Why us?

The Context

The Middle East has long held interest as a region for trade, cultural exchange and political dialogue. More recently, the region has drawn significant attention specifically related to Australian strategic interests in the Middle East and geo-political events in the Arab world (comprising the 22 member states of the Arab League). The Australia Gulf Council (AGC) was established to bring together corporate, political and diplomatic representatives at the highest levels to facilitate trade, investment and cultural exchange between Australia and GCC countries. The Council for Australian Arab Relations (CAAR) was established in 2003 by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to create links and promote relations between Australia and the Arab world. Dr Anne Aly was appointed to the CAAR by Minister Stephen Smith in 2009 and continues to serve as a board member with accountability for promoting Australian Arab relations through education.

The Purpose

The AAISA will capitalise and strengthen existing and emerging synergies between Australia and the Arab region through education, Business, dialogue and exchange other mutual interests. It will identify common trade and business priorities and build links with the Arab world by facilitating collaborations between the partners and institutions in the Arab world to address those priorities.

The Position

Much of the current research activity on the Middle East is situated in the Eastern States of Australia. The Centre for Arab & Islamic Studies (Middle East & Central Asia) at The Australian National University integrates the study of Middle Eastern and Central Asian contemporary politics, history, culture, political economy, economics, and the religion of Islam within the broader framework of the changing global order. The Centre fosters the study of the region’s most relevant languages of Arabic, Persian and Turkish. It also focuses on issues pertinent to Australia’s interests and the development of its commercial, scientific and industrial ties within its areas of coverage. The Centre offers Masters Degrees, a Graduate Diploma, a Graduate Certificate and a Bachelor degree in Middle Eastern & Central Asian Studies. Deakin University’s Centre for Citizenship Development and Human Rights, and the Centre for Citizenship, Governance and Globalisation has hosted the Australian Middle East Research Forum (AMERF) since 2007. The network facilitates interactions among researchers with an interest in the region through seminars and regular emails.

In Western Australia, the University of WA’s Centre for Muslim States and Societies (CMSS) focuses primarily on issues related to Islam and Muslims globally and regionally, especially Australia. However, it does not produce research or outputs specific to the Middle East region or Arab World. There is a clear deficit in Western Australia in this area, and in Australia generally, with regard to a Middle East research focus and academic activities that are secular and interdisciplinary.

Promote trade and cultural exchange as a platform for the enhancement of strategic links between Australia and Arab countries.

AAISA will achieve this by:

  1. Developing and fostering interdisciplinary research collaboration between University partners and Universities in the Arab world (and broader Middle East region);
  2. Conducting regular events with local business communities to develop awareness and understanding of trade relationships between Australia and the Arab world;
  3. Hosting at least one major event (conference/symposium) per year under the auspices of partners, with several workshops/smaller events held throughout the year;
  4. Raising awareness of opportunities and pathways for doing business in the Arab world;
  5. Promoting Australian-Arab relations through trade and education;
  6. Engaging the academic community, industry, policy makers and the broader community in understanding the Arab world and potential for Australia-Arabic collaboration through public seminars, projects and media opportunities and diplomatic representatives at the highest levels to facilitate trade, investment and cultural exchange between Australia and GCC countries. The Council for Australian Arab Relations (CAAR) was established in 2003 by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to create links and promote relations between Australia and the Arab world. Dr Anne Aly was appointed to the CAAR by Minister Stephen Smith in 2009 and continues to serve as a board member with accountability for promoting Australian Arab relations through education.