Sports sponsorship and Gulf geopolitics

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This article is featured in the ORIENT III 2022

Elite sport sponsorship has become a significant trend in the Arabian Peninsula, where local leaders see investment in high-profile teams and events as a way to shape foreign relations beyond the region – primarily with Europe. Sports sponsorship also factors into intra-regional geopolitics among the Gulf countries, including both cooperation and competition. This article considers both sides of sports sponsorship geopolitics – beyond and within the Gulf – while also recognising that the two orientations are not separate.

Natalie Koch is Professor of Geography at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She is a political geographer working on authoritarianism, geopolitics and the territorial state system. Her empirical research in the Arabian Peninsula focuses on alternative sites of geopolitical analysis, including sports, science, environmental policy and urban development. She is the editor of the new book Spatializing Authoritarianism (Syracuse University Press, 2022) as well as Critical geographies of sport: Space, power, and sport in global perspective (Routledge, 2017). In August 2022, she will begin as the new Professor of Human Geography at Heidelberg University.

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