Implications of a regional order in flux: Chinese and Russian relations with the United Arab Emirates

Source of Publication

Cambridge Review of International Affairs


© 2020 Department of Politics and International Studies. The transition away from post-Cold War unipolarity has repercussions for regional orders that have been shaped and sustained by US preponderance. Small states like the United Arab Emirates (UAE), traditionally reliant upon extra-regional powers to balance against more powerful neighbours, are adopting an increasingly muscular foreign policy to hedge against a possible reduced US regional role. Consequently, there is an opening for non-traditional powers to adopt larger roles. Primarily using an outside-in approach, this paper explores the nature of China and Russia’s more active bilateral engagement with the UAE. It finds that in an environment where political instability within the larger Middle East combines with uncertainty about US intentions, regional leaders and leaders of extra-regional powers with interests in the Persian Gulf have to adjust accordingly, either to protect those interests or to take advantage of the opportunity to expand their presence in a strategically and economically important theatre.

Document Type


Publication Date




Author First name, Last name, Institution

Li Chen Sim, Zayed University
Jonathan Fulton, Zayed University