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Commerce spoke louder than diplomacy when the state-owned QatarEnergy announced a ten-year deal to supply condensate to the Dubai government-owned Emirates National Oil Company (Enoc). It represents the first major commercial deal since the two Gulf Co-operation Council partners (or mainly, in recent years, rivals) agreed in June to reopen their respective embassies.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Qatar
Free

It is almost a year since 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was arrested in Tehran for failing to adhere to Iran's strict dress code for women. She died in police custody on 16 September, prompting nationwide outrage which soon morphed into the "Women, Life, Freedom" protest movement. The Iranian government has been nervously preparing for the anniversary of Amini's death, by targeting protestors and their supporters.

Iran
Free

Conservative tribal and Islamist voices are increasing their power and influence in the Kuwaiti political arena, with the government providing tacit support to their growing dominance over liberal and urban merchant figures.

Kuwait
Free

The turmoil that has broken out in Israel and Gaza in recent days may lead to a recalibration by Yemen's Houthis of what they should put on their list of demands and how much pressure they can exert on Saudi Arabia in any further rounds of talks. It might also concentrate minds in Riyadh about the need to secure a viable settlement in Yemen, so that the land beyond its southern border is not a long-term harbour of potential danger.

Saudi Arabia | Yemen
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The latest Israeli-Palestinian flare-up is an all-too familiar expression of scarcely bottled-up frustrations in the West Bank and Gaza, which the aggressive departure from any two-state solution by Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and his allies has exacerbated (GSN 1,097/1). GSN’s analysis of social media shows that, in the era of the Abraham Accords (GSN 1,109/1), the crisis – which began in the Jerusalem suburb of Sheikh Jarrah and spread more widely before focusing on Gaza and then, on 18 May, triggering mass protests on the West Bank – has exposed new rifts in attitudes. The ‘Arab street’ hasn’t disappeared – it has gone online.

Bahrain | Israel | Kuwait | Saudi Arabia | Oman | Qatar
Free

The results released so far of elections on 26 February to the Majles-e Showra-ye Eslami (Islamic Consultative Assembly or parliament) and Majles-e Khobregan (Assembly of Experts) seemed to confirm that President Hassan Rouhani had emerged stronger from his nuclear deal with the P5+1 grouping of global powers. It suggested the clerical establishment – with Rahbar (Supreme Leader) Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (pictured smiling, almost winsomely, as he placed his vote) at its peak – was sanctioning a political shift towards more open, tolerant government. This would be despite the opposition of arch conservatives and revolutionary institutions such as the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

Iran
Free

The decision by the Shura-ye Negahban (Guardian Council) to cull all but seven names from the list of 592 people who had registered to run in the presidential election on 18 June was, on the surface, unsurprising.

Iran
Free

Will Mohammad Khatami secure the backing of Rahbar (Supreme Leader) Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for his presidential comeback bid this summer? Unlikely as this might have seemed even weeks ago, Iranian political observers, whose debates GSN has joined in the past week, are agreed that this may be the decisive question

Iran
Free

None of the Gulf’s emerging ´middle powers’ have issued a detailed policy document setting out their approach to projecting soft power, even as they continue to spend extravagantly while drawing in investment and talent. Autocracies have no real need to orchestrate the sort of public debate that might follow, even if they regularly sound out local opinion via traditional diwans or more modern polling techniques — not to mention ever more pervasive surveillance of their citizens and others’ communications.

Saudi Arabia | United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Free

Alongside the bigger question of what imprint the Saudi-led campaign against the Houthis in Yemen will leave on the region is another fascinating question for those with a taste for the intrigues of Saudi royal politics: from where, and whom, did Saudi Arabia’s new assertive position come? Attempts to reply to a large extent fall into the realm of palace speculation, but there are several things worth noting. Saudi Arabia’s willingness and ability to organise and lead such a high-profile campaign is a sign both that the new ruler is happy to assert his regional leadership, and that the broader leadership is less afflicted by the sense of drift which pervaded the last of King Abdullah’s years.

Yemen
Free

The entertainment revolution promised by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS)’s Vision 2030 will bring the world’s fastest rollercoaster and other attractions to the huge Qiddiya entertainment city, when it opens in 2023. Meanwhile, mesures to lift travel restrictions on women have been welcomed, while the kingdom’s latest reshuffle has been widely interpreted as accelerating moves to list Saudi Arabian Oil Company on local and international stock markets – which will underline Aramco’s status as the world’s biggest oil exporter and further integrate the kingdom into the global economy.

Saudi Arabia
Free

The fourth election in as many years seems unlikely to lead to any dramatic change in Kuwait’s slow-burning political crisis, as most members of the outgoing parliament retained their seats and Abdulkarim Al-Kandari – whose comments about Emir Sheikh Mishaal precipitated the latest poll – increased his vote, suggesting voters were happy to reward the authorities’ outspoken critics.

Kuwait
Free

It has been a year when war compounded misery across the wider region, from Yemen – where Saudi Arabia remains mired in conflict with the Houthis – to Libya, where the United Nations-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) was effectively saved from UAE-backed forces bearing down on Tripoli by the intervention of Turkey. The Saudi/UAE-led boycott of Qatar continued, although regional leaders and the administration of US President Donald Trump worked to mend the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC)’s deepest rift.

Saudi Arabia | Yemen | United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Free

Being a small country surrounded by larger feuding neighbours is never a comfortable place to be. Bahrain has been working hard to build a stronger relationship with US President Donald Trump, both as part of its alignment with Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, but also on its own account, reinforcing wider alliances as a bolster against a resurgent Iran across the Gulf and with a restive majority Shia population at home.

Bahrain
Free

With further concerns about the health of Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, following his admission to hospital in the United States during September, attention is inevitably turning to the often-intricate politics of succession in Kuwait.In the country’s modern history, succession within the ruling Al-Sabah family has been marked by the custom that the emir is picked in turn from the two main branches of the family.

Kuwait