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Gulf and Red Sea Regions

Stories under this heading cover the Gulf and the Red Sea regions, including the Arabian Peninsula, Iran and the countries bordering the Red Sea.

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Saudi King appoints Mohamed bin Salman as new prime minister

Saudi King appoints Mohamed bin Salman as new prime minister

King Salman ibn Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia has appointed Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman as prime minister. This is the first time that a Saudi King has not held himself the post of prime minister since the system of Cabinet of Ministers was first introduced. Seperating the two roles is likely to improve the process and speed of decision making in the Kingdom which in the past had seen backlogs of decisions and appointments waiting for the King's approval. The appointment formalises the authority of Mohamed bin Salman over the Saudi government, and is seen as part of the process of renewal that the Kingdom embarked on a few years back. Mohamed bin Salman, or MBS as he is sometimes called, has been a controversial figure since he was appointed as Crown Prince in 2016. The war in Yemen, the murder of Adnan Kashoggi and a heavy handed approach towards critics have made him a target of much criticism by western media. But inside Saudi Arabia itself, MBS is mostly seen as a reformer who has taken on, successfully, the conservative religious elite, that had dominated life in the Kingdom since the Saudi State was established in the early 20th century. His appointment as prime minister will help consolidate his power, and is likely to embolder him on to the next set of changes. Internationally, the appointment comes days after a Saudi diplomatic success, which saw Mohamed bin Salman negotiating the release of ten foreigners held as prisoners by Russia for their participation in the Ukraine war. 

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Editor's choice
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Saudi King appoints Mohamed bin Salman as new prime minister

Saudi King appoints Mohamed bin Salman as new prime minister

King Salman ibn Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia has appointed Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman as prime minister. This is the first time that a Saudi King has not held himself the post of prime minister since the system of Cabinet of Ministers was first introduced. Seperating the two roles is likely to improve the process and speed of decision making in the Kingdom which in the past had seen backlogs of decisions and appointments waiting for the King's approval. The appointment formalises the authority of Mohamed bin Salman over the Saudi government, and is seen as part of the process of renewal that the Kingdom embarked on a few years back. Mohamed bin Salman, or MBS as he is sometimes called, has been a controversial figure since he was appointed as Crown Prince in 2016. The war in Yemen, the murder of Adnan Kashoggi and a heavy handed approach towards critics have made him a target of much criticism by western media. But inside Saudi Arabia itself, MBS is mostly seen as a reformer who has taken on, successfully, the conservative religious elite, that had dominated life in the Kingdom since the Saudi State was established in the early 20th century. His appointment as prime minister will help consolidate his power, and is likely to embolder him on to the next set of changes. Internationally, the appointment comes days after a Saudi diplomatic success, which saw Mohamed bin Salman negotiating the release of ten foreigners held as prisoners by Russia for their participation in the Ukraine war. 
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Germany seals major energy deal with the UAE

Germany seals major energy deal with the UAE

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Germany signed a "landmark agreement" on Sunday (25 September) aimed at accelerating joint efforts to boost energy security, decarbonisation and combat climate change. The major deal was struck in the presence of UAE President, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who is currently visiting the Emirates. The deal secures the delivery of 137,000 cubic meters of LNG to be sent to the new LNG terminal in Brunsbüttel near Hamburg in December. According to the dpa news agency, the amount included in the first delivery equates to around 0.95 billion kilowatt hours of electricity. However, the LNG deal can only make up for a small part of the 56.3 billion cubic meters of gas that Germany received from Russia in 2020.
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Kazakhstan works to expand co-operation with Gulf countries during Tokayev's visit to Saudi Arabia

Kazakhstan works to expand co-operation with Gulf countries during Tokayev's visit to Saudi Arabia

Kazakh president, Kassym Jomart Tokayev, on Sunday (24 July) concluded an official visit to Saudi Arabia during which he sought to strengthen relations with the Kingdom and other Gulf countries Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan will enhance mutual trade and investment in several sectors, according to a joint statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency at the end of the visit. This cooperation includes areas related to petrochemicals, renewable energy, mining, agriculture, tourism, transport and logistics. Other agreements cover information technology, digital transformation, financial services and space, SPA reported. During his visit President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev held wide-ranging talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The two countries signed several agreements and memoranda of cooperation in sports, media, medicine and finance. The also agreed to enhance cooperation in higher education, research and innovation.
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Biden's visit to Saudi Arabia opens a new era in relations

Biden's visit to Saudi Arabia opens a new era in relations

It is not a coincidence that on his first trip to the Middle East since becoming US president, Joe Biden is visiting Saudi Arabia. Together with relations with Israel, relations with the Kingdom have been the cornerstone of US policy in the region. Over the last two years these relations were tested with trust between the two sides falling to its lowest level for decades. The visit appears to have succeeded in bringing relations back to a qualitatively high level. On Friday (15 July) Biden met King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. On Saturday he is due to meet with other Arab leaders at a summit that will bring together the leaders of the sic GCC countries, together with Egypt, Jordan and Iraq. A joint communique published by the Saudi Press Agency early on Saturday emphasised that the “US-Saudi partnership has been a cornerstone of regional security over decades, and affirmed that the two countries share a vision of a more secure, stable, and prosperous region, interconnected with the world,”  The document highlighted various areas of cooperation from energy security to space exploration. In the area of defense, Biden reaffirmed the US’ commitment to Saudi Arabia’s security and territorial defense, and “facilitating the Kingdom’s ability to obtain necessary capabilities to defend its people and territory against external threats” The statement said that US troops will depart from Tiran Island paving the way for it to be developed. Additionally, overflights of the Kingdom’s airspace was expanded on Friday, which the US welcomed.