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Qatar’s AA rating upgrade 6, July 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar.
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The FT reports that Qatar has been upgraded to a AA long-term rating by Standard and Poor.

Exactly as the article says, this is of no great surprise given Qatar’s riches. Huge investments that Qatar made in its Gas industries decades ago have been coming to fruition in recent years. Given the ‘popularity’ of gas as a cleaner alternative to oil, Qatar’s staggering supplies thereof and an ever more thirsty world, their long-term future is secure, barring, of course, some sizable black swan.

Executive MBA to begin in Doha, Qatar 6, July 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar.
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Paris’ celebrated business school, HEC, is to open a campus in Doha, Qatar. They plan to teach at least an MBA as well as an executive MBA.

They will not open their campus in Qatar’s Education City or indeed be directly under their aegis. They are the first business school to open under Qatar Foundation’s Management, Education and Research Centre (QF-Merc) and will be situated, I believe, in or near Doha’s downtown, nearer their prospective clientele.

QF-Merc hopes to attract other business schools too.

The FT article points out the HEC Paris is not the first business school to open in the region. London Business School and City University’s Cass school have programmes in Dubai and INSTEAD is based in Abu Dhabi.

At the moment there is a lack of post-graduate study in Doha. Given the demand and the relative costs of companies being forced to send their employees to Europe for courses or degrees for their continued development, HEC Paris has, I believe, essentially a license to print money in Doha. The first institution to offer Masters degrees related to the oil and gas industry will similarly make a fortune too.

Al Jazeera sues Egypt’s Al Ahram 6, July 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Al-Jazeera, American ME Relations.
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The perpetual battle between Qatar’s Al Jazeera and various other Middle Eastern media outlets has taken another twist.

A Qatari daily reports that Al Jazeera has filed lawsuits against Egypt’s Al Ahram for “false and distorted reports” relating to coverage of the resignation of five Al Jazeera female presenters. They are demanding £5 million damages.

Memri further reports that Al Ahram’s owners along with other Egyptian papers criticised the story in an attempt to fend off Al Jazeera’s suits, to no apparent avail.

More Gulf fishing issues 5, July 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iran, Saudi Arabia, The Emirates.
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The trials and tribulations of fisherman in the Gulf continue. Eleven Asian fisherman from Saudi Arabia crossed mistakenly into Emirati waters and were arrested. They maintain that they did this mistakenly. It is not known whether they had GPS or not.

Whilst is seems likely that they crossed accidentally, smuggling cannot be ruled out.  In January this year, for example, two Iranians were caught smuggling two others into Ras Al Khaimah in the UAE.

UAE refuses to refuel Iranian planes 5, July 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iran, The Emirates.
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A few reports have emerged stating that all Emirati airports have joined Germany and the U.K. in refusing to refuel any Iranian passenger aircraft.

This is a part of the recent U.S. sanctions package against Iran. It highlights (if it needed to be highlighted) Abu Dhabi’s control over U.A.E. policy to the detriment of Iran-friendly Dubai.

UPDATE

Somewhat unsurprisingly a raft of reports have emerged this morning stating that Iranian planes are in fact being refueled in the U.A.E.

World’s most expensive city 5, July 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
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The annual Mercer survey of the world’s most expensive city for expatriates has been released.

Ordinarily one would expect the likes of Tokyo, Geneva, New York, London or Moscow to top such lists. However, some severe lateral thinking or staggering guess-work is required if one is to guess the top city of 2010.

Think developing city in a (very) developing country. Think far, far, far outside the box. Think post-war torn, oil-fuelled, development induced white land-cruiser plagued hyperinflationary hole…closer; though the field is still fairly wide.

Luanda…capital of Angola. Anyone have that?

1. Luanda

2. Tokyo

3. Ndjamena (Chad, of course)

4. Moscow

5. Geneva

The UAE’s curious relations with Pacific Islands 4, July 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Emirates.
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In a spectacularly random article in The National, Peter Hellyer discusses the UAE’s emerging relations with practically microscopic Pacific Islands thousands of miles from the Gulf.

Aside from setting up links with the Marshall Islands, Abu Dhabi sponsored a conference  recently attended by foreign ministers of 14 of these small island states under the aegis of the Pacific Small Islands Developing States group. This meeting followed on from the UAE Foreign Minister’s visit to the Pacific Islands in February.

The UAE pledged to contribute $50 million to a Pacific Islands Partnership Programme to invest across sectors, notably in the areas of renewable energy and education. Such a sum on money – given the tiny populations – will go a long way.

Heller offered two reasons for this initiative.

  • It followed logically from Sheikh Zayed’s stated vision of using the UAE’s largesse to help less fortunate countries around the world.
  • Both countries are threatened by climate change…

A couple of other reasons leap to mind too.

  • I would be surprised if some Emirati Sheikh did not buy an atoll soon.
  • As Israel has discovered, having support in such Island states can be useful. They have, after all, a vote in the UN. Who knows when such good will when come in useful?

As small island-states, the Pacific islands can comprehend – in a way that other, larger, countries cannot – how important our three islands of Abu Musa and the Tunbs are to us. The Marshall Islands, still suffering from the impact of those US nuclear tests over 50 years ago, can certainly understand our concerns about a proliferation of nuclear weapons in our region.

I hope that other Arab countries will follow the UAE’s lead in paying attention to these far-off micro-states. The UAE’s initiative is one of which we should all be proud.

Qatar sign military Pakistan MOUs 4, July 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar.
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Qatar signed two memoranda of understandings (MOUs) with Pakistan on defense cooperation. Pakistan will offer further training support along with technical manpower and military support.

These kinds of MOUs are common throughout the Gulf.

Qatar gains deeper relations with an important regional player, though these kinds of agreements do not constitute hard military guarantees. Pakistan similarly gains a closer relationship with a cash-rich country. It is not surprising that part of the MOU included Pakistan welcoming and encouraging Qatari investment in their defense sector.