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They may not be popular, but clerics dominate contemporary Iran, its politics and economy to an extent that most Iranians might have thought inconceivable in the years immediately after the 1979 revolution. The latest series of GSN profiles focuses on senior clerics who occupy key positions across Iran’s political system – all of them closely tied to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and committed to the Islamic republic’s long-term survival.

Iran
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Regional elections are expected, with further delays: A polling day for the long-delayed sixth set of elections to the Kurdistan Parliament has yet to be announced. In August 2023, Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) President Nechirvan Barzani issued a decree scheduling the elections for 25 February.

Iraq
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The Saudi government’s Public Investment Fund has been signing contracts with more lobbying and communications specialists, as it continues to face political scrutiny over its investments in the United States.

Saudi Arabia
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Alpha Dhabi reported a 25% rise in profits in 2023, alongside a 14% increase in revenues, as the investment firm owned by UAE national security advisor Sheikh Tahnoun Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan’s International Holding Company announced multi-billion-dinar joint venture deals with Adnoc Drilling and Mubadala.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Abu Dhabi National Oil Company is setting up a joint venture with BP focused on natural gas exploration and production in Egypt.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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A trade deal between the UAE and Cambodia came into force in early February, just weeks after negotiations were finalised for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with Costa Rica, as more of Abu Dhabi’s preferred Cepa deals are unrolled.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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None of the Gulf’s emerging ´middle powers’ have issued a detailed policy document setting out their approach to projecting soft power, even as they continue to spend extravagantly while drawing in investment and talent. Autocracies have no real need to orchestrate the sort of public debate that might follow, even if they regularly sound out local opinion via traditional diwans or more modern polling techniques — not to mention ever more pervasive surveillance of their citizens and others’ communications.

Saudi Arabia | United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Former Kuwait Projects Company (Kipco) vice chairman Faisal Al-Ayar’s attempt to recover $840,000 from his son-in-law – who is in divorce proceedings with Al-Ayar’s daughter – has been dismissed by an Abu Dhabi court for lack of jurisdiction, mirroring a similar ruling in Dubai.

Kuwait | United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Reports suggest that Adia’s new fund – to be based in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state of Gujarat – could start investing by mid-2024.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Khalid Al-Shamlan takes over the real estate and infrastructure file at the Abu Dhabi government’s investment fund.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Plans by the Saudi state-owned Public Investment Fund to remodel the world of professional golf continue to cause controversy in Washington, where senators are taking a dim view of the fund’s approach to their inquiries. That is not denting the PIF’s sporting appetite though, with cycling, rugby and motorsport deals in the pipeline.

Saudi Arabia
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International Holding Company reported an 18% year-on-year rise in revenues to $16bn for 2023, but profits were flat at the increasingly high-profile conglomerate chaired by UAE national security adviser Sheikh Tahnoun Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Bahrain’s Mumtalakat sovereign wealth fund has reportedly invested a further $38m into McLaren, just weeks after the luxury sportscar maker had said a full recapitalisation had been completed.

Bahrain
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Sovereign wealth fund the Oman Investment Authority has launched a third fund in its portfolio. The OR2bn Future Fund Oman will sit alongside the National Development Fund and Future Generations Fund

Oman
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Abu Dhabi’s ADQ has joined with its exhibitions group subsidiary Adnec to buy a large minority stake in Egyptian hotel operator Icon. It comes as ADQ’s chief investment officer returns to the investment giant after a two-year sabbatical at defence conglomerate Edge Group.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)