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Issue 473 - 01 November 1993

The Complications Of Peace


Whilst the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries welcomed the agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) as a first step towards the long-standing Arab aim of "a just, lasting and comprehensive" Middle East settlement, the nature and scope of future relations between Israel and the six Gulf Arab states is not yet even a subject of open discussion in the GCC.

Issue 364 - 13 June 1989



Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was always capable of dramatic and unsettling actions. The fatwa ordering the execution of Salman Rushdie was only the most recent example. His demise, so long predicted and until now invariably postponed, was his last contribution to the turbulence of the Islamic Republic. The senior figures of the regime had literally been praying that he would survive long enough to give his imprimateur to the constitutional arrangements which were to go into effect after his death. Khomeini let his subordinates down by a mere three weeks, and left them with a fine political mess.

Issue 365 - 27 June 1989



The West European visit of Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, Saudi Arabia's minister of defence and aviation, was not expected to yield much in the way of new military contracts. The kingdom is already heavily committed to absorbing the material it has on order – chiefly from Britain – and is still assessing its requirements for main battle tanks and submarines in the 1990s.


Petromia governor Abdul Hadi Taher does not hold out a rosy picture for OECD consumers of Saudi oil who do not have direct supply contracts. But if all his figures and commitments are taken at face value, Saudi Arabia is left with little option but to push up production over the next five years and use the additional capacity Aramco is creating.

Issue 94 - 05 April 1983



The periodic rumours of internal trouble in Saudi Arabia are hardy perennials in the foreign press and any travellers tale which hints of the impending coup d'etat is eagerly and extensively publicised. Usually, the regime in the kingdom impassively ignores such reports, preferring, it would seem, to let the lack of event provide the answers. The intense interest displayed by the outside world in the stability of Saudi Arabia is, if nothing else, a flattering recognition of the international importance the country now has.


With the regime of Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad looking ever more secure, attention in regional capitals is turning to what might happen next. While the monarchies were early movers in finding proxies in Syria, Iran’s tactics during the eight years of civil war have proved far more successful than those of its Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) rivals. It is Tehran’s ally Assad who remains at the helm while opposition groups backed by Saudi Arabia and others have largely failed.


Huge protests have brought Kuwait to a critical juncture, as the government tightens control and opposition leaders threaten to boycott elections now scheduled for December. But a conclusive outcome remains far from certain with deference to the Al-Sabah, disunity on both sides and the threat of outside interference all at play


No reason has been given for the dismissal of Saudi deputy defence minister Prince Khalid Bin Sultan. In a 20 April royal order, King Abdullah installed Prince Fahd Bin Abdullah in the post, the latest in a string of appointments apparently aimed at getting his house in order.

Issue 395 - 02 October 1990



One of the more remarkable aspects of the Gulf crisis is the consensus (and anger) of condemnation which Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait has evoked in the international community. This has been reflected in three striking ways.

Issue 660 - 01 May 2001

Across the Region


U.A.E.-based traders have seen smuggling traffic through Afghanistan into Iran and other regional markets drastically eroded by international sanctions against the Taliban regime. A GSN investigation shows that an illegal trade previously focused on Afghanistan is being redirected into Pakistan and Iran.

Issue 301 - 01 December 1986



The quite extraordinary actions of the United States' Administration in its secret arms deals with Iran were described by President Reagan as the employment of "courageous diplomacy" - a ludicrous euphemism for the calamitous Presidential essay into the world of clandestine operations and fantasy politics. The escapades of Colonels McFarlane and North, by-passing most regular channels of government and personally backed by President Reagan, were fatuous in conception, farcical in execution and totally unsuccessful in effect.


An increasingly assertive Abu Dhabi is looking to draw in international partners and assets, to consolidate its traditional position as the UAE’s federal capital and engineering hub, and to emerge as the Gulf city that uses its wealth to plan development with respect for social traditions and environmental constraints while emerging as a significant new international player. GSN examines the oil-rich emirate’s growth strategy and attitudes towards spending money – at home and on less wealthy emirates.

Issue 1000 - 18 September 2015

Dubai: Al-Maktoum family tree


Dubai’s Al-Maktoum have created the Gulf ’s most vibrant business hub and a global profile via their investments, focus on commerce and trade, love of horse-racing and position of Dubai as a major tourist hub. Dubai is the second key emirate in the UAE (alongside Abu Dhabi), and the ruling families of both come from the same Bani Yas tribe: Al-Maktoum from the Al Bu Falasah/Al-Falasi section and Al-Nahyan from the Al Bu Falah. The two branches split when, led by Sheikh Maktoum I Bin Bati Bin Suhayl, the Al-Maktoum left Abu Dhabi for Dubai in the 1830s; the family’s rule started shortly after.

Issue 214 - 07 June 1983



THE RECENT GCC MISSION to Tehran and Baghdad, ostensibly to obtain an agreement on dealing with the Gulf oil slick problem, also carried outline proposals for an end to the fighting between Iran and Iraq (see Last issue of Gulf States Newsletter). A key element in the GCC peace package was a suggestion to set up a largely Gulf financed fund to repair war-damage in the two countries; a proposal obviously designed to meet in part Iranian demands for war reparations.


The Guardian Council has barred former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, an ally of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, from standing in June polls. The list of approved candidates suggests Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is determined to see a hardline in power