Transregional Planning Grants


As oil-rich Gulf States seek to diversify away from non-renewable resources, the East African islands of Zanzibar court their aid to search for offshore fossil fuels in a quest to become the “Dubai of East Africa.” Yet such drilling agreements threaten to further disrupt competing coastal economies and ecologies already vulnerable to the effects of climate change. This project examines the ethical, political, and environmental stakes of this transnational enterprise, including the use of Islamic narratives to justify competing potential futures such as both extractive and sustainable orientations toward coastal resources.

Principal Investigators

Issa Haji Ziddy

Associate Professor of Religious Education, State University of Zanzibar

Dr. Issa Ziddy is an associate professor of religious education at the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA). He obtained his PhD in curriculum development & methodology of teaching from the International University of Africa in Khartoum, Sudan. His research and publications in Arabic, Swahili, and English concern the history of Islamic education in Zanzibar, Muslim-Christian relations, Gulf-Zanzibar connections, and Islamic teachings on current issues. He was a visiting scholar in Islamic studies at the University of Leipzig, Institute of Oriental Studies in Germany, Bayreuth University in Germany, and in Northwest College in Wyoming through the Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program. He has partnered with the government and organizations in Zanzibar seeking to bring Islamic leaders into their work in educating communities on pressing current issues, including gender-based violence, family planning, and positive discipline for children in homes and schools and environmental issues.

Caitlyn Bolton

PhD Candidate, City University of New York

Caitlyn Bolton is a PhD candidate in cultural anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her research centers on transnational currents of Islamic reform, development, and knowledge exchange in Zanzibar and the Gulf. Supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, Social Science Research Council, Fulbright-Hays, and the American Council of Learned Societies, her dissertation examines transnational Islamic organizations working in development and education in Zanzibar, and the role of religion and religious knowledge in their approaches to progress and social change. She speaks Arabic and Swahili, has a BA in anthropology and africana studies from Bard College, an MA in near eastern studies from New York University, and has worked at Harvard Kennedy School’s Middle East Initiative and the Cordoba Initiative.

Mary Mtumwa Khatib

Research Officer, Lecturer, Department of Geography, State University of Zanzibar

Dr. Mary Khatib is a lecturer in the Department of Geography at the State University of Zanzibar. Her dissertation, titled “A Changing Climate: Local Adaptations in Northern Coastal Communities’ Livelihoods of Unguja Island, Zanzibar,” examined the effects of the changing climate on local livelihoods highly dependent on coastal resource extraction in northern Unguja island, Zanzibar. She has partnered extensively with the government and NGOs on research projects related to climate change and livelihoods in Zanzibar, and has conducted research with the Department of Education and Vocational Training.