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Abu Dhabi has a new powerful council, created by presidential law in late December, which will oversee all financial, investment, economic, petroleum and natural resource affairs in the emirate. The Supreme Council for Financial and Economic Affairs (SCFEA) will supervise the functioning and performance of what the Emirates News Agency (WAM) called the “relevant entities”: the Department of Finance (DoF), Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (Adia), Mubadala, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) and ADQ (previously known as Abu Dhabi Developmental Holding Company, established 2018) have been named so far.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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The Bahrain Defence Force (BDF) has started registering civilian volunteers to join a reserve force. The first recruitment phase was announced on 11 January and is open to Bahraini male relatives of BDF or National Guard members aged between 18 and 55 (the limit doesn’t apply to technicians or specialists).

Bahrain
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Legendary racehorse owner and businessman Prince Khalid Bin Abdullah Bin Abdulrahman died, aged 85, on 12 January. He became interested in horse racing in the 1950s, but didn’t begin buying horses until the mid-1970s. According to specialist website bloodhorse.com, the prince will be long remembered for his “deep commitment to breeding world-class thoroughbreds, his competitive spirit at the races, his attention to detail, and for the quiet and dignified manner in which he treated everyone around him.”

Saudi Arabia
Issue 984 - 09 January 2015

State of Kuwait map

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Revised in January 2015, this map provides an overview of infrastructure in Kuwait, including major roads, urban areas and hydrocarbons infrastructure. Oil and gas pipelines, production areas, refineries, gas processing facilities and tanker terminals are shown.

Kuwait
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Emerging apparently from nowhere, the Neom development’s futuristic urban vision The Line has attracted a lot of international media attention. This is not surprising as this area of Neom alone is intended to create 380,000 jobs and contribute SR180bn ($48bn) to Saudi gross domestic product by 2030; a figure greater than neighbouring Jordan’s entire current GDP. The development will be powered entirely by hydrogen and other renewable energy, underlining the wider Neom project’s status as by far the Public Investment Fund (PIF)’s most ambitious scheme – a blend of state-of-the-art design and public relations gloss intended to ensure Saudi Arabia is associated with global innovation, rather than human rights abuses and intolerance.

Saudi Arabia
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The early plans for Neom were put together by a predictable line up of global consultants including Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey & Company and Oliver Wyman. Since then, a succession of international firms have won large contracts: US giant Bechtel is providing design, construction and project management services across Neom, and also overseeing utilities and a transport system. New York Stock Exchange-listed Aecom has project management work on the 45km2 Neom Bay phase one and Silver Beach districts; it also has a contract for transport and utilities and is a consultant on the Industrial City section.

Saudi Arabia
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Sultan Haitham’s sweeping changes to the Omani military’s senior ranks may raise the question of the continuance of the United Kingdom’s Loan Service arrangement, under which approximately 90 British serving personnel commanded by a British major general work in Omani uniform within all branches of the Sultan’s Armed Forces. The late Sultan Qaboos was adamant that the arrangement should remain, despite internal pressure that it should be scrapped.

Oman
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In another major statement of intent about using renewables in energy-intensive sectors previously dominated by hydrocarbons, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) on 18 January started to supply Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA) with 560,000MWh/yr of solar power generated at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Solar Park (MBR Solar Park). Branding was attached to a project that gives Dubai a notable world first by producing aluminium using solar energy: EGA said the product would be marketed under the name CelestiAL.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Minister of National Guard Prince Abdullah Bin Bandar Bin Abdelaziz was appointed chairman of a new company, Kidana, in January. Kidana is tasked with developing holy sites in the kingdom; it will be based in Mina. It is the first company owned by the Royal Commission for Makkah Al-Mukarramah and the Holy Sites (RCMC). RCMC was established by royal order in June 2018 and is chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

Saudi Arabia
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BP has announced the $2.59bn sale of a 20% participating interest in the major non-conventional gas producing Block 61 to Thailand’s PTT Exploration and Production Public Company (PTTEP), as the UK major restructures its global strategy and portfolio. BP will remain the block’s operator, with a reduced 40% interest. The other Block 61 equity holders are national oil company OQ (with 30%) and Malaysia’s Petronas (10%).

Oman
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Sheikha Latifa Bint Mohammed Al-Maktoum, daughter of Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum (MBR), was the focus of renewed international media attention in mid-February, after the BBC’s investigative Panorama programme broadcast a number of video messages sent secretly to friends in which ‘the princess’ described being detained in a “jail villa” and fearing for her life.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Air Force commander Lieutenant General Shihab Jahid Hama has insisted Iraqi technicians will be able to maintain its F-16 aircraft if and when international contractors finally leave the country. This followed an official US report that indicated local pilots refused to fly the jets when American technicians were absent last year. The National Iraqi News Agency quoted Hama on 13 February as saying “the Iraqi pilots and technicians working on these aircraft are at the top of professionalism… and they are doing their job right now.”

Iraq
Issue 1119 - 04 February 2021

Kuwait: Huge deficit, but no debt plan yet

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Prime minister Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah appears to have no real plan for passing a new debt law through the National Assembly, despite another large deficit forecast in the 2021/22 budget, announced on 25 January, of KD12.1bn ($40bn). This is based on an average oil price of $45/bbl. Kuwait needs around $90/bbl to balance its budget. The Central Bank of Kuwait continues to reduce the value of the dinar as a way to fix its deteriorating balance of payments issues; the currency has lost 5% of its value against the dollar since March 2020.

Kuwait
Issue 1119 - 04 February 2021

Saudi Arabia’s north-west developments

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Published in February 2021 this map illustrates Saudi Arabian developments across the North West of the country. Including, amongst others, Neom royal palaces and a cross section of transport system, The Line. The map is available as a PDF file using eps graphics, meaning that there is no loss of resolution as the file is enlarged. 

Saudi Arabia
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Seychelles President Wavel Ramkalawan requested budget support from the UAE, either as a grant or a soft loan, during a 19-22 February visit to Abu Dhabi, accompanied by foreign affairs and tourism minister Sylvestre Radegonde. Ramkalawan was last in Abu Dhabi only in December.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)