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Reports in French newspapers suggest that Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani may not have his way over a multi-million dollar renovation of the Hotel Lambert in Paris. Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoë has said the Emir’s plans for the building, built in 1639 and part of a Unesco world heritage site, include underground parking, new elevatorsand additions to the living areas. “This is a real threat to a gem of Paris heritage, the only private house from the end of Louis the XIII’s reign that remains untouched’’.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Qatar
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GSN canvassed opinion in the credit and political risk markets to see how financing for the wider Middle East region might be affected by the New Year conflict. GSN may not agree with all their views, but specialist analysts can move markets, and several saw the Israeli assault on Gaza as a warning to Tehran; some believed that Israel would consider military intervention in Iran over the next six months, even without US support – but only as a last resort.

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Kuwait and Iraq have signed their first formal military agreement since the 1990-91 occupation, as both countries build up their coastal security.

Kuwait | Iraq
Issue 845 - 16 January 2009

Cabinet choices fail to impress

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Following weeks of negotiations and delays – which prompted talks of a walkout by parliamentarians and fresh grilling threats against the prime minister – Kuwait has a new government, albeit one with only two new faces. Many MPs have responded angrily to what is in effect a minor reshuffle rather than a new government, with 12 parliamentarians staging a walkout at the National Assembly ceremony to swear in the new cabinet.

Kuwait
Issue 845 - 16 January 2009

QATAR: Cultural recognition

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Qatar over the past few years has focused on expanding its non-oil economy, with a heavy focus on education. Following the opening of the new Museum

Qatar
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Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society and Haq, Bahrain’s two largest parliamentary and extra-parliamentary opposition movements, have engaged in renewed talks about a potential joint strategy, as the 2010 elections approach. Haq leader Hassan Mushaima continues to argue that now is not the time to back down over a potential election boycott.

Bahrain
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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
Issue 842 - 05 December 2008

Options weighed for Dolphin refinancing

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Manoeuvrings for refinancing one of the GCC region’s most important energy transfer projects, the Dolphin Energy Ltd (DEL) gas pipeline between Qatar and the UAE, are expected to accelerate in the New Year, although bankers are remaining tight-lipped on details. The Dolphin refinancing will replace some

United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Qatar
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A flurry of diplomatic missions to Algiers during November emphasised the strengthening trade and investment bonds within the Middle East and North Africa region: defence deals were on the agenda.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Qatar