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Iraq’s relations with Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been hostile for some time, but Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki’s 9 March interview with France 24 upped the ante. In a 20-minute interview filmed at the opulent presidential residence in Baghdad, Maliki – with the 30 April general election in his sights – unequivocally accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar of supporting terrorism in Syria and Iraq, going so far as to say that “Iraq’s sectarian and terrorist crisis is primarily the responsibility of these two countries”. “I accuse them of inciting and encouraging the terrorist movements. I accuse them of supporting them politically and through the media, of supporting them with money and buying arms for them,” Maliki told journalist Marc Perelman in a measured tone. “I accuse them of declaring an open war against the Iraqi government. I also accuse them of sheltering the leaders of Al-Qaeda and takfiris...”

Saudi Arabia | Iraq | Qatar
Issue 965 - 07 March 2014

UAE: US agreement

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The US and UAE have signed an agreement on co-operation in the fight against cross-border crime, and the exchange of information. According to state news agency Wam, interior minister Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan recently witnessed the signing of the agreement in Abu Dhabi by Abu Dhabi police’s director-general of police operations Major General Mohammed Bin Al-Awadhi Al-Menhali, on behalf of the interior ministry, and homeland security investigations deputy executive associate director Peter Edge, on behalf of the US.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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The low-profile Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Bin Abdelaziz appears to have gained a promotion from deputy governor of Riyadh Region, raising questions about Prince Faisal Bin Bandar Bin Abdelaziz, who has been governor since January 2015. The first sign of a change in leadership came in official Saudi Press Agency reports about a typically low-key official visit to Russia by Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman on 8 July, in which he was described as acting governor of Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 888 - 29 October 2010

High-profile deals keep region on track

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Recent financings worth a total $1.3bn for two Omani power projects and a $2.2bn package for Emirates Steel have maintained momentum in the GCC project finance market, according to participants canvassed by GSN

Oman
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A Royal Decree published on 11 March announced the establishment of a new legal department, under the Attorney General, to handle corruption cases as part of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s continuing anti-graft drive – perhaps partly in response to investor-driven concerns that the campaign’s first phase, the Ritz-Carlton detentions, paid scant regard to legal due process.The new department will both conduct investigations and prosecute corruption, in effect taking on responsibility for cases which have previously been handled by generalist public prosecutors.

Saudi Arabia
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Any hope that Qatar’s 50-page report, Workers’ Welfare Standards (WWS), might have reduced the international pressure for labour reform seemed to evaporate within hours of its publication on 11 February. Following much media attention about the plight of migrant workers – including highly damaging reports about the deaths of hundreds of Nepalese and Indian workers – Qatar had hoped to prove that it was improving standards ahead of the Fifa 2022 World Cup, but the WWS quickly attracted further criticism for not going far enough.

Qatar
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One of Iran’s few reliable export routes for its hydrocarbons, a natural gas pipeline to Turkey, remains out of action more than two months after an attack on the Turkish side of the border on 31 March. At the time of the attack, National Iranian Gas Company (NIOC) director of dispatching Mehdi Jamshididana told local news agencies that repairs would likely take three to four days, but the resumption of exports has been repeatedly pushed back.

Iran
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In early October, recently appointed deputy defence minister Prince Salman Bin Sultan Bin Abdelaziz attended the closing events of the British-Saudi Exercise Red Alligator 3 in Jazan Region. The prince was pictured in Al-Riyadh attending a weapons demonstration, which included a 40mm grenade launcher.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 846 - 30 January 2009

Khalid Bin Sultan: Higher profile

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Prince Khalid Bin Sultan has been in the news this month for his meetings with senior Pakistani military officials and French staff officers.

Saudi Arabia
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Newly appointed finance minister Ali Sherif Al-Emadi has been named chairman of Qatar National Bank (QNB)’s board of directors. Before being appointed to government, Emadi was chief executive of QNB for eight years, having joined the bank in 1998.

Qatar
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The Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) will open to direct foreign investment on 15 June, according to the Capital Market Authority (CMA). The much-anticipated move – which has come sooner than many analysts expected – will allow qualified foreign investors (QFIs) to buy listed shares directly from that date, the CMA said in a statement on 16 April. The CMA published draft rules for the opening of the market on its website in August 2014, and said it had “reviewed comments and observations… co-ordinated with concerned governmental parties, and received the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul)’s confirmation of its readiness”.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 1087 - 07 September 2019

Kuwaiti corruption clamp-down

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The authorities have been showing signs of clamping down on excesses by those in power – always a key theme in Kuwaiti politics where a series of high-profile corruption cases in the past few years involving the highest-level civil servants and business elite have been intended to show opposition politicians and a sceptical public that business corruption is under control. New boundaries are being set, not least with the late June conviction (in absentia) of former Public Institution for Social Security (PIFSS) head Fahad Al-Rajaan and his wife Muna Al-Wazzan.

Kuwait
Issue 1077 - 21 March 2019

Kuwait: Jaber Mubarak encourages youth

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Prime minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah met young entrepreneurs at Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Cultural Centre on 10 March, calling on them to make the most of their “energy and zest” to “realise their aspirations and dreams” and saying he was ready to listen to their ideas.

Kuwait
Issue 1045 - 06 October 2017

Kuwait: Index boost

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Kuwait was added to the FTSE Russell Emerging Market Index on 29 September as a secondary emerging market. The indexing firm said the reclassification was a recognition of the recent market enhancements implemented by the Capital Market Authority of Kuwait and Boursa Kuwait. Dubai-based Emirates NBD suggested the change could trigger inflows of up to $800m into the bourse.

Kuwait
Issue 884 - 03 September 2010

Bad debt provisions exceed $20bn

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Gulf banks have spent over $20bn on provisions for bad debt and lost investments since 2008 but are showing signs of returning to high profitability, according to ratings agency Standard and Poor’s.