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Subscriber

The collapse of energy export revenues is piling further pressure on President Ali Abdullah Saleh as the tribal and post-socialist wings of the southern campaign unite around a figurehead, Ali Salem Al-Baydh, who talked exclusively to GSN about the evolving crisis.

Yemen
Subscriber

Abu Dhabi’s ambitious Mubadala Development Company has released results for 2009, which are better than those for 2008, although it appears MDC is substantially dependent on government-related operational activities, external investments and shares in foreign entities to offset losses elsewhere in its portfolio to make an overall profit. “Total comprehensive income was Dh8.6bn, largely driven by revenue from the sale of goods and services at Dh13.1bn and improvements in the fair valuation of investments at Dh6.4bn,” said MDC’s report.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Subscriber

A test of the more tolerant mood in Saudi Arabia will come with the government’s response to the Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia (Mira)’s new campaign to show it has genuine popular support for more radical political reform.

Saudi Arabia
Free

The images and tales that emerged from Al-Shabaab’s attack on Kenya’s Westgate mall were searingly dreadful. Mothers shielding toddlers, blood pooling on tiles, the sheer terror of gunfire in what was supposed to be a benign location. Rarely has the vocabulary of winning been so unconsonant. “We have defeated our enemies,” Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta declared as the four-day siege came to an end on 24 September, leaving at least 70 people dead. For all the bravery of security forces, for all the unity of horrified Kenyans, it is wrong to suggest that anyone wins.

Yemen
Free

The death of Prince Badr Bin Salman Bin Saud Bin Abdelaziz was announced in a Royal Court statement on 24 December. Funeral prayers were performed at the Imam Turki Bin Abdullah Mosque in Riyadh the following day. He was a younger generation prince: his businessman father Prince Salman Bin Saud was born in 1953. Badr’s brothers include Princes Fahd and Abdelaziz.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 962 - 23 January 2014

Diabetes kills 1 in 10 in MENA

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As well as negatively affecting quality of life, obesity is a major risk factor for a number of diseases, including diabetes, which is a huge and growing problem in the region. The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) says that 34.6m people, or nearly 1 in 10 adults, in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have diabetes – a number which is set to almost double to 67.9m by 2035. The comparative prevalence of diabetes in the region (which is calculated on the assumption that every country and region has the same age profile) is 10.9%, compared to 9.6% in North America and the Caribbean, 6.8% in Europe and 8.3% worldwide.

Subscriber

In an unusual move, Sharjah-based Dana Gas has been granted injunctions by courts in the UAE, UK and British Virgin Islands (BVI) to prevent bondholders disrupting its plans to have a $700m sukuk declared unlawful and unenforceable. On 13 June the energy company received an injunction from the Sharjah Federal Court of First Instance, pending a full hearing about the sukuk which is due to take place on 25 December.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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The GCC states have differing views on the Iranian threat, with hardliners pushing for military action and others preferring the diplomatic route

Iran | United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Kuwait | Saudi Arabia | Bahrain | Yemen | Oman | Qatar
Issue 976 - 05 September 2014

MBR: Scottish mansion?

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Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid (MBR) is reportedly seeking permission to build a 16-bedroom mansion on his 63,000-acre Inverinate Estate in Wester Ross, Scotland. MBR’s aspirations for a lodge-style mansion previously ran into difficulties when officials recommended planning permission be denied on the basis the design was inappropriate to the surroundings, but, in 2009, the local council gave the go-ahead for a 14-bedroom house, according to The Scotsman. The paper said on 31 August that MBR now wanted something grander, however, and was seeking to augment the original plans with facilities including a swimming pool and a gym.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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it is not immune to the impacts of the global financial crisis, but scholars and financiers argue that this is a ‘golden opportunity’ to promote the Islamic finance industry as a more responsible alternative to conventional banking.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Subscriber

The Mosul dam in northern Iraq is “more likely to experience failure than it is not,” according to a sobering new report, and the consequence will be a biblical inundation along the Tigris river valley – comparable to those described in 4,000 year-old epics such as the Legend of Gilgamesh. Should the dam collapse, the resulting flood will kill an estimated 500,000 Iraqis, rising to as many as 1.47m if evacuation plans fail, according to a report issued on 13 June by Peace Ambassadors for Iraq (PAFI), an NGO founded in 2015 to promote progress towards a more united Iraq.

Iraq
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Newly appointed deputy defence minister Prince Fahd Bin Abdullah has had a busy start to his new role. On 21 April, the day after King Abdullah announced he would replace Prince Khalid Bin Sultan, Prince Fahd officially assumed his duties, beginning with an audience with his new boss, deputy prime minister and minister of defence Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdelaziz, who congratulated him on his appointment.

Saudi Arabia
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Finland’s Wärtsilä Corporation has received orders to supply two power plants to Rural Areas Electricity Company (Raeco), for installation in rural areas of south-eastern Oman which are outside the national grid. In a statement on 27 April, Wärtsilä said the larger unit, comprising seven Wärtsilä 32 engines with combined output of 56MW, would be located on the island of Masirah. The other power plant, to be located in Saih Al-Khairat, will have six 32 engines, with a total output of 48MW.

Oman
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Moody’s Investors Service announced a further sovereign rating downgrade on 16 March, pushing Oman’s long-term issuer and senior unsecured bond ratings from Baa2 down to Baa3; the ratings agency also set its outlook at negative. The moves places Oman in a precarious position, just one place above non-investment grade (or junk status) under Moody’s system. Rival agency Standard & Poor’s dropped Oman into junk territory in May 2017. Fitch Ratings has the sultanate just above junk level.

Oman
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A small number of women turned out in June to take part in the ‘women2drive’ campaign. While certainly not a mass movement – there are estimates of 30 to 40 participants across the country – observers were pleased that women who chose to drive were not bothered by police, in comparison to last month’s arrest of Manal Al-Sharif, which made global headlines (GSN 901/4). Some media reports said police had been under orders not to intervene.

Saudi Arabia