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Kuwait stands out in the region for its relatively open political system, which includes a freely-elected parliament that often clashes with a government appointed by the ruling Al-Sabahs. As a small state with vast oil wealth, it was a pioneer in establishing a sovereign wealth fund, but these days its economy lags behind its more commercially adept neighbours. The perennial stand-off between the executive and legislature often leads to policy gridlock, with neither side able to provide the bold leadership Kuwait needs to forge ahead

Kuwait
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Iraq is buffeted by regional conflicts and domestic political and economic pressures; the dinar remains stressed and the population even more so. This is the first of a much-expanded series of GSN Risk management reports, in an online format intended to provide easy-to-access updates, analysis and contexts as a point of entry into this complex, often opaque region.

Iraq
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Kerman blast: Around 100 people were killed and nearly 300 injured in two explosions at a cemetery in the southern city of Kerman on 3 January, at an event marking the fourth anniversary of IRGC Quds force leader Qasem Soleimani’s death in a United States drone strike.

Iran
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Slowing economic growth: The economy posted year-on-year growth of 2.5% in Q3 2023, according to data released by the Information and eGovernment Authority on 26 December. The expansion was led by the non-oil sector, which grew by 4.5%, offsetting a 6.8% decline in the oil sector. 

Bahrain
Issue 1182 - 12 December 2023

Yemen: Houthis attack Red Sea shipping

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Red Sea attacks: Houthi forces launched missile and drone attacks against three commercial ships and a United States Navy vessel in the southern Red Sea on 3 December. The first attack targeted Bahamas-flagged bulk cargo ship Unity Explorer at 9:15 am Sanaa time, but the missile missed. Later in the day Unity Explorer was hit by another missile, causing minor damage.

Yemen
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Risk grades: Abu Dhabi A1, Dubai A2. RAK’s Russian links: A delegation from the Ural region of Russia visited Ras Al-Khaimah in early November, comprising business owners involved in real estate, engineering services, IT development, food production and investment.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Climate goals: Ahead of the COP28 climate talks in Dubai, the UAE has set out a national action plan to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 – while also remaining a world-leading oil producer.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Issue 1180 - 13 November 2023

Qatar: More LNG deals with China

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China LNG deals: QatarEnergy has been lining up long-term sales contracts for its major North Field developments. It signed a deal on 4 November to sell 3m t/yr of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec) over 27 years from the North Field South (NFS) expansion project. This followed a string of similar deals with European energy majors

Qatar
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Economic slump: The economy shrank by 4.5% year on year in Q3 2023, a sharp change from the 1.2% expansion reported in Q2 23. It was the first decline in real GDP since the start of Q1 21 and was entirely due to a slump in the oil and gas sector, where activity contracted by 17.3% yr/yr due to voluntary production cuts.

Saudi Arabia
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KIO allegations: Finance minister Fahd Al-Jarallah has referred the Kuwait Investment Authority’s London outpost, the Kuwait Investment Office (KIO), to the public prosecutor over a series of alleged offences including the illegal disclosure of confidential information between 2018-22. The move was announced by the Ministry of Finance on 16 October.

Kuwait
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Gas privatisation: Shares in state energy firm OQ’s gas pipelines business OQ Gas Network (OQGN) began trading on the Muscat Stock Exchange on 24 October. OQGN had raised OR288m ($750m) in its initial public offering of 49% of its shares, making it Oman’s largest IPO, ahead of previous front-runner Oman Telecoms Company, which floated in 2005.

Oman
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Turkish attacks: Türkiye (Turkey) launched a sustained aerial bombardment of Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK) bases in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) in early October, following a suicide bombing at the Ministry of Interior building in Ankara on the opening day of the month, a few hours ahead of the reopening of the Turkish parliament after a three-month summer recess.

Iraq
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Saladin governor warrant: An arrest warrant was issued by Iraq's Federal Commission of Integrity against a former governor of Saladin province, following accusations of corruption involving contracts for water services in the area. A statement by the commission on 7 October said the warrant had been issued under Article 331 of the Penal Code.

Iraq
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Grundberg diplomacy: United Nations special envoy Hans Grundberg has been meeting senior figures around the region, in an effort to inject new momentum into the peace process. He was in Riyadh on 9 August where he met Yemeni Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) head Rashad Al-Alimi, Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik, foreign minister Ahmed Bin Mubarak and Saudi ambassador to Yemen Mohamed Al-Jaber. The following week, Grundberg was in Muscat for talks with Foreign Ministry undersecretary Khalifa Al-Harthy and Houthi chief negotiator Mohammed Abdel Salam.

Yemen