Gulf in the News – February 6, 2014

Obama’s anticipated march to Saudi Arabia

Source: Al Arabiya English (Read full story)

There is little doubt that Washington and Riyadh are not seeing eye to eye on key issues in the Middle East, namely Syria and Iran. The next six months are critical given the ongoing violence in Syria with no end in sight combined with the continued negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran moving towards a possible Comprehensive Nuclear Treaty sometime during Summer 2014. A U.S.-Saudi summit reportedly announced for next month hopes to mend ties at this critical and timely juncture and to reassure both the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that their policy objectives will, hopefully, mesh nicely. It is interesting to note that the announcement comes days after the failure of the Geneva II discussions.

UAE responds to UN rapporteur’s comments on judicial process

Source: Khaleej Times (Read full story)

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday responded to some comments made by the visiting United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, on aspects of the judicial and legal process.  “We regret that some comments of the Special Rapporteur were based on information from undisclosed sources and were consistent with the politically motivated campaign of certain groups to tarnish the reputation of the UAE …  Nonetheless, we will continue to engage constructively with the Special Rapporteur in carrying out her mandate and will carefully consider her report when it is issued,” said Dr Abdul Rahim Al Awadi, Assistant Foreign Minister for Legal Affairs.

Full steam ahead for Oman railway

Source: Times of Oman (Read full story)

Oman’s ambitious 2,244 km-long … National Railway project is expected to start by the first quarter of 2015, after selecting a design-and-build contractor for the entire project by the end of this year, Dr. Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications, told journalists, after signing three agreements on Wednesday.   As per the plan, the 170 km-long Sohar-Buraimi route is the first segment (among nine segments) to be implemented and the route design for this sector will be ready by the end of July. The railway project is expected to be operational by 2018.

UAE foreign policy ‘will not be burdened by rest of Arab world’, says Gargash

Source: The National (Read full story)

Dr Anwar Gargash, also the Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs, told the Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Majlis that the country’s foreign policy was focused towards stability and development.  The UAE must “invest in our relations more”, with regards to Asia, he said, adding that of the 16 most important embassies to the UAE, five represent Asian countries. The country’s relations with central Asia must also be direct, and not through a western middle-man.

Saudi Arabia to launch $9.5bn mining industrial city

Source: Al Arabiya English (Read full story)

Saudi Arabia signed contracts worth 36 billion Saudi riyals ($9.5bn) for the establishment of a new mineral industrial city in Waad al-Shamal.  The kingdom’s mining company, Maaden, also signed a number of deals worth $3.6bn for the establishment of five new plants in the new city. The new industrial city will focus on mining, a “promising sector that started contributing to the national economy,” Dr. Ibrahim al-Assaf, Saudi finance minister, told Al Arabiya News Channel.

GCC Finance Undersecretaries meet in Riyadh

Source: Kuwait News Agency (Read full story)

The 42nd meeting of Undersecretaries of GCC Finance and Economy Ministries was held here on Wedensday at the GCC General-Secretariat Headquarters.  The meeting tackled several topics, including the revision of enhancing the economic integration among the member states in light of the countries’ visions to implement the higher council’s law in its 33rd session, as well as the revision of the reports filed by the General Secretariat on the latest developments of completing the customs union requirements.