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Issue 1023 - 07 October 2016

Qatar: Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman in Asia

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Foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman, appointed in January, began a trip to Asia on 3 October. The first stop was Japan, where he met his counterpart Fumio Kishida and the ruling General Council chairman Toshihiro Nikaio (who also heads the Qatar-Japan parliamentary friendship association). Doha is very pleased about the recent decision by Japan to grant multiple entry visas to Qatari nationals.

Qatar
Free

Prince Ahmed Bin Saud Bin Abdelaziz died on 7 July, according to the Royal Court. A low-profile grandson of Ibn Saud, his funeral prayers were held the following day in Riyadh, led by the kingdom’s grand mufti, Sheikh Abdelaziz Bin Abdullah Al Al-Sheikh, and performed by various princes and officials, including Riyadh governor Prince Faisal Bin Bandar.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 1103 - 22 May 2020

Saudi Arabia: Tax rate tripled

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Finance minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan on 11 May announced a tripling of the value-added tax (VAT) rate, to 15% from 1 July, in an effort to limit the damage to public finances from low oil prices and coronavirus. He also said that from 1 June the government will stop paying a monthly cost of living allowance for public sector workers. Al-Jadaan said austerity measures so far totalled SR100bn ($27bn).

Saudi Arabia
Free

Emir Sheikh Tamim held talks with Sierra Leone’s newly elected President Julius Maada Bio in Doha on 22 April. It was Bio’s first trip to the region since winning a run-off vote in early April. The leaders discussed options for enhancing trade and other ties, particularly in agriculture, education, tourism and investment. A day earlier, Bio urged local business leaders at the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry to invest in his country.

Qatar
Free

Assistant interior minister Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef Al-Saud attended a joint tactical exercise near Riyadh in late June.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 1045 - 06 October 2017

Saudi Arabia: Mecca crane acquittals

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The Penal Court in Mecca on 1 October acquitted all 13 people charged with negligence in relation to the collapse of a crane at the Grand Mosque in September 2015. The attorney general has appealed. Some 118 people were killed in the incident and almost 400 injured. The accident contributed to severe problems at Saudi Binladin Group, after the government cancelled its contracts with the construction giant.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 976 - 05 September 2014

Saudi Arabia: Counter-terrorism donation

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Saudi Arabia has donated $100m to the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCTT), as it did in August 2013 (GSN 953/13). Riyadh gave $10m towards setting up the New York-based UNCCT in 2011; the centre has held conferences – including one in Riyadh in partnership with the Saudi government in February 2013 – but has not delivered much in the way of practical improvements to global security.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 1088 - 20 September 2019

Saudi Arabia: Treasures travel to Rome

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The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) – headed by chairman Ahmed Bin Aqil Al-Khatib – and Ministry of Culture are to transfer the exhibition Trade Routes in the Arabian Peninsula: Masterpieces of the Monuments of Saudi Arabia through the Ages to the Museo Nazionale Roman (National Roman Museum) in the Italian capital from late October. The exhibition – running for three months – has been described as one of the most important international exhibitions to showcase the kingdom’s cultural heritage. It has already visited cities in Europe, America and Asia, attracting over 5m visitors.

Saudi Arabia
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Four oilfields in central Iran will start production in the next six months, according to Iranian press reports. The Shana news agency said on 26 September that the four – Cheshmeh Khoush, Sarvestan, Khesht and Saadat Abad – are in the final stages of development and will come on line the end of the current Iranian calendar year (March 2013).

Iran
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The planned Arab-African Summit, due to be held in Riyadh before end-March, has suffered another delay due to coronavirus. It was originally scheduled for 25 November was postponed shortly before by the Saudi government without explanation. At the time, authorities said it would be held “during the first quarter of 2020”. A separate Saudi-African summit due to be held at the same time has also been postponed. It is not clear when the events will be rescheduled.

Free

Donald Trump clearly chose his ground during his first foreign visit as US president, with the view of enunciating a simple but assertive foreign policy message for the Middle East. In Riyadh and Jerusalem he chose to focus on rallying his Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) allies, led by Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, and their erstwhile enemy Israel, with a unifying call to confront Iran – which has been confirmed in the Trumpian vision as the pre-eminent regional villain.

Iran
Issue 874 - 10 April 2010

MBR: Allawi meeting

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Allawi meeting

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Issue 1032 - 24 February 2017

Kuwait: Bond meetings in US, UK

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The Kuwaiti authorities are due to hold talks with investors in the United States and United Kingdom in early March, in preparation for a bond issue which could raise up to $9.5bn. A report by Bloomberg, citing an unidentified source, said talks were due to be held in London, New York, Boston and Los Angeles on 5-12 March. The bond could be completed by late March or early April. A large Kuwaiti issue had originally been expected last year, but was postponed in October.

Kuwait
Issue 1011 - 04 March 2016

Iraq/Kuwait: Nato reaches out

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North Atlantic Treaty Organisation secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg visited Kuwait on 29 February for meetings with Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah and other senior officials. The two sides signed the Nato-Kuwait Transit Agreement and Stoltenberg visited the future site of the Nato-Kuwait Istanbul Co-operation Initiative Regional Centre, the military alliance’s first presence in the Gulf. The following day the Nato chief was in Baghdad for talks with Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi. Stoltenberg tweeted that Nato will soon start training Iraqi officers.

Kuwait | Iraq
Issue 931 - 14 September 2012

UAE: Sheikh Khalifa's falcon gift

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Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan has donated 80 falcons from the conservation project Pro-Falcon Farm to the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition (Adihex).

United Arab Emirates (UAE)