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Adnoc signs E&P agreement with Shell; Bahrain invites IOCs for deep onshore gas exploration and signs a memorandum of understanding with Iran for gas supply. Iran state company offers 14 fields for development

Iran | United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Bahrain
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New structures are required, and participating bank numbers may be reduced, but the GCC’s syndicated loan market should hit its stride again in 2009, according to project financiers canvassed by GSN.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Following the Eid holiday Crown Prince Sultan travelled to Tabuk, where he announced a donation of SR10m – to be given on an annual basis – to the Prince Fahd Bin Sultan University

Saudi Arabia
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Finance Minister Mustapha Al-Shamali and Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) managing director Bader Al-Saad have reportedly been asked by Kuwaiti investment companies to set up a fund worth KD300m ($1.1bn) to help settle their debt in the wake of the global financial crisis.

Kuwait
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Nouriya Al-Sabeeh looks far from safe, as Islamists gear up for another ministerial grilling, but the wider reform drive should continue as the parliamentary opposition lacks coherence on most non-social policy issues.

Kuwait
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Yemeni-based militants constitute one external threat to expatriates. Indeed, the prospect of establishing bases in Yemen has been mentioned prominently in militant communiqués and in Saudi government statements since 2006.

Saudi Arabia | Yemen
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Total has signed an agreement with Korea National Oil Corporation (KNOC) to take a 31% stake in onshore exploration Block 70 in Yemen’s Shabwa governorate. Bahrain-based Energy Alliance Company, which has an interesting set of Saudi and other Arab investors, has become involved in Eritrea.

Bahrain | Yemen
Issue 839 - 25 October 2008

Dubai Inc confronts the crunch

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Dubai has been exceptionally aggressive in opening up to foreign investment. With little oil wealth, and now evidently in a lot of debt, it has developed real estate, tourism and financial services to drive the boom. Observers have long noted this model is vulnerable to anything that might cause foreign investors to run away, perhaps a terrorist attack.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Free

Maysan province provides a pointer to the evolution of politics and security under Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, in the Bush administration’s last months, where huge resources are needed to assist the traumatised, impoverished population in arguably Iraq’s most under-developed and wildest province.

Iraq
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The ‘hard stop’ armed takedown of a vehicle at a government checkpoint – a regular occurrence in 2004-05 – has become so rare that the unsuccessful 14 October attempt to stop a suspected terrorist vehicle in Eastern Riyadh was big news. The authorities seem to have the jihadist challenge under control, but Yemeni-based militants still pose a threat, as does potential ‘blow-back’ from Iraq

Saudi Arabia | Iraq
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Qatar plans to host a peace conference for Darfur, where the regime of Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir is accused of conniving in human rights crimes. Al-Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court.

Qatar
Issue 839 - 25 October 2008

CORPORATE WATCH

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Dubai Investments (DI), a Dubai Financial Market-listed investment vehicle in which the government has an 11% stake, has acquired a 5% stake in …. Geneva and Riyadh-based investment bank Swicorp has agreed to provide funding to a privately-owned Algerian oil products marketer, Petroser, through its $250m private equity vehicle Intaj Capital.

Saudi Arabia | United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Emir Sheikh Hamad visited Syria in early October for talks with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.

Qatar
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Gulf financial institutions have been exposed to US defaults, but on a relatively small scale. Worst-affected have been Dubai and Bahrain, with Qatar and Saudi Arabia apparently the least-affected. Foreign banks have slowed down their lending dramatically and local banks are having their international credit lines pulled, causing them to freeze inter-bank lending.

Saudi Arabia | United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Qatar
Issue 839 - 25 October 2008

QIA remains busy

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Despite the global financial downturn, Qatar Investment Authority remains busy. It led a capital injection of some $8.8bn into Credit Suisse Group. According to The Wall Street Journal, this boosts Qatar’s stake in the Swiss bank to around 10%, from just under 2%.

Qatar