Gulf in the News – December 21, 2012

Yemen’s president restructures armed forces

Source: CNN International (Read full story)

“We are working towards a unified army under a unified leadership, and this needs to take place now,” the presidential aide said, asking to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the issue.

The changes came as protests continued in front of Hadi’s residence. Demonstrators said they wouldn’t participate in the upcoming National Dialogue Conference unless Saleh’s relatives and loyalists who hold key military and security posts are removed. Yemeni officials have been hoping all the political factions in the country would meet at the conference.

Saudi, UAE stocks set to rally in 2013

Source: Arab News (Read full story)

Stock markets in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are likely to outperform other Gulf Arab bourses early next year, buoyed by strong economic growth and a recovery in Dubai’s real estate market, fund managers and analysts believe.

This year was a mixed and in many cases disappointing one for Gulf equities, as the global financial crisis and geopolitical tensions weighed on the region’s markets despite healthy growth in its underlying economies.

Foreign ministers to shortlist GCC summit agenda

Source: Zawya (Read full story)

Syria, Iran and Yemen will be among the political topics to be taken up for discussions on priority basis by the foreign ministers and then by the GCC heads of state on Dec. 24. “The GCC countries have been exerting effort to ensure peace and security in Syria, and they are also very keen on implementing the Yemen deal,” said Al-Zayani, adding that Syria is a major problem hampering all effort for regional peace and security.

GCC Secretary-general: GCC Summit convenes under highly sensitive, critical circumstances

Source: Bahrain News Agency (Read full story)

The GCC secretary-general, Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, stated that the 33rd GCC Summit meeting convenes under highly sensitive and critical circumstances which calls forth the GCC states to study its consequences on the GCC march in order to preserve the GCC accomplishments and gains in favor of GCC citizens.

Omanis to vote in first municipal election on Saturday

Source: Arab News (Read full story)

Omanis vote in their first municipal election on Saturday, a modest opening apparently designed to stem discontent about graft and lack of jobs in what is normally one of the Arab world’s most peaceful corners.

Stability in the small Gulf oil producer and US ally is important because it sits opposite Iran on the Strait of Hormuz, the conduit for almost a fifth of petroleum traded worldwide. One of the oldest Arab states, Oman experienced unrest inspired by Arab uprisings elsewhere early last year.

Govt to establish company to develop tourism in Kingdom

Source: Arab News (Read full story)

President of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) Prince Sultan bin Salman said the government has plans to establish a new tourism development company that will include private, as well as state, participation.

In his address to the 42nd session of the Higher Coordination Council of the Arab Joint Action, an Arab League body, in Jeddah on Wednesday, Prince Sultan said the government also plans a consolidated program to attract investors in the tourism sector, especially in light of the increasing interest in the field expressed by young men.

UAE shuts down office of U.S. research institute RAND

Source: Reuters (Read full story)

The United Arab Emirates has shut down the Abu Dhabi office of the RAND Corporation, the American policy research institute, in the latest of several closures of foreign research institutions and think tanks in the Gulf Arab state this year.

The UAE, a major oil exporter and regional business hub, has not seen the unrest that has ousted autocratic Arab rulers elsewhere, but analysts and diplomats say the U.S. ally is anxious to prevent any instability spreading to its turf.

In March, the UAE closed two international think-tanks promoting democracy overseas, Germany’s Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) and the U.S.-funded National Democratic Institute (NDI), citing licensing irregularities.

Consortium signs $3bn Saudi project deal

Source: (Read full story)

South Korea’s Samsung Engineering and its consortium partners have signed a $3bn contract for a massive power project in Saudi Arabia.

The consortium partners, who also include Saudi-based Al Toukhi and China’s Shanghai Electric, met with Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) to officially sign the contract for the Yanbu Power Plant Phase 3 project in the Gulf kingdom on Thursday.

The 3,100MW power plant will be built in Al-Madinah Province and will supply electricity to the Yanbu Industrial complex.