Saudi foreign policy is anything but mad

Sami Hamdi Middle East/North Africa, Saudi Arabia

Mohamed Bin Salman has made a splash since he was handed the reins of control from his father King Salman. The kingdom has since entered into a war with the Houthis in Yemen, engaged heavily as a partner in constructing the ‘Deal of the Century’, announced ambitious reforms in NEOM and Vision 2030, imprisoned a whole swathe of influential social …

Mohamed Bin Salman is not Washington’s choice

Sami Hamdi Middle East/North Africa, Saudi Arabia, World Politics

Mohamed Bin Salman (also known as ‘MBS’) secured another milestone in his meteoric rise by successfully engineering his appointment as Crown Prince, removing one of the last bastions of power that stood in his quest to become King. In incredible circumstances, Saudi Arabia announced that the once powerful Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Nayef would step down in favour of his …

Saudi Arabian Economy Braces for Foreign Domination

Sami Hamdi Middle East/North Africa, Oil and Gas, Saudi Arabia

On Tuesday, the Saudi cabinet agreed to allow 100% foreign ownership of companies in the retail and wholesale industry. The wording of the announcement was careful; ‘only in retail and wholesale’, suggesting a limitation on foreign ownership when in fact, the industries in which foreign ownership has been permitted are some of the most lucrative. The retail industry thrives off …

An impossible Gulf: Obama and Saudi Arabia

Sami Hamdi Middle East/North Africa, Saudi Arabia

Obama arrived in the Riyadh yesterday on the backdrop of a proposed Congress bill that leaves the potential for citizens to sue the Kingdom over 9/11, and a subsequent Saudi threat to withdraw $750 billion from the US. But this is not the key issue behind Obama’s visit. Rather the above is merely the straw that broke the camel’s back. …

Iran v Saudi Arabia: it’s politics

Abu Bakr Al Shamahi Middle East/North Africa, Saudi Arabia

There have been a lot of articles and amazingly fascinating fact boxes on the split between Shia and Sunni Muslims, written, I’m guessing, by people who don’t know their Karbala from their Kelloggs, in an attempt to explain the dispute between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Normally, when I read an article that says something along the lines of “the people …

Contrary to popular belief, Nimr al-Nimr is not an example of persecuted Shia

Op Ed Iran, Middle East/North Africa, Saudi Arabia

Was Nimr a peaceful man? Possibly. But for a man who was arrested with his crew that opened fire on police forces in a high speed chase, and who once defined himself in a leaked cable in 2008 as “first a Shia, then a Muslim, then a member of Ahl Al-Bayt, and finally a member of humanity”, his work and conduct were at the very least questionable and tainted with sectarianism. Equally was his readiness to defend the “right” for Shia Saudis to receive foreign assistance against the Saudi government in any ‘potential’ conflict. Given the man was also a strong advocate for dividing the country geographically and calling for a new state in the Eastern region and ‘Jihad’ against the Saudi government, it is difficult to place Nimr al-Nimr as the ideal example that peaceful Shia are being persecuted.

The Saudi-ISIS myth and the Iran Deal PR imbalance

Sami Hamdi Middle East/North Africa, Saudi Arabia

The Iran deal has been good for Iran from every angle, particularly on the PR front. By agreeing to the stringent technical conditions on its nuclear program, Iran has presented itself as a country genuinely striving for peace in the midst of animosity and a country demonstrating restraint and perseverance in this endeavour. In particular, it has presented itself as …

Suicide bomber kills security personnel in a Saudi Mosque in Abha

Insights Middle East/North Africa, Saudi Arabia, World Politics

06 August 2015 – A suicide bomber has reportedly killed at least 13 after bombing a mosque in Abha, Asir Province, Saudi Arabia. The dead are believed to be from the security forces. Abha is situated not far from the Yemeni border and is initially being treated as being linked to the ongoing conflict in Yemen. Saudi Arabia is a key …