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Issue 1186 - 03 April 2024

UAE: Sultan Bin Zayed Profile

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At one stage a young commander-in-chief of the UAE Armed Forces, and later – as one of his  father's favourite sons – accumulating a number of big jobs, Sultan Bin Zayed had a spotty reputation and dropped out of the limelight in his later years.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Sheikh Shakbut was appointed a state minister in foreign affairs in early 2021 and is particularly focused on relations with African countries - which gives a commercial slant to his diplomatic role.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Khalifa Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, who died in May 2022, lived through a period of extraordinary change for his country. Born at a time when pre-oil Abu Dhabi was relatively isolated and under British protection, as head of state from 2004 until 2022, Khalifa played a key role in the UAE’s emergence on the regional and world stage – while being progressively replaced in decision-making by his half-brothers, led by Mohammed Bin Zayed.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Sheikha Shamma Bint Sultan, a grand-daughter of the late President Khalifa Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, has become prominent on environmental issues. This places her in a topical and controversial area following the UAE's hosting of the COP28 summit in November 2023, where it promoted an agenda that was opposed by many climate activists.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Sheikh Zayed was sworn in as the UAE’s ambassador to Qatar in August 2023, two-and-a-half years after the end of the boycott of Qatar by its neighbours.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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A deal between Abu Dhabi giant Adnoc and UK major BP to co-invest in Egyptian gas assets highlights how wealthy Gulf national oil companies are seeking lower-carbon expansion opportunities across Africa, with actors from Qatar and Kuwait also among those on the hunt.

Kuwait | Saudi Arabia | United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Qatar
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Elections to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq’s parliament are expected to go ahead as planned in June, despite the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s boycott – and the KDP faces having to make an embarrassing climb-down or watch as its political power is undermined, but if it does sit out the election there will also be difficult questions about the incoming regional legislature’s legitimacy.

Iraq
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Kuwait stands out in the region for its relatively open political system, which includes a freely-elected parliament that often clashes with a government appointed by the ruling Al-Sabahs. As a small state with vast oil wealth, it was a pioneer in establishing a sovereign wealth fund, but these days its economy lags behind its more commercially adept neighbours. The perennial stand-off between the executive and legislature often leads to policy gridlock, with neither side able to provide the bold leadership Kuwait needs to forge ahead

Kuwait
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The Bahraini sovereign wealth fund will fold its existing agriculture assets into the new body, as part of efforts to improve food security

Bahrain
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Bahrain’s new order, approved by the US State Department, includes 50 Abrams main battle tanks, as well as tank munitions, machine guns and smoke grenade launchers

Bahrain
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The merger of Abu Dhabi-listed Bayanat AI and satellite operator Yahsat to form Space42 is set to go ahead, with the UAE national security adviser holding 50% of the combined group. Another vehicle in Tahnoun Bin Zayed’s stable, Group 42, is setting up an AI investment company with Mubadala called MGX

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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A batch of three fighter jets arrived at the Isa Air Base on 8 March, with a further 13 due to be delivered to  Bahrain

Bahrain
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Faisal Bin Sultan Al-Qassimi has handed the chairmanship of the bank he set up in 1975 to his son Mohammed Bin Faisal

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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The Alpha Dhabi investment vehicle owned by UAE national security advisor Sheikh Tahnoun Bin Zayed has transferred three of its hotel subsidiaries to NCTH in return for shares which will give it a majority stake in the enlarged hospitality group

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Amnesty International has criticised a draft version of the Penal Code for Discretionary Sentences, which was leaked online in July 2022. The legislation sets out strict punishments for what are often vaguely-worded crimes and fails to guarantee freedom of expression or religion – which caused a diplomatic incident in early March involving a delegation from the US Commission on International Religious Freedom

Saudi Arabia