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None of the Gulf’s emerging ´middle powers’ have issued a detailed policy document setting out their approach to projecting soft power, even as they continue to spend extravagantly while drawing in investment and talent. Autocracies have no real need to orchestrate the sort of public debate that might follow, even if they regularly sound out local opinion via traditional diwans or more modern polling techniques — not to mention ever more pervasive surveillance of their citizens and others’ communications.

Saudi Arabia | United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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International Holding Company reported an 18% year-on-year rise in revenues to $16bn for 2023, but profits were flat at the increasingly high-profile conglomerate chaired by UAE national security adviser Sheikh Tahnoun Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Khalid Al-Shamlan takes over the real estate and infrastructure file at the Abu Dhabi government’s investment fund.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Former Kuwait Projects Company (Kipco) vice chairman Faisal Al-Ayar’s attempt to recover $840,000 from his son-in-law – who is in divorce proceedings with Al-Ayar’s daughter – has been dismissed by an Abu Dhabi court for lack of jurisdiction, mirroring a similar ruling in Dubai.

Kuwait | United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Reports suggest that Adia’s new fund – to be based in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state of Gujarat – could start investing by mid-2024.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Abu Dhabi’s ADQ has joined with its exhibitions group subsidiary Adnec to buy a large minority stake in Egyptian hotel operator Icon. It comes as ADQ’s chief investment officer returns to the investment giant after a two-year sabbatical at defence conglomerate Edge Group.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Moody’s sovereign credit upgrade has returned Qatar to the investment grade level it enjoyed before the 2017-21 boycott by regional foes.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Qatar
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UAE state minister for foreign affairs Sheikh Shakhbut Bin Nahyan Al-Nahyan has been on another African tour in January, visiting the capitals of Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, as well as Angola’s Cabinda province, as the UAE look to continue recent momentum for investments and wider engagement in Africa.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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The latest phase of tensions in Hadhramaut involves UAE-backed factions competing with groups linked to Saudi Arabia.

Yemen | United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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The European Union has sanctioned two UAE-based companies over commercial and military ties to Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces, while a leaked United Nations expert report says evidence of UAE arms supplies to the rebel RSF are ‘credible’.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Edge is to use its extensive surveillance technologies for a six-month anti-crime initiative in São Paulo; the very active UAE state-owned defence conglomerate has also agreed a tie-up with Turkish drone manufacturer Baykar.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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A five-year contract for Bahrain Steel to supply Emirates Steel Arkan with iron ore pellets appears to be motivated by both commercial and geopolitical considerations, with the Abu Dhabi government-owned steel-maker saying it was designed to “strengthen economic ties within the GCC”.

Bahrain | United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Abu Dhabi National Oil Company is aiming to use its $23bn decarbonisation budget to develop its domestic and international carbon management platforms, following a wave of deal-making in December and January aimed at bolstering bolster the UAE’S energy transition credentials.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Sharjah is looking to upgrade its infrastructure and increase capacity at its airport with a record budget worth $11bn announced for 2024. The independently-minded emirate has stood out among its UAE peers in its attitude to the Israel-Palestine conflict and much else.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Efforts to bring the Gaza conflict to an end continue, with little apparent prospect of short-term success. Arab states are pushing for Israel to end its bombardment but there is just as much focus on trying to ensure the war doesn’t escalate into a regional conflagration. A key challenge is the Houthis’ campaign against commercial shipping in the Red Sea, which Washington and allies are struggling to counter despite a major attack on targets in Yemen on 12 January.

Iran | Saudi Arabia | Bahrain | Yemen | Oman | United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Israel | Palestine