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Issue 917 - 09 February 2012

AL SAUD: Culture club

Free

Deputy foreign minister Prince Abdelaziz Bin Abdullah was in London on 26 January for the opening of the Hajj exhibition at the British Museum.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 1038 - 09 June 2017

Iran: Petrochems deals beckon

Free

Some Iranian firms appear to be getting close to signing deals with their international counterparts. According to Maroon Petrochemical Company, an engineering agreement with Shell could be finalised in the coming weeks. National Petrochemical Company director of investment Hossein Alimorad has said NPC is close to a licensing deal for a petrochemicals project with an unnamed European company.

Iran
Free

Abu Dhabi-based Emirates Defense Technology has signed a deal with UK giant BAE Systems to explore the potential for a self-propelled artillery system. The ‘teaming agreement’, announced on 9 May, also covers work on BAE Systems’ M777 155mm lightweight howitzer. The two companies unveiled a concept model of the M777 integrated onto EDT’s own Enigma 8x8 armoured modular fighting vehicle during the International Defence Exhibition (Idex) in Abu Dhabi in February 2015. There are more than 1,000 M777s in service world-wide, including with the armed forces of the US, Canada and Australia.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Free

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani made an unexpected trip to Oman and Kuwait on 15 February, his first foray to any Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) state since taking office in 2013. Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah had visited Tehran in 2014, but the groundwork for Rouhani’s two-country tour was laid by foreign minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah’s trip to the Iranian capital in late January, when he carried a message from the rest of the GCC calling for a strategic dialogue. The atmosphere of distrust and mutual recrimination between Tehran and Riyadh and its GCC allies about who is responsible for regional instability has been fuelled by events in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.

Iran
Free

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad garnered moral backing during his mid-January voyage around five of Latin America’s ‘anti-imperialist’ states, but he seems to have come away with little material support to counter Iran’s growing crisis of international isolation – underlined on 23 January, when European Union foreign ministers agreed on the much-anticipated embargo on Iranian oil imports (effective from 1 July).

Iran
Free

Duqm Refineries and Petrochemical Industries Company – a 50/50 joint venture of Oman Oil Company and Kuwait Petroleum International – broke ground on the site of the new Duqm refinery at a ceremony held on 26 April. Oman’s third refinery will have a capacity of 230,000 b/d and forms a key part of the Duqm Special Economic Zone.

Kuwait | Oman
Free

Bahrain’s legally registered political groups are working to shore up their vote and persuade their constituencies they remain worthy of support ahead of National Assembly and municipal elections scheduled for this year, probably November. Much attention has been paid to parties supported by the Shia majority, led by Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, which holds 17 of the 40 Majlis Al-Nawab (Chamber of Deputies) seats.

Bahrain
Free

The decision by President Donald Trump to effectively refrain from intervening in a meaningful way in Middle East affairs – upending decades of United States policy – continues to have significant ramifications for the Gulf. As former UK ambassador to Saudi Arabia Sir John Jenkins wrote recently in Arab News: “We are watching the political geography of the Middle East being reshaped before our eyes.” Events in recent weeks bear out his point, particularly in relation to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 846 - 30 January 2009

SHEIKH SAUD: Meetings

Free

Crown Prince Al-Qasimi has held talks with Zambia’s Finance Minister.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Free

Bahrain’s National Dialogue concluded on 30 July with three concrete recommendations and a lot more woolly statements presented to King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa (GSN 905/4). If robustly implemented, these measures could eventually lead to more representative, tolerant government and greater transparency, in a system where a wider range of Bahraini voices are heard and officials are brought to account for abuses (with ministers potentially facing Kuwait-style ‘grillings’ in parliament).

Bahrain
Issue 1012 - 01 April 2016

Bahrain: Sniper training

Free

Royal Navy 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group have been giving sniper training to “multiple groups” of Bahraini personnel at the UK’s HMS Juffair naval base, London daily The Independent reported on 26 March. Training took place when HMS St Albans docked at the base in January.

Bahrain
Free

King Salman Bin Abdelaziz held talks with Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki in Jeddah on 23 July, discussing ways to develop and strengthen bilateral relations in several areas. Eritrea has become a more significant neighbour for the Gulf countries in recent years, due to its strategic position on the Red Sea. A number of vessels from the Royal Saudi Naval Force used Eritrea’s port of Assab late last year, including two Badr class corvettes and one Al-Jawf class mine counter-measures vessel, possibly as part of Saudi-led operations in the Yemen war.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 1045 - 06 October 2017

Bahrain: Talks with Pakistani agency

Free

National Guard commander Lieutenant-General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Isa Al-Khalifa held talks on military co-operation and the exchange of intelligence information with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) director-general Lieutenant-General Naveed Mukhtar in Manama on 18 September. Also attending the talks were National Guard staff director Major-General Sheikh Abdelaziz Bin Saud Al-Khalifa and the recently appointed National Security Agency president Lieutenant-General Adel Bin Khalifa Al-Fadhel.

Bahrain
Issue 1003 - 29 October 2015

Saudi Arabia: Human rights watch

Free

Saudi Association for Civil and Political Rights founding member Abdelrahman Al-Hamid has been sentenced to nine years in jail, barred from travelling abroad for nine years after his release and fined $13,300, for illegally establishing a human rights organisation, questioning the judiciary’s credibility and independence, disobeying the king and interfering with the national Saudi Human Rights Commission. Fellow activist Abdelaziz Al-Sinedi received an eight-year sentence, was barred from travelling for another eight years and fined, for inciting public opinion against the monarchy, questioning the judiciary’s independence and describing the kingdom as a police state.

Saudi Arabia
Free

Tehran’s security forces and riot police were on the streets on Sunday 20 February using batons and tear gas to prevent opposition groups and individuals from commemorating the deaths of two young Iranians, Sanee Zhaleh, a Kurd, and Mohammad Mokhtari, who were shot dead during anti-government protests on 14 February.

Iran