years at Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates (as assistant professor). He has also held a visiting associate professorship at Kyoto University in Japan and an associate fellowship at the Royal United Services Institute, Whitehall. In April 2017 he held the Daoud Family Lectureship 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).
His research interests include the comparative politics and international relations of the ‘Gulf monarchies’ and the broader Middle East, and the historical interconnection between Gulf and US/British foreign policies.
He has published six single-authored books, two edited volumes, and a number of scholarly journal articles and chapters in other edited collections. His 2008 book, Dubai: The Vulnerability of Success (New York: Columbia University Press), 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), 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. With Dirk Vandewalle (Dartmouth College), he co-edits the book series Power and Politics in the Gulf, co-published by Hurst & Co. and Oxford University Press USA.
At Durham, 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 investigating identity and mediation in the Middle East (employing a full-time doctoral researcher). As primary supervisor he has thus far supervised twelve doctorates to completion, with his advisees taking up assistant professorships and postdoctoral fellowships at Georgetown University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Tubingen, Exeter University, Durham University, Kings College London, Qatar 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, and Queens University Belfast. He has also externally examined undergraduate programmes, including Edinburgh University’s former BA in Middle Eastern Studies.
He has taught full-time for fifteen years in higher education and has convened a number of modules, including (at Durham) Politics of the Oil Monarchies, Middle East in the International System, History of the Middle East in the Twentieth Century, Introduction to Middle East Politics, and (at Zayed) Global Studies, State and Society, Comparative Politics, Development and Underdevelopment, and Research Methods in the Social Sciences. 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, and director of postgraduate studies (both taught and research).
He has served as an expert witness on more than twenty occasions in a range of extradition, immigration, Interpol, and terrorism cases. In 2010 his evidence played a leading role in determining the outcome of Britain’s longest running extradition case, and in 2014 his legal work formed the basis of an REF impact case study. He is currently preparing a similar, but more substantial impact case study in anticipation of the REF 2021 exercise.
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 also 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. 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 briefings and prepared 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‘.