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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
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King Fahd’s youngest son Prince Abdelaziz has put his Grade II-listed London house up for sale for £100m ($153m). Prospective buyers are required to sign a confidentiality agreement before they can view the property. Prince Abdelaziz owns one of the 29 houses on Kensington Palace Gardens; they rarely get put up for sale.

Saudi Arabia
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Qatar has appointed its first female ambassador. On 31 July, Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani issued emiri decision 89 of 2013, naming Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Bin Ahmed Bin Ali Al-Thani the new “extraordinary and plenipotentiary ambassador” to Croatia. Last November, Croatia opened an embassy in Qatar, its first in the Gulf. Croatian President Ivo Josipovic visited Doha at the time, with a large delegation of Croatian business leaders, and a focus on expanding economic ties. According to the Croatian press, Zagreb is seeking financial help from the Qatar Investment Authority and Macquarie Group to build an LNG terminal on the island of Krk. Qatargas is expected to supply the LNG in a 25-year deal.

Qatar
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UK-based Pergas International Consortium – a collection of 13 companies from Asia, Australia, Europe and North America focused on developing oil and gas projects in the Middle East – signed a heads of agreement with the National Iranian South Oil Company (NISOC) for the development of the Keranj oil field in Khuzestan province. The deal is the first oil and gas deal in Iran by an international company since the US announced it would pull out of the nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on the Islamic Republic, including on its hydrocarbons industry.

Iran
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As widely expected, Saudi Aramco announced the acquisition of 70% of petrochemicals giant Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) on 27 March, agreeing a price of SR259bn ($69.1bn) for the stake, or SR123.39 per share, in line with the previous day’s close of Sabic shares on the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) of SR123.40.The deal has provided Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) with a healthy boost at a time when foreign investors have been showing some reluctance to commit capital to projects in Saudi Arabia – unless they are offered incentives or partnerships by the PIF.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 1021 - 08 September 2016

Abdullah Bin Nasser: To Kuwait

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Prime minister and interior minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Bin Khalifa Al-Thani visited Kuwait in late August, where he held meetings with Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, premier Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah and deputy premier Sheikh Mohammed Al-Khalid Al-Sabah. “Fraternal relations between the two brotherly countries” were discussed, according to Qatar News Agency. The two countries enjoy decent relations and Doha has in the past used Kuwait’s good offices to help ease tensions with other regional countries.

Qatar
Issue 1066 - 21 September 2018

Iranian diplomats come under attack

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Iranian diplomats have had to hunker down across the Middle East and Europe as a string of consulates and embassies have come under attack. The first to suffer was the Iranian consulate in Basra which was set on fire by demonstrators on 7 September, during wider protests. The Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed “deep regret” at the incident and called for tighter security around diplomatic missions in the city.

Iran
Issue 939 - 24 January 2013

Region: Workshop on Islamic banking

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Central Bank of Tunisia and Islamic Development Bank held a three-day regional conference on Islamic banking and sukuk markets in December.

Issue 1025 - 03 November 2016

Bahrain: Gulf security exercise

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Gulf Co-operation Council countries began the Gulf Security 1 exercise on 26 October in Prince Naif Security City, Bahrain. The drill is a collaboration by GCC interior ministries and is intended to improve preparedness for security events and to develop co-operation and co-ordination between the GCC member states’ forces.

Bahrain
Issue 978 - 03 October 2014

UAE: New Central Bank governor

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Mubarak Rashid Al-Mansouri, formerly the chief executive of the Emirates Investment Authority (EIA), has been appointed governor of the Central Bank of the UAE. He replaces Sultan Nasser Al-Suweidi, who had been at the helm of the institution since 1991, and was widely seen as a capable leader. Mansouri was appointed chief executive of the EIA – which is the federal government’s only sovereign wealth fund and is chaired by Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan – in 2008, the year after the fund’s inception.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) was shortlisted in the annual US news weekly Time’s Person of the Year award on 4 December. MBS went on to win the online reader poll, with 24% of the votes cast, beating such luminaries as Hillary Clinton, Pope Francis and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 1083 - 21 June 2019

Iran: Incriminating evidence

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To bolster its case that Iran was responsible for the 13 June tanker attacks, the United States released a black-and-white video of an alleged Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) Hendijan-class patrol boat removing an unexploded mine from the side of the Japanese tanker Kokura Courageous, followed by some colour photos of the same incident. The footage was probably taken with a long-range MX-20HD electro-optic system onboard a P8 maritime surveillance aircraft.

Iran
Issue 985 - 22 January 2015

UAE: Acwa wins 200MW solar park project

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A consortium led by Saudi-based Acwa Power has won a tender for phase two of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, south-east of Dubai. Acwa Power will finance, build and operate a 200MW solar photovoltaic (PV) plant, with Spanish engineering and construction company TSK serving as the technology provider and minority partner. The 15 January announcement by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) will see Acwa Power receive a 25-year power purchase agreement starting in 2017. Dewa will retain a 51% stake in the project with the rest going to the developer, split 85%/15% between Acwa and TSK.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)