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drs. P.W.H. (Paul) Aarts

Lecturer in International Relations (retired)
Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
Programme group: Transnational Configurations, Conflict and Governance
Photographer: UvA

Visiting address
  • Nieuwe Achtergracht 166
  • Room number: B9.12
Postal address
  • Postbus 15578
    1001 NB Amsterdam
Contact details
  • Contacts


    • Secretary of the Leonhard-Woltjer Foundation ('Nederlands Instituut voor het Arabisch Cultuurgebied', NIAC) []
    • Member of the Board of Governors of the Yemen College of Middle Eastern Studies, Sana'a []
    • Member of the international advisory board of the International Journal of International Relations and Development []
    • Member of the Editorial Board of Contemporary Arab Affairs []

    Leonhard-Woltjer Stichting


    International Journal of International Relations and Development

    Contemporary Arab Affairs

    Zeytun Academic Exchange

    For teaching purposes he has cooperated with the School of International Relations and the Faculty of World Studies (University of Tehran) in Tehran; in Syria with the University of Kalamoon in Deir Atieh; in Yemen with Sana'a University and the Yemen College of Middle Eastern Studies in Sana'a; in Morocco with Ecole de Gouvernance et d'Economie (EGE) in Rabat; and in Iraq with the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani, and the University of Kurdistan, Hawler in Erbil.

    School of International Relations, Tehran

    Faculty of World Studies, University of Tehran

    Sana'a University


    University of Kalamoon

    Ecole de gouvernance et d'économie

    The American University of Iraq, Sulaimani

    University of Kurdistan, Hawler

  • Research, reviews, recent books
    Nieuw Amsterdam, 2de druk 2016
    Hurst Publishers, 2015

    Hurst Publishers

    Arabic edition, published by the Center of Arab Unity Studies, Beirut, Lebanon

    Center for Arab Unity Studies

    Persian edition of 'Saudi Arabia: Kingdom in Peril'
    Edited volume (Maaike Warnaar, Luciano Zaccara & Paul Aarts). Published by Gerlach Press, Berlin & London.
    • From Resilience to Revolt. Making Sense of the Arab Spring. Research report commissioned by the Research and Documentation Centre (WODC) of the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice (June 2012, 117 pages). 



    Hurst Publishers

    In Arabic:

    Saudi Arabia in the Balance. Political Economy, Society, Foreign Affairs, edited by Paul Aarts & Gerd Nonneman. Published in updated Arabic edition (Center for Arab Unity Studies, Beirut, September 2012).

    Lynne Rienner


    • Saudi Arabia Between Conservatism, Accomodation and Reform (IRP research report edited by Roel Meijer & Paul Aarts. Main contributors: Joas Wagemakers, Mariwan Kanie and Annemarie van Geel. Clingendael, July 2012.
    • Jort Statema & Paul Aarts, 'The Netherlands: Follow Washington, Be a Good European', in Timo Behr & Teija Tiilikainen (eds.), Northern Europe and the Making of the EU's Mediterranean and Middle East Policies. Normative Leaders or Passive Bystanders? (Ashgate 2015), pp. 91-107.


    • 'Geopolitics after 9/11: Did Iran Benefit?' in Democracy & Society , Vol. 9, Issue 1, Spring 2012, pp. 1, 14-17 (with Stephan de Vries).
    • 'Arabische lente, een mistig seizoen', in Socialisme & Democratie 2011, nr. 4, pp. 7-15 (samen metMarcia Luyten).
    • Een verkorte, geactualiseerde versie van het artikel in Socialisme & Democratie verscheen in de Volkskrant , 28 mei 2011.
    • Een enigszins geactualiseerde versie verscheen ook in ZemZem , nr. 1, 2011.
    • 'Maintaining authoritarianism: The jerky path of political reforminSaudi Arabia', in Orient, 2011/1
    • 'The political economy of Saudi-Iranian relations: present and future', in Jean-Francois Seznec & Mimi Kerk (eds.), Industrialization in the Gulf. A socioeconomic revolution (London/New York: Routledge, 2010), pp. 57-77 (with Joris van Duijne).


    • 'Saudi Arabia and Iran: Less Antagonism, More Pragmatism'. In Viewpoints Special Edition, 'The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 1979-2009: Evolution of a Pivotal State', Middle East Institute, Washington, DC, pp. 62-64 (with Joris van Duijne).

    Middle East Institute

    • 'Saudi Arabia after U.S.-Iranian Détente: Left in the Lurch?', Middle East Policy , Vol. XVI, No. 3, Fall 2009, pp. 64-78 (together with Joris van Duijne).
    • Reprinted in Barry Rubin (ed.), Security & Stability in the Middle East (Routledge 2011).


    • 'The Saudi Security Environment: Plus Ca Change...', in Laura Guazzone & Daniela Pioppi (eds.), The Arab State and Neo-Liberal Globalization. The Restructuring of State Power in the Middle East (Reading: Ithaca Press, 2009), pp. 275-297 (together with Joris van Duijne).

    Ithaca Press

    • 'Kingdom with borders: the political economy of Saudi-European relations', in Madawi Al-Rasheed(ed.), Kingdom without Borders. Saudi Arabia's Political, Religious and Media Frontiers (London: Hurst, 2008), pp. 135-156 (together with Roos Meertens and Joris van Duijne).


    • 'Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States: Continuity Amidst Instability', in Strategic Survey 2008 , London: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2008, pp. 235-245 (together with Joris van Duijne).


    • Paul Aarts en Sietse Bosgra, 'Praten met Hamas', in Internationale Spectator , april 2008, pp. 232-236.
    • Paul Aarts, 'The Longevity of the House of Saud. Looking Outside the Box,' in Oliver Schlumberger (ed.), Debating Arab Authoritarianism. Dynamics and Durability in Nondemocratic Regimes (Stanford University Press, 2007), pp. 251-267.

    Stanford University Press

    • Paul Aarts, 'Saudi Arabia Walks the Tightrope', in The International Spectator (Rome), Vol. 42, No. 4, December 2007, pp. 545-500.
    • Paul Aarts & Machteld van Rijsingen, 'Beijing's Rising Star in theGulf Region: The Near and the Distant Future', in Eckart Woerzt (ed.), Gulf Geo-Economics . Dubai: Gulf Research Center, 2007, pp. 23-58. [Also published in Journal ofGreater Middle Eastern Studies (Seoul, Korea), Vol. 1 (2008), No. 1, pp. 35-89].
    • 'Cultuur en strategie:de Verenigde Staten en het Iraakse fiasco' ,Vrede en Veiligheid , 34 (2), 2005, pp. 194-213(with Gep Eisenloeffel and Paul van Hooft).  
    • 'Lions of Tawhid in the Polder', Middle East Report , Summer 2005, No. 235, Vol.35, No. 2 (with Fadi Hirzalla).
    • 'The Internal and the External: The House of Saud's Longevity Explained' (Florence: RobertSchuman Centre, European University Institute, RSCAS No.2004/33).

    EUI Florence, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies

    • 'Shades of Opinion: The Oil-Exporting Countries and International Climate Politics', in The Review of International Affairs , Winter 2003/2004; (with Dennis Janssen).
    • Also published in: Gerd Nonneman (ed.), Analyzing Middle East Foreign Policies and the Relationship with Europe .London/New York: Routledge 2005, pp. 223-242.

    The Review of International Affairs

    • Islam,de woede en het Westen, edited with Jan Keulen, Amsterdam: Bulaaq, 2001.


    • 'Post-War Kuwait and the Process of Democratization: the Persistence of Political Tribalism', in: Abbas Abdelkarim (ed.), Changeand Development in the Gulf , Macmillan 1999:pp. 213-237.


    • 'The Middle East: Eternally Out of Step with History?', in KennethP. Thomas & Mary Ann Tétreault (eds.), Racing to Regionalize. Democracy, Capitalism, amd Regional Political Economy ,Boulder, Co: Lynne Rienner 1999.

    Lynne Rienner

    The Oil Weapon: A One-Shot Edition? United Arab Emirates/AbuDhabi: ECSSR, 1999.

    The Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research

    Waar ligt de grens? Kritische beschouwingen over het vredesproces tussen Palestina en Israël , edited with Mouin Rabbani, Bussum: Coutinho, 1996.

    Ashgate Publishers

    Stilte na de Storm. De TweedeGolfoorlog in perspectief , edited with Bert Bomert, Nijmegen: Studiecentrum voor Vredesvraagstukken, 1993.

    Geld, goed en godsdienst in het Midden-Oosten , edited, Bussum: Coutinho, 1991.

    Islamitisch fundamentalisme , edited with Kees Wagtendonk, Bussum: Coutinho, 1986.

    De Arabische Uitdaging. Europa oog in oog met een nieuwe realiteit, edited with Barry van Heijningen, Rotterdam: Ordeman, 1982.

    Het Midden-Oosten en Noord-Afrika. Een politiek landenboek , edited, Weesp/Antwerpen: Het Wereldvenster/Standaard Uitgeverij, 1983.

    List of scholarly journals in which articles have been published:

    • The Arab Journalof International Studies (Arabic)
    • Arab Studies Quarterly
    • Civil Society
    • Civis Mundi (Dutch)
    • Contemporary Arab Affairss
    • Derde Wereld (Dutch)
    • Democracy & Society
    • Etelaat Eqtesadi (Persian)
    • Facta (Dutch)
    • International Journal of Political Economy
    • Internationale Spectator (Dutch)
    • JIME Cairo Report (Japanese)
    • JIME Review
    • Journal of Greater Middle Eastern Studies (Seoul, Korea)
    • Krisis (Dutch)
    • MERA Occasional Papers
    • MERIP Middle East Report
    • Middle East Policy
    • Monde Arabe/Maghreb-Machrek (French)
    • OPEC Review
    • Orient
    • Raw Materials Report
    • Review ofInternational Affairs
    • Sharqiyyât (Dutch)
    • The Emirates Occasional Papers
    • The International Spectator
    • The Lancaster Papers
    • Third World Quarterly
    • Tijdschrift voor Politieke Economie (TPE) (Dutch)
    • Transaktie/Vrede & Veiligheid (Dutch)
    • Socialisme & Democratie

    Apart from scholarly articles: regular book reviews and shorter contributions to:

    • OPEC Bulletin
    • British Journal for Middle Eastern Studies
    • Bibliotheca Orientalis
    • De Groene Amsterdammer (Dutch)
    • INAMO (German)
    • Jason (Dutch)
    • New Internationalist
    • The Middle East Journal
    • Vanguardia (Spanish)
    • Vrij Nederland (Dutch)
    • Soera (Dutch)
    • ZemZem (Dutch)
  • Paul Aarts

    Paul Aarts

    Paul Aarts (1949) has been a lecturer in International Relations at the Department of Political Science (University of Amsterdam).  Since his retirement he holds a guest appointment at this department. He was co-founder of ZemZem , a Dutch magazine on the Middle East, North Africa and Islam. He developed the 'Zeytun Academic Exchange' program with academic institutes in several Middle Eastern countries (see below 'Teaching: Cooperating With?'). He mainly writes on the Gulf countries, Saudi Arabia in particular. He has undertaken consultancy work on the Middle East for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Security and Justice, the European Commission and other institutions. Aarts regularly contributes to public debates on matters related to the Middle East, writing op-eds and giving interviews on radio and tv.

    In the media: Five lectures on the 'Arab Spring': Universiteit van Nederland (in Dutch). Five days after '9/11', Aarts debated with the writer Leon de Winter on the 'Invisible Enemy' (VPRO/VARA, in Felix Meritis, Amsterdam, 16-09-2001). For an interview (in Dutch) with Aarts, see Folia Civitatis (nr. 10, 3 November 2010). An interview on the 'Arab Spring' ("It's the economy stupid!"), see Vredesmagazine (2011, no. 3, pp. 22-25, in Dutch); on the Zeytun exchange programme, see Transfer (March 6, 2012, in Dutch). A extensive portrait, in Dutch, was published in ZemZem (2015, 11, see link below). 

    Universiteit van Nederland (zie ook de vier andere colleges)


    Felix Meritis


    Interview in Transfer

    Interview in ZemZem


    International relations in general and politics and economics of the Middle East in particular. Regional focus: the Middle East and North Africa,with special emphasis onthe Gulf states (Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran in particular). See below: PUBLICATIONS.


    For research purposes he acted as one of the academic coordinators of the research project on 'Civil society in West Asia'.


  • Publications


    • Aarts, P., & Roelants, C. (2013). Saoedi-Arabië: de revolutie die nog moet komen. Amsterdam: Nieuw Amsterdam. [details]
    • Statema, J., & Aarts, P. (2013). Poedeldiplomatie of de kunst van het schipperen? Socialisme en Democratie, 70(5), 96-102. [details]


    • Aarts, P., & van Duijne, J. (2012). Saudi Arabia after U.S.-Iranian détente: left in the lurch? In B. Rubin (Ed.), Security and stability in the Middle East. - Vol. 2: Regional security (pp. 299-316). (Critical Concepts in Military, Strategic, and Security Studies). London [etc.]: Routledge. [details]
    • de Vries, S., & Aarts, P. (2012). Geopolitics after 9/11: did Iran benefit? Democracy and Society, 9(1), 1, 14-17. [details]


    • Aarts, P. (2011). Maintaining authoritarianism: the jerky path of political reform in Saudi Arabia. Orient, 52(1), 29-43. [details]
    • Aarts, P., & van Duijne, J. (2011). The political economy of Saudi-Iranian relations: present and future. In J. F. Seznec, & M. Kirk (Eds.), Industrialization in the Gulf: a socioeconomic revolution (pp. 57-77). (Routledge studies in Middle Eastern economies). London: Routledge. [details]



    • Aarts, P., & van Duijne, J. (2008). Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States: continuity amidst instability. In Strategic Survey (pp. 235-245). (Strategic Survey; No. 108). London: The International Institute for Strategic Studies. [details]
    • Aarts, P., & van Rijsingen, M. (2008). Beijing's rising star in the Gulf Region: the near and the distant future. Journal of Greater Middle Eastern Studies, 1(1), 35-89. [details]


    • Aarts, P. (2020). Saudi Arabia: More Room for Wahhabism Lite? (Gulf Insights Series; No. 23). Doha: Gulf Studies Center. [details]


    • Aarts, P., & Cavatorta, F. (2013). Civil society in Syria and Iran: activism in authoritarian contexts. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers. [details]


    • Aarts, P., & Nonneman, G. (2012). al-Mamlakah al-ʻArabīyah al-Saʻūdīyah fī al-mīzān: al-iqtiṣād al-siyāsī wa-al-mujtamaʻ wa-al-shuʼūn al-khārijīyah. Bayrūt: Markaz Dirāsāt al-Waḥdah al-ʻArabīyah. [details]
    • Aarts, P., van Dijke, P., Kolman, I., Statema, J., & Dahhan, G. (2012). From resilience to revolt: making sense of the Arab spring. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam, Department of Political Science. [details]
    • Meijer, R., Aarts, P., Wagemakers, J., Kanie, M., & Geel, A. (2012). Saudi Arabia between conservatism, accomodation and reform. The Hague: Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’. [details]


    • Aarts, P., & van Duijne, J. (2009). Saudi Arabia and Iran: less antagonism, more pragmatism. Middle East Institute's Viewpoints, sp. iss., 62-64. [details]
    • Aarts, P., & van Duijne, J. (2009). The Saudi security environment: plus ça change... In L. Guazzone, & D. Pioppi (Eds.), The Arab state and neo-liberal globalization: the restructuring of state power in the Middle East (pp. 275-297). Reading: Ithaca Press. [details]


    • Aarts, P., Meertens, R., & van Duijne, J. (2008). Kingdom with borders: the political economy of Saudi-European relations. In M. Al-Rasheed (Ed.), Kingdom without borders: Saudi political, religious and media frontiers (pp. 135-156). London: Hurst [etc.]. [details]


    • Aarts, P. (2015). Meer politiek dan islam. Internationale Spectator, 69(2), [3]. [details]


    • Aarts, P. (2012). Wat iedereen moet weten over de Arabische Lente [Bespreking van: M. Lynch (2012) The Arab uprising: the unfinished revolutions of the new Middle East; H. Dabashi (2012) The Arab Spring: the end of postcolonialism; A. Bayat (2012) Why did Iran’s Green Wave not feel the Arab Spring? Second Sadighi annual lecture; R. Zurayk (2011) Food, farming, and freedom: sowing the Arab Spring; R. Bush, H. Ayeb (2012) Marginality and exclusion in Egypt; J. Sowers, C. Toensing (2012) The journey to Tahrir: revolution, protest, and social change in Egypt; J. Petras (2012) The Arab revolt and the imperialist counterattack. - 2nd ed.; W.S. Yafi (2012) Inevitable democracy in the Arab world: new realities in an ancient land; J.L. Gelvin (2012) The Arab uprisings: what everyone needs to know]. ZemZem, 8(2), 100-105. [details]


    • van Duijne, J., & Aarts, P. (2008). Saudi-Iranian ties: stocktaking and look into the future. (SGIA research working papers series; No. August 2008). Durham: Durham University. [details]


    • Aarts, P. W. H. (2012). Member, the Advisory Board of the Sheba Center for Strategic Studies, Sana'a.
    • Aarts, P. W. H. (2012). Member of the international advisory board, the International Journal of International Relations and Development.
    • Aarts, P. (2012). Member, the board of Bridging the Gulf, Foundation for Human Security in the Gulf Region.
    • Aarts, P. W. H. (2012). Member, the Board of Governors of the Yemen College of Middle Eastern Studies, Sana'a.

    Media appearance

    • Aarts, P. W. H. (13-11-2017). En plots was de premier verdwenen Het Nieuwsblad. En plots was de premier verdwenen.
    • Aarts, P. W. H. (05-11-2017). Toelichting bij de recente arrestatiegolf in Saoedi-Arabië NOS. Toelichting bij de recente arrestatiegolf in Saoedi-Arabië (NOS Journaal).
    • Aarts, P. W. H. (05-10-2017). RJN Saoedi Arabie op bezoek bij Poetin [Radio] NOS Radio 1 journaal. RJN Saoedi Arabie op bezoek bij Poetin.
    • Aarts, P. W. H. (05-10-2017). RJN Saoedi Arabie op bezoek bij Poetin NPO Radio 1. RJN Saoedi Arabie op bezoek bij Poetin (NPO Radio 1).
    • Aarts, P. W. H. (27-09-2017). NOS Journaal (Vrouwen mogen autorijden in Saudi Arabie) NOS. Vrouwen mogen autorijden in Saoedi-Arabië (NOS Journaal).
    • Aarts, P. W. H. (19-08-2017). De megalomane projecten van de Saudi Binladin Group [Radio] NOS Met het oog op morgen. De megalomane projecten van de Saudi Binladin Group.
    • Aarts, P. W. H. (21-06-2017). Nieuwe kroonprins in Saudi-Arabië [Radio] VPRO Bureau Buitenland. Nieuwe kroonprins in Saoedi-Arabië.
    • Aarts, P. W. H. (29-01-2014). Oog woensdag: Mad Dog, over de gruwelijke daden van Kadhafi [Radio] Radio 1. Oog woensdag: Mad Dog, over de gruwelijke daden van Kadhafi.

    Journal editor

    • Aarts, P. W. H. (editor) (2012). ZemZem (Journal).
    • Aarts, P. W. H. (editor) (2010-2011). ZemZem (Journal).
    • Aarts, P. W. H. (editor) (2010-2011). ZemZem (Journal).


    • Aarts, P. W. H. (participant) (1-7-2013). Gulf Research Meeting, Cambridge. Co-director of a workshop ‘Iran and the GCC: Prospects for Change?’ (participating in a conference, workshop, ...).
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  • Ancillary activities
    No known ancillary activities