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Subscriber

Growth in defence spending by Gulf Co-operation Council countries slowed significantly in 2023, but heightened tensions as a result of the Gaza war could prompt another acceleration in military outlays this year.

Saudi Arabia | Qatar
Issue 1185 - 22 February 2024

Gulf military personnel and expenditure

Subscriber

Revised February 2024, this map of the Gulf illustrates military infrastructure across the region.  The locations of various military bases are displayed alongside each country's military spending and numbers of various military personnel.  The map is available as a PDF file using eps graphics, meaning that there is no loss of resolution as the file is enlarged.

Subscriber

After Sheikh Mishaal Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah took exception to comments by a member of parliament about his inaugural speech as ruler in December, the emir issued a decree on 15 February to disband the National Assembly – meaning a fresh general election must be held by mid-April.

Kuwait
Subscriber

Emir Sheikh Mishaal Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah travelled to Bahrain and Qatar in mid-February, following trips to Saudi Arabia and Oman earlier in the year. Mishaal has been using the trips to cement regional support for border disputes with Iraq and Iran – although there are signs that Doha is slightly less steadfast than some others over the Iran dispute.

Kuwait
Issue 1185 - 20 February 2024

UAE ambassador takes up post in Damascus

Subscriber

Hassan Al-Shehi has presented his credentials, to become the first UAE ambassador in Damascus since 2011, adding further to a bilateral relationship that seemed broken when Abu Dhabi supported opposition groups in the Syrian civil war’s early years.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Subscriber

Bahrain has set up diplomatic relations with Vanuatu and Qatar with Tonga in a continuation of the trend for Gulf states to expand their diplomatic and development ties with small Pacific Island nations.

Bahrain | Qatar
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Alpha Dhabi reported a 25% rise in profits in 2023, alongside a 14% increase in revenues, as the investment firm owned by UAE national security advisor Sheikh Tahnoun Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan’s International Holding Company announced multi-billion-dinar joint venture deals with Adnoc Drilling and Mubadala.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Subscriber

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company is setting up a joint venture with BP focused on natural gas exploration and production in Egypt.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Subscriber

A trade deal between the UAE and Cambodia came into force in early February, just weeks after negotiations were finalised for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with Costa Rica, as more of Abu Dhabi’s preferred Cepa deals are unrolled.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Issue 1185 - 20 February 2024

US seizes former Iranian cargo plane

Subscriber

A cargo aircraft that once belonged to Iran’s Mahan Air has been flown to Florida, two years after being impounded in Buenos Aires following a US court ruling.

Iran
Subscriber

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mid-February tour of the UAE and Qatar followed the signing of big energy supply deals and the release of former Indian naval officers sentenced to death in Doha for spying.

Subscriber

The IRGC Navy has launched long-range ballistic missiles from one of its ships for the first time, as it continues to flex its muscle in the face of heightened tensions with the United States, but an Iranian spy ship that was thought to have been working closely with Yemen’s Houthis appears to have been sidelined after a US cyberattack.

Iran
Subscriber

The Saudi government’s Public Investment Fund has been signing contracts with more lobbying and communications specialists, as it continues to face political scrutiny over its investments in the United States.

Saudi Arabia
Subscriber

Four Emirati soldiers and one Bahraini officer were killed in an attack on a military base in Mogadishu on 10 February. They had been training the Somali Armed Forces.

Bahrain | United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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)