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King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa flew to Saudi Arabia on 4 May to inspect Bahrain’s forces taking part in the Yemen campaign. At Taif airport, he was received by Mecca governor Prince Khalid Al-Faisal (when Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed did the same on 26 April, see below, he was greeted by the far more senior Prince Mohammed Bin Salman). At King Fahd Air Base, King Hamad watched planes taking off for their missions, as well as a parade by the coalition jet fighters. He was briefed, and visited the Al-Faisal Aviation Sciences Museum.

Bahrain
Issue 946 - 10 May 2013

Sheikh Tamim’s busy schedule

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Apart from the usual round of chairing domestic-related meetings (such as the Supreme Committee for Development Planning meetings) and ribbon cutting, heir apparent Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani has had a busy start to the year.

Qatar
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The start of construction on the new Kuwaiti Mubarak Al-Kabir port near Iraq has reignited long-standing resentments over territory, security and the legacy of reparations from the Saddam era

Kuwait | Iraq
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The United States is continuing to push for an extension to a United Nations embargo on conventional arms sales to Iran, which is due to expire on 18 October, despite clear opposition from fellow UN Security Council (UNSC) members China and Russia. Secretary of state Mike Pompeo has said the US will “exercise all diplomatic options to ensure the UN arms embargo is extended.”

Iran
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While the Riyadh book fair has attracted attention for all the right reasons, in a lesser-reported event, Saudi security confiscated the books of former literature professor and leading liberal Islamist Abdullah Al-Hamid

Saudi Arabia
Issue 939 - 24 January 2013

Talabani in hospital in Germany

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Iraqi President Jalal Talabani was taken to hospital on 17 December after suffering a stroke, and was later flown to Germany. The first official reports said he had suffered “fatigue and tiredness” as a result of his recent efforts to try to defuse tensions between Baghdad and Erbil, but rumours of the gravity of his condition were quick to follow.

Iraq
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The mid-October meeting of Iran and the P5+1 (GSN 956/6) ended on 16 October with a joint statement by Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and European Union high representative Catherine Ashton. The negotiations on nuclear proliferation in Iran, between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) plus Germany, were described as “substantive and forward looking”, building on the positive atmosphere that developed in New York during the UN General Assembly (GSN 955/1).

Iran
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Prince Abdullah Bin Abdelaziz Bin Musaid Bin Jiluwi Al-Saud, governor of the Northern Borders region, has died, the Royal Court said in a statement on 4 July. He has been succeeded as governor by his son, Prince Mishaal Bin Abdullah Bin Abdelaziz Bin Musaid Bin Jiluwi Al-Saud, who was sworn in on 14 July. Mishaal had been named an adviser to King Salman in late January. King Salman Bin Abdelaziz was among mourners performing funeral prayers for Prince Abdullah at the Grand Mosque in Mecca on 5 July, after which he was buried at the Al-Adl cemetery.

Saudi Arabia
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The campaign of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki to stay in office at the head of a new administration has been given fresh impetus with the support of a number of former enemies. Iran has timed a switch of policy to support

Iraq
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The Council of Ministers (cabinet) has approved a plan to loosen restrictions on expatriate visas in an effort to attract more international investment into the kingdom. The new ‘green card’ permits will be offered without the need for a local sponsor; those granted a new residency permit will be allowed to allocate visas for family members and to own real estate in the country. There will be two types of permit: one offering permanent residency and the other renewable on an annual basis.

Saudi Arabia
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Former prime minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammed Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah is rumored to have formed an alliance with influential National Assembly (parliament) speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem in an attempt to return to power. If successful, it would mark a surprising comeback for Nasser Mohammed, who stepped down from the premiership in December 2011. He was said last year to be ‘finished’ as a potential successor to Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, even though he still retained some political influence.

Kuwait
Issue 977 - 19 September 2014

Saudi Arabia: Junior Princes

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Prince Abdullah, son of former deputy defence minister Prince Khalid Bin Sultan, has been in Bermuda, where he met Premier Michael Dunkley. They held talks at the Elbow Beach hotel, which has been owned by Prince Khalid since the early 1990s. Abdullah is a low-profile son of Prince Khalid, who was removed from his ministerial position in April 2013. In early September, Prince Khalid Bin Alwaleed Bin Talal visited Malta, where he had a meeting with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

Saudi Arabia
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King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa’s gift of two Bahraini pure-bred Arabian horses to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, on the occasion of the 2013 Royal Windsor Horse Show, is the latest in a long line of equine exchanges to bond the horse-loving royals of the Gulf and Britain. While the day-to-day political relationships between London and its Gulf allies ebb and flow, agitated from time to time by the rows over human rights or corruption that flare in the press and then quickly subside, the links between royalty endure, and to a large extent characterise bilateral relationships whose steadfastness has often trumped politics.

Bahrain
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Deputy prime minister and finance minister Sheikh Salem Abdulaziz Al-Sabah criticised Kuwait’s bloated bureaucracy and inefficient labour market on 7 October, repeating views he expressed before resigning as governor of the central bank.
Interestingly, his comments were carried by state news agency Kuna, although the headline, ‘Kuwaiti economy “strong and stable”’, highlighted a different aspect of what was his first extensive public policy statement since taking charge at the ministry in August (GSN 953/8). 
Sheikh Salem did, indeed, say Kuwait’s economic situation was predominantly strong and stable, pointing to a KD12.7bn ($44.8bn) surplus for the 2012-13 financial year ending in March, representing 24.7% of nominal GDP for 2012.

Kuwait
Issue 854 - 30 May 2009

Maintaining security at MOO

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Ever since five UK citizens were snatched from the Iraqi Ministry of Finance in May 2007 – they continue to be held by Iranian-backed groups – it has been passé to consider a ministry building as secure or Iraqi forces as entirely trustworthy. Nor are Iraqi security forces yet sufficiently polished to meet the rigorous security standards of western executives.

Iraq