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Subscriber

It was an interesting crowd which gathered at Hafr Al-Baten on 29 April to mark the end of a massive military exercise called “Abdullah’s Sword”. The guest of honour was defence minister Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdelaziz, and there were many international guests – Bahrain’s King Hamad, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed, Kuwait’s defence minister Khalid Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah, secretary general of the Omani defence ministry Mohammed Bin Nasser Al-Rasbi, and Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) chief Abdul-Latif Al-Zayani. Despite Doha’s assertion that any GCC rift was “over”, Qatar was noticeably absent, at least according to the Saudi state news agency’s list of attendees.

Saudi Arabia
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Sunni opposition group the Al Fateh Youth Coalition (AFYC) says it hopes to form a political society by the end of the year. Established after the 2011 pro-democracy protests in Bahrain, the AFYC describes itself as a grassroots, nationalist movement and says it wants to see reform within Bahrain’s constitutional monarchy system. “The current status quo does not meet the requirements of the majority of Bahrainis,” founding member Rashid Al-Jassim told a meeting at London think tank Chatham House on 27 January.

Bahrain
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Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani has been in the UAE, where he held talks in Al-Ain with federal President Sheikh Khalifa Al-Nahayan and federal Prime Minister and Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum

Qatar
Issue 1049 - 30 November 2017

Surge in US troop numbers

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The United States has increased troop numbers in the region by more than 40% in recent months without explanation, according to figures from the Defense Manpower Data Center. The Department of Defense agency said the number of US armed forces personnel across the Gulf region increased by 34% from 34,972 in June to 46,859 by September; the vast majority of them – 37,720 – were stationed in Gulf Co-operation Council states.

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Tehran has sharply criticised a previously unreported decision by a Luxembourg court to freeze $1.6bn of assets owned by Bank Markazi-ye Jomhuri-ye Eslami-ye Iran (Central Bank of Iran), saying it is contrary to international law. The New York Times reported on 6 March that a court froze the assets last year, following legal action by victims of the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States who allege Iran helped Al-Qaeda by facilitating travel through its territory.

Iran
Issue 1106 - 03 July 2020

Yemen’s secessionists on the up

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Talks under way in Riyadh between President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC) could pave the way for a return of government officials to the interim capital Aden, even after the recent ousting of Hadi’s governor from Socotra by STC forces closely aligned with the UAE. Saudi Arabia has been pushing for a political deal between the two parties, in the hope it will bring an end to clashes in Abyan governorate.

Yemen
Issue 1023 - 06 October 2016

Qatar: PM inaugurates corruption course

Free

Prime minister and interior minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Bin Khalifa Al-Thani inaugurated a new master’s level course in corruption, law and governance on 2 October. The two-year, part-time course will be taught at the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Centre in Doha, in co-operation with the Sussex Centre for the Study of Corruption, part of the UK’s University of Sussex. Students will be professional graduates working in government and the commercial sector; 20 students of 12 nationalities are currently enrolled.

Qatar
Issue 867 - 04 December 2009

New QFC chief executive

Free

Stuart Pearce, Qatar Financial Centre’s chief executive since 2005, has stepped down and been replaced by acting chief

Qatar
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Iran is scrutinising its relationship with Asian customers as it struggles to generate hard currency, prevent economic collapse and head off competition from Iraq.

Iran
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Egyptian Administrative Court judge Yehia Al-Dakroury on 21 June ruled that President Abdel Fattah El Sisi cannot cede two Red Sea islands, Tiran and Sanafir, to Saudi Arabia, as had been agreed in a settlement of the two countries’ maritime boundary during King Salman Bin Abdelaziz’s visit in April. On 26 June, the High Administrative Court sat to hear the case, but called a postponement until 3 July to study a recusal request presented by lawyers opposed to the deal. Sisi’s agreement to transfer the islands back to Saudi Arabia –which leased them to Cairo in 1954 – sparked protests from Egyptians who said the islands were theirs and ‘gifting’ them to Riyadh was unconstitutional.

Saudi Arabia
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Limited investment options have exposed takaful operators to the global economic downturn. But many providers are optimistic, seeing huge potential in a still largely untapped global market.

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Tehran has criticised a decision by the Hungarian authorities to expel 17 Iranian students for allegedly violating quarantine procedures designed to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) on 9 April that the decision was “deeply regrettable” and “inexcusable”.

Iran
Issue 913 - 25 November 2011

Volatility hits trade finance

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Risk perceptions and, consequently, trade financing margins have changed markedly during 2011, the most volatile year in recent Middle East history, according to trade finance market participants.

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The scene was set on 4 April when the London Court of International Arbitration ordered the Djibouti government to pay at least $533m in compensation for breaching the exclusive rights of Doraleh Container Terminal SA (DCT) to operate container handling services in the east African entrepôt. It seems to be a classic commercial litigation battle. In 2006, DCT had signed a 30-year concession to be Djibouti’s exclusive container terminal operator. The company is 33% owned by DP World and 66% by state-owned Port de Djibouti, but it is DP World which has effective control.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa held talks with UK secretary of state for international trade Liam Fox at Riffa Palace on 27 May. Salman reportedly emphasised Bahrain’s eagerness to expand commercial and trade ties with the UK – music to the ears of Fox, who needs to find ways for Britain to replace a likely drop in trade with Europe if and when London goes ahead with its ‘Brexit’ from the European Union in March 2019.

Bahrain