Doubts about Crown Prince Nawaf’s health spur talk of change in Kuwaiti succession

With the elder generation ailing, Emir Sheikh Sabah’s son Sheikh Nasser Sabah has risen up the pecking order to take over on his father’s death, at a time when GSN’s soundings suggest there are surprisingly few other credible candidates for the...

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Qatar could play expanded role as the UAE pulls back from war-torn Yemen

With Saudi Arabia on the verge of sealing the Riyadh Agreement deal with southern secessionists, further destabilisation in the wake of the UAE’s withdrawal of forces from southern Yemen may be averted. Saudi-led coalition forces have already been...

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UAE: Putin majors in energy diplomacy

The belligerent, but judicious, projection of a revived Russian military machine and covert (digital and deniable human) resources have re-established Moscow as a major player in the Middle East and Africa – frustrating and sometimes baffling its...

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GCC economies climb the Doing Business rankings

Saudi Arabia made the most notable improvement in the World Bank Group (WBG)’s latest Doing Business report, issued in late October. The kingdom jumped 30 places to 62nd out of 190 economies. Other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states also posted...

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Yemen/Saudi Arabia: Houthi drone and missile attacks fade amid supply issues

There have been no new drone strikes on Saudi territory from Yemen following the 14 September attack on oil facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais. The strike against the Saudi Aramco plants was initially claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, before those...

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Emperor Naruhito: Gulfis turn out for enthronement

Ruling family members from across the Gulf joined representatives of some 195 governments and international organisations for the enthronement ceremony of Emperor Naruhito of Japan, held at the Imperial Place in Tokyo on 22 October. The most senior...

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A selection of free articles from GSN's extensive database

Qatar: Revival of international diplomacy amid Gulf rift

Politics: Al-Thanis have ruled since the mid-19th century, reinforced by British recognition of their right to govern. 25 years after independence in 1971, the peninsula gained hugely in power, confidence and wealth with ‘Father Emir’ Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani’s drive to develop gas reserves. The population has boomed, from around 111,000 in 1970 to 2.2m-plus today (85%-90% expatriate), almost exclusively concentrated ...

Issue 1076 - 7 March 2019

International sanctions harden resolve among ordinary Iranians

The United States’ sanctions against Iran appear to be hardening views inside the Islamic Republic, according to a new survey of public opinion by IranPoll. Some 76% of those polled (by telephone among a representative sample of 1,017 Iranians from 4-12 December) now think it is “very important” for Iran to develop missiles, up from 74% in January 2018. A further 20% think it is “...

Issue 1075 - 23 February 2019

Riyadh draws line in the sand as MBS seeks to reinvigorate reform programme

Saudi officials are trying to put the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi behind them, with a new initiative to kick-start inward investment and a range of soft power initiatives. But while the stellar turn-out of sporting stars, entertainers and business leaders arriving in the kingdom suggests that – rather predictably – many supports for Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS)’s ...

Issue 1074 - 7 February 2019

Iraq’s energy needs become a battleground in the US-Iran dispute

Prime Minister Adil Abdel-Mahdi and his government finding themselves in the uncomfortable position of being caught between the competing interests of two powerful antagonists, as United States pressure intensifies on Baghdad to cut its ties with Iran and hand lucrative business contracts to American bidders. Iran is a vital partner because of its provision of about one-third of Iraq’s ...

Issue 1073 - 24 January 2019

UAE: MBR puts son at the centre of reiterated economic vision

Federal Vice President and prime minister, and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum (MBR) began the year with a brace of statements seemingly designed to restate his economic and political philosophy. On 5 January, he set out eight defining principals for governing Dubai, followed the next day by a 50-year charter. Both statements concentrated on one of his favourite ...

Issue 1072 - 10 January 2019

UAE tests its standing in the international arena with Hedges affair

Matthew Hedges’ release from a life sentence in the United Arab Emirates, following a presidential pardon on 26 November, came as a great relief to his family – led by his wife Daniela Tejada – and to his many academic and other supporters. However, his ordeal has raised important questions about the state of bilateral relations between the UAE and United Kingdom, as ...

Issue 1070 - 29 November 2018

Saudi Arabia: MBS under scrutiny at home and abroad over the Khashoggi affair

The launch of legal proceedings in Argentina against Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and popular protests in allied Arab countries that the Saudi heir apparent is visiting to burnish his diplomatic credentials show that MBS remains under intense international scrutiny almost two months after dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was butchered in Istanbul.

Issue 1070 - 29 November 2018

Saudi Arabia: Khashoggi affair weighs heavy, financing needs rise

Khashoggi affair: The murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October continues to cause difficulties for Riyadh and for Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) in particular. Key western allies appear to have been angered as much by the amateurish attempts by Riyadh to deny responsibility for the journalist’s fate as they are by ...

Issue 1069 - 15 November 2018

Kuwait: Parliament reconvenes in more conciliatory atmosphere

Parliament reconvenes: Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah reopened the National Assembly (parliament) on 30 October. The session was due to start with a grilling of prime minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah, but the motion was withdrawn by MPs Mohammed Al-Mutair and Shuaib Al-Muwaizri the day before. In a further sign of compromise, the government has reinstated citizenship to a number ...

Issue 1068 - 1 November 2018

Iran: Gas sector may yet prove resilient to US sanctions

The confirmation on 20 August that French major Total was going to pull out of its $1bn deal to develop Phase 11 of the massive South Pars gas field came as little surprise. Total had warned it would be forced to abandon the project unless it secured a waiver from the United States ahead of the imposition of its second wave of ...

Issue 1065 - 6 September 2018

Kuwait: Government under pressure as parliament reasserts itself

Politics: Kuwait has been governed by the Al-Sabah family since the 18th century. It gained independence from Britain in 1961, when a new constitution confirmed the hereditary monarchy, but gave significant powers to an independent judiciary and an elected assembly. The emir – Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah (born in June 1929) since 2006 – retains final say. Parties are banned, but active associations and factions ...

Issue 1037 - 25 May 2017

Ali’s release raises questions about Oman’s commitment to punishing corruption

Former Galfar Engineering and Contracting head Mohammed Ali was released in early June following a Ramadan amnesty-related pardon. Ali was sentenced in 2014 to lengthy jail terms for his part in two high-profile bribery cases, the ramifications of which run on to today. His release, and persistent reports of the authorities’ lax approach to other financial criminals, raise questions about Muscat’...

Issue 1017 - 16 June 2016

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

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Bahrain's Economic Performance

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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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Saudi Arabia: Risks and rewards as Saudi Aramco share sale gears up

Speculation has been mounting that the Saudi government is set to move forward with the long-planned initial public offering...

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Anti-graft drive offers Saudi crown prince respite from foreign critics

Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS)’s reputation may still suffer on (parts of) the international stage as a result of...

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Gulf leaders air grievances and score points at UN assembly

The 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly began on 17 September and ran on until the end of the month. As ever,...

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17-18 November

Solar Asset Management MENA

Renaissance Downtown Hotel, Dubai

19-21 November

Middle East Electricity Saudi

Riyadh International Convention Center, Riyadh Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

9-10 December

Oman Sustainable Energy and Technology Summit

Crowne Plaza Hotel Muscat

10-12 December

Middle East Artificial Lift Forum (MEALF)

Muscat, Oman

25-27 January

Iraq Finance Expo

Baghdad International Fairground

27-28 January

Middle East and North Africa Energy 2020

Chatham House, London

13-14 April

The Solar & Wind Show MENA 2020

Egypt International Exhibitions Center, Cairo, Egypt

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