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Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani has entered into his second decade as ruler in a strong position, having dealt with the regional blockade, the Covid pandemic and the Fifa World Cup. This leaves Qatar now in search of a new direction: while positioning itself as a regional mediator provides a focus for its multi-polar foreign policy, Doha has yet to identify a new national purpose on the domestic stage. 

Qatar
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Slowing growth: The UAE economy grew by 3.8% in Q1 2023, compared to Q1 22, according to Federal Centre for Competitiveness and Statistics data issued in early August. GDP was AED418.3bn ($113.9bn) in the January-March period, when non-oil GDP expanded by 4.5%.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Issue 1175 - 01 September 2023

Saudi economy falls into recession

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The Saudi economy fell into a recession in Q2, with initial estimates pointing to a quarter-on-quarter decline of 0.1% in GDP during the period, following a 1.4% fall in Q1. While non-oil activity grew, the limits the government has imposed on oil output meant the oil sector contracted by 1.4%.

Saudi Arabia
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Kuwait's Crown Prince Sheikh Mishaal Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah was in London in late August to mark the 70th anniversary of the opening of the Kuwait Investment Office in London. The KIO was set up in February 1953, eight years before Kuwait gained independence from the United Kingdom, and is generally seen as the world's first sovereign wealth fund. It is now part of the Kuwait Investment Authority.

Kuwait
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Gulf royal families have generally been closely associated with only a narrow range of traditional preferred sports – including camel racing, horse racing and falconry – but younger Saudi princes and princesses now occupy senior positions in bodies overseeing a far wider range of pursuits, from motorsport and esports to triathlons and diving. Their efforts to promote sports and attract international events feed into Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman's economic and social diversification drive.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 1174 - 28 July 2023

Saudi-Chinese petrochemicals deal

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Saudi Aramco underlined the kingdom's deepening relationships with China when the national champion announced the acquisition of a 10% stake in Rongsheng Petrochemical Company.

Saudi Arabia
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Saudi officials have been lobbying for international support for Riyadh's bid to host Expo 2030, in the wake of the formal bid launch in June by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, during his visit to Paris.

Saudi Arabia
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Political upgrade: It may seem not the most opportune moment to remove the downwards negative trend arrow from Saudi Arabia’s ‘B’ political risk rating – coming amid more speculation that King Salman Bin Abdelaziz’s health is fading and with the International Monetary Fund giving the kingdom its “steepest growth downgrade among major economies”, as Bloomberg put it on 25 July, and longer-term investment plans in question.

Saudi Arabia
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The high-profile campaign to make Saudi Arabia a global power in football, golf and other sports has, in many ways, eclipsed the state's domestic spending – which conventional policy wonks might say should be of greater importance to the 22m population – but the activities of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS)'s prized Public Investment Fund (PIF) over the past few months tells an equally important story.

Saudi Arabia
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Securing workable energy, economic and security relations with Turkey has even greater urgency for Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government as the KRG says it can no longer afford to pay its employees’ salaries due to the closure since late March of the vital crude oil export pipeline.

Iraq | Turkey
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Oman has introduced a unified national pension scheme, merging the assets and liabilities of 11 existing pension systems into a single Social Protection Fund. The reform is based on a unified regulatory regime for contributions, payments and retirement ages. It will reflect both need and its members' history of payment contributions.

Oman
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Sheikh Nasser Bin Abdulrahman Bin Nasser Al-Thani's real estate company Daruna for Real Estate Brokerage Company has been granted permission by the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) Civil and Commercial Court to seek higher damages from Lesha Bank (previously known as Qatar First Bank) in a dispute over a failed plan to build workers’ accommodation north of Doha.

Qatar
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The Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) is to resume negotiations with Japan on a free trade agreement (FTA) after a break of 14 years, following talks between GCC secretary-general Mohammed Al-Budaiwi and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio in Jeddah.

Saudi Arabia | United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Qatar
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A US Senate committee has shed light on the key personalities involved in the controversial agreement between Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund and the PGA Tour to create a new global golf entity; many of the names will be familiar to Saudi-watchers.

Saudi Arabia
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The UAE and India agreed to do more trade in their own currencies, rather than the US dollar, in a memorandum of understanding signed mid-July during an official visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Abu Dhabi – the Indian leader's fifth trip to the country in the past eight years.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)