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Published in June 2009, this map provides an overview of global Islamic finance markets. Charts and graphics include Sharia-compliant financial assets by country (Dec 2007), Takaful operators by country (2008), Leading Islamic banks by asset values (Dec 2007), and Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) inter-regional trade

Iran | Kuwait | Saudi Arabia | Bahrain | United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Qatar
Issue 1071 - 13 December 2018

Saudi Arabia: Riyadh launches Red Sea group

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Less assertive until now in the region than its ally the UAE or rival Qatar, Saudi Arabia hosted the first consultative meeting of the Arab and African Coastal States of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden (AARSGA) in Riyadh on 12 December, attended by foreign ministers from seven countries. A communiqué said AARSGA was set up to enhance co-operation “in the political, economic, cultural, environmental and security fields”. A follow-up meeting of senior officials is due to be held in Cairo.

Saudi Arabia
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Oil major ExxonMobil has broken its silence over its controversial production-sharing contracts with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), although it did not comment on the resultant tension with Baghdad.

Iraq
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The private political risk insurance (PRI) market is open for Iraqi risks, sometimes with a degree more flexibility than its official export agency counterparts. “Contracts continue to be insured”, said Harry Doyne-Ditmas, the Dubai-based leader in JLT Specialty’s credit, political and security risk team covering the Middle East and Africa. He said JLT typically receives “one to two enquiries a month, which has been the case for the past couple of years”.

Iraq
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3A former associate and financial advisor of imprisoned Prince Salman Bin Abdelaziz Bin Salman has hired Washington DC-based Sonoran Policy Group to lobby for his release with the governments of the US, UK, France and other European Union countries, in a $2m contract. Prince Salman was detained in January 2018, according to several reports – although they differ on the reason why. The kingdom’s attorney general said at the time 11 princes had been arrested for staging a palace sit-in over a royal order halting payments to Al-Saud members for their utility bills.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 846 - 30 January 2009

Abdelrahman Bin Bandar: Date research

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According to the ScienceDaily.com website, Prince Abdelrahman, son of Prince Bandar Bin Abdulaziz (GSN 820/7), is carrying out research at Queen’s University.

Saudi Arabia
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The former vice-president of defence contractor IAP Worldwide Services, which was fined $7.1m in June for Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) offences, has been jailed for 120 days by a Virginia court. James Michael Rama pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions. According to the US Department of Justice, IAP and Rama conspired to ensure that IAP would be the consultant on phase one (planning and feasibility) of the Ministry of Interior’s Kuwait Security Programme, intended to provide surveillance capabilities for government agencies, in order to tailor requirements for phase two – installation – contracts. Revenues from the phase two contract were expected to be substantially greater than from phase one.

Kuwait
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The Council of Ministers (cabinet) has approved a plan to loosen restrictions on expatriate visas in an effort to attract more international investment into the kingdom. The new ‘green card’ permits will be offered without the need for a local sponsor; those granted a new residency permit will be allowed to allocate visas for family members and to own real estate in the country. There will be two types of permit: one offering permanent residency and the other renewable on an annual basis.

Iran
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Sanctions take effect: US sanctions are again having a marked impact on the economy, with inflation rising and the rial under pressure in foreign exchange markets. This is reflected in the political arena, where hardliners are mounting a sustained campaign against President Hassan Rouhani and his team. Economic affairs and finance minister Massoud Karbasian and co-operatives, labour and social welfare minister Ali Rabiei were voted out of office by MPs in August. However, Rouhani has been responding.

Iran
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The Saudi government has been urged to push forward with moves to lift a ban on sports in girls’ state schools, after the shura council on 8 April recommended an end to the ban, which was relaxed in private schools last year, state media reported. It is now up to the education ministry to decide whether to lift the ban. Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged the government to “set out a clear strategy and accelerated timeline for rolling out physical education for girls in public and private schools” and demanded that the kingdom start licensing women’s gyms and facilitate the participation of women in all sports.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 838 - 11 October 2008

Sheikha Latifa: New horse

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Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum’s daughters, Sheikha Latifa; Yorkshire press; purchase of champion Arab gelding

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Governments in the Middle East increased their defence spending by 6.2% in 2017, according to the latest analysis of expenditure trends by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri), released on 2 May. Saudi Arabia continues to overshadow other countries in the region, with an outlay last year of $69.4bn, up 9.2% on 2016. Worldwide, total military expenditure was $1.74trn in 2017, an increase of 1.1% in real terms from 2016 and equivalent to 2.2% of global GDP.

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Despite international condemnation, continued street protests and sanctions, combined with escalating economic problems, Bashar Al-Assad’s government has dug in as the Syrian uprising pushes on into its sixth month. But the signs are that Assad’s hold on power is tenuous and Gulf states have revised their policies as a consequence

Saudi Arabia | United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Qatar | Syria
Issue 850 - 27 March 2009

Syria edges closer to the fold

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The past month has seen the Syrian government busy with meetings with Jordan, Saudi Arabia and US officials - meetings that could help bring Syria back in from the cold. In early March, US envoys Jeffrey Feltman and Daniel Shapiro were in Damascus for talks with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem and President Bashar Al-Assad's advisor .....

Syria
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Members of the Saudi-led Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC), the body set up at the behest of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in December 2015, held their inaugural council meeting in Riyadh on 3 March.