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On 13 January, two German diplomats came under attack near the town of Awamiyah, in Eastern Province, when gunmen fired on their car. Both diplomats escaped unharmed, but the vehicle caught fire. Saudi police have launched a manhunt for the gunmen, and the German embassy has launched its own investigation. There is considerable speculation locally about why the Germans were in the area, and whether they had avoided checkpoints by passing through back roads. Ambassador Dieter Haller has been quoted as saying they “went on a drive”.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 918 - 22 March 2012

Baghdad approves UK oil tender

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Iraq has approved a $329m tender for UK oil and gas services company Petrofac to develop the untapped Badra oil field.

Iraq
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Former British prime minister Baroness Margaret Thatcher, who died on 8 April, recognised the commercial potential of strong relations between Britain and the Gulf. Under her watch, relations (and arms trade) with Saudi Arabia picked up pace: in April 1981 she made the first trip to Saudi Arabia ever undertaken by a British prime minister (ISS 43/7), and she was closely involved in the negotiations that led to the controversial Al-Yamamah deal.

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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 sanctions – scheduled for 4 November – that will directly target Iran’s energy sector. That waiver was unforthcoming and oil minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh duly announced that Total was pulling out.

Iran
Free

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 themes: that government leaders should focus on delivering tangible improvements to the quality of life of the people they govern.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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The government is to spend SR120bn ($32bn) on subsidised home loans for local borrowers as part of a plan to boost home ownership from 50% today to 60% by 2020 and 70% by 2030. Housing minister Majed Alhogail launched the programme on 5 February, drawing together a consortium of 16 government agencies. The plans include a SR18bn loan guarantee system to boost access to funding and SR12.5bn to support deposits on home purchases between now and 2030.

Saudi Arabia
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Abu Dhabi royal’s interest in Russian oligarchs’ duel, Meetings, Weddings, Funeral, Mining deal, Hosts Qatari leader, International relations, Australian meetings, Well-wishers

United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Saudi Arabia | Qatar
Issue 1060 - 25 May 2018

UAE: Outreach to Asian allies

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The UAE finalised a defence security and co-operation agreement with Japan, with the deal signed by minister of state for defence affairs Mohammed Bin Ahmed Al-Bowardi and Japan’s minister of state for defence Tomohiro Yamamoto in the Defence Ministry in Tokyo on 12 May. Al-Bowadi also held talks with Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency commissioner Suzuki Yoshiyuki.Japan has traditionally taken a very cautious approach to arms exports and defence technology transfer, so any developments in this area are liable to be slow-moving.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Issue 919 - 08 March 2012

Who’s who in Saudi foreign policy

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Saudi foreign policy ultimately rests largely in the hands of individuals; it is character-driven, personalised and must be viewed through the network of alliances and tensions that knit the delicate balance in Riyadh. GSN takes a look at some of the main characters likely to be influencing foreign policy.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 1093 - 28 November 2019

Bahrain: US senator visits Rajab home

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United States Senator Chris Murphy, a frequent critic of arms sales to the Gulf, visited the family of imprisoned human rights activist Nabeel Rajab in Manama on 23 November.

Bahrain
Free

Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al-Said returned from Germany on 12 April following “successful” medical checkups, a Royal Court statement said. The “routine” checks “have been crowned with the desired good results”, it added. There has been intense speculation over the 75-year-old Omani leader’s health since he spent eight months in Germany for medical treatment prior to returning in March 2015. GSN sources have said recent speculation was overblown as the Sultan seemed in reasonable health – and is planning to visit London soon for a 90th birthday lunch with Queen Elizabeth II.

Oman
Issue 1075 - 23 February 2019

Qatar: Strategic link to France

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Qatar and France have signed a declaration of intent to establish a strategic dialogue, following talks between deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani and France’s Europe and foreign affairs minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Doha on 11 February. The agreement covers a broad range of areas including defence and security, health, education, culture, sports, economy, investment, and combating terrorism. Le Drian said there would be further discussions on regional issues including Libya, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.

Qatar
Issue 917 - 09 February 2012

Qatar urges dialogue with Iran

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Ever-prominent in regional diplomacy, Qatar has also encouraged dialogue with Tehran. State minister for foreign affairs Khalid Bin Mohammed Al Attiyah told the Munich Security Conference on 5 February that tightening sanctions would aggravate the situation.

Iran | Qatar
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Bahrain has reacted with fury to a documentary on Qatar-based Al Jazeera Media Network (AJMN), broadcast on 14 July, which it described it as having a “terrorist style that incites hatred, sows division and aims to subvert national unity”. A Ministry of Information Affairs spokesperson said it showed Qatar to be a “rogue and terrorist state in word and deed”. The film, shown on AJMN’s Arabic language channel, claimed Bahrain had conspired with Al-Qaeda to plan assassinations of dissidents and opposition figures.

Kuwait | Bahrain | Qatar
Issue 1003 - 29 October 2015

Kuwait: Kazakhstan embassy

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The new Kuwait Embassy building was inaugurated on 20 October at 5 Charles de Gaulle Street, in an elite district of Astana, with a reception hosted by ambassador (since January 2015) Tarek Abdullah Al-Faraj.

Kuwait