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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
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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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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Saudi Royal Air Force Tornado aircraft arrived at Konya air base in Turkey on 24 May to participate in the Anatolian Eagle exercise. Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General Abdelrahman Bin Saleh Al-Bunyan followed on 28 May, when he met Saudi units at Incirlik Air Base. He was met by Saudi military attaché to Turkey commodore pilot Khaled Bin Hussein Al-Assaf. London-based daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported that the 20-day exercise will also involve Qatari forces.

Saudi Arabia | Qatar
Issue 1026 - 17 November 2016

Bahrain: Eni signs exploration deals

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Italian major Eni has signed four agreements with Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco) and Tatweer Petroleum to study and assess the potential of a number of onshore and offshore exploration and production assets in the country. The deals were signed by Eni head Claudio Descalzi on a visit to Bahrain on 6 November.

Bahrain
Issue 1024 - 20 October 2016

Mohammed Bin Abdelrahman: Meetings

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Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdelrahman Al-Thani held talks in Doha on 11 October with the Russian president’s special envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev. A few days earlier he was in Malaysia, where he met his counterpart Dato’ Sri Anifah Aman.

Qatar
Issue 1067 - 19 October 2018

Oman: EU Co-operation agreement

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Minister responsible for foreign affairs Yousef Bin Alawi Bin Abdullah signed a memorandum of co-operation with the European Union high representative for foreign affairs and security policy Federica Mogherini in Brussels on 20 September. The new deal will provide the basis for enhanced political dialogue and strengthened co-operation, according to a statement issued by Mogherini. Those “issues of mutual interest” include the Qatar crisis, relations with Iran and efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Yemen war.

Oman
Free

Most of the 12 blocks on offer in Iraq’s reworked and delayed fourth licensing round attracted no bidders, but of the three that did, two had a high level of security risk

Iraq
Free

Supporters of Khater Massad said the controversial Lebanese-Swiss businessman was detained in Jeddah on 20 September, based on an arrest warrant issued in Ras Al-Khaimah, which claims he embezzled public funds. Massad (also spelt Massaad) strongly denies the allegations.

Saudi Arabia
Free

Following a period of tensions between Oman and the UAE, senior Emirati officials including deputy prime minister Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan were prominent in offering their condolences to heritage and culture minister Sayyid Haitham Bin Tariq Al-Said, Sultan Qaboos’ advisor Sayyid Shihab Bin Tariq Al- Said and other family members on the death in mid-June of their mother Sayyida Shawanna Bint Hamoud Al-Busaidiyah.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Issue 1041 - 21 July 2017

Sultan Qaboos: Trump call

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Following a period when analysts have detected deterioarting relations with Washington, Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al-Said talked to President Donald Trump on 18 July. During the call Trump reportedly asked for Oman’s help in ‘countering Iran’s destabilising activities in the region’. The call came after minister responsible for foreign affairs Ousuf Bin Alawi Bin Abdullah had met President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran. Abu Dhabi’s The National quoted sources saying Trump also wanted Oman to play a bigger role in mediating the dispute between the GCC-3 and Qatar.

Oman
Free

In the days preceding the US-Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) summit, attention focused largely on who would – or rather, would not – be attending. Much was made of the fact that Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Bin Abdelaziz would not be going, sending in his place Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef (MBN) and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS). The 10 May announcement came as something of a surprise, since, just two days earlier, White House spokesman Eric Schultz had told reporters travelling on Air Force One that US President Barack Obama and King Salman would have a pre-summit meeting on 13 May.

Saudi Arabia
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Many Iraqis looked on with trepidation as an upsurge in terrorist attacks, apparently intended to create a new Sunni-Shia conflict, coupled with rising sectarian political tensions to mark the US’ formal withdrawal of troops, which took place a fortnight before the planned 31 December departure.

Iraq
Free

Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS)’s reputation may still suffer on (parts of) the international stage as a result of the destructive Yemen war, a fruitless boycott of Qatar and the lingering horror of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, but the Saudi heir apparent’s position appears secure at home, despite occasional murmurings of disquiet within the family over his absolutist rule. An important element of his sustained appeal among some sections of the Saudi population – particularly the kingdom’s numerous youth – is his anti-corruption campaign.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 864 - 06 November 2009

UAE: Khalifa Bin Zayed

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Re-elected

United Arab Emirates (UAE)