Special report: Tamim’s Qatar - a year of consolidation

Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad’s first year in office, has been – as widely expected – a period of continuity and consolidation, not change.In this special report, GSN reviews Tamim’s first year, considering the economy, domestic and foreign...

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Concerns rise over Qaboos’ health

There has been no official news of Oman’s Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al-Said since he flew to Germany on 9 July for an “annual vacation” and “medical examinations”, but multiple sources have told GSN that his condition is serious, and several...

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Iraq: Massoum elected president, Talabani returns

Jalal Talabani returned to Iraqi Kurdistan and his hometown of Sulemaniyah on 19 July, 19 months after the stroke that appears to have ended his political career. The former president has been in Germany for medical treatment since December 2012, and...

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Iran: Still waiting for nuclear rewards

Briefers for Iran and the P5+1 powers are confident a comprehensive nuclear agreement can be reached by 24 November, after the much-vaunted deal failed to materialise by the negotiators’ latest deadline, 20 July. Principals’ focus on other...

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Qatar/Saudi Arabia: Sheikh Tamim meets King Abdullah

With relations between Qatar and Saudi Arabia remaining acrimonious, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani made an unexpected visit to Jeddah on 22 July, where he held talks with King Abdullah Bin Abdelaziz. The visit was brief: Saudi interior minister...

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Lots of talk, but little action on GCC subsidy reform

Saudi Arabia’s Electricity and Cogeneration Regulatory Authority (ECRA) released its annual fiscal review on 1 July. Hidden inside the lengthy report was a startling figure: in 2012-13, Saudi government support to the Saudi Electricity Company...

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Perspectives

A selection of free articles from GSN's extensive database

GCC Risk Management Report: GCC tensions erupt as Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain challenge Qatar

On 5 March, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain announced they were withdrawing their ambassadors from Qatar, because Qatar had refused to abide by the terms of an agreement signed on 23 November, which said states should not interfere in other GCC members’ internal affairs, support ‘hostile media’, or support any group that threatened the security of member states. At the heart ...

Issue 968 - 17 April 2014

Miqrin Bin Abdelaziz named deputy crown prince

On 27 March, Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdelaziz Al-Saud appointed his half-brother, Prince Miqrin Bin Abdelaziz, as deputy crown prince, in a royal decree that may have answered short-term uncertainties about the much-debated Saudi succession, but once again delayed the more interesting question of which of the next generation of princes will be the first to rise.“Prince Miqrin Bin Abdelaziz ...

Issue 967 - 3 April 2014

Saudi Arabia: King Abdullah’s former wife makes complaint

An ex-wife of King Abdullah, Alanoud Daham Al-Bakheet Al-Fayez, and two of her four daughters have made complaints to the western press about their poor treatment in Saudi Arabia. Al-Fayez started a campaign to publicise the situation of her children in autumn 2013 (including an active Twitter campaign using the hashtag #freethefour); their story has now been covered by the UK’...

Issue 966 - 25 March 2014

Qatar: Stiff penalties for dodging conscription

Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani on 11 March signed into law the National Service Act, which will require Qatari males between the ages of 18 and 35 to spend three or four months training with the armed forces. Law number 5 of 2014 outlined harsh penalties for anyone seeking to avoid national service. According to The Peninsula newspaper, citizens dodging conscription will not be ...

Issue 966 - 25 March 2014

Oman and Iran sign gas deal

Oman and Iran have agreed to build a $1bn pipeline across the Gulf, and to export 10bcm of gas per year to Oman. State news agencies reported the deal on 12 March, during Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s two-day visit to Oman, his first trip to the Gulf since becoming president in June. Oman has been looking to buy gas from ...

Issue 966 - 24 March 2014

Oman corruption cases

Oman has been cracking down on corruption in recent months, leading to a string of trials and jail sentences for several prominent businessmen and government officials, the longest of which so far has been 23 years. Many of those convicted are expected to appeal. Court reporting is fairly patchy in Oman, and the large number of investigations makes it hard to ...

Issue 966 - 19 March 2014

UAE wins visa-free travel to Europe

The European Parliament (EP) voted overwhelmingly in favour of granting UAE citizens visa-free access to the 26-member Schengen area on 27 February, making the UAE the first Arab state to win the privilege. Abu Dhabi – which has already secured visa-free access to the UK – had been lobbying hard for approval from MEPs, and will be relieved that criticism of the UAE’...

Issue 965 - 6 March 2014

UAE: Sultan Bin Tahnoun guest of honour at Janadriya

The UAE was invited to be guest of honour at Saudi Arabia’s 29th Janadriya National Festival for Heritage and Culture, which opened on 12 February. Representing the federation was chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA) Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoun Al-Nahyan, who is also a member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council. The Janadriya festival, opened by ...

Issue 964 - 24 February 2014

Oman: More corruption convictions

Muscat’s criminal court has sentenced 23 people, including former government officials, to between one and three years for their part in a scandal involving the misappropriation of land in Duqm. According to Omani press reports, on 16 February, a former undersecretary at the housing ministry and the former secretary-general at the Supreme Committee for Town Planning were each given three-year terms ...

Issue 964 - 20 February 2014

Saudi defence budget hits $60bn

Saudi Arabia has overtaken the UK to have the fourth largest defence budget in the world, with an annual outlay of $59.6bn in 2013, according to newly published estimates from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a London-based think tank. Riyadh’s defence spending has been ramped up massively over recent years. From just over SR69bn ($18.4bn) in 2002, the ...

Issue 964 - 20 February 2014

Mishal Bin Abdullah: Najran appointment begins

Prince Mishal Bin Abdullah Bin Abdelaziz arrived in Najran province in mid-May to begin his duties as governor. He appears to be a popular choice, being received by large crowds who lined roads from the airport on his arrival. Mishal, King Abdullah’s son, was appointed following the November dismissal of hard-line governor Prince Mishal Bin Saud Bin Abdelaziz.

Issue 854 - 29 May 2009

Yemen: Dialogue ends, Hadi term extended

Yemen’s National Dialogue conference officially came to an end on 25 January. After nearly ten months of deliberations and a closing ceremony that included the release of thousands of balloons into the air above Sanaa, delegates produced a final report with 1,400 recommendations; whether they can be translated into a working nation remains to be seen. Political factions also extended President ...

Issue 963 - 7 February 2014

UAE: 30 convicted in Brotherhood trial

The Federal Supreme Court has sentenced all 30 defendants in a mass trial of Islamists to jail terms ranging from three months to five years. All of those convicted on 21 January were accused of being members of an illegal Muslim Brotherhood cell and of stealing secret information from the security services; rights groups say the charges were vague and the trial ...

Issue 962 - 23 January 2014

Saudi Arabia: Mishaal Bin Abdelaziz’s case will start in February

London’s High Court is preparing for a high-profile case due to start in February, involving two Saudi royals: businessman and Allegiance Commission chairman Mishaal Bin Abdelaziz and his son Abdelaziz (Apex Global Management Ltd v FI Call Ltd, Global Torch Ltd, HRH Prince Abdelaziz Mishaal Bin Abdelaziz Al-Saud, Emad Mahmoud Ahmed Abu-Ayshih, HRH Prince Mishaal Bin Abdelaziz Al-Saud, GSN 947/6). ...

Issue 962 - 23 January 2014

Bahrain: $1bn criminal conspiracy

The UK-based law firm Addleshaw Goddard is to represent Saudi property developer Dar Al-Arkan and Bahrain’s Bank Alkhair (previously known as Unicorn Investment Bank) in a $1bn conspiracy case against several defendants: the bank’s former chief executive, the US-born Majid Bader Al-Refai, global risk consulting firm Kroll Associates, Bahrain-based chartered accountant Alex Richardson and business consultancy FTI Consulting. ...

Issue 962 - 23 January 2014

Kuwait reshuffle sees oil, finance ministers go

Kuwait’s five-month-old cabinet has already fallen apart, as political tensions prompted a major reshuffle (GSN 953/8). On 23 December – just hours after the constitutional court rejected petitions to nullify July’s parliamentary polls – the entire government submitted its resignation to Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak, following media reports of an imminent reshuffle. On 6 January, Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah issued two ...

Issue 961 - 9 January 2014

Saudi Arabia: Bandar meets Putin

General Intelligence Directorate chief Prince Bandar Bin Sultan held a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin near Moscow, the Kremlin said on 3 December. A previous meeting between the two men, in late July, has been the source of much speculation. The contents of that meeting remain elusive, and there has been considerable, unsubstantiated speculation about whether Bandar offered the Russians ...

Issue 960 - 12 December 2013

Iran: Rouhani tackles IRGC challenge

President Hassan Rouhani’s adept international diplomacy secured a quick win on the nuclear front, with the interim agreement signed by Tehran and the P5+1 on 24 November (GSN 959/1) paving the way for a scaling back of the crippling sanctions regime, and potentially an end to Iran’s years of isolation. But now he faces the arguably more onerous task of ...

Issue 960 - 12 December 2013

Yemen: Security vacuum expands

The security vacuum in Yemen has continued to expand as political factions battle for control of the security forces. Insecurity is plaguing central provinces such as Dhamar, where, on 24 November, deputy governor Abdullah Mayseri was kidnapped, and Taizz, where Mohammed Moneer, a nephew of governor Shawqi Ahmed Hayel, remains in the hands of kidnappers. There have also been a number ...

Issue 959 - 29 November 2013

Improving relations between Baghdad and Ankara put KRG on edge

Recent promises to mend relations between the Kurdistan Regional Government and Baghdad have not led to any real progress on disputes over politics, land and oil. And as Baghdad makes overtures towards its former sparring partner – and close Kurdish ally – Turkey, the government. The 29 April framework accord signed by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime ...

Issue 958 - 14 November 2013

Qatar: Sheikh Saud Bin Mohammed payment ordered

It emerged in September that Qatari art dealer Sheikh Saud Bin Mohammed must pay London-based SJ Berwin £261,279 in unpaid fees for advice given when his assets were frozen following a 2012 court case. Sheikh Saud was sued in the UK High Court in November 2012 by a group of dealers who said he had dishonoured a pledge to pay $19.7m for a ...

Issue 957 - 1 November 2013

Iraqi Kurdistan: Dana Gas takes KRG to court

The largest energy investor in Iraqi Kurdistan, Sharjah-based Dana Gas, has begun arbitration proceedings against the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) at the London Court of International Arbitration. Dana and its partners in Iraq say they want to “clarify certain contractual rights”, and recoup more than $1bn in unpaid receivables. The KRG says there are no outstanding receivables and that, in ...

Issue 957 - 31 October 2013

Saudi Arabia: Salman Bin Sultan attends Red Alligator exercises


In early October, recently appointed deputy defence minister Prince Salman Bin Sultan Bin Abdelaziz attended the closing events of the British-Saudi Exercise Red Alligator 3 in Jazan Region. The prince was pictured in Al-Riyadh attending a weapons demonstration, which included a 40mm grenade launcher.

Issue 956 - 21 October 2013

Bahrain: King Hamad visits China


King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa returned to Bahrain on 18 September after an official visit to China at the invitation of President Xi Jinping. It was King Hamad’s first visit to China at the invitation of the president, timed to coincide with the first China-Arab States Expo, whose opening ceremony in Yinchuan he attended. During his visit, on which he ...

Issue 955 - 3 October 2013

BAE submits formal bid to supply Typhoons to UAE

Britain’s BAE has submitted a formal bid to supply 60 Eurofighter Typhoon jets to the UAE, which has been looking to upgrade its fleet for many years, according to BAE house broker UBS. France’s Dassault Aviation is competing for the contract: a deal to buy Dassault’s Rafale has been mooted since at least 2009, and seemed close at times. ...

Issue 955 - 3 October 2013

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Power infrastructure in Iraq map

Published July 2014, this map provides an overview of electricity infrastructure in Iraq.

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Oman: Oil and gas infrastructure

Revised June 2014, this map provides an overview of hydrocarbons infrastructure in Oman.

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Licensed oil and gas blocks in the United Arab Emirates

Published in May 2013, this map provides an overview of licensed blocks in UAE both onshore and offshore.

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ISIL ‘vision’ is an abuse of history

The picture across the Middle East is somewhat bleak, as GSN heads off for its brief summer break. The conflict in Gaza may...

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Malinowski’s expulsion unlikely to change the status quo in Bahrain

The three-year, slow-burning conflict in Bahrain remains a minor headache to most international governments, in a region full...

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Kurdish future depends on slow political ratchet

Violence is once again tearing Iraq apart. The fall of Mosul did not just mark the terrifying rise of jihadists from the...

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