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As local companies and their international partners line up to build facilities for the 2022 Fifa World Cup, the winning joint ventures are remarkably well-connected, belonging to Al-Thani members and closely linked local familiesWith six years to go until the 2022 Fifa World Cup kicks off, Qatar is pushing on with the award of construction contracts for the eight stadiums to be used (that number down from an initial plan for 12 stadiums). Five contracts have been awarded to joint ventures made up of local Grade A registered contractors and international companies.

Qatar
Issue 962 - 23 January 2014

UAE: Plans to start conscription

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The UAE plans to introduce compulsory military service for all males aged 18-30. The cabinet endorsed a draft federal law to that effect on 19 January and has submitted it to the National Federal Council (FNC); the length of service is to be set at two years for those who have not completed high school, and nine months for those who have. National service will be optional for women. The news came as a surprise, though it has been several years in the making. One source noted that, a couple of years ago, an official delegation went to visit army recruitment centres in Switzerland to look at how the Swiss ran their programme

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Issue 959 - 29 November 2013

Big spenders

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It is not hard to see why Britain is keen to get more Gulf nationals onto its shores. In 2012, according to the national tourism agency VisitBritain, the UK had just over half a million visitors from the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) states, who spent a total of £1.2bn ($1.9bn), and in the past five years, the total number of GCC visits and spend have increased by 17% and 58% respectively. The average spend per visit by Gulf visitors is massively higher than that of other international visitors – around £2,124 ($3,417) in 2012, compared to a global average of just £600.

Issue 1093 - 28 November 2019

Kuwait: Fugitive ex-MP returns

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A second former MP sentenced for his role in the storming of the National Assembly (parliament) in an anti-corruption scandal in 2011 has returned to Kuwait to begin a three-and-a-half-year jail term. Waleed Al-Tabtabaei arrived back on 25 November and handed himself over to officials.

Kuwait
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King Abdullah’s decision to give women the vote in municipal polls had been on the cards for months, but allowing women to stand as municipal candidates and be appointed to the Majlis Al-Shura surprised many

Saudi Arabia
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Pope Francis is to visit the UAE on 3-5 February in the latest sign of how some Gulf countries are gradually stepping up their interactions with other world religions. The visit is being made at the invitation of Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and UAE Armed Forces deputy supreme commander Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Free

Rather than gaining a bounce from the opening up of the Saudi stock exchange (Tadawul), regional equities markets have been hit hard in the past month by the global turmoil related in part to collapsing Chinese markets. In a 24 August note, Capital Economics said the worst Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region stock market performers were largely concentrated in the Gulf, notably Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Issue 937 - 06 December 2012

Al-Saud weddings

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Prince Khalid Bin Salman Bin Abdelaziz in late November married a daughter of Prince Mohammed Bin Mishaal Bin Abdelaziz. Crown Prince Salman attended his son’s wedding with other senior royals, including former deputy defence and aviation minister Prince Abdelrahman Bin Abdelaziz.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 860 - 11 September 2009

Khalid Bin Alwaleed’s rugby investment

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In an era when Gulf money has poured into English Premier League football clubs, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal’s business empire has decided to invest in London Welsh, a British rugby union club.

Saudi Arabia
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The threat of another British-Saudi row hung in the air this week, as news emerged that Saudi Arabia was “insulted” by a UK parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) decision to review London’s relations with Riyadh. Saudi Arabia was “re-evaluating… historic relations with Britain”, the BBC said on 15 October, quoting Saudi ambassador to London Prince Mohammed Bin Nawaf Al-Saud. “All options will be looked at,” he ominously stated

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Back from Berlin on 13 June, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and UAE Armed Forces deputy supreme commander Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan (MBZ) received the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (YDPA – Supreme King of Malaysia) Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah. Following a 21-gun salute, the two held talks at Qasr Al-Watan on how to boost bilateral ties. The YDPA paid a de rigueur visit to Wahat Al-Karama, the UAE’s national monument to fallen soldiers, and also had a meeting with presidential affairs minister Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Bank Markazi (Central Bank of Iran) governor Tahmasb Mazaheri has been replaced, at least on a temporary basis, by the bank's general secretary Mahmoud Bahmani, who is generally regarded as more malleable. Mazaheri had been increasingly isolated in his resistance to the president's high-spending populism since the departure, earlier this year, of Economics Minister Davoud Danesh Jaafari.

Iran
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Widening their scope of operations, Somali pirates are posing an ever greater challenge to regional governments. While energy producers are rethinking their export strategies, governments are concerned that the Horn of Africa’s instability will encroach on the Gulf region’s southern flank. Yemen is especially vulnerable as the collapse of export revenues piles further pressure on President Saleh. GSN analyses developments in the Gulf of Aden, Somalia and Yemen, and talks exclusively to the Southern Movement’s new figurehead Ali Salem Al-Baydh.

Somalia | Yemen
Issue 1005 - 26 November 2015

Oman: Sultan Qaboos raises public profile

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Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al-Said has raised his public profile in the recent weeks, while many Omanis celebrated National Day by showing genuine enthusiasm for their ruler. Qaboos received incoming ambassadors’ credentials on 13 November.Qaboos addressed the Oman Council (Majlis Al-Shura and Majlis Al-Dawla)’s opening session on 15 November in his first live broadcast since returning in March from medical treatment abroad. On 18 November, he greeted senior officials as he presided over the National Day military parade.

Oman
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The Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) was added to both the S&P Dow Jones Emerging Market index and the FTSE Russell Emerging Markets index on 18 March, in moves that are likely to lead to significant new investment flows being drawn to the bourse.

Saudi Arabia