‘This will be not just the IISS Bahrain office, but more importantly, the IISS–Middle East office in Bahrain, serving the whole region and indeed the wider world interested in this region.’ So said Dr John Chipman, Director-General and Chief Executive, IISS, launching the latest endeavour for the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). With headquarters in London, the organisation has long-standing regional offices in Washington and Singapore. However, having launched the high-profile Manama Dialogue security conference and the Bahrain Global Forum on geo-economics in recent years, the IISS needed to establish a major presence in the Middle East.

The new office was opened at a reception in the Kingdom of Bahrain on Thursday 14 May 2010. IISS staff, trustees and council members welcomed Bahrain government representatives and members of the Bahraini diplomatic and business communities at the newly completed offices on the 14th floor of the GBCORP Tower in the Bahrain Financial Harbour.

In his opening remarks, Dr John Chipman, Director-General and Chief Executive, introduced the IISS, its publications and research work, its international conference activities, the mission of the IISS office in Bahrain and the ambitions for its first year of operations. He also thanked the Kingdom of Bahrain for its support. HE Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, Foreign Minister of Bahrain, then inaugurated the IISS–Middle East office, and declared it officially open. Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa explained what the establishment of the IISS in Bahrain meant for the kingdom and for the region.

‘The office will be the centre of IISS scholarship in the region,’ he said. ‘Independent, high-quality research and analysis – not to mention candid discussions with visiting dignitaries, thinkers, business leaders and fellows – will be of tremendous value to not only us at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in helping to inform our thinking and future strategies on geopolitical and strategic issues, but also to many other ministries, government agencies, academic institutions and the wider public.

‘Second, the IISS office can add momentum to the crucial work undertaken in the Manama Dialogue, now a fundamental pillar of regional security diplomacy, and the Bahrain Global Forum to be launched tomorrow evening and which will explore more closely the relationship between economics and security, a timely issue both for today and most certainly for the coming years.

‘And third, I have very high hopes that the IISS will serve as an effective incubator for some of our bright young diplomats, our future ambassadors and decision makers, through secondment opportunities, immersing themselves in particular areas of specialisation and expertise that are instrumental as we embark on a new era of diplomacy, in a new international environment for foreign policy that caters to an accelerating, globalised world.’

François Heisbourg, Chairman of the IISS, thanked Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa for his remarks, and on behalf of the IISS council and trustees, thanked the Kingdom of Bahrain for the support it has provided to the IISS in its international mission.

I look forward to greater engagement of the IISS throughout the region,’ he said. ‘I now declare the office opening complete.