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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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Sheikh Mishaal Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah is due to take his oath as emir at a special session of the National Assembly (parliament) in the coming days, following the death of his half-brother Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah on 16 December. Given Mishaal has been the de facto ruler since November 2021, the handover should be seamless, while the more critical element will be his choice of crown prince.

Kuwait
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Royal Saudi Air Force pilot Prince Talal Bin Abdelaziz Bin Bandar Al-Saud died on 7 December, the same day an RSAF F-15 crashed in Dhahran.

Saudi Arabia
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King Salman Bin Abdelaziz has made changes to the leadership of six of Saudi Arabia’s 13 regions and one of its governorates. GSN analyses the new round of appointments and profiles those on the up.

Saudi Arabia
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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Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Khalid Bin Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan approved a package of AED7.6bn ($2bn) worth of housing loans and other benefits for UAE nationals in the emirate in late November.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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An extensive diplomatic effort by Saudi officials paid off on 28 November, when Riyadh was selected to host the World Expo 2030, seeing off competition from Busan in South Korea and the Italian capital Rome. 

Saudi Arabia
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With a change of leadership, more macroeconomy savvy approach and an embrace of new technologies, Oman has found a private sector-led recipe for diversification that should prepare it for life beyond hydrocarbons dependence.

Oman
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The prospect of the UAE vice president gaining control of the influential right-wing newspaper is causing concern among many in the UK’s ruling Conservative Party – and may yet be thwarted by an official investigation. But the prospective deal highlights how Mansour Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan is steadily expanding his international media portfolio, increasing Abu Dhabi’s soft power in the process.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Issue 1182 - 08 December 2023

Putin flies into Abu Dhabi and Riyadh

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Russian President Vladimir Putin made an unexpected visit to the UAE and Saudi Arabia on 6 December – a rare foreign excursion for a leader who has tended to stay close to home since launching the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Notably, neither Gulf country is a signatory to the International Criminal Court, which in March issued an arrest warrant for Putin over Russian war crimes in Ukraine.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Saudi Arabia
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Emir Sheikh Nawaf’s admission to hospital in late November has directed renewed attention on the succession process in Kuwait, where Crown Prince Mishaal has been in de facto control for the past two years and now appears to be taking steps to ensure some of the more contentious political issues are resolved before he takes the top job.

Kuwait
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Qatar has said it is continuing to push for a permanent ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, after a week-long ‘humanitarian pause’ it helped to foster ended on 1 December. The resumption of fighting has seen Israel launch a major bombardment of southern Gaza and brought renewed condemnation from Gulf governments.

Israel | Qatar | Palestine
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Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum led the way on prisoner pardons ahead of the UAE’s 52nd National Day on 2 December, ordering 1,249 inmates to be freed from the emirate’s prisons on 29 November. UAE President Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan released a further 1,018 prisoners.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)