The State of Qatar: the archetype of nested power

Qatar has been able to invest in specific power tools and use them both independently and interdependently with the aim to create a modern, progressive and idiosyncratic society

Qatar is emerging as an important regional and global actor, as it can be seen by its mediation role in several conflicts, its airline, its media giant Al Jazeera and even its ability to host world events like FIFA 2022.

During our Study Mission in Doha, we had the chance to meet H.E. Ambassador Al Horr, who mentioned his newly developed theory about nested power, which he described as an extension of Nye’s soft power. Whereas soft power is the power to attain what you want through attraction instead of coercion, in nested power one takes into account different factors and levels of interaction in a non-hierarchical manner with careful calculations. Therefore, in the case of Qatar, the State’s nested power can explain how the government has been able to strategically invest in specific power tools and use them both independently and interdependently with the aim to create a modern, progressive and idiosyncratic society.

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The main display of Qatar’s nested power is the ability to act as a mediator in international crises, which has become a capital share of Qatar’s foreign policy identity. Such a pivotal role allows the country to benefit from protection, diplomatic and economic value, and attraction of foreign interests.

This has been crucial in the Afghan crisis, where Qatar received high officials of all parties in conflict to help them find a common strategy to address both their needs and ambitions. Its influence arises from the understanding that all parties seek their space to express their views, no matter how radical they might be, because at the end of the day it remains the most straightforward way to reach a thorough agreement.

With the establishment of Al Jazeera in 1996, Qatar managed to diversify itself from the rest of the Gulf states, becoming the embodiment of freedom of speech in the region, as it is expressed by the network’s motto “Viewpoints and other views”. The media giant has been a great example of Qatar’s nested power, as it has been bridging the gap between the Middle East and the western world ever since its establishment.

On another note, ILO is working on enhancing the workers' conditions inside the country, providing international support and contributing to the revision of the legal framework, as we learnt during our meeting at the organization’s office. To the detriment of this, Labour Law underwent substantial changes, namely in relation to workers' rights, abolishing the Kafala system and introducing fair recruitment standards. The latter marks a turning point in the labour legal system as charging recruitment fees is prohibited by law, thus protecting all migrants who envision a life in Qatar, and 14 VISA centres have now been established along with the ILO Guidance Tool. These labour changes have become important in trying to make Qatar a labour paradise, especially now with the World Cup coming up.

In this perspective, the FIFA 2022 was an opportunity that the Gulf State couldn’t miss, being the first time that this event will be held in the Middle East. Despite queries regarding the region’s warm climate, the Organization managed to ensure the players’ safe participation, by hosting the event in November 2022. This, along with the F1 and the Arab Cup, is making Qatar a leading country in international sport events, overcoming its hitherto major global position in education.

With regards to education, the Qatar Foundation is a non-profit organisation funded by the Emir al-Thani and his wife in 1995. Today, this ecosystem counts 8 colleges thanks to the partnership with leading international universities, resulting in Qatar being ranked 4th in the world for education in 2021. Qatar’s educational system stands for inclusivity, integration, and diversity, which are values represented by the logo of the foundation: the Sidra tree. Thus, the influence exercised by Qatar in education enhances the country’s nested power, boasting its prestigious reputation and credibility not only at the regional but also at the global level.

Recent years brought along astonishing developments in Qatar from a 360° perspective. The nested nature of Qatar’s power is shown in the ways that they have invested in certain power tools, which have eventually contributed to the State’s capability of avoiding political conflicts, war, and tensions in the area. The next challenge is to allow workers and the poorer population to live with modern standards, including education, civil rights and a health system. Several steps are missing towards an inclusive modern country, but looking back to what has already been done, the future seems hopeful.


Christopher Robertus Cornelis Nicolaas Adrichem [Amsterdam], Graduating student in International Business Management at TIO University Amsterdam.

Carlo Giovani [Milan], Graduating student in Structural Engineering at Politecnico di Milano.

Matteo Russo [Turin] Graduating student in Global Law & Transnational Legal Studies at Torino University.

Kalliopi Tsekoura [Thessaloniki], Graduating student in International Relations at State University of New York and Bachelor’s student in Journalism and Communication at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

Joana Maria Ferreira Veiga [Porto], Graduating student in Law at Universidade Portucalense Infante D. Henrique.

Alessandro Viola [Turin], Master’s in International Humanitarian Law and Armed Conflict at Scuola Universitaria Interdipartimentale in Scienze Strategiche (SUISS).

Elisa Zecchin [Milan] Graduating student in International Relations and Global Affairs at the Catholic University of Milan.

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