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Growth in defence spending by Gulf Co-operation Council countries slowed significantly in 2023, but heightened tensions as a result of the Gaza war could prompt another acceleration in military outlays this year.

Saudi Arabia | Qatar
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QatarEnergy has launched the North Field West project to produce 16m t/yr of liquefied natural gas and take total output to 142m t/yr before the end of the decade, almost double the existing production of 77m t/yr, which has already given Qatar a dominant role in the global LNG market

Qatar
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Saudi Aramco has increased the amount of proven gas reserves in the kingdom’s largest non-associated gas field by 15tcf, taking the total estimated resources at Jafurah to 229tcf

Saudi Arabia
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Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum reshuffled the top team at the Dubai's State Security Department via a series of decrees in early March

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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They may not be popular, but clerics dominate contemporary Iran, its politics and economy to an extent that most Iranians might have thought inconceivable in the years immediately after the 1979 revolution. The latest series of GSN profiles focuses on senior clerics who occupy key positions across Iran’s political system – all of them closely tied to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and committed to the Islamic republic’s long-term survival.

Iran
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Official figures showed turnout of just 41% at parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections on 1 March, the lowest of any election since the 1979 revolution. While the authorities called for a festival of democratic expression, those abstaining including former president Mohammad Khatami.

Iran
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The issue leads with an examination of how the Al-Salman gained unparalleled political and economic power in Saudi Arabia. GSN's analysis of key figures in 88-year-old King Salman Bin Abdelaziz’s ruling group shows how power has become concentrated to an unprecedented extent in the monarch’s immediate family and their close aides. GSN's coverage includes a new family tree and influence chart, with linked profiles, which shows an Al-Salman ruling group that could dominate the Saudi polity long after King Salman Bin Abdelaziz’s reign is over. Politics coverage leads with Iran, where  turnout for 1 March parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections was the lowest since the 1979 revolution. GSN takes a closer look at the power of Iran's clerics and presents new profiles of the key clerics surrounding Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei. GSN also examines the latest developments from Kuwait, where another election is scheduled for 4 April, following Emir Sheikh Mishaal’s mid-February dismissal of parliament. Most outgoing MPs are seeking re-election and there is little reason to think the fourth poll in four years will do much to solve deep political and economic problems. The Risk Management Report is on Iraqi Kurdistan. The GSN View focuses on how the UAE has set its sights on carving out a leading international role in the fast- developing field of AI.  

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Waves of appointments by King Salman since 2017 have seen younger-generation royals and those from more remote branches of the ruling family appointed to prominent positions, in a break from previous monarchs’ habits

Saudi Arabia
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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mid-February tour of the UAE and Qatar followed the signing of big energy supply deals and the release of former Indian naval officers sentenced to death in Doha for spying.

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The IRGC Navy has launched long-range ballistic missiles from one of its ships for the first time, as it continues to flex its muscle in the face of heightened tensions with the United States, but an Iranian spy ship that was thought to have been working closely with Yemen’s Houthis appears to have been sidelined after a US cyberattack.

Iran
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Sultan Haitham left Muscat for the UK on 8 February, with no indication of how long he might be away for.

Oman
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Sheikh Salman Bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa has been appointed vice chairman of the Higher Urban Planning Committee, moving on from his previous role as president of the Survey and Land Registration Bureau.

Bahrain
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Sheikh Khalifa Bin Abdulla Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa has been named as Bahrain’s ambassador to Amman, in the latest refresh of heads of missions.

Jordan | Bahrain
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Noor Bint Ali Al-Khulaif was appointed to head the EDB in mid-February, taking over from Khalid Humaidan who is now governor of Central Bank of Bahrain.

Bahrain
Free

Iranians have been asked to come out in force to vote in elections to the Majlis-e Shura-ye Eslami (parliament) and Majlis-e Khobregân-e Rahbari (Assembly of Experts) on 1 March.

Iran