King Salman returned to the Kingdom in mid-August after several weeks in Morocco. Soon after his arrival he ordered a month’s extra pay for Saudi military and security personnel actively involved in operations in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia National Guard commander Prince Miteb Bin Abdullah gave a late February interview to Okaz/Saudi Gazette in which he described his father’s daily routine, which includes waking for the Fajr prayer, reading the Quran, sleeping again and then performing the Dhuhr prayer.
King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa inaugurated a $50m National Theatre on 13 November, an elegant glass structure with a golden roof that seats 1,001 people and symbolises the union of Bahrain and sea. The theatre, commissioned long before the political crisis, was designed by France’s AS Architecture-Studio, also responsible for the Muscat Cultural Centre and Doha’s Pier Exhibition Centre.
The once-high flying but later disgraced art collector Sheikh Saud Bin Mohammed Al-Thani is being sued in the UK High Court by a group of dealers who say he has dishonoured a pledge to pay $19.7m for a collection of coins sold at auction in January in New York.
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.
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.
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.
Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani was in Vienna in early December to present awards to winners of the Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani Anti-Corruption Excellence Award at the International Anti-Corruption day held under the auspices of the United Nations. While in Vienna the emir held talks with the outgoing UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon in a meeting also attended by the director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime Yury Fedotov.
Deputy minister for foreign affairs Abdelaziz Bin Abdullah in February attended a White House summit on countering violent extremism. The three-day summit, from 17 February, included ministers from more than 60 countries, and leaders including US President Barack Obama, United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve and Jordanian foreign minister Nasser Judeh. Foreign minister Saud Al-Faisal is still not back at work following back surgery in January. On 23 February, foreign ministry undersecretary for multilateral relations Prince Turki Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al-Kabeer attended a ministerial conference on regional security in Cairo on his behalf.
There is some speculation in Doha over whether one of Sheikh Tamim’s two wives will be given the position of official consort and play a role on the international stage similar to Tamim’s mother, the ground-breaking Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Misnad. Tamim’s first wife is Sheikha Jawahar Bint Hamad Bin Suhaim Al-Thani. She is the granddaughter of Suhaim, one of former emir Sheikh Khalifa Bin Hamad’s brothers, who was close to Khalifa.
Emir Sheikh Hamad’s fourth son Sheikh Tamim was appointed heir apparent in an August 2003 move, when he replaced his older full brother Sheikh Jassim (GSN 716/6). The changeover was widely regarded as sensible – the laid-back Jassim, who was seen as having little political ambition, had been a stopgap until Tamim had finished his education and gained more experience in high-level politics.
Prince Badr Bin Abdelaziz, a half-brother of King Abdullah, died in late March. He was in his early 80s. He was communications minister in the early 1960s and Saudi Arabian National Guard deputy commander from 1968 to November 2010, when he reportedly retired for health reasons.
General Intelligence Directorate chief Prince Bandar Bin Sultan held a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin near Moscow, the Kremlin said on 3 December. A previous meeting between the two men, in late July, has been the source of much speculation. The contents of that meeting remain elusive, and there has been considerable, unsubstantiated speculation about whether Bandar offered the Russians oil and investment opportunities in return for concessions on Iran and Syria (GSN 957/7). According to news agencies, the latest meeting discussed the situation in the Middle East and North Africa.
Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani spent mid-February in South America. He and foreign minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber Al-Thani visited three countries, meeting Peruvian President Ollanta Humala, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Ecuadorian leader Rafael Correa, and signing agreements.
Palestinian visits, South Korea trip, Deaths and marriages, Al-Madina column, Turkey visit, Europe tour, Afghanistan comments, Malaga football club, Visitors, Napolitano talks on Yemen
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