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Issue 840 - 07 November 2008

GSN view: 'Military action' against Iran

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There was a lull in the speculation over the potential bombing of Iran by the United States or - more likely - its ally Israel, with the world transfixed by Barak Obama's victory in the US presidential election. Talk of significant offensive action against Tehran became intense during the late summer, with two theories circulating on the eventuality of a strike to knock out Iran's nuclear facilities and perhaps other targets. One theory was that the outgoing Bush administration would sanction a strike as its last neo-conservative hurrah; and, two, that Israel would be emboldened to act. In September, UK daily The Guardian, added to the debate by publishing details of documents showing how Washington had sought to rein in Israeli hawks who were ready to attack.

Iran
Issue 980 - 30 October 2014

Abu Dhabi: World energy congress

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Abu Dhabi has won the right to host the 2019 World Energy Congress, beating Rio de Janeiro and St Petersburg in the bid for the event, held every three years. While revenues are still dependent on oil, Abu Dhabi has been pushing for a more diversified energy portfolio, most notably through its ambitious Masdar project (see page 12 and below). The UAE has 2500MW of renewable energy and 5.4GW of peaceful nuclear power under development, according to state news agency Wam, in addition to investments in energy efficiency, carbon mitigation and development assistance.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Issue 1049 - 30 November 2017

Ahmed Bin Jassim: Iran trade ties

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Economy minister Sheikh Ahmed Bin Jassim Al-Thani travelled to Tehran on 26 November for talks on boosting trade links, holding discussions with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and industry, mine and trade minister Mohammad Shariatmadari. Iranian media quoted Shariatmadari as saying that Qatar had proposed to boost bilateral trade fivefold, from $1bn a year to $5bn/yr.

Qatar
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Speculation continues to surround the UK government’s as yet unpublished report into the Muslim Brotherhood, commissioned in March. On 19 October, Britain’s conservative newspaper The Telegraph reported that Downing Street is to order a crackdown on the organisation and linked Islamist groups, in an article that emphasised a view of the Brotherhood as “at heart a terrorist organisation”. The article by journalists Robert Mendick and Robert Verkaik was not in keeping with what a foreign office source recently told GSN, which was that the report had concluded the Brotherhood’s members were not generally involved in terrorist activity, and that the delay in publishing was at least in part due to concerns that the UK’s Gulf allies (in particular the UAE) would not be pleased by the findings.

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As Saudi Arabia throws more weight behind the Lebanese army (see page 3), Qatar – not known for its deference to Riyadh – has been working to mend its relationship with Hizbollah. Doha and Hizbollah seemed to have fallen out over the crisis in Syria, but contact was re-established in early December, when Qatar sent an envoy to Hizbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. In a television interview with Lebanese channel OTV on 3 December, Nasrallah confirmed the meeting had taken place and that, despite ongoing disagreements, Qatar and Hizbollah were in touch. “There is talk between us… there was a line between us and Qatar which was re-opened [recently] but up to a certain limit,” Nasrallah said.

Qatar
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Speculation has been mounting that the Saudi government is set to move forward with the long-planned initial public offering (IPO) of shares in Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Aramco). The news filtering out of the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh – the third annual holding of the event dubbed by supporters the ‘Davos in the desert’ – is that an offering to domestic investors will be announced on 3 November. The mooted timetable would see shares go on sale in early December with trading to start on the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) around 11 December.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 912 - 11 November 2011

KING HAMAD: Egypt visit

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King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa has visited Egypt, holding talks with Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi on ways to strengthen relations, the kingdom’s ambassador to Cairo confirmed to Al-Ahram newspaper on 5 November.

Bahrain
Issue 1093 - 28 November 2019

Qatar: Strategic committee meeting

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Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan co-chaired the fifth session of the Qatar Turkey Supreme Strategic Committee on 25 November in the Emiri Diwan. Topics under discussion in Doha included political, energy, economic, investment and tourism links. An existing currency swap agreement between the two central banks was amended. Erdogan said the Turkish military base in Qatar, where 5,000 troops are stationed, was now complete and would be named after the 7th century Muslim commander Khalid Bin Walid, whose armies united Arabia for the first time.

Qatar
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Critics have plenty of ammunition when they complain that Oman’s 85-member Majlis Al-Shura (Consultative Council) lacks teeth and is incapable of driving efforts to stimulate economic growth and jobs. Despite having a mandate to do more to represent the popular will, after four years, the outgoing Majlis failed to propose new legislation or question any minister, let alone force a vote of confidence that its strengthened prerogative would allow – even in a still highly centralised polity.

Oman
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Foreign minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal was in Paris in early December, and received his French counterpart Laurent Fabius at his residence in the city. According to the state news agency on 5 December, the ministers discussed bilateral relations, and ways to enhance them. France and Saudi Arabia have found common ground on Syria, where both have at times made the case for intervention. As well as the Syrian crisis, the ministers discussed the Iranian nuclear file and the Palestinian-Israeli talks.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 863 - 24 October 2009

Qatari Emir visits North Africa

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Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani has been in Algeria and Libya for official talks. The Emir held meetings with Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Qadhafi, Prime Minister Dr Al-Mahmoudi Al-Baghdadi and Foreign Minister Musa Kusa (previously the foreign intelligence head).

Qatar
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Kuwait is not going to change decades-old habits overnight, but that doesn’t mean it cannot enact positive change – especially as its fractious National Assembly seems less inclined than usual to block reformist economic policy, as a senior envoy in Kuwait observed. Aware of its reputation for laggard project progress, Kuwait is seeking to redefine itself as a private sector-oriented, foreign investor-friendly destination, on the back of streamlined investment laws and public-private partnership (PPP) legislation that Kuwaiti officials claim is a first in the region.

Kuwait
Issue 1011 - 04 March 2016

Iran: Bank Mellat returns to Seoul

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One of Iran’s largest banks, is to reopen its branch in the South Korean capital within the next month, and rejoin the Swift international bank messaging system, which will mean it can issue letters of credit and transact trade finance once more. Bank Mellat has succeeded in a number of court actions in Europe, declaring EU and UK sanctions against it as unlawful; it is pursuing a £2.3bn ($4bn) damages against the UK government for losses caused while under sanctions.

Iran
Issue 1034 - 23 March 2017

Qatar: Manufacturing tanks in Turkey

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RBSS, a multinational military group in which Qatar has an indirect interest, is planning to set up a tank production facility in Turkey, according to German investigative news site Corect!v. The new facility’s location is not known, but BMC reportedly has a 222ha site on the Black Sea coast, east of Istanbul. RBSS is owned by Turkey’s BMC, Germany’s Rheinmetal and Malaysia’s Etika Strategi. The Qatar Armed Forces Industry Committee reportedly owns a large stake in BMC. Doha has held talks with RBSS to supply 1,000 armoured vehicles.

Qatar
Issue 1009 - 05 February 2016

Saudi Arabia: Mohammed Bin Salman meetings

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Deputy crown prince and defence minister Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) on 27 January held talks with Indonesia’s defence minister Riamiz Ard Riakodo in a meeting attended by the kingdom’s assistant defence minister Mohammed Al-Ayesh, chief of general staff Abdulrahman Al-Bunyan and Fahd Al-Issa, head of the defence minister’s office, who is often at MBS’ side. On the same day MBS met US Central Command head General Lloyd Austin, who had flown in from Doha. Austin – who was previously in Qatar and Saudi Arabia just under two months ago – was also received by King Salman.

Saudi Arabia