Saudi Arabia topic of discussion at next OWU event


Saudi Arabia is dealing with a rapidly rising population, instability on its borders and stagnant oil prices partially due to growing concerns with global warming. What does the future hold for the 50 percent of Saudi citizens under the age of 30?

Two people will address that question and others at the next Great Decisions Community Discussion Series on Friday, March 3.

The series about U.S. foreign policy, which begins at noon, will feature a discussion with Melinda McClimans, assistant director of the Middle East Studies Center (MESC) at The Ohio State University, and Rand Guebert, a retired oil executive.

Saudi Arabia is a key partner for the U.S. in the Middle East. It backed the U.S. throughout the Cold War with the Soviet Union; and supplied oil to the U.S. and its allies. In return, the U.S. provided security. Now, however, the relationship between the two countries has become more complex.

The Cold War ended; the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003; the Arab Spring came in 2011; oil prices dropped in 2014; and the U.S. (plus Russia, France, China, Britain, Germany and the European Union) signed a nuclear agreement with Iran in 2015. The death of Saudi King Abdullah in 2015 also is leading to major changes in domestic policy.

McClimans has a master’s degree in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, and is working on a doctorate in global education. She has lived and studied in Saudi Arabia as well as Egypt and Tunisia. At MESC, she oversees the center’s outreach and engagement program, creates professional development opportunities for teachers, and manages its internship and volunteer programs.

She co-authored “Keys to Understanding the Middle East.”

Guebert worked in all phases of oil refining and marketing for 17 years with Coastal States Petroleum in Houston and London, and later for Oilinvest in Geneva.

He currently works for the Delaware County Board of Elections. Also a British citizen since 1992, he holds an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He currently works for the Delaware County Board of Elections.

In a significant new venture for the Great Decisions program, McClimans and Guebert will repeat their panel for students at Hayes High School.

The Great Decisions discussions are held in the Fellowship Hall of the William Street United Methodist Church, 28 W. William St. Attendees are welcome to bring a brown-bag lunch. Coffee and tea are provided.

The topic for the Friday, March 10 discussion is “Latin America’s Political Pendulum,” featuring James Franklin, chair of the Department of Politics and Government at Ohio Wesleyan University.

Staff report

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