Politics

Qatar: Two families, one tribe

The Al-Maktoums and the Al-Nahyan have common origins as different branches of the Bani Yas tribe, but since the two families split in the 1830s they have developed with distinct differences. The Al-Nahyans have been focused on managing tribal...

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Oman: New ministries, appointments

Ahead of elections to the 85-seat Majlis Al-Shura on 27 October, Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al-Said has set up two new departments and a new tax authority in a series of surprise changes on 14 October. A Ministry of Technology and Communications, headed...

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Qatar isolated by Turkish ties

Qatar has found itself in an uncomfortable position over Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria, following the United States’ decision to abandon its Kurdish allies. The assault by Turkish forces which began on 9 October has been widely condemned. A...

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Abu Dhabi-Dubai ties under pressure from regional instability and economic doldrums

The relationship between Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and UAE Armed Forces deputy supreme commander Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan (MBZ) and Dubai Ruler, federal Vice President and prime minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum (MBR) is...

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UAE pull-out raises risk of division among Yemen’s southern successionists

There are signs southern separatists are beginning to fragment as a result of the recent loss of UAE support, while indirect talks between President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC) leadership drag...

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Riyadh seeks compromise with Iran, fed up being ‘pushed around’

Saudi ambassador to the UK Prince Khalid Bin Bandar has claimed Riyadh is trying to avoid war with Iran, but is growing tired of being “pushed” by Tehran. He told the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) think tank in London that “Saudi...

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oman: Sultan Qaboos to miss National Day

Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al-Said will not be in Oman for the national holiday to mark his 74th birthday on 18 November. In the absence of official detail about the medical condition which has kept him away from home for more than four months, much significance had been placed on whether or not he would return for the National Day, when ...

Issue 981 - 13 November 2014

Yemen: Houthis continue attacks on Al-Qaeda

Shiite Houthi militias have continued their advance against Al-Qaeda-linked militants in central Yemen, as newly appointed Yemeni Prime Minister Khaled Bahah struggles to form a government in Sanaa. Employing a strategy that relies largely on treaties with local tribes, the Houthis have been able to push hard against Ansar Al-Sharia (AAS), an affiliate of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), ...

Issue 980 - 30 October 2014

Al-Wefaq suspended for three months

Bahrain’s High Administrative Court ruled on 28 October that the main opposition group Al-Wefaq was in contravention of the law, and should have its activities suspended for three months. The case against Al-Wefaq, filed in July, argued that the society had failed to hold a legal general assembly, or to make the necessary legal filings about the assembly’s outcomes; ...

Issue 980 - 30 October 2014

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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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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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Al-Salem branch shouldn’t be written out of Kuwaiti succession

With further concerns about the health of Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, following his admission to hospital...

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Events

30 October

Opportunity Arabia

The Grocers' Hall, Princes Street, London

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

13-14 April

The Solar & Wind Show MENA 2020

Egypt International Exhibitions Center, Cairo, Egypt

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