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Speculation has been mounting that the Saudi government is set to move forward with the long-planned initial public offering (IPO) of shares in Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Aramco). The news filtering out of the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh – the third annual holding of the event dubbed by supporters the ‘Davos in the desert’ – is that an offering to domestic investors will be announced on 3 November. The mooted timetable would see shares go on sale in early December with trading to start on the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) around 11 December.

Saudi Arabia
Free

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad garnered moral backing during his mid-January voyage around five of Latin America’s ‘anti-imperialist’ states, but he seems to have come away with little material support to counter Iran’s growing crisis of international isolation – underlined on 23 January, when European Union foreign ministers agreed on the much-anticipated embargo on Iranian oil imports (effective from 1 July).

Iran
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
Free

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, host of the 26th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26), is rarely short of a pithy quip aimed at his support base. Indeed, whole policies have been woven around his notion that the UK electorate can “have its cake and eat it”, however misleading that may be. Johnson’s allies – and even his critics – in the Gulf’s oil and gas producing states would appreciate that sentiment as they emerge from the climate talks, due to end on 12 November.

Free

For all the build-up, United States President Joe Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia on 15-16 July ended up being a distinctly underwhelming occasion. The grubby compromises of realpolitik were on clear display, but without the glittering prizes of any ‘historic’ breakthrough, either in political or economic terms.

Saudi Arabia
Free

Governments across the Gulf are enjoying another boom in  oil  and gas prices, which is all the more welcome given the fiscal crunch in many economies caused by the Covid pandemic.