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Relations between Riyadh and Washington have come under additional strain, after the US Senate passed legislation that would allow survivors and relatives of those killed in the 11 September 2001 (9/11) attacks to file lawsuits seeking damages against the Saudi government.The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (Jasta) will now go to the House of Representatives, although President Barack Obama is ultimately expected to veto the measure. On 15 April, The New York Times reported that foreign minister Adel Al-Jubair had threatened to sell $750bn-worth of US assets owned by Saudi Arabia if Congress passed the act.

Saudi Arabia
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Riyadh has inched forward with a long-discussed plan to buy more Typhoon jets for the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF), by signing a memorandum of intent with the UK government to finalise discussions on up to 48 of the fighter ground attack aircraft. The agreement was signed during the visit by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) to London in early March. It is still some way short of a firm order but, in a brief statement issued on 9 March, the UK’s BAE Systems said “this is a positive step towards agreeing a contract”.

Saudi Arabia
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Atradius Dutch State Business has highlighted a significant series of claims and payment delays. The Dutch export credit agency has received claims on Saudi Arabia and run into payment delays from Qatar and Bahrain “where risk was written in both cases with the 100% support of the government”, director

Issue 958 - 14 November 2013

Kuwait: Hamad Al-Naqi

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On 28 October, Kuwait’s Court of Appeals upheld a ten-year prison sentence handed out in June 2012 to blogger Hamad Al-Naqi for comments he made on Twitter that were deemed insulting to the Prophet Mohammed (GSN 926/6, 924/5). Al-Naqi, who was 26 at the time of his initial trial, was also accused of insulting the kings of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and of provoking sectarian tensions. He has always denied the charges, and told police his Twitter account was hacked.

Kuwait
Issue 920 - 22 March 2012

US announces details of F-15 contract

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The US Department of Defence has announced the details of Boeing’s $11.4 contract to provide new F-15 advanced aircraft to Saudi Arabia, part of the US-Saudi $60bn arms package agreed in late 2011 and analysed in detail by GSN in September (GSN 908/8).

Saudi Arabia
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Western powers have added more sanctions to a raft of measures intended to pressure Iran into modifying its nuclear ambitions, but a pocket of finance is still available for businesses seeking to trade with the Islamic Republic.

Iran
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Gulf states – with the exception of Qatar and Oman – sent high-level royal delegations to the 8 June inauguration of Egypt’s new president, former military chief Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been Sisi’s most ardent backers since he toppled the Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohammed Morsi (GSN 966/3, 951/1), and have portrayed his election landslide as Egypt getting back on track following the Arab Spring. The Saudi delegation to Cairo was headed by Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdelaziz, who was accompanied by King Abdullah Bin Abdelaziz’s son, deputy minister for foreign affairs Prince Abdelaziz Bin Abdullah, minister of culture and information Abdelaziz Bin Mohieddin Khoja and other officials. Crown Prince Salman described Sisi’s assumption of power as a “great turning point for Egypt toward security, stability and… sustainable development”, echoing King Abdullah who, in a statement on 3 June, said it was time to “uproot this strange kind of chaos” or risk losing control of “outlaws” – a comment that appears to refer more broadly to the waves of change across the region since late 2010.

Saudi Arabia | United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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As the war continues, internal strains are surfacing among the Houthis in Sanaa, although at this stage it is unclear whether these pressures are being caused by shifts in the leadership structure or, more simply, misperceptions over recent events in Hodeida. Public signs of infighting among Houthis are rare, but a number of recent incidents hint at tensions among those known as ‘supervisors’ (mushrefeen), who are charged with supervising government institutions and overseeing cities and provinces under the Supreme Revolutionary Committee (SRC) led by Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi.

Yemen
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Parliamentary speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim is cautiously optimistic that a new generation of politicians can contribute to the Kuwait National Assembly (Majlis Al-Umma) by playing a positive political and developmental role. This role is set to be tested as Kuwait’s fractious MPs are called on to vote for economic reforms – including incentives to shift jobs from the public to the private sector, and new taxes – and measures to increase security, including the estimated $9bn purchase of 28 Eurofighters and approval of the new Gulf security act.

Kuwait
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A month since the Southern Transitional Council (STC) declared a state of emergency and self-administration on 25 April, there is no sign of tensions easing with the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. This raises fresh doubts over Yemen’s long-term viability as a single state. The Hadi government has directed its troops in Abyan province to seize the towns of Shoqra and Zinjibar from UAE-supported Security Belt Units.

Yemen
Issue 982 - 27 November 2014

UAE: MBZ/MBR attend Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Royals and dignitaries from around the world rubbed shoulders at the final race of the 2014 Formula 1 season, which took place in Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit on 23 November. Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan (MBZ) attended, as did Dubai ruler Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum; numerous Emirati sheikhs were there, including four of MBZ’s full brothers (the so-called Bani Fatima), Hamdan, Hazza, Mansour and Abdullah, and four of his half-brothers, Nahyan, Said, Hamed and Khaled. From beyond the UAE came King Abdullah II of Jordan

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Issa Abdullah Al-Nuaimi has been appointed as the UAE’s first resident ambassador to Georgia, presenting his credentials to President Girogi Margvelashvili in mid-September. His appointment comes after a period of some difficulty between the two countries.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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After being heavily trailed in interviews in The Economist and Bloomberg (GSN 1,008/1), Deputy Crown Prince, secretary-general of the Royal Court, second deputy prime minister and defence minister Mohammed Bin Salman Bin Abdelaziz (MBS) unveiled his long-term plan for the Saudi economy on 25 April, accompanied by some typically forthright language in media interviews.Released by the Council of Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA), which MBS chairs, the Vision 2030 blueprint mixes broad aims with more than 30 specific targets, from the size of the non-oil economy to the proportion of Saudis who take regular exercise.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 1018 - 30 June 2016

Emir Sheikh Tamim: Meetings

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Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani has had a busy Ramadan, meeting three heads of state by mid-June. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was in Doha from 16-18 June; his visit overlapped with Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir. The emir held meetings with both presidents. According to Sudanese foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandour, who was in the president’s delegation, Al-Bashir’s visit was a success and the emir has been invited (and accepted) to visit Sudan next month to attend a celebration on completion of the implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur.

Issue 1083 - 21 June 2019

Regional FDI trends

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The sharp rise in Saudi Arabia’s outward foreign direct investment meant the kingdom overtook both the UAE and Kuwait to become the leading source of outbound FDI from the Gulf last year. Outward investments from the UAE totalled $15.1bn in 2018, up from $14.1bn in 2017, but still below Saudi Arabia’s $21.2bn. Kuwaiti outbound FDI declined sharply, to $3.8bn in 2018 from $9bn one year earlier, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad)’s latest World Investment Report.