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.

Dubai scraps 30% alcohol tax and fees for personal alcohol licences

The UAE emirate of Dubai has announced that it has scrapped the 30% tax on alcohol, and will no longer charge for personal alcohol licences.

Known as the Gulf's "party capital", where expatriates outnumber nationals by nine to one, Dubai has historically been more attractive to tourists and wealthy foreign workers than its neighbours, partially because of its tolerance of a more liberal lifestyle.

Despite this, the high alcohol tax had led to residents often driving to Umm al-Quwain and other emirates to buy alcohol in bulk.

patrickn97 Mon, 01/02/2023 - 10:33 The free market in foreign policy on display as Xi meets the Arabs
It appears that the principles of the free market now dominate the international system, not only in areas of trade, but also in defence, security and foreign policy, writes Dennis Sammut in today's Monday Commentary on Bigger countries are wooing smaller countries, unashamedly displaying their goods, and dismissing those of others. China’s president Xi was in Saudi Arabia last week, to seal China’s new partnership with the Arabs. This week, it will Joe Biden’s turn to host African leaders at the White House. "For the moment small countries are making the most out of this new free market atmosphere in the international system. But they must also keep in mind that, as in the market, demand sometimes slumps abruptly. It is at this point countries will not need just customers, but also friends."
dennis2020 Mon, 12/12/2022 - 05:29

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Iraqi parliament elects new president, ending political deadlock

On Thursday (13 October), the Iraqi parliament elected Kurdish politician Abdul Latif Rashid as the new president, ending a year-long deadlock. He is a 78-year-old engineer who served as the minister of water resources from 2003 to 2010. 

patrickn97 Fri, 10/14/2022 - 10:01
Three Saudi men sentenced to death for resisting displacement for NEOM megacity

Three men, Shadli, Atallah and Ibrahim Al-Huwaiti, have been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for refusing to evict their homes in the Tabuk region. It was announced on Monday (10 October).

patrickn97 Tue, 10/11/2022 - 19:45
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Analysis: Mohammed bin Zayed meets Putin in Moscow as Gulf states ponder the new world order

Analysis: Mohammed bin Zayed meets Putin in Moscow as Gulf states ponder the new world order

The president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), met in Moscow on Tuesday (11 October) with president Valdimir Putin of Russia. Putin warmly greeted his UAE guest at the Kostantinovsky Palace. The visit comes as Gulf states ponder about the new world order, Even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the world order that had emerged at the end of the Cold War had clearly run out of steam. Russia and the West, instead of partners in the international system through membership of the G8, cooperation in space, and extensive arms control agreements, became first rivals, and, since February this year, enemies. China, whose rise over the last four decades as an economic power was first admired, has subsequently become a “systematic rival”. As it verges on superpower status it has become more assertive and less predictable. The US and its allies are seriously worried.  For the countries of the Gulf this new world order is uncharted waters. During the Cold War the Gulf was first a British lake, and later an American one. The American shield protected the Gulf states against intruders. When Iraq invaded Kuwait and occupied it in 1990, the US and its allies led the international community in a fightback, and Saddam Hussein was driven back across the border with a bloody nose. When he tried to rear his head again, the West finished him off. Then there was Iran. A huge American presence, with other allies in the wings, saw off Iranian ambitions in the region. It seemed that US-GCC relations were set in stone. Yet as the world reverted back to a multipolar state - the parameters of which are as yet undefined - it was only the naïve who thought that the GCC states will simply slide back to their old role of doing the USA's bidding in return for protection. Things in the Gulf have changed dramatically in the last six decades, and in the last decade in particular, in political terms the region is unrecognisable. In Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Doha and elsewhere the national interest has been re-defined. 
Warring parties in Yemen fail to agree renewal of truce

In Yemen, the Houthi 

dennis2020 Mon, 10/03/2022 - 06:31
Editor's choice
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. 
Editor's choice
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.
First Arab-Chinese Summit will be held in December

China's efforts to extend its influence in the Arab World are set to get a boost in December, with the first Arab-Chinese summit due to be hosted by Saudi Arabia.

The Arab League stated that it represents a milestone in the strategic partnership between Arab countries and China. The League's assistant secretary-general, Khalil Al-Thawadi, stated this during the opening of the third China-Arab Forum for Reform and Development, which was held through the digital platform with the Chinese side.

dennis2020 Sat, 09/10/2022 - 08:22