The Gulf Region & Yemen in March 2023

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GULF REGION in March 2023

2 March 2023

1. Top al-Qaeda Figure Killed in Yemen Air Strike (Al Arabiya English). Hamad bin Hamoud al-Tamimi, a top leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which Washington regards as among the global extremist network’s most dangerous branches, died in the strike along with a bodyguard, a security official said, requesting anonymity. Tamimi, also known as Abdel Aziz al-Adnani, headed up AQAP’s leadership council and acted as the militant group’s “judge,” the sources said.

3 March 2023

1. Sources in Sanaa Reveal New Houthi Regulations to Ban the US Dollar (Yemen Window). The Houthi militia in Yemen, which is backed by Iran, has refused to hand over money transfers to citizens in US dollars, instructing exchange shops to distribute the funds in Yemeni riyals instead. This has caused problems for Yemeni citizens who receive money transfers in dollars, as exchange shops refuse to give them the currency.

6 March 2023

1. UN Says Most of Yemen’s Relief Restrictions are in Houthi Areas (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The United Nations World Food Program has reported that most of the restrictions that hinder the work of relief organizations in Yemen are concentrated in areas controlled by the Houthi militia. The program has reduced its ability to monitor and evaluate relief aid by up to 81 percent due to the militia raiding and closing the local data company that was working for it. The report asserts that restrictions on the movement of workers in the relief field are the main type that is faced, with most of the restrictions occurring in Houthi-controlled areas.
2. Yemeni Government Warns Houthis Plan to Bring Demographic Change in Sana’a (Al Hadath). The Yemeni government has raised concerns over the Houthi militia’s plans to bring about demographic change in the capital, Sana’a, which is under its control. The Minister of Information, Muammar Al-Eryani, accused the militia of conducting military campaigns to systematically loot citizens’ lands, real estate, and farms in Sana’a, and of trying to establish a sectarian belt around the capital that owes allegiance to the regime of the Guardian Jurist in Tehran.

8 March 2023


  1. Qatari Emir Appoints New Prime Minister (Al Khaleej Online). Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, has appointed Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani as the new prime minister to succeed Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani…Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani was born in 1980 and graduated from Qatar University in 2003. He held several diplomatic positions, most recently serving as the foreign minister since 2016. He led efforts to end the Gulf dispute and is known for his cooperation and multilateralism. 
  2. Saudi Foreign Minister Calls for Dialogue with Iran and Says Situation in Syria “Not Acceptable” (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs, denied any divergence in the relations between his country and the United Arab Emirates, stressing that reports of divergence in relations between the two countries are “exaggerated”…Farhan stressed that the nuclear agreement with Iran “is not ideal, and it must address the concerns of neighboring countries,” but added, “We are open to dialogue with Iran”…The Saudi foreign minister revealed that there is a dialogue for Syria’s return to the Arab embrace, “but it is too early to talk about that,” but he stressed that “There is a consensus that the situation in Syria is not acceptable.”
  3. Saudi Arabia’s FM:  Saudi Policy Not to Raise Oil Production This Year is Correct (Al Arabiya English). Decisions on oil output taken by OPEC+ countries reflect consensus in the group and Saudi Arabia judges that its current output policy – that it won’t raise production this year – is correct, its foreign minister said on Tuesday. “We always say that we are committed to a stable market… (the minister of energy) feels the market doesn’t need any production changes until the end of the year,” Prince Faisal bin Farhan told reporters in London.

9 March 2023

  1. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain Participate in Largest Naval Maneuver in the Middle East (Al Khaleej Online). The largest naval maneuver in the Middle East was launched on Tuesday in Bahrain and Jordan with the participation of Saudi forces. The primary objective of the exercise is to secure global shipping lanes and deter potential threats. The Saudi Ministry of Defense confirmed the launch of the International Mixed Multinational Maritime Exercise (IMX/CE23) in Bahrain and Jordan. The Saudi Navy is among the participating forces in the exercise.
  2. Qatar Energy Launches New $8.5 Billion Project in Texas (Al Khaleej Online). Qatar Energy and Chevron Phillips Chemical Company jointly laid the foundation stone for the “Golden Triangle” polymer project in Orange County, Texas. The construction cost of this project is $8.5 billion. The new project, which is located 180 km east of Houston, includes an ethylene unit with the world’s largest capacity of 2.08 million tons per year, and two units for the production of high-density polyethylene with a total capacity of two million tons per year. These units are set to become the largest of their kind in the world, according to Qatar News Agency (QNA) reports on Wednesday.
  3. Saudi Arabia Leads Arab Quartet Meeting to Track Iran Crisis (New Khalij News). On Wednesday, the Quartet Arab Ministerial Committee, comprised of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt, convened a meeting chaired by Saudi Arabia to follow up on the developments of the crisis with Iran and discuss methods to address Iran’s interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries. The meeting took place on the sidelines of the 159th session of the Council of the League of Arab States at the ministerial level, held at the headquarters of the Arab League General Secretariat in Cairo. 

10 March 2023

  1. Saudis Seek U.S. Security Guarantee and Nuclear Assistance in Return for Normalization with Israel (Al Hurra). According to the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is seeking security assurances and nuclear assistance from the United States in exchange for normalizing relations with Israel. The discussions between the two countries involve Riyadh requesting that Washington provide security guarantees and assistance in developing its civil nuclear program. In return, the US is seeking to mediate the establishment of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel…Israeli officials claim that the talks did not involve any significant concessions from Saudi Arabia regarding the Palestinian issue. The newspaper also reported that Israeli officials and two delegations from pro-Israel American think tanks visited Riyadh last year, indicating that the Saudis do not view the Palestinian issue as a primary concern.
  2. Saudi Economy Records Highest Growth Rate Among G20 (Sky News Arabia). In 2022, the Saudi economy achieved a GDP growth rate of 8.7%, which is the highest among G20 countries and exceeded the expectations of international organizations whose estimates reached a maximum of 8.3%. This growth rate is also the highest annual rate in a decade, according to the [Saudi] General Authority for Statistics. Additionally, the gross domestic product at current prices was announced to be more than one trillion dollars in 2022, which is the first time that the Kingdom’s GDP has reached this total value.
  3. Saudi Arabia Ready to Facilitate Dialogue Between Russia, Ukraine (Al Arabiya English). Saudi Arabia is ready to facilitate dialogue between Russia and Ukraine, the Kingdom’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said on Thursday.“The Kingdom is ready to mediate to resolve the crisis in Ukraine,” Prince Faisal said during a press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow. Prior to the conference, the Saudi foreign minister and Lavrov discussed international developments, including the war in Ukraine, bilateral ties, and the stability of oil markets.
  4. Abu Dhabi Shakes up Wealth Funds with Top Royals Chairing (Al Arabiya). Abu Dhabi announced a reshuffle at the top of its two biggest sovereign wealth funds on Thursday, appointing senior members of the royal family as chairmen. Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan, one of the most powerful members of Abu Dhabi’s royal family, was named chair of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), among the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, the government’s media office said. Sheikh Tahnoun is the brother of United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who took office last May after acting as the country’s de facto ruler for years. ADIA is estimated by Global SWF to manage $993 billion in assets, while the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute puts the figure at $790 billion. The wealth fund’s last chairman was the previous UAE president, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who died last year. Sheikh Tahnoun is considered one of President Sheikh Mohamed’s most trusted advisers, and has handled sensitive foreign policy files in his role as national security adviser.
  5. UAE Unblocks Several Qatari News Sites as Ties Between Two Nations Warm (Al Monitor). The United Arab Emirates appears to have unblocked a number of Qatari news websites after more than seven years of blocking access. The move comes in the wake of recent high-level meetings between the two countries and [an] improvement in relations. Qatari-owned news websites Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera English, The New Arab, and the state-run Qatar News Agency are among the platforms now open to UAE residents that were originally restricted in early 2016 as tensions rose between the two nations.
  6.  UN Announces ‘Major Breakthrough’ to Prevent Oil Spill Disaster in Yemen (Al Arabiya English). The United Nations said Thursday it had bought a ship to remove oil and avoid a potentially catastrophic spill from a tanker decaying for years off the coast of war-ravaged Yemen…The decaying 47-year-old ship has not been serviced since Yemen’s devastating civil war broke out in 2015 and was left abandoned off the rebel-held port of Hodeida, a critical gateway for shipments into the country heavily dependent on emergency foreign aid.

13 March 2023

  1. Saudi FM:  Agreement with Iran Doesn’t Translate to Resolving all Differences (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said that the Saudi-Iranian agreement to restore diplomatic relations confirms the mutual desire on both sides to “resolve differences through communication and dialogue.” However, he emphasized that this “does not imply solving all outstanding differences between the two countries.” Last Friday, Riyadh and Tehran reached an agreement in Beijing to resume their severed relations since 2016 and reopen their embassies within two months.
  2. After the Saudi Agreement, Iranian Talks with Bahrain and Oman (Al Khaleej Online). The capitals of Bahrain and Oman witnessed meetings with Iranian delegations two days after the agreement between Riyadh and Tehran to restore relations. The Bahrain News Agency (BNA) reported that yesterday evening, Parliament Speaker Ahmed Al-Musallam discussed with the head of the Iranian Shura Council delegation, Mojtaba Rezakhawa, “means of cooperation and joint coordination in international forums.”
  3. Bahrain Receives F-16 Block 70 Fighter Aircraft (Al Bilad Press). The Kingdom of Bahrain is the first country in the world and the region to be equipped with this type of F-16 fighter…This was witnessed by the official ceremony of handing over the aircraft on the morning of Friday, March 10…at the headquarters of the manufacturer Lockheed Martin in South Carolina, in the friendly United States of America, which is one of the largest leading companies in the field of military supplies and equipment.
  4. UAE Withdraws Bid for 2026 World Bank-IMF Meetings in Favor of Qatar (Al Arabiya English). The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has withdrawn its bid to host the 2026 World Bank and International Monetary Fund meeting and will instead support Qatar as a potential host, the office of Qatar’s emir and the UAE’s state news agency said on Sunday, in the latest sign of warming ties between the Gulf neighbors.
  5. Oil Giant Saudi Aramco Has Profits of $161B in 2022 (Al Arabiya English). On Sunday, Saudi Arabian oil giant Aramco reported a record annual net profit of $161.1 billion for 2022, up 46 percent from the previous year on higher energy prices, increased volumes sold, and improved margins for refined products. The profits, which are around triple that of Exxon’s $56 billion, follow similar reports in February from international peers such as BP, Shell, and Chevron, which have mostly posted record profits for last year.
  6. Less Than 24 Hours After Chinese-Brokered Iran-Saudi Deal, Houthis Launch New Attack on Yemeni Government Forces (Al Bilad Press). Residents also said that the Houthi militia targeted civilian homes in the village of Al-Balayli, in the Hays district, with artillery shells. The joint forces responded by bombing a center of fixed and moving targets of the Houthi militia, inflicting direct human and material losses on its ranks, according to the “NewsYum” news site.

14 March 2023


  1. Riyadh Denied an Israeli Delegation Visas to Attend International Event in Saudi Arabia (Al Khaleej Online). On Sunday, the US “Bloomberg” agency reported that the Saudi authorities refused to issue an entry visa to the Israeli special mission, which includes citizens from the Circassian village of “Kafr Kama,” The agency indicated that Israeli citizens received an invitation to participate in the special celebration honoring the United Nations after entering “Kafr Kama” to the special list of recommended tourist villages to be visited by the United Nations…The United Nations Tourism Organization had sent an invitation to the residents of the village and representatives from 22 countries to attend the event in the Saudi city of Al-Ula, but the Saudi authorities refused to issue an entry visa to the Israeli mission, despite UN officials asking the Kingdom to provide equal treatment to members of the organization.
  2. Abu Dhabi Has Ceased Purchasing Security Systems from Israel (Al Khaleej Online). On Sunday evening, a Hebrew news channel reported that the UAE has decided to halt its purchase of security systems from Israel. The decision was reportedly made in response to the ongoing campaign of repression and incitement led by ministers in Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. According to sources quoted by Channel 12, the UAE expressed its desire to discontinue purchasing security systems from Israel due to the actions of Israel’s Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.
  3. Denmark Ends Arms Embargo on Saudi Arabia and UAE (Arabi 21). Denmark has lifted its ban on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, citing its new foreign policy doctrine of “pragmatic realism.” In an interview with local newspaper “Politiken” on Thursday, Danish Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen stated that the ban, which was imposed in 2018 and 2019 following the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the ongoing war in Yemen, has been lifted.
  4. Houthi Militias Actions Threaten to Confiscate the Deposits of a Million Yemenis (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Yemeni banks and merchants in areas controlled by the Houthi militia face the risk of bankruptcy as the militia is insisting on confiscating over three billion dollars, which are the interests of the internal debt, under the pretext of preventing usury in commercial transactions and loans. Economic sources warn that this step will result in the confiscation of deposits of over a million people.
    14. Yemeni Prisoner Exchange Talks Commence in Geneva (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Representatives of the legitimate Yemeni government and the Houthis began talks on a prisoner exchange in Geneva on Sunday. The United Nations has urged both parties in the conflict to engage in “serious” negotiations. According to the United Nations, the talks in Geneva marked the seventh meeting aimed at implementing a prisoner exchange agreement that was concluded in Stockholm five years ago.

15 March 2023

  1. US Welcomes Saudi Arabia-Boeing Deals Worth $37B (Al Arabiya English). The White House on Tuesday welcomed the recent “landmark deals” between Saudi Arabia and Boeing worth $37 billion…The deal will see Saudi Arabia acquire 121 Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft equipped with General Electric engines if it exercises an option to buy 43 planes after the initial 78. The White House lauded the deal, one of Boeing’s two largest transactions ever. If all 121 aircraft are purchased, the deal will support over one million American jobs across 44 states, according to the White House.
  2. Arab Summit Will Take Place in Saudi Arabia in May (Al Khaleej Online). During a press conference in Beirut on Tuesday, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, officially announced that the Arab Summit would be held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in May of this year. Aboul Gheit also stated that the main topic of the summit would likely be economics, focusing on how to support underprivileged regions in the Arab world. Furthermore, regarding the recent Saudi-Chinese-Iranian meeting, Aboul Gheit expressed a positive outlook, noting that its effects could lead to more excellent political and security stability between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
  3. Qatar Ranks as World’s Top Arms Importer Despite Surge in Weapons to Ukraine (Middle east Eye). Middle East and North African countries remained among the world’s largest global arms importers in 2022, despite global attention on arms shipments to Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion, according to a report published on Monday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri)…Qatar, a gas-rich country of just three million people, is the world’s biggest arms importer as of last year. Shipments of weapons to the country increased by 311 percent between 2013-17 and 2018-22.
  4. After Saudi Arabia, Iran is Holding Direct Talks with Bahrain to Restore Relations (The New Khalij News). According to the Russian news agency “Sputnik,” Iran and Bahrain are currently engaged in bilateral talks to restore relations between the two countries. These talks come just days after Iran restored its relationship with Riyadh. Citing anonymous sources, Sputnik reports that the consultations between the two countries are taking place on a bilateral level without the involvement of any other parties. The results of these talks are expected to be announced soon if the contentious issues under discussion can be resolved.

16 March 2023

  1. Saudi Finance Minister: Our Investments in Iran May Be Established Quickly (Al Khaleej Online). Saudi Arabia’s Finance Minister, Muhammad Al-Jadaan, announced on Wednesday that the kingdom’s investments in Iran could increase rapidly following the recent agreement to restore diplomatic relations between the two countries. Speaking at the International Financial Sector Forum held by the Saudi Public Investment Fund in the capital, Riyadh, Al-Jadaan stated that “Saudi investments have an opportunity in Iran” and added that he did not see any issues in launching these investments, given their commitment to the principles of the agreement with Iran.
  2. Turki Al-Faisal Says Two-State Solution Remains Saudi Arabia’s Condition for Normalization with Israel (The New Khalij News). On Wednesday, former Saudi intelligence chief Turki Al-Faisal reaffirmed his country’s commitment to its conditions for normalizing relations with Israel in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative. In an interview with the “France 24” channel, Al-Faisal stated that “the conditions are well-known, including the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state with recognized borders and Jerusalem as its capital, as well as the return of refugees. This is the position of the Saudi government.” The Arab peace initiative was adopted by the Arab summit in Beirut in 2002, and successive Israeli governments refused to respond.
  3. US Senate Confirms Ratney as New Ambassador to Saudi Arabia (Al Sahrq Al Awsat). On Wednesday, the US Senate approved Michael Alan Ratney as the US Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. US President Joe Biden announced Ratney’s candidacy for the post in April 2022. The US embassy in Riyadh welcomed the appointment… Ratney, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister-Counselor, most recently served as Acting Deputy Director at the Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute.
  4. UAE Acquires $100 Million Stake in Parent Company of TikTok (The New Khalij News). The Abu Dhabi-based artificial intelligence company “G42” has invested around $100 million in the Chinese company “ByteDance,” which is the parent company of the popular social media platform “Tik Tok.” As per a report by Bloomberg, the valuation of ByteDance has reached approximately $220 billion with the investment from G42, significantly lower than the previously set valuation of $300 billion during the last share buyback program. 
  5. UN Yemen Envoy Travels to Iran to Discuss Yemen Crisis (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The UN envoy to Yemen, Hans Grundberg, capitalized on the recent Saudi-Iranian agreement and visited Tehran to break the deadlock in the Yemeni crisis and push for a renewed push for peace. Yemeni parties have emphasized that dismantling and disarming the Iranian-backed Houthi militias is necessary to achieve national consensus and restore stability.

20 March 2023

  1. Kuwait Court Nullifies 2022 Parliamentary Vote, Sparking Political Crisis (Al Khaleej Online). The Constitutional Court in Kuwait decided on Sunday to annul the National Assembly elected during 2022, and to invalidate the victories of those who won in the recent parliamentary elections…The ruling implies that the previous National Assembly should regain its powers, and the decision to dissolve it is considered legally void.

21 March 2023

  1. Oman to Allow Israeli Planes to Transit Airspace, but not Land on Omani Territory (Khaleej Online). The head of the Civil Aviation Authority in the Sultanate of Oman stated that the Sultanate would permit Israeli aircraft to traverse its airspace; however, it would not allow them to land on its territory.
  2. Yemeni Government and Houthis Agree to Prisoner Exchange (Al Arabiya). The Yemeni government and the Houthis on Monday agreed to release 887 detainees, following 10 days of negotiations in Geneva, the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

22 March 2023

  1. Emirati Envoy Visits Israel to Voice Concerns over Smotrich’s Remarks (Al Kaleej Online). On Tuesday an official Emirati envoy arrived in Israel to protest the racist statements of the Israeli Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich. Israeli Army Radio stated that “Khaldoun Al-Mubarak, an official envoy of the Emirati president, arrives in Israel later today, Tuesday, where he will meet with Israeli President Isaac Herzog”…Al-Mubarak carries with him a strongly worded message of protest to Israel against the background of the statements of the extremist Minister of Finance, in which he denied the existence of the Palestinian people.
  2. Prominent Saudi Islamic University Opens a Department of Cinema and Theater (New Khalij News). Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, has commenced lectures for a program designed to offer a bachelor’s degree in cinema and theater. This development is part of the Kingdom’s recent shift in direction, which has been moving away from conservative traditions since Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman took office.
  3. Saudi Arabia Releases American Citizen after Dropping Terrorism Charges (Al Kaleej Online). Saudi authorities have released American citizen Saad Ibrahim Al-Madhi from prison; however, he remains subject to a travel ban…Last year, a criminal court sentenced Al-Madhi (72 years old) to 16 years in prison…Al-Madhi, a Saudi-American citizen who had been living in Florida following his retirement, was arrested upon his arrival in Riyadh in November 2021. He faced multiple charges, including financing terrorism and working to destabilize the kingdom.
  4. World Health Organization Announces Outbreaks of Measles and Polio in Yemen (Al Jazeera). The UN agency announced on its Twitter account that Yemen is currently experiencing outbreaks of measles and polio. It reported that over 80% of children affected by measles did not receive the vaccine. The organization emphasized the urgent need for vaccination efforts in Yemen.

23 March 2023

  1. In a Unique Occurrence, Arab Countries and Iran Both Announce Thursday Will Mark The First Day of Ramadan (Al Hurra). The Gulf countries, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Egypt, Yemen and other Muslim countries have announced that Thursday is the first day of Ramadan.
  2. UAE Invites Iranian Foreign Minister to Abu Dhabi (The New Khaleej News). Iran welcomed the improvement of its relations with the UAE and announced that its Foreign Minister, Hussein Amir Abdollahian, has received an official invitation to visit Abu Dhabi.
  3. Houthi Militia Passes Law Authorizing Seizure of Bank Deposits (Al Hadath). Despite concerns about the potential impact on the banking system, the Houthi militia passed a “dangerous” bill on Tuesday, granting themselves the authority to seize and control all bank deposits. The unrecognized “House of Representatives” in Sana’a approved the “Law to Prevent Usurious Transactions,” which had previously been sanctioned by the militia government in September 2022.

24 March 2023

  1. After Iran, Saudi Arabia to Re-establish Ties with Syria (Reuters). Syria and Saudi Arabia have agreed to reopen their embassies after cutting diplomatic ties more than a decade ago, three sources with knowledge of the matter said, a step that would mark a leap forward in Damascus’s return to the Arab fold. The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported that there are talks with Syria to resume consular services between the two countries after years of estrangement.
  2. Qatar Affirms Unwavering Stance on Resolving Syrian Crisis (The New Arab). “On Thursday, the official spokesperson for the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Majid Al-Ansari, reaffirmed Qatar’s support for all initiatives aimed at achieving comprehensive peace in Syria and fulfilling the aspirations of the Syrian people. He also reiterated Qatar’s backing for Arab and international efforts while noting that Qatar’s position on resolving the crisis in Syria remains unchanged.”
  3. Qatar Offers $5.5 Billion to Purchase Manchester United (The New Khalij News). A struggle for the purchase of Manchester United has ensued between potential buyers from Britain and Qatar, as the club’s American owners aim to achieve an offer of $8 billion. However, reports suggest that the British billionaire, Jim Ratcliffe, plans to offer over £5 billion ($6.12 billion). At the same time, other sources claim that Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Qatar Islamic Bank, has proposed a $5.5 billion offer.
  4. Yemeni Activists Urge Halt of Houthi Plan to Demolish 500 Buildings in Old Sana’a (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Yemeni intellectuals and activists have issued distress calls to halt the Houthi militia’s plan to demolish 500 archaeological buildings in the Old City of Sana’a, listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. The planned demolition includes four of the city’s most important craft markets to construct a sectarian shrine.

27 March 2023

  1. Gulf Countries Condemn Israeli Plan for New West Bank Settlements (Al Khaleej Online). Gulf countries have denounced the Israeli authorities’ plan to issue bids for constructing new settlement units in the occupied Palestinian territories, as well as approving a law that permits the return to four settlements in the West Bank. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries declared that they had submitted an appeal to the US Secretary of State, condemning the remarks made by an Israeli minister who denied the existence of the Palestinian people.
  2. Israel-UAE Free Trade Agreement Takes Effect (Al Hurra). On Sunday, the Israeli government announced a free trade zone agreement with the UAE that would decrease customs tariffs on most products, ultimately enhancing trade between the two countries. According to a government statement, the agreement, signed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, and UAE Ambassador Mohammed Al Khajah, is the final step in a trade agreement that reduces tariffs on almost 96% of products, leading to lower living costs and new employment opportunities in Israel.
  3. US, Saudi Arabia Complete First Counter-Drone Exercise (Al Arabiya). The US and Saudi Arabia completed their first joint counter-drone exercise last week at the new Red Sands military testing center in Riyadh, according to the head of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM). The exercise was the first of its kind between the two militaries, and US officials hope to replicate this with other armies in the region.
  4. Next Arab League Summit to be Held in Saudi Arabia on May 19 (Arab News). The 32nd Arab summit is expected to be held in Saudi Arabia on May 19, a statement by the League of Arab States said on Sunday. The summit will be preceded by several meetings over the period of five days between senior officials and ministers.  
  5. Yemeni Defense Minister and Army Chief of Staff Survive Houthi Drone Attack (Al Hadath). On Saturday, Yemeni Defense Minister Mohsen Al-Daari and Army Chief of Staff Sagheer bin Aziz survived a drone attack launched by the Houthi militia. The attack targeted their convoy in the Al-Kadha area, south of the city of Taiz. According to military sources, the Houthi-led attack resulted in the death of one soldier and left three others wounded, according to initial figures…The Houthi terrorist militia has increased its threats to resume the war, as evidenced by recent statements made by its leaders and movements on the ground.
  6. Houthi Militias Restrict Flights of International Organizations via Sana’a Airport (Al Hadath). The Houthi militia has declared limitations on the flights of all international organizations operating in Yemen via Sana’a International Airport. These restrictions went into effect on Saturday in response to the Yemeni Airways Company’s decision to stop selling tickets for its flights in areas of the north under Houthi influence. According to pro-Houthi media sources, the group’s controlled General Authority of Civil Aviation has decided to permit international organization flights to land at Sana’a International Airport only on Fridays starting from March 31.

28 March 2023

  1. Saudi, Iranian Foreign Ministers to Meet During Ramadan (Al Hurra). On Monday, the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to hold a bilateral meeting during the current month of Ramadan. This will be the first meeting of its kind since the signing of a tripartite agreement in the People’s Republic of China to restore diplomatic relations between the two countries.
  2. Qatar is Mediating to Revive JCPOA Negotiations (Al Khaleej Online). On Monday, the Minister of State at the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Al-Khulaifi, met with Iranian Foreign Minister Hussein Abdollahian and Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Shamkhani…The meeting discussed the latest developments in negotiations to return to the JCPOA and several regional and international issues of common concern. Meanwhile, the Russian delegate to the negotiations for reviving the nuclear agreement, Mikhail Ulyanov, stated that the negotiations “have reached a dead end, but Western partners refuse to declare its demise.
  3. Aramco Signs $12.2 Billion Deal to Build Petrochemical Complex in China (Arabi 21). Saudi Aramco has signed an agreement with Chinese partners to construct an oil refinery and petrochemical complex. Additionally, the company announced its acquisition of a 10% stake in China’s Rongsheng Petrochemical Company…Panjin Industrial Group, a partner in the project, stated in a release on Sunday that the project is anticipated to cost 83.7 billion yuan ($12.2 billion).

29 March 2023

  1. At Least 20 Pilgrims Killed, 29 Injured in Bus Crash Heading to Mecca (Al Arabiya). Local media reported that twenty pilgrims were killed, and another 29 were injured in a fiery bus crash while on their way to perform the Umrah pilgrimage in Mecca on Monday, local media reported. The death toll may increase. The pilgrims included Saudi nationals and residents of different nationalities.
  2. Jews and Christians Cultivate Palm Trees in Medina for the First Time in 1,400 Years (The New Khalij News). In a first-of-its-kind event in nearly 1,400 years, a Saudi farmer invited a group of British Christians and Jews to plant palm trees on his farm in Medina, one of the two holiest sites for Muslims. Non-Muslims were prohibited from entering the city until just a few years ago. So London Jewish banker Rick Sofer led a group of Christians, Muslims, and British Jews to visit the farmer’s orchard and plant palm seedlings.
  3. Highest Economic Growth in Bahrain in a Decade (The New Khalij News). On Monday, the Bahraini Cabinet announced that the gross domestic product (GDP) would grow by 4.9% in 2022, marking the highest annual growth rate since 2013. In a statement, the council noted that the non-oil sector’s contribution to the GDP at constant prices reached 83.1%, a historical high for Bahrain.
  4. UAE:  Hedges from International Sanctions for Money Laundering (The New Arab). In recent days, the United Arab Emirates has announced a series of stringent control measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. These measures come after the Middle Eastern financial hub was placed on a list of countries subject to intense scrutiny. On February 28, the UAE’s Executive Office to Combat Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism acknowledged for the first time that it had received over 200 international requests to investigate money laundering crimes. The state is currently investigating money laundering in approximately 270 cases.
  5. Yemeni Leaders Vow to resist Renewed Houthi Assault (Arab News). Yemen’s presidential council has promised to confront the “terrorist” Houthis and called for resistance as international envoys criticized the militia’s renewed assault. The commission, chaired by Rashad Al-Alimi, said the latest Houthi attacks, primarily in Marib and Shabwa, demonstrated that the militia had no wish to end the war… The Houthis have made minor advances in Shabwa and Marib since early last week, targeting government forces with heavy weaponry and explosive drones.

30 March 2023

  1. GCC Condemns Israeli Settlers’ Blatant Incursion into Al-Aqsa Courtyards (Al Khaleej Online). Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the Gulf Cooperation Council expressed their condemnation of the “flagrant” intrusion by Israeli settlers into the courtyards of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which occurred under the protection of Israeli occupation forces. In an official statement, the Saudi Foreign Ministry asserted that the settlers’ incursion into Al-Aqsa undermines peace efforts and contravenes international principles and norms concerning the respect of religious sanctities.
  2. As a Dialogue Partner, Saudi Arabia Joins the “Shanghai Cooperation Organization” (Al Khaleej Online). On Tuesday evening, the Saudi Cabinet approved to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which includes Russia and China among its members. The Cabinet approved a memorandum granting Saudi Arabia the status of a “dialogue partner” within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
  3. Gulf Countries Allied with the West Covertly Supply Ammunition to Ukraine (The New Khalij News). The intelligence website “Intelligence Online” disclosed in a report that numerous countries, which are part of an alliance with Western nations and NATO, are clandestinely providing ammunition and military assistance to Ukraine… The information stated that the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar provided hundreds of “Mistral” anti-aircraft missile systems, which were delivered to Ukraine, thanks to the intermediary countries working for Kiev.
  4. For the First Time, China Pays in Yuan for Imported Liquefied Gas from UAE (CNN Business Arabic). The Shanghai Petroleum and Natural Gas Stock Exchange said on Tuesday that the China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) and Total Energies have completed China’s first liquefied natural gas transactions that are settled in Yuan. It added, in a statement, that the transaction included about 65,000 tons of liquefied natural gas imported from the UAE.
  5. Mohammed bin Zayed Appoints His Son as Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi (Arabi 21). Mohammed bin Zayed has appointed his son Khaled (41 years old) as the Crown Prince of the emirate…He appointed his brother Mansour bin Zayed as Vice President of the State, a position he will share with the ruler of Dubai, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Mohammed bin Zayed also issued a decree appointing his two brothers, Tahnoon bin Zayed and Hazza bin Zayed, as Deputy Rulers of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

31 March 2023

  1. Air Traffic Between Israel, Bahrain, and UAE Temporarily Suspended (Al Khaleej Online). The Hebrew newspaper Haaretz reported that air traffic between Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain had been suspended for two weeks following the Israeli government’s decision to increase weekly flights to Dubai. Haaretz noted that no Israeli planes have taken off toward either of the two countries… The newspaper suggested Abu Dhabi and Manama appear displeased with Prime Benjamin Netanyahu.
  2. Saudi Arabia Plans to Establish Space Force (Arabi 21). The US Central Space Forces Commander revealed that several US Middle Eastern military allies had shown interest in establishing their space forces… He stated, “The inaugural space cadre in the Saudi Air Force has completed the ‘Space 100’ course.” He further added, “Saudi Arabia is merely one example.”



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