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Issue 983 - 11 December 2014

KRG Back to business

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Operators such as Genel Energy (Genel) and Gulf Keystone Petroleum (GKP), two of the main oil production and export companies in Iraqi Kurdistan, will have viewed the Baghdad-Erbil deal as good for business; shares in both companies were briefly lifted by the deal’s announcement and, as the deal was being made, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) followed through on its November promise to make an initial payment of $75m to producers for exports.

Iraq
Free

It may finally be crunch time in Iraq for ExxonMobil, which in late 2011 led the charge north when it became the first major to sign a contract for exploration blocks in Iraqi Kurdistan. After months of back and forth, and meetings between chairman Rex Tillerson and (separately) Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and Kurdish Prime Minister Massoud Barzani on 21 and 22 January, Exxon has apparently been told to decide once and for all between its 60% stake in the $50bn West Qurna 1 project in the south and its production-sharing agreements in blocks still being explored in Iraqi Kurdistan (Al Qush, Arbat East, Baeshiqa, Betwata, Pirmam and Qara Hanjeer).

Iraq
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King Abdullah Bin Abdelaziz returned earlier than expected from his recuperative private holiday in Morocco, arriving in Jeddah on 14 June. A statement on the state news agency said he had concluded his “private holiday and recovery period… due to the repercussions of the events that are currently taking place in the region”.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 932 - 27 September 2012

Egypt looks to import Qatari LNG

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Building on the spirit of enhanced co-operation, Egypt is considering importing liquified natural gas (LNG) from Qatar, according to the state-run Qatar News Agency (QNA).

Qatar
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Masraf Al Rayan’s board has nine members – seven elected by the General Assembly and two appointed by the main founders, Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company and Qatar’s General Retirement and Social Insurance Authority (GRSIA).

Qatar
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The execution of 47 Islamist militants the authorities had linked to terrorism was filled with symbolism: for Riyadh it marked the kingdom’s determination to show zero tolerance of terrorism and extremist Sunni or Shia takfiri (deviant) ideology; in Iran it was seen as yet another provocation against the region’s Shiite populations, leading radicals to invade Saudi legations in Tehran and Mashhad.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 986 - 05 February 2015

UAE suspends airstrikes

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The UAE suspended its participation in air strikes on Islamic State in December, after Jordanian pilot Muath Al-Kasasbeh was captured by the extremists, according to unnamed US officials quoted by The New York Times (NYT) on 3 February. The news comes a day after it emerged that Kasasbeh, whose F-16 crashed over north-eastern Syria, was burnt alive by members of Islamic State. According to the NYT, the UAE – whose joining of the coalition against Islamic State was much publicised – wants the Pentagon to improve its search and rescue efforts, in case other pilots are downed.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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With an election looming, and continued Shia and Kurdish opposition, Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki’s efforts to bring Sunnis into the political fold are proving difficult and costly. Sunnis are complaining that Baghdad is inconsistent, and at times unfair, in its approach to Awakening and Sons of Iraq groups across the country

Iraq
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Only BP and Chinese partner CNPC were prepared to go ahead with Hussein Shahristani licensing round terms. Mission accomplished for the harassed oil minister, if not for his IOC suitors.

Iraq
Issue 1008 - 21 January 2016

Qatar: Emir Sheikh Tamim in Moscow

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Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani began a three-day trip to Russia on 17 January – his first visit to the country. He had meetings with President Vladimir Putin, State Duma chairman Sergey Naryshkin, Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov and Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) chief executive Kirill Dmitriev (who has made building relations with Qatar and other Gulf sovereign wealth funds a priority since RDIF’s establishment in 2011).

Qatar
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Saudi Arabia has come under domestic and international pressure to release Manal Al-Sharif, a female activist and leading member of the ongoing ‘women2drive’ campaign. Al-Sharif was arrested on 21 May after driving her car in Eastern Province, but was released a few hours later.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 942 - 07 March 2013

Saudi Arabia: Mishaal abroad again

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Allegiance Commission chairman Prince Mishaal Bin Abdelaziz left Riyadh for a trip abroad in February. He was seen off at the airport by his son Sultan. Prince Mishaal often travels abroad for medical treatment, and returned from an extended trip only in mid-October.

Saudi Arabia
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The inaugural summit between the European Union and the League of Arab States, held in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh over two days in late February, provided few surprises, amid a distinctly mixed approach to the event by Gulf governments – while some countries’ delegations were led by heads of states, others were fronted by more lowly diplomats. Among the first group were King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa of Bahrain, President Barham Salih of Iraq, Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah of Kuwait, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia and President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi of Yemen.

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Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Al-Thani has asked the Public Prosecution to investigate allegations made by British newspaper The Guardian about the mistreatment of Nepalese workers in Doha. Attorney-general Dr Ali Bin Fetais Al-Marri told the Al Jazeera programme Fi’l-Umq (In Depth) that the government wanted to know if the allegations were true; if investigations show them to be false, legal action will be taken against the newspaper. According to The Peninsula newspaper, Al-Marri said that, in more than 3,000 court cases filed by workers in Qatar, rulings were made against the employers.

Qatar
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IDB/OECD back Yemen redevelopment: The war is far from over, but the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has launched a project with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to rebuild institutional capacity at the national and local level in post-conflict Yemen. The scheme is being supported with funding from the G7’s Deauville Partnership MENA Transition Fund and is being run in co-ordination with the Yemeni Ministry of Planning and International Co-operation.