[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on the Arabian Peninsula and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Arabian Peninsula Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Regional and International Relations
Oman’s sultan arrives in Saudi Arabia on first foreign trip – Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said arrived in Saudi Arabia on 11 Jun to meet with the Saudi king, starting the first visit by an Omani ruler in years against the backdrop of renewed diplomatic efforts to end the war in Yemen and the sultanate’s worsening economic woes.
Qatar to provide food aid for Lebanese soldiers amid economic crisis – Qatar will provide the Lebanese armed forces with 70 tonnes of food a month, as Lebanon seeks assistance amid its worst economic and political crisis since a 1975-1990 civil war.
South Korea signs 20-year LNG deal with Qatar – South Korea's energy ministry said on 12 Jul it had signed a 20-year liquefied natural gas (LNG) supply agreement with Qatar for the next 20 years starting in 2025.
Afghan delegation, Taliban to talk peace in Qatar – A high-powered Afghan government delegation, which will include the head of the country’s reconciliation council, is to meet the Taliban in Doha to jump-start a long-stalled peace process. The renewed push to reach a peace deal comes as the US winds down its military presence in Afghanistan.
US hosts high-level Saudi visit after Khashoggi killing – Top Biden administration officials on 7 Jul hosted Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister, Prince Khalid bin Salman, in the highest-level such visit known since the US made public intelligence findings linking the crown prince to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
20 years after 9/11, lawsuit against Saudis hits key moment – As the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks approaches, victims’ relatives are pressing the courts to answer what they see as lingering questions about the Saudi government’s role. A lawsuit that accuses Saudi Arabia of being complicit took a major step forward this year with the questioning under oath of former Saudi officials, but those depositions remain under seal and the US has withheld a trove of other documents as too sensitive for disclosure.
Lebanon's top Christian cleric hopes for better Saudi relations – Lebanon's most senior Christian cleric said on 8 Jul he hoped for an improvement in ties with Saudi Arabia, which has withheld support for the crisis-torn Lebanese economy because of the rising influence of its arch-enemy Hezbollah.
Saudi Arabia to send one million doses of vaccine to Tunisia – Saudi Arabia will send a medical aid package, to Tunisia that includes one million doses of vaccine to help the country control the rapid spread of the COVID pandemic, alongside 190 respirators and other equipment.
Indian oil minister vows to work with Saudi, UAE to calm oil mkts – India's new oil minister Hardeep Singh Puri vowed to work with oil producers Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates to reduce volatility in oil markets and make crude prices affordable.
Saudi commentators go public in criticising UAE role in Yemen – Pro-government commentators in Saudi Arabia are publicly criticising the UAE’s role in Yemen, a rare move that reflects political and economic tensions between the two Gulf allies that also led to an open standoff over oil policy. Saudi Arabia is trying to contain a power struggle in southern Yemen between the recognised government backed by Riyadh and the main separatist group supported by the UAE - which risks broadening a war that Saudi Arabia is struggling to exit.
Bahrain sees six-fold rise in death sentences and ‘drastically escalating’ torture despite UK millions –Death sentences in Bahrain have risen by over 600 per cent since the start of the Arab Spring and the use of torture is “drastically escalating”, a new report by UK charity Reprieve and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) has found. The six-fold rise in death sentences comes despite the fact that the UK has poured millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money into the Gulf country in a bid to improve its human rights record.
Prominent Kuwaiti poet detained on charges of insulting emir – Security forces in Kuwait detained a prominent poet, Jamal al-Sayer, on charges of insulting the country’s ruler and spreading “fake news,” his family said on 7 Jul, inciting anger from rights activists and lawmakers who view his arrest as a sign of escalating government repression.
In contentious case, Kuwait deports Jordanian over protest – Authorities in Kuwait deported a Kuwaiti-born, Jordanian national for joining an unauthorized protest against the government’s new restrictions on unvaccinated people on 5 Jul. It is the latest case to spark outrage over the treatment of foreign workers in the country.
Unions connect soccer players with migrant workers in Qatar – Soccer players have talked with migrant workers in Qatar to learn more about their conditions while building stadiums and other projects for the 2022 World Cup. The direct conversations were revealed at the launch on 15 Jul in Brussels of a three-year cooperation between the global players’ union FIFPRO and the Building and Woodworkers’ International which represents construction workers. The BWI also published its latest report on Qatar’s efforts to modernize labor laws that have been severely criticized since the were picked by soccer body FIFA in 2010.
Cambridge University accused of Faustian pact in planned £400m deal with UAE – The University of Cambridge has been accused of entering “a Faustian pact” over plans for a £400m collaboration with the UAE in what would be the biggest deal of its kind in the university’s history. According to internal documents, the 10-year collaboration would help Cambridge, “weather the challenges faced by universities as a result of Covid, Brexit and a constrained funding environment”. The documents state that the UAE has pledged to commit £312m – the biggest single donation by far that the university has received – and £90m will be paid in kind through Cambridge staff time. The deal has yet to go before the university’s general board.
Boohoo partners with Kuwait's Alshaya to grow Debenhams in Middle East – Boohoo has formed a partnership with Kuwait-based Alshaya Group to build its Debenhams brand in the Middle East region.
Qatar's Dukhan Bank gets $500 million AT1 Islamic bonds – Qatar's Dukhan Bank sold $500 million in Additional Tier 1 sukuk, or Islamic bonds, at 3.95% on 7 Jul after it received more than $2.25 billion in orders.
Saudi Arabia to invest over $133 bln in transport sector – Saudi Arabia will invest over 500 billion riyals ($133.34 billion) in airports, sea ports, rail and other infrastructure by the end of the decade in a bid to make the kingdom a global transportation and logistics hub, its transport minister said on 5 Jul.
Saudi Arabia amends import rules from Gulf in challenge to UAE – Saudi Arabia has amended its rules on imports from other GCC countries to exclude goods made in free zones or using Israeli input from preferential tariff concessions, in a bid to challenge the UAE’s status as the region's trade and business hub.
OPEC+ abandons oil policy meeting after Saudi-UAE clash – OPEC+ ministers called off oil output talks on 5 Jul after clashing last week when the UAE rejected a proposed eight-month extension to output curbs, meaning no deal to boost production has been agreed. The failure of the talks, which had partly been about an increase in oil output from next month, helped to drive up international benchmark Brent crude, which was trading 1.1% higher at above $77 a barrel.
Saudi-UAE still at impasse as Russia steps in to rescue OPEC+ deal – Russia is leading efforts to close divisions between Saudi Arabia and the UAE to help strike a deal to raise oil output in coming months, with OPEC and its allies yet to set a date for their next oil policy meeting. Disagreement between the two Gulf OPEC allies was publicly exposed last week, with Riyadh and Abu Dhabi at odds over a proposed deal that would have brought more oil to the market -- potentially cooling a rally that has seen prices hit 2-1/2 year highs.
Saudi, UAE reach compromise to unlock more oil supply – Saudi Arabia and the UAE have reached a compromise over OPEC+ policy on 14 Jul, in a move that should unlock a deal to supply more crude to a tight oil market and cool soaring prices. Brent oil prices fell on the news by as much as $1 per barrel towards $75 per barrel after Reuters reported the two major OPEC producers had agreed a deal.
IMF sees Saudi growth at 2.4% this year with non-oil sector leading rebound - The International Monetary Fund said on 8 Jul Saudi Arabia's economy is recovering well from the COVID-19 pandemic and the fund expected the non-oil economy to grow by 4.3% this year, with overall GDP growth seen at 2.4%.
Airline body IATA to open Saudi office but denies it will be regional HQ – Saudi Arabia said on 6 Jul that global airlines industry body IATA had agreed to open a regional headquarters in Riyadh but the industry's main trade association denied it would be a regional base in the latest evidence of sensitivities over the status of foreign business representation in the kingdom.
Saudi sovereign wealth fund scopes banks for ESG framework – Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund has asked banks to help it develop an environmental, social and governance (ESG) framework, in a move that could allow it to expand its funding base to attract ESG-focussed investors. The Public Investment Fund (PIF) sent a request for proposals to banks last month.
Saudi Aramco drops Morgan Stanley on gas pipelines deal – Saudi Aramco has dropped Morgan Stanley as an adviser for the sale of its gas pipelines and picked JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs for the role. Aramco has also invited banks to advise on the financing of the deal, sources told Reuters, the second major midstream deal after the sale of the oil pipelines.
Higher Oil Income Will Boost Saudi Saving Not Spending, IMF Says – Saudi Arabia is likely to use surplus oil revenue to rebuild reserves, breaking with its historical practice of boosting spending when crude prices rise, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Fitch lifts Saudi Arabia's outlook to stable on higher oil prices – Ratings agency Fitch revised Saudi Arabia's outlook on 15 Jul to stable from negative, citing significantly higher oil prices and continued government commitment to adjusting its finances.
Saudi PIF buys into McLaren as part of 550 mln pound equity raise – The McLaren Group announced a 550 million pound ($758 million) equity investment on 16 Jul with much of it coming from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) and global investment firm Ares Management.
OPEC+ agrees oil supply boost after UAE, Saudi reach compromise – OPEC+ ministers agreed on 19 Jul to boost oil supply from August to cool prices which have climbed to 2-1/2 year highs as the global economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic. The group, which includes OPEC countries and allies like Russia, crucially agreed new production allocations from May 2022 after Saudi Arabia and others agreed to a request from the UAE that had threatened the plan.
Japanese firms, ADNOC to explore feasibility of ammonia production in UAE – Japan's Inpex Corp, JERA, and Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp said on 8 Jul they had agreed with Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) to explore the feasibility of producing ammonia in the UAE.
UAE's flydubai cuts Boeing MAX order by 65, citing post-COVID plans – United Arab Emirates airline flydubai said on 13 Jul it had agreed with Boeing to cut the number of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft it will take delivery of by 65. The airline has already taken delivery of 16 MAX jets out of its total order of 251.
Bahrain working with ICAO on technical arrangements for regional air traffic safety – Bahrain Minister of Transport and Telecommunications said in a statement on 15 Jul the kingdom is working with the International Civil Aviation Organization to introduce the necessary technical arrangements to ensure the safety of international air traffic in the region. Bahrain said in June that it is ready to work on Qatar's ambition to gain control of its own airspace.
Kuwait shuts down children's activities to combat coronavirus – The Kuwaiti Cabinet decided on 12 Jul to close down all activities for children, including summer clubs, from 25 Jul until further notice, as a precautionary measure to combat the spread of coronavirus.
Qatar sets up supervisory body for first legislative elections – Qatar has set up a committee to oversee its first legislative elections, due to be held in October. The elections will be for two-thirds, or 30 members, of the 45-seat advisory Shura Council. The ruling emir will appoint 15 members, rather than the entire council as he does today.
Saudi non-oil sector employment rises amid steady growth – Saudi Arabia's non-oil private sector continued to expand in June at a fast rate and job creation rose to a 19-month high, according to the seasonally adjusted IHS Markit Saudi Arabia Purchasing Managers' Index, as the largest Arab economy recovers from the coronavirus crisis.
Seeking summer breeze and natural getaway, Saudis flock to Ukraine – Ukraine, which only requires a coronavirus PCR or express test upon entry, is one of just a few visa-free countries for Saudi tourists. In June, Saudi national carrier Flynas launched a daily direct flight between Riyadh and Kyiv as well as Lyviv, bringing hundreds of holidaymakers seeking escape from the extreme heat. According to Anton Taranenko from Visit Ukraine tourist association, 3,500 Saudis are expected to visit Ukraine daily comparing to 4,000 tourists in total during the entire 2020.
Saudi's AHAB nears end of years long debt dispute – After more than 12 years of back and forth between the Algosaibi family’s conglomerate AHAB and its creditors, one of Saudi Arabia's largest debt disputes is set to finally reach a resolution. A debt restructuring proposal was submitted to the Dammam commercial court this week after approval from a creditor committee.
Explosion strikes unused ammunition dump in Saudi Arabia – An explosion on 14 Jul in Saudi Arabia struck what authorities described as an ammunition dump containing “unserviceable munitions.” Videos showed sparks, flames and smoke shooting out of a desert location southeast of Riyadh near a major air base. The blast happened at 5:10 a.m. in city of Kharj, Brig. Gen. Turki al-Malki said, describing the blast as an accident.
Saudi shops can stay open during prayer times – Shops in Saudi Arabia may now stay open during prayer times, relaxing the kingdom's strict rules on closing shops and businesses for prayer five times a day. It is the latest in a series of social and economic reforms intended to modernise the conservative kingdom and boost the private sector's contribution to its oil-dependent economy.
With pandemic in mind, pared-back hajj in Mecca for 2nd year – Tens of thousands of vaccinated Muslim pilgrims circled Islam’s holiest site in Mecca on 18 Jul, but remained socially distanced and wore masks as the coronavirus takes its toll on the hajj for a second year running. This year, 60,000 vaccinated Saudi citizens or residents of Saudi Arabia have been allowed to perform the hajj due to continued concerns around the spread of the coronavirus. Last year’s largely symbolic hajj saw fewer than 1,000 people from within the kingdom taking part.
Explosion at Dubai’s Jebel Ali port sends tremors across city – A container ship anchored at Dubai’s Jebel Ali port caught fire late on 7 Jul, causing a huge explosion that sent tremors across the UAE’s commercial hub as far as 25 kilometres away. Two and a half hours after the explosion, Dubai’s civil defence teams said they had brought the fire under control and started the “cooling process.”
Abu Dhabi's lightning-fast COVID-19 scanners raise privacy fears – Data rights groups are warning of privacy violations and risks to vulnerable communities after Abu Dhabi deployed scanners at border crossings, malls and other public locations that could detect COVID-19 in seconds. It is suspected the scanners are linked to the digital identification system used by the UAE to provide residents access to their health records, visa applications and other official processes. The rollout of Abu Dhabi’s new scanners “was not transparent,” and required more details from the government on how the technology works, what role facial recognition plays in it, and if security forces would have access to the results.
Dubai's ruler launches with big tech companies a national programme for coders – Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, on 10 Jul launched a national programme for coders that aims to establish 1,000 tech companies and increase start-up investments from 1.5 billion dirhams ($408 million) to 4 billion dirhams ($1 billion). The programme, which is in cooperation with Google, Microsoft, Amazon AWS, Cisco, IBM, HPE, LinkedIn, Nvidia, and Facebook, is aimed at training 100,000 coders and establish tech companies that will go global.
World's deepest pool for diving opens in Dubai – The world's deepest swimming pool for underwater diving has opened in Dubai, where people can descend 60 metres (197 ft) to a sunken city-themed landscape and play arcade games.
Yemen in Crisis
Houthis launch rare attack on Yemen's tense southern region— Yemen's Houthi movement on 4 Jul carried out a rare missile strike on a southern region that has seen renewed infighting between forces allied to a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia. The attack on a military base in Abyan, killed at least two soldiers and injured over 20, comes as the recognised government and a separatist group both mass fighters in the area while Riyadh moves to ease tensions.
Prices soar as Yemen's rival central banks tussle away from the battlefield – Fighting may have reached a bloody stalemate but away from the north-south frontline a battle between rival central banks has splintered the currency and helped send prices soaring. Spiralling inflation has compounded the misery in a country where most of the 29 million people rely on aid to stay alive. Each side of the conflict also has a central bank with opposing policies. The Aden central bank, which has access to international financial markets, has increasingly turned to printing new currency notes to cover the government's deficit and pay public sector wages. The result is that even Yemen's exchange rate is split. The rate for the new notes in Aden hit 1,000 riyals to the dollar this week. In Houthi-held Sanaa, the rate was about 600.
Yemen to get more COVID-19 vaccines by end of month – Yemen expects to get a second batch of COVID-19 shots by the end of this month through the COVAX global vaccine-sharing scheme. Yemen is expecting to get 151,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, out of an eventual total of 504,000.
Reports and Opinions
The Saudi-UAE Race for Hydrogen: A Play for the Renewables Narrative, Not Profits – Amid a race between the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to announce ever more ambitious hydrogen production initiatives, analysts, industry leaders, and even potential consumers seem unconvinced that a hydrogen economy will ever happen. There is rising interest among advanced economies in developing a hydrogen supply chain, and hydrogen is set to be among the UAE’s and Saudi Arabia’s energy exports by 2030. However, it is unlikely that it will comprise a significant portion of energy export revenue by that point, and it will comprise an even smaller part of export profits. The potential significance of hydrogen is more comparable to that of the petrochemical polymer industry than it is to oil or even liquefied natural gas exports.
علاقات إقليمية ودولية
أكد وزير الخارجية السعودي الأمير فيصل بن فرحان آل سعود انفتاح بلاده على الحوار مع إيران، لكن مع ضرورة أن تُثبت طهران بالوقائع التزامها بضمان الأمن والاستقرار في المنطقة.
فوز إبراهيم رئيسي في انتخابات الرئاسة الإيرانية، ومستقبل سياسة طهران الخارجية في ضوء انتماء رئيسي للتيار المحافظ، يحظى باهتمام صحف عربية، إذ يتوقع بعض الكتّاب عدم حدوث تغيير في السياسة على الإطلاق، بينما يرى البعض أن "الأسوأ" ينتظر المنطقة.
هبوط وزير الخارجية الإسرائيلي، يائير لابيد، على أرض الإمارات، يمثل لحظة تاريخية في علاقات إسرائيل والعالم العربي.
وزير الخارجية الإسرائيلي، يائير لابيد، يتوجه الأسبوع المقبل إلى دولة الإمارات في أول زيارة رسمية، منذ اتفاق البلدين على تطبيع العلاقات بينهما.
أدى السفير خالد الجلاهمة رئيس البعثة الدبلوماسية البحرينية لدى إسرائيل -الثلاثاء- القسم أمام الملك حمد بن عيسى آل خليفة.
التقى وزير الخارجية القطري الشيخ محمد بن عبد الرحمن آل ثاني نظيرته الليبية نجلاء المنقوش، وأكد لها دعم الدوحة الكامل لسيادة ليبيا ووحدتها واستقرارها.
تتوقع شركة قطر للبترول أن يستمر ارتفاع الطلب العالمي على الغاز خلال العقدين القادمين، على أن يبلغ ذروته عام 2040.
بعد فشل محادثات بين الدول المصدرة للنفط، ظهر للعلن الخلاف السعودي الإماراتي بشأن تمديد اتفاق خفض الإنتاج، حيث تحدث وزيرا الطاقة في البلدين لوسائل الإعلام ودافع كل منهما عن موقف بلاده.
بدأت شركة “الاتحاد” للطيران الإماراتية و”العال” الإسرائيلية، تطبيق اتفاق تعاون يشمل الشراكة بالرمز وبرامج الولاء، في وقت تسير فيه أبو ظبي وتل أبيب في طريق التطبيع.
انتقدت الإمارات اتفاقا يجري التفاوض بشأنه بين أعضاء تحالف “أوبك بلس” حول تمديد اتفاق خفض إنتاج النفط الحالي، وطالبت بمراجعة نسب الإنتاج للقبول به.
ينشط صندوق قطر للتنمية منذ سنة 2012 في أكثر من دولة في أنحاء العالم بينها تونس، من خلال تركيز مشاريع تنموية وذات بعد إنساني، تستهدف بخاصة فئة الشباب والطبقات الاجتماعية الهشة.
أفاد منسق الأمم المتحدة الخاص لعملية سلام الشرق الأوسط تور وينسلاند باستئناف شحنات الوقود، الممولة من دولة قطر، لمحطة توليد الكهرباء في قطاع غزة.
تضمن اليوم الثالث والأخير من منتدى قطر الاقتصادي، جلسة حوارية مع الأمين العام للجنة العليا للمشاريع والإرث حسن الذوادي، أوضح خلالها كثيرا من النقاط المهمة المتعلقة بكأس العالم لكرة القدم 2022 في قطر
اختتمت فعاليات “منتدى قطر الاقتصادي” الذي عقد تحت شعار “إعادة تصور العالم”، واستمر مدة 3 أيام عن طريق تقنية الاتصال المرئي.
مسؤولون في قطاعات مصرفية واستثمارية قطرية يتحدثون خلال منتدى قطر الاقتصادي عن تأثيرات قصيرة المدى لموجة تضخم مالي جديدة يشهدها العالم بعد التعافي من وباء كورونا.
في اليوم الثالث الأخير لمنتدى قطر الاقتصادي، أكد محمد السادة الرئيس التنفيذي لشركة حصاد الغذائية على دور المختبرات العلمية المحلية في تمكن قطر من تحقيق الأمن الغذائي وقت الحصار.
انقسم الكويتيون حول قرار وزارة الداخلية بإبعاد شاب أردني مقيم في البلاد بسبب آرائه المنتقدة للقيود على غير الملقحين ضد فيروس كورونا.
تشهد العلاقات بين إيطاليا والإمارات توترا دبلوماسيا، كان آخر تجلياته حينما طلبت السلطات الإماراتية من نظيرتها الإيطالية مغادرة قواتها قاعدة المنهاد الجوية الموجودة في دبي.
موجة غضب عارمة اجتاحت مواقع التواصل الاجتماعي في السعودية بعد تقرير لقناة الإخبارية السعودية اعتبر مسيئاً للشيخ ناصر الدين الألباني.
الحرب في اليمن
دعت السعودية طرفي اتفاق الرياض باليمن إلى الاستجابة العاجلة لما تم التوافق عليه، وإلى نبذ الخلافات والعمل بالآلية المتوافق عليها، كما أعلنت واشنطن أنها ضاقت ذرعا بهجمات الحوثيين وطالبتهم بوقفها فورا.
أدانت الولايات المتحدة بشدة، هجوما صاروخيا للحوثيين أوقع ضحايا مدنيين في مدينة مأرب وسط اليمن، بينما أعلن التحالف السعودي الإماراتي اعتراض وتدمير مسيرة مفخخة أطلقها الحوثيون باتجاه المملكة.
تحولت المعارك في مأرب إلى حرب استنزاف للحوثيين، إذ دفعوا بالمئات من مسلحيهم في معارك صارت بؤرة من القتال العنيف، كما استعصت على الحل الأممي، إذ تراوح المقترحات في هذا الشأن مكانها.
أعلنت قوات التحالف السعودي الإماراتي إحباط ما وصفته بهجوم عدائي وشيك للحوثيين باستخدام زورقين مفخخين في الصليف، بمحافظة الحديدة غربي اليمن.
ضجت مواقع التواصل الاجتماعي في الكويت، وعدد من الدول العربية، بالجريمة التي ارتكبها وافد سوري وراح ضحيتها والدته وشرطي مرور كويتي.
شركة محاماة تدعي أنها موكلة عن الشيخة لطيفة ابنة حاكم دبي تصدر بيانا نسبته إليها تطلب فيه من وسائل الإعلام "تركها وشأنها".
ذكرت صحيفة البيان الإماراتية أن شركة طيران الإمارات ستعلّق جميع رحلات الركاب من وإلى المملكة العربية السعودية حتى إشعار آخر.
ذكرت وكالة الأنباء السعودية أن السلطات في المملكة ستمنع السفر من وإلى الإمارات وإثيوبيا وفيتنام وأفغانستان بسبب مخاوف تتعلق بفيروس كورونا.
انقسم رواد مواقع التواصل الاجتماعي في الكويت بين مؤيد ومعارض لقرار لا يسمح لغير المطعمين الدخول للأماكن العامة.
اختيار وزير الخارجية الإسرائيلية يائير لبيد زيارة الإمارات يكشف حرص إسرائيل وأميركا على تعزيز العلاقات مع الدول العربية بدلا من معالجة القضية الفلسطينية في الداخل.