Arabian Peninsula

Soft Power Strategy: Iceland and Qatar

The soccer soft power contrast between Qatar and Iceland speaks volumes. A comparison of the strategies of both countries demonstrates that it takes more than money to leverage soccer to create political, geopolitical and economic opportunity. Money and world soccer body FIFA’s desire to take one of the world’s foremost sporting events beyond Europe and the Americas helped Qatar win the right to host the 2022 World Cup. Six years after the awarding, Qatar is a nation under fire by human rights and labour activists for its controversial labour regime, has yet to convincingly counter widespread suspicions of wrongdoing in…
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The lure of power in Yemen: A woman shows her palm during a demonstration to demand the ouster of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the southern city of Taiz June 14, 2011. The writing reads "The freedom". Image ©: ibtimes mpc-journal.org

The Lure of Power in Yemen

In Yemen – as in much of the Middle East – Islam is at war with itself. As Saudi Arabia’s Sunni fundamentalist ruling family and Iran’s equally uncompromising Shia-based Islamic Revolution play out their deadly rivalry, the fault-line between the Shia and the Sunni traditions of Islam defines the conflict, as on so many of the region’s battlefields.

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Political Violence and Sectarianism in Pakistan

Pakistan’s military commanders gathered this week to assess the impact of the massive bombing in Quetta that killed some 70 people and wiped out a generation of lawyers in the province of Baluchistan. They believed there was a sinister foreign-inspired plot that aimed to thwart their effort to root out political violence. The commanders’ analysis strokes with their selective military campaign that targets specific groups like the Pakistani Taliban and the Sunni-Muslim Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

NoZionists

Is Saudi Arabia Zion?

Kamal Salibi, one of the Arab world’s foremost contemporary historians, kicked up a storm when he concluded in a 1985 linguistic exegesis that Judaism’s Zion was not located in Israel but in Saudi Arabia. Israelis, Jews, Saudis, Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians found common ground at the time to denounce Mr. Salibi in stark terms.

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The Qatar Phenomenon

It is not easy to pigeon-hole Qatar, a stand-alone Middle Eastern state in more ways than one, geographically, politically, economically, influentially.  That Qatar aspires to become a major player in the region and beyond may seem obvious enough, but in pursuit of this objective Qatar’s tactics sometimes puzzle, sometimes infuriate, its neighbours. But then, as the world’s wealthiest nation by a long chalk, Qatar can afford the luxury of proceeding along its own preferred path, without too much concern for what others think.

mpc

Saudi Change of Women’s Sporting Right

Saudi Arabia is projecting miniscule steps to reverse decades of denial of women’s sporting rights as evidence of significant changes in the kingdom that aim to diversify its energy-dependent economy and upgrade its autocracy. The steps include the appointment of a member of the ruling family to oversee women’s sports and the doubling of the number of women participating in Olympic Games from two to four.

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Saudi Celebrates Local Artists

The Kingdom has unveiled plans to showcase the arts and grow its media industry to counter negative stereotypes. The initiatives are part of the wide-ranging National Transformation Program 2020. “The intention also is to transform the society,” Culture and Information Minister Adel Al-Toraifi told reporters on the sidelines of a briefing about the NTP on Tuesday. Under the NTP, a Royal Arts Complex would be developed, as well as a Media City. Al-Toraifi said although some Saudi artists and performers have exhibited and gained popularity abroad, they “did not find the platform and space to support them” at home. That will change with…
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Oman in Divided Region

In a fractious, unstable region rife with conflicts, one country appears to be unscathed. It is telling that Oman emerged not only intact from the ramifications of the Arab Spring, but also shied away from the tense polarisation that has hijacked the rest of the Middle East. Oman’s position on the various regional issues is self-evidently peaceful and different from the other Gulf monarchies. In fact, behind this peaceful and unique position lies a hive of activity of which many are unaware. As part of the revolutionary wave, a series of popular demonstrations were held in Oman with the masses…
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Bin Laden Group

The Bin Ladens: A Saudi Bellwether

The layoffs followed last year’s collapse of a Bin Laden construction crane that killed 107 people and prompted the government to ban the brothers from travelling abroad as well as review the company’s massive government contracts. The travel ban was lifted earlier this month, eight months after it was imposed, according to sources close to the company. Bin Laden, according to reports in Saudi Arabia’s controlled media and sources close to the company, laid off 77,000 foreign and 12,000 Saudi employees or almost half of its 200,000-strong labour force. The government’s failure to pay the company on time meant it…
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