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Amal Alamuddin, the British barrister who is to marry Hollywood favourite George Clooney, is no stranger to the Gulf: her impressive CV includes a stint providing legal advice to Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa in 2011, specifically in connection with the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI). The 36-year-old, who is of Lebanese descent, speaks Arabic and French and has particular expertise in international criminal law and the Middle East. According to Alamuddin’s Doughty Street Chambers, she has co-authored a book entitled The Case for an Arab Court of Human Rights, which has yet to be published. Arab foreign ministers have agreed that this court will be hosted by Manama.

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Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani rarely talks publicly about government policy, but his annual speech at the opening session of the Advisory Council on 3 November gives some clues about the direction in which he will take the country. Watched over by his father, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa, uncle Abdullah Bin Khalifa and brothers, deputy emir Abdullah and special representative Jassim, Sheikh Tamim touched on some familiar themes, including those of past speeches to the council.

Qatar
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Kuwait will allow China’s biggest bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), to open a branch there. In a statement on 18 May, the Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK) said it had registered ICBC and quoted governor Mohammad Al-Hashel as saying the move would encourage competition and the development of financial services and products. ICBC already has branches in Doha, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and is expected to open in Riyadh soon, having won a Saudi licence in 2012. Chief executive for the Middle East Zhou Xiadong told Bloomberg in February that the bank was looking to boost earnings from the region by 50% this year.

Kuwait
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Some 30 Al-Saud princes – and one princess – have been appointed to positions of authority by King Salman Bin Abdelaziz since 2017. The appointments have come in waves: 22 in 2017, seven in 2018 and four in spring 2019. Many are notably young, in a system that has traditionally not favoured youth, and are drawn from the same cohort as Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS).

Saudi Arabia
Issue 889 - 12 November 2010

UAE: Chinese visit boosts ties

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Chinese visit boosts ties

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Kuwait has made several attempts at finding a regional answer to its energy conundrum. One plan, initially agreed in 2000, was to join Saudi Arabia in developing the Dorra natural gas field, which lies in the two countries’ Neutral Zone (GSN 761/1). But after more than a decade, disagreement over how to split the gas resulted in the project being shelved in August. “The entire project is on hold, the budget is on hold, no new drilling is anticipated for the 2013-14 budget for Dorra,” a senior Kuwait energy source told Reuters.

Kuwait
Issue 1040 - 07 July 2017

MBS emerges in Saudi Arabia

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Much coverage of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) has implied the young prince, still only 31, emerged from nowhere when his father became king in January 2015. But MBS had been on the scanners on more assiduous Saudi-watchers for some time. Below is a Royals watch note from issue 898 of GSN, published on 8 April 2011, which recorded the young prince’s “more visible presence”.Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Bin Abdelaziz opened a ceremony for the National Association of Retired Persons in Riyadh on 21 March [2011].

Saudi Arabia
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Bell has begun building the 12 AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters destined for the Bahrain Air Force. A Bahraini delegation visited Bell’s Amarillo, Texas facility on 12 April to mark the start of production.

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Syria’s foreign affairs and expatriates minister Faisal Mekdad was in Muscat on 21 March for talks with officials including Royal Office minister General Sultan Mohammed Al-Nuamani, foreign minister Sayyid Badr Bin Hamad Al-Busaidi and deputy prime minister for international relations and co-operation Sayyid Asaad Bin Tariq Al-Said.

Oman
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Qatar and Mauritania are to re-establish diplomatic relations, which had been severed during the recently-ended boycott of Doha by the Gulf trio of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Qatar
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Omani citizen Abdullah Awad Al-Shamsi was reportedly released by the UAE authorities in April, having been arrested on charges of spying for Qatar in August 2018. In May 2020 he was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Abu Dhabi Federal Court of Appeals in what advocacy group Human Rights Watch described as “a grossly unfair trial.”

Oman | United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Qatar
Free

In a royal decree on March 30, King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa appointed Khalid Yusuf Al-Jalahma as Bahrain’s first ambassador to Israel, following the Abraham Accords signed in September.

Bahrain
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President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan’s diplomatic adviser Anwar Gargash led the UAE delegation at a meeting with the foreign ministers of Greece, Cyprus and Israel on 16 April. The talks, held in Cyprus, covered recent developments in the east Mediterranean and links between the four countries in investment, tourism and other economic areas.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Israel's chargé d'affaires to Bahrain Itay Tagner has held initial meetings with officials following his appointment. On 13 January, Tagner held talks with Ministry of Foreign Affairs undersecretary for international affairs Sheikh Abdullah Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa.

Bahrain | United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Iran’s ambassador to Iraq Iraj Masjedi sparked a round of diplomatic protests between Iran and Turkey, after telling the Kurdish Rûdaw news agency that Ankara should end its military intervention in Iraq. “Turkish forces should not pose a threat or violate Iraqi soil,” Masjedi said in late February.

Iran | Iraq