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Issue 1051 - 11 January 2018

Iran: Tanker blazes off China

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Efforts to contain the blaze engulfing the Iranian tanker MV Sanchi were continuing as GSN went to press, but just one body had been recovered from a crew of 32 Iranians and Bangladeshis aboard the ship.The Sanchi, which is registered in Panama and operated by National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC), collided with the Hong Kong-flagged CF Crystal at 8pm local time on 6 January, around 160 nautical miles off the coast of China close to Shanghai.

Iran
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Abu Dhabi has become the latest Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) government to tap into the debt market; a $5bn bond offering on 25 April was the wealthy emirate’s first since 2009. Split into two $2.5bn tranches with five- and ten-year maturities, the issue was priced at the tighter end of expectations, with rates of 2.125% and 3.125% for the five-year and ten-year issues respectively.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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A well-placed source in the region told GSN of an encounter in 2012 with Qatar’s then emir (now father emir) Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, who revealed at a meeting that he had been close to brokering a settlement between the Al-Khalifa regime and opposition groups. According to the source, Sheikh Hamad said the deal had been scuppered by the Saudis – and he used some particularly colourful and critical language to describe the senior figures in Riyadh who had derailed his initiative.

Saudi Arabia | Qatar
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UAE ambassador since 2008, Yousef Al-Otaibi is seen as a smooth, smart operator in Washington DC. The Qatar crisis has further raised the envoy’s profile and shown the influence wielded on the Trump administration by his boss Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed (MBZ).Much has been made of Al-Otaibi’s cultivation of presidential son-in-law turned Middle East envoy Jared Kuchner. The men meet regularly, a Washington think-tanker observes.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal attracted a lot of attention with the announcement he would donate all of his $32bn wealth to philanthropy over the coming years. The prince – who said he had donated an average of $100m a year for the last 35 years – told a 1 July news conference that his main aim was to institutionalise his charitable giving. He told reporters gathered at his company headquarters in Riyadh that the announcement was not motivated by any ill health. “I can assure you I’m very healthy, enough to bike every day for three hours.

Saudi Arabia
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Prince Abdullah Bin Musaid has been appointed a director of Alara Resources, an Australian Securities Exchange-listed minerals exploration and development company with copper-gold projects in Saudi Arabia and Oman. Alara Resources said on 29 October: “Prince Abdullah is keen to be part of and assist in the advancement of the Khnaiguiyah Project...[he] feels the development of this project is of strategic importance to the country.” Born in 1965, Prince Abdullah is a businessman – founder, chairman and majority shareholder in the Saudi stock exchange-listed Saudi Paper Manufacturing Company – and is known for his passion for sports, particularly American football.

Saudi Arabia
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Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah was forced to postpone a 12 September meeting with US President Donald Trump after being admitted to hospital on 8 September for unspecified health checks. He was discharged on the evening of 12 Septembe. Emiri Diwan minister Sheikh Ali Jarrah Al-Sabah (apparently back in post after a short absence) said the check-up had shown “reassuring results”. National Assembly speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim on 17 September said Sheikh Sabah would return home “soon”.

Kuwait
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After a solid performance by Al-Wefaq, Bahrain’s secular liberals now face a critical challenge in the run-off contest for the lower house. For the first time since parliament was restored eight years ago, the opposition has a tangible chance of winning half the seats in the national assembly, after the results of the first-round vote on 23 October.

Bahrain
Issue 867 - 04 December 2009

What has yet to emerge from the crisis?

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Many critical questions remain to be answered as the Dubai crisis unfolds

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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State-owned Saudi Arabia Military Industries (Sami) announced on 7 November that it had signed a joint venture with Spain’s firm Navantia to produce five Avante 2200 corvettes. It is the first major arms deal to make progress since the Jamal Khashoggi affair came to light; given that a €2bn ($2.3bn) contract was inked by the two sides in July, the decision to stage another formal signing at this time was perhaps motivated more by Riyadh’s desire to portray a sense of ‘business as usual’ rather than any commercial imperative.

Saudi Arabia
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Prince Mansour Bin Mohammed Bin Nawaf Al-Saud, the 26-year-old son of the Saudi ambassador to London, has died after a sudden heart attack. Deputy Defence and Aviation Minister Prince Abdelrahman Bin Abdelaziz has been on a week-long tour of the Kingdom’s military Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal is reportedly being sued by a member of staff. PetroSaudi International, which belongs to Prince Turki Bin Abdullah Bin Abdelaziz Al Saud, and Malaysian state-owned Malaysia Development Berhad have said they will establish a $2.5bn partnership to invest in oil, gas and real estate projects. British newspapers have reported that Janan Harb, a divorced widow of King Fahd, is to bring another court case against the Al-Saud family

Saudi Arabia
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We’ve seen Saudi artists bought by European collectors, and major American works bought by collectors from the GCC,” the fair’s director, Antonia Carver, told GSN in an interview. “Increasingly we are seeing a lot of young collectors

Saudi Arabia
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In a major revamp of the domestic defence industry, “more than 25” local companies and 12,000 staff have been brought together into a new umbrella group called Edge. The new group includes subsidiaries of Emirates Defence Industries Company, Emirates Advanced Investments Group and Tawazun Holding, who together have some $5bn in annual revenues. To date only 23 entities have been named, including small arms maker Caracal, armoured vehicle firm Al-Nimr and electronic warfare player Sign4l.

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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Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, newly named Emir of Qatar, stands out not just because of the sleek manner of his accession, but because of his youth. Born on 3 June 1980, Tamim had only just celebrated his 33rd birthday when he assumed the role for which he has spent more than a decade preparing. In a culture where respect is very linked to age, holding his own among his senescent Gulf counterparts will require some steel. Three of the five other Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) heads of state are more than double his age; the closest in years, at 63, is Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa.

Qatar