Falih appointment as oil minister confirms younger generation takeover in Riyadh

The reshaping of economic policy and changing of the guard in senior government ranks continues to gather momentum in Riyadh, with new ministers in charge of oil, electricity, commerce and transport, as well as a new central bank governor. The...

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Infrastructure upgrades help smooth RAK tensions

Approaching Ras Al-Khaimah (RAK) along the federal highway, the earnest demeanor of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed (MBZ) starts appearing more regularly on roadside posters, impressing on Northern Emiratis the notion that “we’re all in...

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Fujairah’s Al-Sharqi invest in London

The Abu Dhabi and Dubai ruling families have long been keen buyers of London real estate, but scrutiny of the Panama Papers – the leak of 11.5m files from offshore law firm Mossack Fonseca – and UK Land Registry data reveals the Fujairah ruling...

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Iran: Confusion mixed with defiance over ballistic missile tests

The Iranian Armed Forces successfully tested a precision-guided medium-range ballistic missile in mid-April, Brigadier General Ali Abdollahi told the Tasnim news agency in a report published on 9 May. “We tested a missile with a range of 2,000km...

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Yemen: Saudi FM reaches out to Houthis over Twitter

In what appears to be a reconciliatory gesture towards what Riyadh sees as Yemeni rebels, Saudi foreign minister Adel Al-Jubeir has described the Houthis as being an intrinsic part of Yemeni society. “Whether we agree or disagree with them, the...

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Kuwait: Bidoon inch towards citizenship

The National Assembly approved a bill on 14 May that could lead to citizenship being granted to up to 4,000 “illegal residents” in 2016, with similar numbers expected to be approved on an annual basis going forward. The legislation was portrayed...

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A selection of free articles from GSN's extensive database

Executives jet in to Iran, but legal pitfalls could put brake on investment

Nothing has yet changed, for all the excitement caused by the agreement to end Iranian sanctions, signed by Tehran and the P5+1 group of six international powers in July. No sanctions have been removed and none will be until the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), confirms that Iran has met its side of the Joint ...

Issue 1005 - 26 November 2015

Risk Management Report: UAE - Emirates

At the top of each emirate are the courts of the rulers, and their crown princes. In practice, only the rulers of Abu Dhabi and Dubai make unilateral decisions and issue emiri decrees; most of the smaller emirates use legislation crafted at federal level. Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah all have executive councils (Dubai’s is relatively informal). Abu Dhabi ...

Issue 1004 - 12 November 2015

Saudi Arabia: Attack on Najran’s Ismaili community amplifies IS threat

The suicide bombing of a mosque in Najran in late October is the fifth attack this year on a Saudi mosque by those who identify themselves as Islamic State (IS, or Daesh) and the first against the southern Ismaili community. The attack on 26 October killed two people; one of those killed was a 95-year-old man who blocked the bomber as ...

Issue 1004 - 12 November 2015

Yemen: Hospital bombing adds to human rights concern

Haydan Hospital in the northern Saada governorate was hit by at least two (some reports said up to six) airstrikes from around 23.00hrs on 26 October. The strikes were carried out by forces from the Saudi Arabia-led coalition. The hospital – which is supported by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) – had over a dozen people inside at the time; seven medical ...

Issue 1003 - 29 October 2015

Risk Management Report: Oman

POLITICS: Oman has been governed since 1970 by Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al-Said, the 14th ruler of the Al-Busaidi dynasty, founded in 1750. Qaboos, who deposed his father in a coup, relies on a variety of allies typically drawn from the merchant elite, rather than his relatively small family. He was briefly married but has no children or heir apparent; finalising the ...

Issue 1002 - 15 October 2015

Mohammed Bin Salman provides a focus for Saudi disquiet

Even before the disaster in Mecca that killed at least 769 people on 24 September, a “definite sense of disquiet” was apparent across Saudi Arabia, as one analyst based in the kingdom put it. A variety of sources have spoken to GSN about growing unease among Saudis over the military intervention in Yemen and a perceived lack of urgency in tackling the ...

Issue 1001 - 1 October 2015

Bahrain: US approves $150m deal for F-16 support

The US government said on 7 August that it had approved a possible sale of $150m worth of equipment to Bahrain to maintain its fleet of Lockheed Martin Corp F-16 fighter jets. The move comes as two senators submitted a bill to the Senate to reintroduce the arms export ban on Bahrain, lifted by the State Department at the end of ...

Issue 999 - 4 September 2015

Gulf stock exchanges seek traction from Saudi opening

Rather than gaining a bounce from the opening up of the Saudi stock exchange (Tadawul), regional equities markets have been hit hard in the past month by the global turmoil related in part to collapsing Chinese markets. In a 24 August note, Capital Economics said the worst Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region stock market performers were largely concentrated in ...

Issue 999 - 4 September 2015

Saudi Arabia: Cousin and father’s ex-wife seek redress against Abdelaziz Bin Fahd

Prince Abdelaziz Bin Fahd, once seen as the most favoured son of the late King Fahd Bin Abdelaziz, features in two separate judicial processes, triggered by a junior Al-Saud, Prince Sultan Bin Turki Bin Abdelaziz, and Janan Harb, who claims she was married to Fahd. Sultan Bin Turki has filed a complaint with Swiss police against Abdelaziz – his first cousin – ...

Issue 998 - 30 July 2015

Qatar battles its image problem – and creates a windfall for PR companies

Qatar’s substantial lobbying clout has been in evidence again, with a flow of contracts for public relations firms and reports of the ruling Al-Thani’s celebrity friends using their influence to promote Doha’s interests.Recent media reports have dragged up the old news that Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, then US secretary of state, was lobbied by former ...

Issue 998 - 30 July 2015

From the archive: The Saddam solution

In the face of mounting evidence that Iraq has been using chemical weapons against its Kurdish population, the stream of categoric denials issuing from Baghdad carry little conviction. The United States’ announcement earlier this month that it is “convinced” that Iraq has employed chemical warfare in its military campaign against the Kurdish guerillas was followed by a vote in the ...

Issue 998 - 30 July 2015

Bahrain: Sharif rearrested

The secretary-general of opposition party Waad, Ibrahim Sharif, has been arrested again, less than a month after he was released from jail. Bahrain’s director-general of criminal investigation and forensic science said on 12 July that Sharif was detained for statements he made at a community centre in Muharraq on 10 July, that “called for violence” and “encouraged the overthrow of the ...

Issue 997 - 16 July 2015

Risk Management Report: Qatar

POLITICS: The Al-Thani family has ruled Qatar since the mid-19th century, its power entrenched at the end of the Ottoman Empire with British recognition of its right to govern. Independence was declared in 1971. In recent decades, the tiny state has gained hugely in power, confidence and wealth; the population has boomed, from around 111,000 in 1970 to 2.2m today (around 85% expatriate). ...

Issue 996 - 2 July 2015

Sharjah: Sheikh Sultan promises council elections

The Sharjah Consultative Council (SCC), one of the UAE’s few such emirate-level bodies, is to increase its seats to 42 and elect half of its members, ruler Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Bin Saqr Al-Qasimi announced on 9 June. The other 21 members will be appointed by the ruler – a strategy that may help to avoid an overwhelmingly male, conservative majority when the ...

Issue 995 - 18 June 2015

Risk Management Report: Iraq

Iraq attained its independence as a kingdom in 1932, and became a republic in 1958. The 1980s saw the long war with Iran, the 1990s the Gulf war and ensuing sanctions, and the 2000s the US-led occupation which removed the Baathists and Saddam Hussein. Twelve years after the US-led war, the country has yet to emerge from conflict. GSN’s political risk ...

Issue 994 - 4 June 2015

Yemen: Rivals join forces in battle for Aden

Popular Resistance forces in the southern province of Aden may be forging a united front against northern Zaydi-Shia Houthi militias, but they are far from united. Groups of Sunni Islamist militants, secessionists and tribal elements, engaged in some of the most intense fighting against the Houthis, may face a prolonged conflict among themselves if the northern rebels eventually leave the ...

Issue 994 - 4 June 2015

Morocco refinery problems for Al-Amoudi/Al-Sultan empire

Despite moves to mobilise new finance, concern is growing in Morocco about the financial health of the North African kingdom’s only refinery, operated by Société Marocaine d’Industrie de Raffinage (Samir) at Mohammedia, and its ability to remain the dominant player in the national products market. This follows the announcement of losses in 2014 and questions about the ability ...

Issue 993 - 21 May 2015

From the archive: “Democracy in Doha”

Qatar’s Municipal elections came and went in mid-March attracting a lot of international attention, generating some excitement within the country and laying down an important, if undramatic, landmark in the progress of political reform in the Gulf. The participation of women as voters and candidates was the critical issue.As one might expect, bearing in mind the small numbers ...

Issue 993 - 21 May 2015

Sultan Qaboos chairs cabinet meeting

On 8 April, Oman’s Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al-Said presided over his first council of ministers’ meeting since returning to Muscat on 23 March, following lengthy treatment in Germany for what is understood to be cancer. Photographs showed the sultan in good spirits as he attended the meeting at Bayt Al-Baraka. With Oman somewhat in limbo during his eight-month absence, he ...

Issue 991 - 23 April 2015

Financial and political agenda underpins Gulf commitments

The massive support from Gulf-based institutions for a new and hugely ambitious programme of power sector investments in Egypt may not be as quixotic as it first appears. The intention to back multi-gigawatt coal and renewable generation projects – announced at a conference in Sharm El-Sheikh in mid-March by seven large developers from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait – is underpinned ...

Issue 990 - 2 April 2015

Tension builds beneath the silence in Kuwait

Kuwait’s press has rightfully earned itself a reputation as one of the most vibrant and free in the Arab world. It is not uncommon to see Kuwaiti papers splash on political and economic scandals and controversies, or even report on infighting within the ruling Al-Sabah, something which would scarcely be imaginable in the other Gulf monarchies. But over the ...

Issue 989 - 19 March 2015

A year overshadowed by threat from Sunni extremists

No one expected a quiet year in the Gulf, given the ongoing conflicts and ugly groundswell of sectarianism throughout the wider region. But while much of the news agenda in 2014 was filled with foreseeable preoccupations – squabbles between Qatar and the rest of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), the further deterioration of the situation in Yemen, tentative rapprochement with Iran, ongoing ...

Issue 983 - 11 December 2014

Iraq: Baghdad and KRG finally agree on oil revenues

The Iraqi federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) announced a draft agreement on sharing oil revenues on 2 December, following two days of negotiations between federal Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi and KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani. The deal, which builds on a temporary agreement signed in November, still needs to be approved by parliament and written into the 2015 budget. ...

Issue 983 - 11 December 2014

Who’s next in the Kuwait succession?

Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah has been in power since January 2006; he is 85 years old, and there are some concerns about his health. His half-brother, Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, is expected to succeed him when he dies, and is a fairly uncontroversial choice, although, at 77, he is also advancing in years. Presuming Nawaf succeeds, the key ...

Issue 982 - 27 November 2014

How Saudi Arabia’s terrorist rehabilitation programme works

Saudi Arabia’s strategy to combat extremism – the Prevention, Rehabilitation and Aftercare (PRAC) strategy – developed in the aftermath of the May 2003 bombings of residential compounds in Riyadh. It involves several ministries, but is led by the Ministry of Interior – specifically Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef, who has been minister since November 2012, and was previously assistant to the interior minister for security ...

Issue 982 - 27 November 2014

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Gulf boundaries and hydrocarbons infrastructure

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The Gulf region: economy and society

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Iraqi Kurdistan hydrocarbons infrastructure map

Revised in January 2015, this map provides a detailed overview of hydrocarbons infrastructure in the Kurdistan area of Iraq.

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Charity, civil society begin at the top in highly centralised polities

To what extent could Gulf polities become more pluralist and different groups, like Christian congregations, Asian workers...

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Saudi Arabia: ‘Unsatisfactory’ electricity and water minister sacked

This much we know about regional diplomacy. Led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) states will...

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It’s crunch time for reform measures as Kuwaiti oil workers strike

Providing secure and lucrative public sector employment has been an important means of wealth distribution and social control...

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