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The United States Naval Forces Central Command (Navcent) held the 18-day International Maritime Exercise 23 (IMX23) in late February and early March, with an opening ceremony for the operational phase held at US 5th Fleet’s headquarters in Bahrain.

Bahrain
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In a so far unusual move against a Russian entity, the Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) cancelled MTS Bank’s licence to operate in Abu Dhabi in late March, citing the "sanctions risks associated with the bank".

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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The Meraj-532 is the first Iranian drone known to be launched from a speeding vehicle, which means it does not need a rocket booster system for take-off. The weight saved appears to have been traded in for a larger warhead.

Iran
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Syrian foreign minister Faisal Mekdad travelled to Jeddah for talks with his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal Bin Farhan, as part of a concerted attempt by Riyadh to move the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad back into the Arab mainstream. Prince Faisal then travelled to Damascus for talks with Assad, the first such trip by a Saudi foreign minister since 2011.

Saudi Arabia | Syria
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Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (Nedaja) forces took control of the Marshall Islands-registered tanker Advantage Sweet in the Gulf of Oman late April, while it was sailing from Kuwait to Houston, Texas.

Iran
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Qatar Museums chair Sheikha Mayassa Bint Hamad Al-Thani has been in Florence, Italy for the Art For Tomorrow conference, which she helped to launch in 2015.

Qatar
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National security advisor, Supreme Defence Council secretary-general and Royal Guard commander Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa was promoted from major general to the rank of lieutenant general in an order by his father King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa on 30 April.

Bahrain
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Fujairah and others census counting: Fujairah is preparing for the first part of its latest census, with teams of field workers due to visit all parts of the emirate starting in May, including residential and commercial premises and other facilities. A second phase is due to be carried out in Q1 2024, when the population will be counted. The project is being supervised by Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Hamad Bin Mohammed Al-Sharqi.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Iran officially welcomed Syria’s return to the League of Arab States, but the eagerness with which Damascus is accepting the renewed Arab hospitality may be a cause for concern in Tehran, which has been one of the Assad regime’s few consistent supporters throughout the civil war.

Iran | Syria
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MBC Group Holdings, a British Virgin Islands-registered company connected to Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ibrahim family, has submitted a petition to a Cayman Islands court to wind up its partnership with a son of Saudi Arabia's late King Abdullah Bin Abdelaziz. The move offers an insight into how lucrative deals were awarded in the later years of Abdullah’s reign and how those deals were treated when King Salman Bin Abdelaziz took over in 2015.

Saudi Arabia
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The UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has fined Luxembourg-based Banque Havilland and a number of its executives and employees for trying to devalue the Qatari riyal in 2017, at a time when Qatar was facing a boycott by Bahrain, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and some allied countries.

Qatar
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Saudi Aramco appointed Nasir Al-Naimi as president of its upstream business and Mohammed Al-Qahtani as president of its downstream activities, in a shake-up. Both men will report to group president and chief executive Amin Nasser once they assume their newly-created positions on 1 July.

Saudi Arabia
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Huge art and archaeology projects say a lot about contemporary Saudi Arabia, as Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) pushes ahead with ever-expanding ambitions to remodel the country's economy and society. Major cultural developments in the north-west are emerging as a hub, with big budgets drawing in international institutions, architects, artists and curators, but the changes also provide scope for significant local expression, including for female and younger artists – even as MBS' critics languish in prison, some facing death penalties.

Saudi Arabia
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The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) ended its boycott of cabinet meetings in early May, as it bowed to international pressure to seek compromise with its main rival, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). However, hopes have since withered that it might spark a more deep-seated process of co-operation on key issues, amid disputes over regional elections and the federal budget in Iraq.

Iraq
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Regional and international organisations Arab League Summit: Saudi Arabia provided a warm welcome to President Bashar Al-Assad on Syria’s return to the League of Arab States, at the organisation’s 32nd summit, held at the King Abdullah International Conference Centre in Jeddah on 19 May.