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King Abdullah’s increasingly high-profile daughter Princess Adila has spoken about family violence in the Kingdom

Saudi Arabia
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Nawwaf Bin Abdelaziz: Term extended, Turki Al-Faisal: Gaza comments, Princes: Marriages, Princess Al-Jauhara: Death, Al Sudairi: Death

Saudi Arabia
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Among the issues thrown up by the Ministry of Oil (MOO)’s second licensing round, announced on 31 December, is the challenge it poses to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) through Baghdad’s decision to offer exploration permits in the Qamar, Nau Doman and Gilabet oilfields and Khashm Al-Ahmar gas field in upper Diyala province. The fields’ inclusion in the round comes before the Kurds can resolve the ownership of disputed territories in these fields. Indeed, according to analysis by GSN’s sister publication Iraq Focus, “Baghdad is playing the Kurds at their own game of laying down markers on key terrain in the border oilfields.”

Iraq
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Riyadh governor Salman has emerged as a key advisor in the crown prince’s efforts to reassert his role, as King Abdullah presses key princes into considering the future.

Saudi Arabia
Free

The breakdown of the deal between The Dow Chemical Company and Petrochemical Industries Company – in which the Kuwaiti state-owned PIC would take a 50% stake in the United States’ largest chemicals group for around $9bn in return for the Americans developing the emirate’s downstream value-added via the KDow joint venture – is unsurprising.

Kuwait
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The problem of Iranian penetration of Qatar's exclusive economic zones (EEZs) has long been a thorny one for the Qatari Emiri Navy (QEN), the emirate's coast guard and Qatari Emiri Air Force (QEAF). GSN's periodic surveys of the Project National Security Shield (NSS) system of radar and coastal surveillance has focused on the deep paranoia and touchiness that Doha feels when confronted with Iran's powerful and unpredictable naval forces. With the giant North Field/South Pars gas reserve not yet unitised, the shared field still has a 'wild west' feel about it, with the Iranians and Qataris staking out their claims with rigs instead of fence posts.

Qatar
Free

So President Barack Obama is back in the White House, and it is time to get back to work. But the US vote for continuity will not prompt much celebration in the Iranian corridors of power. Several hours after the result was in, the Iranian state news agency Irna made no mention of US politics, although it did post a story saying the prevailing world system “is already meeting its doomed end”.

Iran
Free

In parallel to an SR9bn ($2.4bn) upgrade of school facilities and teaching methods under the banner of the King Abdullah Bin Abdelaziz Project for Developing Public Education (Tatweer), the Saudi Ministry of Education (MoE) is tackling the ideological roots of jihadist activity. MoE officials have confirmed that school pupils will be denied access to supposedly extremist

Saudi Arabia
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As Saudi security forces in Makkah and Medina remain busy preparing for this year’s Hajj pilgrimage, securocrats continue to fret at the possibility of a major anti-western attack in Riyadh or Eastern Province. Memories of the recent interrupted reconnaissance

Saudi Arabia
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A pair of deals between the federal government and Kurdistan Regional Government on oil exports and developing the Kirkuk oil field have raised hopes of further strategic compromises, but severe tensions remain between Baghdad and Irbil. Baghdad has agreed to the export of Kurdistan oil via its northern export pipeline within months,

Iraq
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Fujairah Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Hamad Al-Sharqi has spoken about his emirate’s crippling electricity shortages, inflation woes and other policy issues (GSN 797/2).

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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While Kuwait’s latest government crisis keeps the headline writers busy (see Politics, below), major oil companies are worrying that their hopes of developing the emirate’s huge reserves seem as elusive as ever. Some IOCs will struggle to make a profit even

Kuwait
Issue 842 - 05 December 2008

Tehran feels weight of sanctions

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Capacity constraints for Iranian transactions are largely due to the standoff between Tehran and Washington, backed by European governments, on the nuclear question, which has cut US-based insurers and underwriters with US-based treaty reinsurance out of the market. Given the European Union’s ‘common position’ of August 2008 – which calls for restraint

Iran
Issue 842 - 05 December 2008

What’s possible in tough market

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No longer a global market leader for trade financiers, Iran has joined Iraq and Syria is in a difficult market for bankers to do business within the GSN area. “For banks, Syria will be the easiest of these three to do, but banking markets are pretty well shut for the rest of the year,

Iran | Iraq | Syria
Issue 842 - 05 December 2008

Syria still in bottom category

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As its cautious economic reform continues, Syria is showing potential for foreign investment, shown by Virgin Megastores and Carrefour’s plans to open in Aleppo in 2009. But declining oil production pulled GDP growth down to 4% in 2007, according to the IMF’s most recent Article IV report. This noted that “private banks appear to be well capitalised”, while credit to public enterprises,

Syria