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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
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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
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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
Issue 1185 - 20 February 2024

UAE ambassador takes up post in Damascus

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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)
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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)
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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)
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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

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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
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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)
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The issue leads with the impact of the four-month-old Gaza conflict between Hamas and Israel, which is steadily spreading around the region, bringing fresh instability to Iraq where the US and Iran-backed militia are engaging in an escalating series of strikes and counter-strikes. GSN examines the Iranian elite, including power-brokers linked to Rahbar (Supreme Leader) Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp, supported by an initial batch of profiles and an influence chart showing how they are connected. Politics coverage includes a focus on Kuwait, where Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah has presented his government’s legislative programme to parliament and the wait for a much-anticipated crown prince appointment goes on. Critics inside and outside the National Assembly are likely to make political life difficult for the premier in the coming months. The Diplomatic brief section leads with a look at  the European Union's sanctioning of two UAE-based companies over commercial and military ties to Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and a UN report that says evidence of UAE arms supplies to the rebel RSF are ‘credible’. The issue also includes a new 'Wealth watch' section, covering developments within sovereign wealth funds and other Gulf-based investment plays. A new expanded version of GSN's Risk management reports series- starts with Iraq. The GSN View examines the art of soft power projection by regional heavy-hitters Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

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Despite international criticism of its nuclear power programme – which critics allege is a cover for developing atomic weapons – the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran is pushing ahead with plans to develop 20GW of nuclear generating capacity by 2041.

Iran
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Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah has presented his government’s legislative programme to parliament, but critics inside and outside the National Assembly are likely to make political life difficult for the premier in the coming months, while Kuwait waits on a much-anticipated crown prince appointment

Kuwait
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Plans by the Saudi state-owned Public Investment Fund to remodel the world of professional golf continue to cause controversy in Washington, where senators are taking a dim view of the fund’s approach to their inquiries. That is not denting the PIF’s sporting appetite though, with cycling, rugby and motorsport deals in the pipeline.

Saudi Arabia
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International Holding Company reported an 18% year-on-year rise in revenues to $16bn for 2023, but profits were flat at the increasingly high-profile conglomerate chaired by UAE national security adviser Sheikh Tahnoun Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)