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A five-year contract for Bahrain Steel to supply Emirates Steel Arkan with iron ore pellets appears to be motivated by both commercial and geopolitical considerations, with the Abu Dhabi government-owned steel-maker saying it was designed to “strengthen economic ties within the GCC”.

Bahrain | United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Sharjah is looking to upgrade its infrastructure and increase capacity at its airport with a record budget worth $11bn announced for 2024. The independently-minded emirate has stood out among its UAE peers in its attitude to the Israel-Palestine conflict and much else.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Emir Sheikh Mishaal Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah has repeatedly called for a new approach to overhaul Kuwait’s factionalised politics and boost economic reform – a position he restated in his inaugural address on 20 December. But changing a system that appears to encourage stasis rather than co-operation will not be easy for Kuwait’s new, 83 year-old ruler. 

Kuwait
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In a noticeable uptick in President Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan’s recent overseas travel, MBZ has gone to Azerbaijan and India to cement commercial ties, in his first visit to another Brics member since the UAE joined the big emerging economies’ club at the start of the year.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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National Media Office chairman Sheikh Zayed Bin Hamdan Al-Nahyan was appointed to chair new holding company 2PointZero four days after it was set up. He will work alongside chief executive Mariam Bint Mohammed Almheiri, who also serves as the UAE’s climate change and environment minister.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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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
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The UAE’s latest Cepa agreement is another step in Abu Dhabi’s plans to build its global profile by negotiating bilateral trade deals.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s favoured Public Investment Fund has been among the most prominent clients of US lobbying and legal firms over the past year, as Saudi Arabia seeks to strengthen its relations with Washington and support its subsidiaries’ investments in the American market.

Saudi Arabia
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The Saudi offer of long-term tax incentive comes just before new rules are introduced in January stipulating that international companies must base their regional headquarters in the kingdom if they want to compete for government contracts. Saudi Arabia has made the most high-profile recent moves to attract foreign investment, but even the more conservative Kuwait and ‘revolutionary’ Iran are easing terms for incomers.

Saudi Arabia
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In a reordering of some of UAE national security advisor Tahnoun Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan’s extensive commercial interests, the new 2PointZero holding company will take control of shares in firms including venture capital investor Chimera Investments, minerals investor International Resources Holding and cryptocurrency ‘miner’ Citadel Technologies.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Oman’s Crown Prince Theyazin Bin Haitham had words of praise for President Vladimir Putin and one of Russia’s most senior bankers, Andrei Kostin, while in Moscow to attend an investment forum in early December. The visit to Russia, followed by a trip to Abu Dhabi a few days later to meet UAE President Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, suggests the Omani crown prince may be seeking to build up his international profile.

Oman
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Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq Al-Said has returned from back-to-back state visits to Asian powerhouses Singapore and India, in which boosting business was very high on the agenda.

Oman
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Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum has set up the Dubai Investment Fund, chaired by deputy ruler Sheikh Maktoum Bin Mohammed Al-Maktoum, to hold the emirate government’s stakes in operators including utility Dewa and road toll operator Salik. DIF will take its place alongside other Dubai Inc entities including Investment Corporation of Dubai, Dubai Holding and Dubai World.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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