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Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and UAE Armed Forces deputy supreme commander Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan (MBZ) visited Germany on 11 June for a two-day visit, three years after he was last in Berlin. MBZ met President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at Schloss Bellevue on the day of his arrival and Chancellor Angela Merkel the following day. It is 15 years since the two countries signed a strategic partnership agreement, since when the value of bilateral trade has risen from $3bn to $14bn.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised British-Iranian dual nationals to avoid all travel to Iran, following a series of cases in which the Iranian authorities have targeted both dual nationals and Iranians working for UK institutions. The most high-profile case is that of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been held in custody since 2016, following a conviction for spying. “Dual nationals face an intolerable risk of mistreatment if they visit Iran,” said foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt in a statement issued on 17 May.

Iran
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Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and UAE Armed Forces deputy supreme commander Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan (MBZ) is the subject of an investigation by French judicial authorities over accusations he was complicit in acts of torture in UAE-controlled detention centres in Yemen, according to a report by Agence France Presse on 17 July.

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Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani held talks with US Central Command in the Middle East commander General Kenneth McKenzie at Al-Bahr Palace on 16 July, reviewing military and defence co-operation and what a comminqué said were efforts to improve security and stability in the region, while McKenzie thanked Qatar for hosting US forces at the Al-Udeid Air Base. A little over a week later, on 26 July, Tamim hosted another senior US military official, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Mark Milley, with a similar range of topics on the formal agenda.

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Iran’s Supreme National Security Council secretary Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani met the Iraqi top team during an early March visit to Baghdad, including President Barham Salih, caretaker prime minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, National Intelligence Service chief Mustafa Al-Kadhimi and national security advisor Falih Fayyadh. Itn the first visit by a senior Iranian since the United States attack in January which killed Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp’s Quds Force head Qassim Soleimani and Popular Mobilisation Units deputy chief Abu Mahdi Al-Mohandes, Shamkhani claimed the attack marked “the countdown to the expulsion of America from the region”.

Iraq
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UAE minister of state and special envoy to Germany Dr Sultan Al-Jaber held back-to-back online meetings with German diplomats and politicians on 30 May, including with his counterpart Niels Annen. Billed as a “virtual visit”, it drew praise from German Federal Foreign Office director for the Middle East and North Africa Christian Buck who described Jaber as “taking virtual diplomacy to a whole new level”.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani appointed Sheikh Ali Bin Jassim Bin Thani Al-Thani as ambassador to France on 12 September.

Qatar
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Foreign affairs minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani held talks with King Felipe VI and Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in separate meetings in Madrid on 13 September. Following the meeting with Sanchez, the two men signed a joint declaration to co-operate in international investment projects, with a particular emphasis on Latin America.

Qatar
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Kuwait and Saudi Arabia were the only Gulf countries to contribute to a global drive to raise money to tackle the coronavirus crisis, during an online pledging drive on 4 May chaired by the European Commission. The organisers had set a target of €7.5bn ($8.1bn) for the event, but ended up just short of this, with total pledges of €7.4bn made on the day. Of that, current G20 president Saudi Arabia made a donation of €457m, while Kuwait pledged €91m.

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Royal Court advisor and former economy and planning minister Mohammed Bin Maziad Al-Tuwaijri has been nominated by Saudi Arabia for the post of World Trade Organisation (WTO) director-general. He is competing against seven others for the job, after his nomination was filed just ahead of the deadline on 8 July.

Saudi Arabia
Issue 1091 - 31 October 2019

UK/France: Al-Jubeir in defence mode

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Minister of state Adel Al-Jubeir held meetings with UK foreign minister Dominic Raab and France’s Europe and foreign affairs minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, as well as members of the parliaments in both London and Paris, during a European visit. In a 21 October speech at Chatham House in London, Jubeir said Riyadh saw Iran’s hand “in almost all of the conflicts” in the region, adding that “Iran has been on a rampage since 1979”.

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Oman News Agency posted a series of comments in late April and early May from Gulf Co-operation Council ambassadors to Muscat, praising relations between their countries and Oman. At times these dispatches have shed some indirect light on longstanding issues. On 26 April, Kuwaiti ambassador Salman Al-Harbi described relations as “deep-rooted and exemplary”. A few days later, Saudi ambassador Eid Bin Mohammed Al-Thaqafi said Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq Al-Said and King Salman Bin Abdelaziz had a “constructive and distinguished” relationship.

Oman
Issue 1101 - 24 April 2020

Oman: Haitham signs up to conventions

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Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq Al-Said has continued to issue decrees at a steady pace, as he settles into his role. On 7 April, he issued five more decrees, including commitments for Oman to join a number of international human rights conventions, although in all cases Oman has said it is opposed to some of the provisions in them. The conventions include the 2006 International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, although Muscat does not accept the provisions for visits by a committee on enforced disappearances or international arbitration between countries.

Oman
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Health minister Dr Ahmed Bin Mohammed Al-Saeedi has been elected to the World Health Organisation’s executive board for a three-year term. The 34-member board meets twice a year. Its main roles are to give effect to the decisions and policies of the WHO’s annual Health Assembly, to advise and facilitate its work. Also on the board is UAE health minister Abdulrahman Al-Owais, who was elected last year.

Oman
Issue 1097 - 06 February 2020

Bahrain: Crown Prince opens embassy in Rome

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Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa inaugurated Bahrain’s new embassy in Rome on 3 February, during an official visit to the Italian capital. Until now, Bahrain has provided diplomatic coverage in Italy from its embassy in Paris, where Mohammed Abdul Ghaffar is ambassador. On the same day, Prince Salman held talks with head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State Pope Francis at the Apostolic Palace and with Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

Bahrain