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Gulf States Newsletter has run for substantially more than 1,000 fortnightly issues, under four very different owners and in various incarnations since it was first published in 1974.
GSN appeared first in Beirut – then called Middle East Newsletter – during a period when oil prices quadrupled in the wake of the October 1973 crisis, and Saudi Arabia and its neighbours began to flex their political, as well as economic, muscle.
The publication was sold in the late 1970s to Africa and Mena-focused, London-based IC Publications, owned by Tunisian-born publisher Afif Ben Yedder. Middle East Newsletter routinely carried articles on countries in North Africa and the fringes of the Middle East region, including Turkey and Sudan, as well as the Gulf states. Gulf States Newsletter was first published under the GSN title in December 1980 (issue 151), following IC’s successful launches of separate newsletters on Saudi Arabia and North Africa in 1979. GSN’s then remit was to cover Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE.
Intended to provide “a sharper focus and a more comprehensive coverage of individual Middle Eastern countries than the existing Middle East Newsletter could accomplish”, this arrangement continued until August 1987 (issue 318), when Saudi Arabia Newsletter was reabsorbed into GSN. The publisher cited “increasing political and economic integration of the six countries of the Gulf Co-operation Council... and the impact upon them of events in Iran and Iraq”.
In the late 1980s, GSN left the IC Publications stable to be taken over by its long-time editor, former British diplomat John Christie. Christie ran the publication in later years with various editors, including the academic Andrew Rathmell, and contributors such as Michael Knights (now of consultancy Horizon and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy). Weighed down by ill-health, but still driven by an indomitable spirit, Christie looked to sell the newsletter. It was purchased by Cross-border Information (CbI) in August 2000, which at the time – as the digital age loomed – was already planning to launch a ‘Gulf Confidential’ publication.
Founded in 1989 by journalist and political scientist Jon Marks, Hastings-based specialist publishing, research and consultancy company CbI took over GSN with a commitment to uphold its independent reporting and analysis of the Gulf region and its ruling elites, and to develop an online presence. Under CbI’s ownership, GSN has sought to maintain unbiased, well-informed reporting and analysis to give its subscribers a regular, precise overview of the region.