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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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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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Deals signed at the World Defence Show with Lockheed Martin, Saab, Thales and other international companies highlight how Riyadh is continuing to push for more weaponry to be developed inside the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia
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The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC)’s influence over Iranian politics and business has become an integral element of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s domination and the organisation may well provide a successor to the supreme leader. A new series of GSN profiles shows the extent that military and political leaders with an IRGC background occupy influential posts across the Islamic Republic.

Iran
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Despite international criticism of its nuclear power programme – which critics allege is a cover for developing atomic weapons – the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran is pushing ahead with plans to develop 20GW of nuclear generating capacity by 2041.

Iran
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Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah has presented his government’s legislative programme to parliament, but critics inside and outside the National Assembly are likely to make political life difficult for the premier in the coming months, while Kuwait waits on a much-anticipated crown prince appointment

Kuwait
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Plans by the Saudi state-owned Public Investment Fund to remodel the world of professional golf continue to cause controversy in Washington, where senators are taking a dim view of the fund’s approach to their inquiries. That is not denting the PIF’s sporting appetite though, with cycling, rugby and motorsport deals in the pipeline.

Saudi Arabia
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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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The impact of four-month-old Gaza conflict between Hamas and Israel is steadily spreading around the region, bringing fresh instability to Iraq where the US and Iran-backed militia are engaging in an escalating series of strikes and counter-strikes. While Qatar and Egypt continue to push on the diplomatic front, the risk of wider confrontation breaking out is rising.

Iran | Iraq | Qatar
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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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Bahrain’s Mumtalakat sovereign wealth fund has reportedly invested a further $38m into McLaren, just weeks after the luxury sportscar maker had said a full recapitalisation had been completed.

Bahrain
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Sovereign wealth fund the Oman Investment Authority has launched a third fund in its portfolio. The OR2bn Future Fund Oman will sit alongside the National Development Fund and Future Generations Fund

Oman
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Emir Sheikh Mishaal travelled to Riyadh on 30 January for talks with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, further cementing the bilateral relationship. Mishaal then went to Oman in early February to attend the inauguration of Duqm refinery with Sultan Haitham.

Kuwait | Saudi Arabia | Oman
Subscriber

Saudi Aramco said on 17 January it would increase the capital allotted to its global venture capital arm Aramco Ventures, from $3bn to $7bn over the next four years.

Saudi Arabia