Russian officials visited Iran to view drones, says U.S. official

Russian officials visited Iran to view drones, says U.S. official

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia July 16 (Reuters) - The United States believes that Russian officials visited an airfield in Iran recently to view attack-capable drones, U.S. national security advisor Jake Sullivan said on Saturday. The United States earlier this week said it has information that shows Iran is preparing to provide Russia with up to several hundred drones, including some that are weapons capable, and that Tehran is preparing to train Russian forces to use them. Iran's foreign minister denied that. "We assess an official Russian delegation recently received a showcase of Iranian attack-capable UAVs....To our knowledge, this is the first…
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Rights group says UAE has detained U.S. lawyer who represented Khashoggi

Rights group says UAE has detained U.S. lawyer who represented Khashoggi

July 16 (Reuters) - United Arab Emirates authorities have detained Asim Ghafoor, a U.S. citizen and civil rights attorney who previously served as a lawyer for slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi, said U.S.-based rights group DAWN of whose board Ghafoor is a member. A senior U.S. administration official, when asked on Saturday by reporters about the detention, said the United States was aware, but could not say whether President Joe Biden would raise the issue in planned bilateral talks with the UAE president on the sidelines of an Arab summit in Saudi Arabia. "Certainly I think we have points on that…
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Biden hopes for Israeli integration at Arab summit in Saudi

Biden hopes for Israeli integration at Arab summit in Saudi

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia, July 16 (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden will discuss regional missile and defence capabilities on Saturday when he meets Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia, where he will be seeking to integrate Israel as part of a new axis largely driven by shared concerns over Iran, said a senior administration official. "We believe there's great value in including as many of the capabilities in this region as possible and certainly Israel has significant air and missile defence capabilities, as they need to. But we're having these discussion bilaterally with these nations," the administration official told reporters. Biden, on his…
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UPDATED: Saudi prince told Biden that U.S. has made mistakes too

UPDATED: Saudi prince told Biden that U.S. has made mistakes too

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told U.S. President Joe Biden that Saudi Arabia had acted to prevent mistakes like the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi but that the United States had made mistakes as well, including in Iraq, a Saudi official said. The official, in a statement sent to Reuters about Friday's conversation between the two leaders, said the kingdom's de facto ruler said that trying to impose certain values by force on other countries could backfire. Prince Mohammed also raised the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during an Israeli raid in the West Bank and mentioned Abu…
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Iran navy announces drone division in Indian Ocean during Biden’s Middle East visit

Iran navy announces drone division in Indian Ocean during Biden’s Middle East visit

July 15 (Reuters) - Iran on Friday announced its first drone division in the Indian Ocean, state TV said, as U.S. President Joe Biden visits the Middle East to rally Arab support to counter Iranian threats. The TV report did not say how many vessels or drones were included in each unit, only that one ship carried 50 drones. On Monday, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Washington believed that Iran was preparing to provide Russia with up to several hundred drones, including some that are weapons capable, and that Iran was preparing to train Russian forces to use…
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FACTBOX-Biden set to tackle oil, Israel, Yemen, Iran on Saudi trip

FACTBOX-Biden set to tackle oil, Israel, Yemen, Iran on Saudi trip

DUBAI, July 15 (Reuters) - President Joe Biden will visit the United State's most important Arab ally Saudi Arabia on July 15-16 after two years of strained ties over the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the war in Yemen. Here are key issues between the United States and Saudi Arabia that could arise in talks involving Biden and King Salman bin Abdulaziz and the kingdom's de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also referred to as MbS. OIL SUPPLIES Biden had refused to deal directly with Prince Mohammed following a U.S. intelligence report implicating him in the killing…
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UPDATED: Biden heads to Saudi Arabia amid tension on oil, Khashoggi killing

UPDATED: Biden heads to Saudi Arabia amid tension on oil, Khashoggi killing

JERUSALEM/JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia, July 15 (Reuters) - President Joe Biden will discuss energy supply, human rights, and security cooperation in Saudi Arabia on Friday on a trip designed to reset the U.S. relationship with a country he once pledged to make a "pariah" on the world stage. The White House said Biden would hold a bilateral meeting with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz at the royal palace in Jeddah and then the president and his team would have a working session with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MbS, and Saudi ministers at the palace. Energy and security interests prompted the…
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UPDATED: Saudi Arabia to open airspace to all airlines, including from Israel

UPDATED: Saudi Arabia to open airspace to all airlines, including from Israel

July 15 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia said it would open its airspace to all air carriers, paving the way for more overflights to and from Israel, in a decision welcomed by U.S. President Joe Biden who is due to visit the kingdom on Friday. The Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) said the country's airspace was now open to all carriers that meet its requirements for overflights, in line with international conventions that say there should be no discrimination between civil aircraft. The decision will "complement the efforts aimed at consolidating the kingdom's position as a global hub connecting three continents…
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U.S. weighs possible resumption of offensive arms sales to Saudis

U.S. weighs possible resumption of offensive arms sales to Saudis

WASHINGTON/RIYADH, July 11 (Reuters) - The Biden administration is discussing the possible lifting of its ban on U.S. sales of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia, but any final decision is expected to hinge on whether Riyadh makes progress toward ending the war in neighboring Yemen, according to four people familiar with the matter. Senior Saudi officials pressed their U.S. counterparts to scrap a policy of selling only defensive arms to its top Gulf partner in several meetings in Riyadh and Washington in recent months, three of the sources said ahead of President Joe Biden’s visit to the kingdom this week. The internal…
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Biden defends decision to visit Saudi Arabia, says rights are on his agenda

Biden defends decision to visit Saudi Arabia, says rights are on his agenda

President Joe Biden defended his decision to travel to Saudi Arabia saying human rights would be on his agenda as he gave a preview of a trip on which he aims to reset ties with the crown prince, who he previously denounced as a pariah. Biden will hold bilateral talks with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and his leadership team, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on his visit to the Middle East next week. The Crown Prince Mohammed, Saudi Arabia's de facto leader, was believed to be behind the 2018 murder of Washington Post journalist and political opponent Jamal…
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United Arab Emirates cuts red tape to attract businesses

United Arab Emirates cuts red tape to attract businesses

DUBAI, (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates is cutting red tape to make it easier and quicker for digital companies to incorporate, the latest economic policy announcement as the government seeks to further diversify the economy away from oil revenues. Trade minister Thani Al Zeyoudi, flanked by executives from many state-linked entities, this week announced the changes that include better access to the financial and banking system. "We want to show digitally enabled companies from Europe, Asia, the Americas, that the UAE is the world's best place to live, work, invest and scale," the minister told reporters, setting a target for 300…
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Photo Story: The Tawaf during the Hajj Pilgrimage 2022

Photo Story: The Tawaf during the Hajj Pilgrimage 2022

Muslims perform the Tawaf' (circumambulation) ritual around the Kaaba at the Masjidil Haram, Islam's holiest site during the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, 07 July 2022. A million Muslim pilgrims on 07 July began the first rituals of the annual Hajj pilgrimage at the Grand Mosque before heading to the city of Mina for the main rite at Mount Arafat. Saudi Arabia is allowing 850,000 pilgrims from abroad for the first time in two years since barring overseas pilgrims in 2020 as part of efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus. Via EPA-EFE/ASHRAF AMRA
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United Arab Emirates doubles support for low-income Emirati families

United Arab Emirates doubles support for low-income Emirati families

DUBAI, July 4 (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates is doubling the financial support it provides for low-income Emirati families to 28 billion dirhams ($7.6 billion) to help them with soaring living costs in the Gulf state. The expanded budget allocation, reported by state news agency WAM on Monday, includes increasing existing benefits and establishing new ones targeted at mitigating the impact of inflation on food prices, and rising fuel and household energy costs. It was not immediately clear how the expansion of financial support would be funded. UAE is a major oil-producing nation. Some of the new benefits include financial support…
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Muslim pilgrims flock to Mecca for first post-pandemic haj

Muslim pilgrims flock to Mecca for first post-pandemic haj

Thousands of pilgrims started arriving in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia over the weekend, among some one million Muslims expected to attend the 2022 haj pilgrimage season after two years of major disruption caused by the COVID pandemic. Wrapped in white robes, with some carrying umbrellas against the burning desert sun, hundreds performed the first ritual of the haj, which involves walking in a circle around the Kaaba, the sacred building at the centre of Mecca's Grand Mosque. "Praise be God... It's impossible to describe my feelings right now," said Ahmed Sayed Mahmoud, an Egyptian pilgrim. "Being…
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UPDATED: Fatal magnitude 6.1 quake on Iran Gulf coast, 5.9 earthquake strikes Japan’s Hokkaido region

UPDATED: Fatal magnitude 6.1 quake on Iran Gulf coast, 5.9 earthquake strikes Japan’s Hokkaido region

At least five people were killed and 49 injured by a magnitude 6.1 earthquake in southern Iran early on Saturday, state media reported, with the area also hit soon after by two strong quakes of up to 6.3 magnitude. Some 24 tremors, two with a magnitude of 6.3 and 6.1, followed the 2 a.m. local time quake that flattened the village of Sayeh Khosh near Iran's Gulf coast in Hormozgan province. The most recent tremor occurred around 8 a.m., officials told state TV. "All of the victims died in the first earthquake and no-one was harmed in the next two…
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Iran’s southern Gulf waters hit by 5.6 magnitude earthquake

Iran’s southern Gulf waters hit by 5.6 magnitude earthquake

June 25 (Reuters) - An earthquake with a 5.6 magnitude struck in Iran’s southern Gulf waters early Saturday morning, state TV reported. There were no immediate reports of fatalities or damage. The quake occurred between the port of Charak and the island of Kish at a depth of 22 km (13.6 miles), it said. Officials told state TV that there had been some 100 quakes and aftershocks over the past 10 days in the same region. Major geological fault lines crisscross Iran, which has suffered several devastating earthquakes in recent years.
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Kuwait crown prince dissolves parliament, calls for early general election

Kuwait crown prince dissolves parliament, calls for early general election

KUWAIT, June 22 (Reuters) - Kuwait's crown prince on Wednesday dissolved parliament and called for an early general election in the Gulf Arab state following a protracted stand-off between the government and elected assembly that has hindered fiscal reform. The crown prince said in a speech on live television that decrees would be issued on those matters.
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Saudi crown prince to visit Egypt on regional tour

Saudi crown prince to visit Egypt on regional tour

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will visit Egypt on June 20 as part of a regional tour that includes stops in Jordan and Turkey. Prince Mohammed will meet Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to discuss issues including the impact of the war in Ukraine on the region, and preparations for U.S. President Joe Biden's trip to Saudi Arabia next month, the sources said.   Saudi authorities did not respond to a request for comment about Prince Mohammed's tour. Saudi Arabia is a close ally of Egypt, and has provided Cairo with extensive financial support since Sisi came to power.…
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Greece, Saudi Arabia eye fibre optic data cable to link Europe with Asia

Greece, Saudi Arabia eye fibre optic data cable to link Europe with Asia

Greece and Saudi Arabia agreed on Tuesday on the main terms to set up a joint venture to lay a fibre optic data cable that will link Europe with Asia, Greek sources said. The "East to Med data Corridor", an undersea and land data cable, will be developed by MENA HUB, owned by Saudi Arabia's STC and Greek telecoms and satellite applications company TTSA. Greece's power utility Public Power Company (PPC) and Cyprus' telecoms operator CYTA, will also hold a stake in the project, pending final corporate approvals, a Greek diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The final closing…
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Disney+ takes on rivals in Middle East streaming market

Disney+ takes on rivals in Middle East streaming market

DUBAI, June 9 (Reuters) - Disney+launched its steaming service in the Middle East and North Africa on Wednesday, vying for market share in a region where the population is young but few people so far use such services. Disney+ said it had gone live in 16 Arab countries and was tailoring content for the region, including offering Arabic subtitles on most offerings, particularly popular content. Netflix currently leads in the region, with more than 6.8 million subscribers, according to Digital TV Research. Starzplay, an Abu Dhabi-based competitor, ranks second with just under 2 million, followed by Amazon with 1.4 million. Some competitors…
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Israeli PM Bennett on unannounced visit to Abu Dhabi

Israeli PM Bennett on unannounced visit to Abu Dhabi

JERUSALEM, June 9 (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Thursday and will meet its president, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, an Israeli statement said. Bennett's Abu Dhabi visit had not previously been announced. The statement quoted Bennett as saying that he aimed to "build an additional level" in Israel-UAE ties founded two years ago. A handout photo made available by the Government Press Office (GPO) of Israel shows Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (L) being greeted by UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates,…
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Emirates ranked as region’s most valuable airline brand and world’s fourth

Emirates ranked as region’s most valuable airline brand and world’s fourth

Dubai’s Emirates airline is the fourth most valuable airline brand in the world with a valuation of $5 billion (Dh18.37 billion), according to a Brand Finance report. Emirates came first regionally and fourth internationally in the top 10 most valuable airline brands in 2022, with a valuation of nearly $5bn, the report showed. Emirates, the world’s largest long-haul carrier, will reach full recovery in terms of capacity and network by 2023. The airline, which has ramped up its hiring efforts in response to a global surge in air travel demand, expects to attain profitability next year. Emirates will also start…
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Photo Story: Several killed as train derails in Iran

Photo Story: Several killed as train derails in Iran

A handout photo made available by the Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) shows the aftermath of a train derailment near Tabas, Yazd province, Iran, 08 June 2022. At least 17 people died and several others were injured as a passenger train derailed between Mashhad and Yazd. Via EPA-EFE/IRCS
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Photo Story: Al Gaffal Dhow race in Dubai

Photo Story: Al Gaffal Dhow race in Dubai

Crew of Hasheem dhow owned by Sheikh Zayed Bin Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan celebrate after winning the Al Gaffal Dhow Race outside Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Saturday. Al Gaffal long distance Sur Bin Na'air 60ft Traditional Dhow Race (Dhow is a traditional boat) in Dubai is the biggest traditional sailing race in the world. 118 boats take part in the race which starts from Sur Bu Na'air Island reach the finish line at the coast of Dubai passing by Moon Island. Via EPA-EFE/ALI HAIDER
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Khamenei  warns ‘enemies’ triggering unrest in Iran to overthrow Islamic Republic

Khamenei  warns ‘enemies’ triggering unrest in Iran to overthrow Islamic Republic

June 4 (Reuters) - Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday blamed recent protests in Iran on foreign “enemies” seeking to overthrow the government in the Islamic Republic. Also, he said, enemies were waging a “psychological war” against Iran by accusing it of piracy for seizing two Greek ships after the United States confiscated Iranian oil from a tanker.  "Today, the enemies’ most important hope for striking a blow at the country is based on popular protests,” Khamenei said, referring to week-long protests over the collapse of a building in southwestern Iran last month that killed 37 people. "But the enemies’…
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Magnitude 5 earthquake strikes Kuwait

Magnitude 5 earthquake strikes Kuwait

June 4 (Reuters) - An earthquake of magnitude 5 struck Kuwait, the ministry of information tweeted on Saturday. The ministry said "the Kuwait National Seismic Network recorded an earthquake measuring 5 ... southwest of al-Ahmadi, and it occurred at exactly 04:28:02 a.m. Kuwait time (0128 GMT), at a depth of 5 km (3 miles)". The Kuwait's Fire Force also said that there was no damage as a result of the earthquake.
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TankerTrackers.com locates seized Greek tankers in Iranian waters

TankerTrackers.com locates seized Greek tankers in Iranian waters

June 2 (Reuters) - Two Greek oil tankers seized by Iran last week are located in Iranian waters, monitoring service TankerTrackers.com said in a Twitter post on Thursday. "We now have a visual confirmation that the hijacked Greek Suezmax tanker Prudent Warrior is in the anchorage of Bandar Abbas, Iran," the online service which tracks and reports shipments and storage of crude oil said in the post. The second vessel, the Delta Poseidon, also a Suezmax tanker, is being held north of Larak island, it added. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards' navy seized the two vessels on May 27 in the Gulf, after…
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Saudi Arabia to raise oil production if Russian output falls under sanctions- FT

Saudi Arabia to raise oil production if Russian output falls under sanctions- FT

Saudi Arabia is prepared to raise its oil production if Russia's output falls substantially because of the western sanctions imposed on it, the Financial Times reported, citing sources. Discussions had been held about an immediate increase in production from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which could be announced at Thursday's OPEC+ meeting, according to the report, citing a diplomatic source. OPEC+ comprises of members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies led by Russia. Production increases that are scheduled for September would be brought forward to July and August, the source said. Saudi Arabia, the…
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Iran decries ‘unfair’ IAEA report on nuclear activities

Iran decries ‘unfair’ IAEA report on nuclear activities

Iran accused the International Atomic Energy Agency on Tuesday of publishing an unfair report on its investigation into Tehran's nuclear activities, possibly setting up a fresh diplomatic clash with the West. The U.N. watchdog on Monday said Iran had not credibly answered long-standing questions about the origin of uranium particles found at three undeclared sites, despite a fresh push for a breakthrough.  "Unfortunately this report does not reflect the reality of talks between Iran and the agency," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters on Tuesday. "This is not a fair nor balanced report, and it seems that pressure from…
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Fears of Iran-Israel escalation after assassination of Revolutionary Guard officer

Fears of Iran-Israel escalation after assassination of Revolutionary Guard officer

The brazen daylight assassination of an Iranian military officer in Tehran a week ago has prompted calls for revenge and shined a spotlight on the ongoing shadow war being fought between the Islamic Republic and Israel. Col Hassan Sayyad Khodai was an officer in the Revolutionary Guard corps involved in operations abroad, including Syria and possibly elsewhere. He was shot dead by gunmen on a motorcycle on Sunday afternoon at around 4pm. He was returning from work in his car and had just approached his home in east-central Tehran when the killers fired five rounds at him, state media reported.…
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Taliban to sign pact with UAE on running Afghan airports

Taliban to sign pact with UAE on running Afghan airports

The Taliban will sign an agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on operating airports in Afghanistan, the group's acting deputy prime minister said on Tuesday, after months of talks with the UAE, Turkey and Qatar. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar made the announcement in a Tweet and later told reporters in Kabul that his administration was renewing an airport ground handling agreement with the UAE. It was not immediately clear whether the agreement went beyond existing arrangements or if it included airport security, a sensitive issue for the Taliban who fought for decades against U.S.-led NATO troops and say they do not want the…
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Two Iranian pilots killed after F7 jet crashes – IRNA

Two Iranian pilots killed after F7 jet crashes – IRNA

Two Iranian pilots died after their F7 fighter jet crashed on Tuesday near Anarak, 200 km (124 miles) east of the city of Isfahan, Iran's official IRNA news agency reported. "The jet's mission was to practice shooting but there was an accident at 8:30 a.m.," an official from Isfahan province told IRNA. Experts say Iran has a poor air safety record, with repeated crashes, many involving aircraft bought before the 1979 Islamic Revolution and lacking spare parts for maintenance. In February, an F5 jet used by the Iranian military crashed into the wall of a school in the northwestern city of Tabriz, killing the two…
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Iran seizes foreign ship with smuggled fuel, detains crew

Iran seizes foreign ship with smuggled fuel, detains crew

DUBAI, May 18 (Reuters) - Iranian authorities seized a foreign ship attempting to smuggle fuel out of the country and detained its crew, state new agency IRNA said on Wednesday. Iran, which has some of the world's cheapest fuel prices due to heavy subsidies and the plunge in value of its national currency, has been fighting rampant fuel smuggling by land to neighboring countries and by sea to Gulf Arab states. The ship, carrying more than 550,000 liters of smuggled fuel, was seized in Gulf waters and escorted to harbour in the southern province of Hormozgan, where it was handed to judicial…
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Saudi Arabia on track to hit oil output of over 13 mln bpd by 2027 -minister

Saudi Arabia on track to hit oil output of over 13 mln bpd by 2027 -minister

MANAMA, May 16 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia is on track to lift oil production capacity by more than 1 million barrels per day to over 13 million barrels bpd by the end of 2026 or start of 2027, the energy minister said on Monday. Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman told an energy conference in Bahrain that production could be maintained at that level once it was reached should market demand require it. The prince also said all upstream investments would be domestically focused to achieve that goal. "We have no money to waste on anywhere else," he told the conference, adding that production…
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Iraq balks at greater Chinese control of its oilfields

Iraq balks at greater Chinese control of its oilfields

Iraq's oil ministry thwarted three prospective deals last year that would have handed Chinese firms more control over its oilfields and led to an exodus of international oil majors that Baghdad wants to invest in its creaking economy. Since the start of 2021, plans by Russia's Lukoil LKOH.MM and U.S. oil major Exxon Mobil XOM.N to sell stakes in major fields to Chinese state-backed firms have hit the buffers after interventions from Iraq's oil ministry, according to Iraqi oil officials and industry executives. Selling a stake to a state-run Chinese company was also one of several options being considered by Britain's BP BP.L, but officials persuaded it…
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First commercial flight takes off from Sanaa, raising Yemen peace prospects

First commercial flight takes off from Sanaa, raising Yemen peace prospects

SANAA, May 16 (Reuters) - Yemen's national airline operated on Monday its first commercial flight in years from the capital Sanaa, raising hopes for renewal of a U.N.-brokered truce in the seven-year-old conflict that has pitted a Saudi-led coalition against the Iran-aligned Houthis and put Middle East security in peril. Water canons sprayed Sanaa airport's runway as an airplane of the national carrier Yemenia landed against a backdrop of destroyed buildings surrounding the airfield. Dozens of Yemenis, including patients who waited years for medical treatment, went through security checks in the airport's terminal which has been deserted since 2015, when the coalition…
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Saudi King Salman leaves hospital

Saudi King Salman leaves hospital

May 16 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz, 86, left hospital on Sunday following a colonoscopy last week, the royal court said in a statement on state media. Saudi TV ran a video clip showing the monarch walking slowly using a cane as he left King Faisal Specialist Hospital in the city of Jeddah, where he was admitted on the evening of May 7. https://twitter.com/Saudi_Gazette/status/1525937937996718085 An entourage kept close and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto ruler, appeared in the clip. King Salman, the custodian of Islam's holiest sites, became ruler of the world's top…
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UAE’s newly elected ruler sees Iran, Islamists as threat to Gulf safe haven

UAE’s newly elected ruler sees Iran, Islamists as threat to Gulf safe haven

United Arab Emirates strongman Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who was formally elected president on Saturday, led a realignment of the Middle East that created a new anti-Iran axis with Israel and fought a rising tide of political Islam in the region. Working behind the scenes for years as de facto leader, Sheikh Mohammed, 61, transformed the UAE military into a high-tech force, which coupled with its oil wealth and business hub status, extended Emirati influence internationally. Mohammed began wielding power in a period when his half-brother President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, who died on Friday, suffered bouts of illness,…
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World leaders pay respects in UAE after death of pro-West president

World leaders pay respects in UAE after death of pro-West president

DUBAI, May 15 (Reuters) - World leaders began descending on the United Arab Emirates on Sunday to offer condolences on the death of President Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who was succeeded by his half-brother and de facto leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed. Sheikh Mohammed, now ruler of wealthy Abu Dhabi emirate, steered the Western-allied Gulf state, an OPEC oil producer and regional business hub, for years before being elected the UAE's third president by a federal supreme council on Saturday. French President Emmanuel Macron, whose country holds lucrative business and military ties with the UAE, arrived in Abu Dhabi, the…
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UPDATE – Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed elected UAE president

UPDATE – Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed elected UAE president

DUBAI, May 14 (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates' de facto leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan was elected president of the Gulf Arab state by a federal supreme council on Saturday, solidifying his rule over the OPEC oil producer and key regional player.  He becomes president at a time when the UAE's long-standing ties with the United States have been strained over perceived U.S. disengagement from its Gulf allies' security concerns and as Western countries seek support from the region to help isolate Russia over the Ukraine conflict. The council, which groups the rulers of the seven emirates of the UAE…
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EU says talks with Iran “positive enough” to reopen nuclear negotiations

EU says talks with Iran “positive enough” to reopen nuclear negotiations

WEISSENHAUS, Germany May 13 (Reuters) - The EU's foreign policy chief said on Friday that he believed there had been enough progress during consultations between his envoy and Iranian officials in Tehran this week to relaunch nuclear negotiations after two months of deadlock. Talks to revive Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers have been on hold since March, chiefly over Tehran's insistence that Washington remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the U.S. list of designated terrorist organisations. Speaking as talks coordinator Enrique Mora arrived back in Europe, Josep Borrell said Iran's response had been "positive enough" after Mora had delivered…
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UAE president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed dies

UAE president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed dies

DUBAI, May 13 (Reuters) - United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has died, state news agency WAM reported on Friday. He was also ruler of Abu Dhabi emirate. Under the constitution, vice-president and premier Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, will act as president until the federal council which groups the rulers of the seven emirates meets within 30 days to elect a new president. Khalifa, who was born in 1948, came to power in 2004 in the richest emirate Abu Dhabi and became the head of state. He is expected to be succeeded as ruler…
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Kuwait’s octogenarian emir departs to Italy on private visit

Kuwait’s octogenarian emir departs to Italy on private visit

KUWAIT (Reuters) - Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah traveled to Italy on Thursday on a “private visit”, state news agency KUNA reported without providing further details. The ruler of the Gulf Arab oil producer, who was born in 1937, late last year handed over most of his responsibilities to the country’s crown prince, his designated heir. Sheikh Nawaf, who assumed power in U.S.-allied Kuwait in September 2020 after the death of his brother, has looked frail in his recent appearances. Photo - Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah. EPA-EFE/NOUFAL IBRAHIM
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Dubai Airport sees busiest quarter in two years as travel gains pace

Dubai Airport sees busiest quarter in two years as travel gains pace

DUBAI, May 12 (Reuters) - Dubai's main airport on Thursday reported its busiest quarter in two years as the rebound in international travel gains pace, with its chief executive predicting Dubai International could see pre-COVID figures by the end of 2024. The Gulf hub, one of the world's leading gateways for international travel, handled 13.6 million passengers in the January-March period, more than double the 5.7 million in the same period last year. It was the best performance since 17.8 million passengers in the first quarter of 2020, before the pandemic shut most international borders and forced airlines to halt flights. The…
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Two European nationals arrested in Iran

Two European nationals arrested in Iran

Iran's intelligence ministry said on Wednesday it had arrested two European nationals for their alleged role in "the organisation of insecurity" in the Islamic Republic, Iran's semi-official Students News Agency ISNA reported. The pair were arrested for "for organising chaos and social disorder aimed at destabilising the country" in conjunction with foreign intelligence services, ISNA cited the ministry as saying, without giving further details. Presiding over an economy crippled by U.S. sanctions, Iran's clerical establishment has faced near-continuous protests by workers and government employees in recent months over high unemployment, inflation exceeding 40% and mismanagement.
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Missile attack causes tank fire in oil refinery in Iraq – security forces

Missile attack causes tank fire in oil refinery in Iraq – security forces

A missile attack targeted an oil refinery in Iraq's northern city of Erbil on Sunday causing a fire in one of its main tanks that was later brought under control, the Iraqi security forces said in a statement. A missile also landed in the outer fence of the refinery without causing any casualties, the statement added. Earlier on Sunday, the anti-terrorism authorities in Kurdistan region said six missiles landed near the KAR refinery in Erbil, adding they were launched from Nineveh province. The security forces said they found a launch pad and four missiles in the Nineveh Plain after the attack and…
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Muslims worldwide prepare for Eid al-Fitr

Muslims worldwide prepare for Eid al-Fitr

As Ramadan, the month of fasting, draws to a close, Muslims worldwide are gearing up for the festival of Eid al-Fitr. This year's celebrations fall on May 1 and 2. As the fasting month of Ramadan comes to an end, Muslims from around the world will be preparing for Eid al-Fitr, the “festival of breaking the fast”. Eid celebrations depend on when the new moon is sighted by local religious authorities. As a new moon was not sighted on Saturday evening after Maghrib prayers, Eid celebrations will begin on Monday, May 2 in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and neighbouring countries. Other…
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Erdogan visits Saudi Arabia hoping for new era in ties

Erdogan visits Saudi Arabia hoping for new era in ties

ANKARA/RIYADH (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Saudi Arabia on Thursday in the first high-level visit in years which he hopes will herald a new era of relations after intense efforts to repair strained ties. Erdogan met with King Salman in an official ceremony in the al-Salam palace in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, the Turkish presidency said in a statement. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto ruler, attended the ceremony before having a one-on-one meeting with Erdogan, Ankara's communication office said on Twitter. Erdogan's visit, which his office said was at the invitation…
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Iran Revolutionary Guards general survives assassination attempt

Iran Revolutionary Guards general survives assassination attempt

Gunmen opened fire on a car carrying a senior Revolutionary Guards commander in restive southeastern Iran early on Saturday, killing a bodyguard, Iranian state media reported. Brigadier General Hossein Almassi, a Guards commander in Sistan-Baluchistan province, was unhurt after the attack and the attackers were arrested, the official news agency IRNA reported. Mahmoud Absalan, the bodyguard who was killed in the attack that occurred near a checkpoint in the provincial capital Zahedan, was the son of a senior Guards commander in the region, IRNA said. The attack came on a night celebrated by many devout Iranians as Islam's holiest, which…
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Turkey says its warplanes hit Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq

Turkey says its warplanes hit Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq

Turkish warplanes, helicopters and drones hit Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq in an air and land operation that targeted facilities ranging from camps to ammunition stores, Turkey's defence ministry said on Monday. The military action was part of a long-running Turkish campaign in Iraq and Syria against militants of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, both regarded as terrorist groups by Ankara. The operation focused on the Iraqi regions of Metina, Zap, and Avasin-Basyan, the ministry said in a statement. Alongside the air operation, commandos and special forces also participated, both by land and…
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Vegas, Macau…Dubai? Global casinos raise bets on gambling in the Gulf

Vegas, Macau…Dubai? Global casinos raise bets on gambling in the Gulf

DUBAI/HONG KONG, (Reuters) - It's been the subject of quiet speculation among diplomats and executives for years, but now global casino bosses are setting their sights on a once improbable prize: gambling in the United Arab Emirates Ras Al Khaimah (RAK), one of the smaller and lesser-known of the seven emirates, said earlier this year that it planned to regulate gaming in some resorts. On the same day, Las Vegas casino giant Wynn Resorts WYNN.O said it would build a resort licensed for gaming, or gambling, on a man-made island.  The announcements could mark a watershed moment for the Gulf, a region that has…
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Iran’s IRGC says it seizes tanker with smuggled fuel in Gulf

Iran’s IRGC says it seizes tanker with smuggled fuel in Gulf

DUBAI, April 15 (Reuters) - Iran's Revolutionary Guards said on Friday they had seized a vessel in Gulf waters loaded with 250,000 litres of smuggled fuel, the Iranian state news agency IRNA reported. Iran, which has some of the world’s cheapest fuel prices due to heavy state subsidies and the fall of its currency, has been fighting rampant fuel smuggling by land to neighbouring states and by sea to Gulf Arab states. It has frequently seized boats it says are being used for smuggling oil in the Gulf. The ship's seven crew have been detained, IRNA said, citing a Guards spokesman, Gholamhossein Hosseini. A…
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Saudi Arabia expands Haj to 1 million pilgrims, easing COVID curbs

Saudi Arabia expands Haj to 1 million pilgrims, easing COVID curbs

April 9 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia will let up to 1 million people join the Haj pilgrimage this year, greatly expanding the key event to participants from outside the kingdom after two years of tight COVID restrictions, state media said on Saturday. Pilgrims to Mecca this year must be under age 65 and fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, the ministry of Hajj and Umrah said in a statement carried by the SPA news agency. Participants from abroad will be allowed this year but must present a recent negative COVID PCR test, and health precautions will be observed, it said. Last…
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Yemen president cedes powers to council as Saudi Arabia pushes to end war

Yemen president cedes powers to council as Saudi Arabia pushes to end war

ADEN, April 7 (Reuters) - Yemen's president delegated power to a presidential council and dismissed his deputy on Thursday in a move aimed at supporting U.N.-led efforts to revive negotiations to end the bitter seven-year war in the country. Riyadh announced $3 billion in financial aid to the Saudi-backed government after the announcement by President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. It called for talks with the Houthi group that controls the northand has been battling a Saudi-led coalition. Yemen's warring sides had in a major breakthrough agreed a two-month truce that began on Saturday, the first since 2016. The truce also eased…
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