Workshop 12 / GRM 2024
Silk Road or Spice Route? The Gulf’s Rising Connectivity with Asia, Africa, and Europe


In summer 2023, China’s well-established Belt-and-Road Initiative (BRI, colloquially knows as“Silk Road”), got a new sister: the India–Middle East–Europe Corridor (IMEC, aka “SpiceRoute”). Spanning over 4,800 kilometres, this new trade route shall connect India and Europe viathe Middle East through new and upgraded rail links, electricity grids, a hydrogen pipeline andhigh-speed data transmissions. It is meant to develop new cooperation opportunities, but also tocounter China’s rising influence in Africa, Asia and Europe. This happens with the support of theUS which is trying to implement its new geo-strategic vision for the Middle East and North Africa(MENA) also through this new trade corridor, in addition to its very own I2U2 initiative (India,Israel, UAE, USA). At its core, the Spice Route shall bring Saudi Arabia and the UAE as leadingGulf economies closer to the West and foster their geopolitical ambitions. Eventually, Europeanrelations with India shall be strengthened, and, not least, cooperation between Israel and its Arabneighbours shall be furthered – an endeavour which however received serious setbacks since therenewed outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas in October 2023.

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International Relations and German Studies
University of Ottawa

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