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Economic slump: The economy shrank by 4.5% year on year in Q3 2023, a sharp change from the 1.2% expansion reported in Q2 23. It was the first decline in real GDP since the start of Q1 21 and was entirely due to a slump in the oil and gas sector, where activity contracted by 17.3% yr/yr due to voluntary production cuts.

Saudi Arabia
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A 30-member Taliban delegation led by Afghanistan’s acting deputy prime minister for economic affairs Abdul Ghani Baradar travelled to Tehran early November to discuss economic co-operation. Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian held separate talks with Baradar the same day.

Iran
Issue 1180 - 08 November 2023

Riyadh signs deals for 1.5GW of solar power

Free

Saudi Power Procurement Company (SPPC) signed power purchase agreements (PPAs) covering a total of 1.5GW of solar photovoltaic power, under round four of the National Renewable Energy Programme.

Saudi Arabia
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Tiny Ras Al-Khaimah doesn’t often attract great international attention, except at times of succession change and when its state-owned entities have become caught up in poisonous legal disputes or geopolitical tussles. But the leadership’s recent ambitions for a range of business interests have encouraged renewed focus on the northern emirate. Developments include casino giant Wynn Resorts’ plans for an ‘integrated resort’ with ‘gaming’ facilities, which comes alongside increasing investment from Abu Dhabi, a government pushing hard for the tourist dollar and an emir, Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al-Qasimi, on the move to raise RAK’s profile. In a Special report, GSN examines RAK’s development plans and provides some historical context. 

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Born in 1956 as the fourth son of Sheikh Saqr Bin Mohammed Al-Qasimi, Ras Al-Khaimah Emir Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al-Qasimi held several key roles in the emirate before being appointed crown prince in June 2003.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) President Nechirvan Barzani met France’s President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysée Palace in Paris early November. The discussions covered bilateral relations between France and Iraq, and the KRI in particular, as well as the potential impact of the Israel-Hamas war on Iraq. 

Iraq
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Tensions between Kuwait’s government and the National Assembly (parliament) are on the rise once again, with one minister stepping down in late October and further resignations possible. However, the sparring partners now share one thing in common, with Crown Prince Sheikh Meshaal Al Ahmed Al Sabah openly critical of both sides in a late October speech made at the opening of the new session of parliament.

Kuwait
Issue 1180 - 07 November 2023

UAE: Edge buys into helicopter drone maker

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State-owned Edge Group announced the acquisition of a 52% shareholding in Swiss unmanned helicopter specialist Anavia on 6 November.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Doha's relations with India have soured, after a Qatar court handed down the death sentence to eight Indians arrested in August 2022.

Qatar
Free

Abu Dhabi International Airport is to be renamed Zayed International Airport, after the UAE’s founding president, the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Kuwait’s Crown Prince Sheikh Meshaal Al Ahmed Al Sabah used part of his speech at the opening of parliament late October to express his surprise at the Iraqi Constitutional Court ruling in September which annulled an agreement between Kuwait and Iraq to share the Khor Abdullah waterway. 

Kuwait | Iraq
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The National Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha, meaning integrity) has released summaries of 21 recent cases, offering an insight into its work, the scale of some corruption cases and its willingness to indict senior officials. 

Saudi Arabia
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The Qatar-headquartered International Union of Muslim Scholars (Iums) has called for urgent military intervention in Gaza. Founded and formerly headed by Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, a senior Al-Ikhwan Al-Muslimeen figure who died in September 2022, Iums is generally regarded as the primary religious authority guiding Hamas.

Qatar | Palestine
Issue 1180 - 07 November 2023

Sudan peace talks held in Riyadh

Free

Saudi Arabia hosted fresh talks in late October between President General Abdel-Fattah Burhan’s Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) led by Lieutenant General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo (often known as Hemedti).

Saudi Arabia
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In regions across the Middle East and North Africa where popular support for the Palestinian cause is widespread, the UAE has been trying to walk a fine line, maintaining diplomatic ties with Israel while publicly focusing on the provision of humanitarian aid to Gaza and calls for a ceasefire.

Yemen | United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Israel | Palestine