Gulf in the News – December 6, 2013

Qatar slams terror attack in Yemen

Source: The Peninsula (Read full story)

Qatar strongly condemned the explosion that targeted the Yemeni defence ministry in Sana’a and killed 52 people, including foreign medical staff, yesterday.  An official source at the Qatari Foreign Ministry told Qatar News Agency that this criminal act was contrary to all human values.  The source renewed Qatar’s firm stance denouncing violence in all its forms and manifestations, whatever its source. … The GCC member countries are fully behind Yemeni President  Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the government in their bid to maintain stability and security in Yemen, [GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif] Al Zayani added.

OPEC alert to risk of lower oil prices

Source: Saudi Gazette (Read full story)

World oil prices could head lower next year as higher OPEC output coupled with increased shale production risks oversupplying the market despite upbeat Asian demand for crude, according to analysts.  The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on Wednesday agreed to hold its crude production ceiling at 30 million barrels per day, citing the current balance between world oil supply and demand following a meeting in Vienna.  But OPEC production could increase in the coming months as Iraq and Iran look to export more crude after sizeable falls in recent years. Libyan oil supplies may also recover from a current plunge in output.

Gulf businessmen demand guarantees before investing in Egypt

Source: Arab News (Read full story)

Gulf governments are willing to pour billions of dollars into Egypt to prop up its economy, but businessmen from the region are far more wary of a country where they have been burned before.  Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE came to Egypt’s aid after the army toppled the president in July.  The Gulf states pledged over $12 billion to help an economy that has been battered by political upheaval since a popular uprising ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011.  This week at a Cairo conference designed to lure Gulf investors, officials promised to pay back some of the $6 billion Egypt owes foreign oil firms, reform legislation that hurts investors, and reduce the country’s cumbersome bureaucracy.  For private Gulf investors, whose businesses in Egypt faced legal challenges after Mubarak’s ouster, a return will only come with guarantees that their money will be safe.

UAE President expresses sympathy as world mourns Mandela

Source: The National (Read full story)

“The world has lost a true fighter and a formidable leader for peace, freedom and equality. He was a voice of justice, human dignity and goodwill for all of humanity,” said Sheikh Khalifa, the President of the UAE.  Sheikh Khalifa expressed his heartfelt sympathy to Mandela’s family and to the people of South Africa on their loss, describing Mandela as “a symbol of peace and an exceptional personality whose wisdom, tenacity, humility and qualities of leadership enabled him to overcome the bitterness of the apartheid era” in a message to South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma.

Hagel: US committed to Gulf security

Source: Arab News (Read full story)

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel toured an anti-mine warfare ship in the US Fifth Fleet to underscore US commitment to Middle East security despite policy differences over Iran and Syria that have angered Washington’s longtime Gulf allies.  He will also speak at the Manama Dialogue security conference during the visit.  The warship he toured, the USS Ponce, is to be equipped in 2014 with a new Navy laser weapon designed to deter aircraft and missiles as well as attacks by swarms of small boats like those used by Iran, on the opposite side of the Gulf. “Our history in this area is long and proud. Our commitment to our partners in this area speaks for itself and I will assure our partners that we’re not going anywhere,” Hagel [said.]

Iran parliament speaker visiting Oman to seek better Gulf ties

Source: The Peninsula (Read full story)

Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani met yesterday in Muscat with Oman’s ruler H M Sultan Qaboos bin Said, as Tehran seeks to mend ties with Gulf states, ONA state news agency said.  Tehran enjoys good relations with Muscat, but is locked in a decades-long rivalry with Saudi Arabia, while some other Gulf countries are wary of the ambitions of their neighbour across the water. … “Iran has all respect for the vision of the sultan, which takes Omani-Iranian relations to top levels,” ONA quoted Larijani as saying during a meeting with his counterpart, the head of the Majles Al Shura consultative council, Khalid Al Mawali.