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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mid-February tour of the UAE and Qatar followed the signing of big energy supply deals and the release of former Indian naval officers sentenced to death in Doha for spying.

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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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Bahrain has set up diplomatic relations with Vanuatu and Qatar with Tonga in a continuation of the trend for Gulf states to expand their diplomatic and development ties with small Pacific Island nations.

Bahrain | Qatar
Issue 1185 - 20 February 2024

UAE ambassador takes up post in Damascus

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Hassan Al-Shehi has presented his credentials, to become the first UAE ambassador in Damascus since 2011, adding further to a bilateral relationship that seemed broken when Abu Dhabi supported opposition groups in the Syrian civil war’s early years.

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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Emir Sheikh Mishaal travelled to Riyadh on 30 January for talks with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, further cementing the bilateral relationship. Mishaal then went to Oman in early February to attend the inauguration of Duqm refinery with Sultan Haitham.

Kuwait | Saudi Arabia | Oman
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Iran launched missiles and drones at targets in Iraq, Syria and Pakistan in mid-January, claiming it was striking back at terrorist groups and Israel-linked sites, in a tough approach that has been accompanied by a domestic clampdown on moderate politicians ahead of elections in March. This suggests the regime continues to feel vulnerable to opposition at home, while speculation builds around the eventual succession to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is the subject of the first of a series of GSN profiles.

Iran
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UAE state minister for foreign affairs Sheikh Shakhbut Bin Nahyan Al-Nahyan has been on another African tour in January, visiting the capitals of Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, as well as Angola’s Cabinda province, as the UAE look to continue recent momentum for investments and wider engagement in Africa.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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A five-year contract for Bahrain Steel to supply Emirates Steel Arkan with iron ore pellets appears to be motivated by both commercial and geopolitical considerations, with the Abu Dhabi government-owned steel-maker saying it was designed to “strengthen economic ties within the GCC”.

Bahrain | United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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In a noticeable uptick in President Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan’s recent overseas travel, MBZ has gone to Azerbaijan and India to cement commercial ties, in his first visit to another Brics member since the UAE joined the big emerging economies’ club at the start of the year.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Issue 1183 - 09 January 2024

Princess Haifa named ambassador to Spain

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From the ruling family’s Al-Muqrin branch, new Saudi ambassador in Madrid Princess Haifa Bint Abdelaziz previously served as the kingdom’s envoy to the UN’s cultural and educational arm Unesco.

Saudi Arabia
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Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani made a number of changes to his cabinet on 8 January, less than a year after his last major overhaul to the executive team. Among the most significant changes was the promotion of minister of state for foreign affairs Sultan Bin Saad Al-Muraikhi to the cabinet. 

Qatar
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The UAE’s latest Cepa agreement is another step in Abu Dhabi’s plans to build its global profile by negotiating bilateral trade deals.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Issue 1183 - 08 January 2024

Iran names new ambassador to Oman

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Iran has a new ambassador to Oman, one of the Islamic Republic’s most strategically – important neighbours.

Iran | Oman