The UAE’s plans to develop a new generation of military surveillance capabilities suffered a setback on 11 July, when an Arianespace Vega rocket carrying its French-built Falcon Eye 1 satellite deviated from its course two minutes after launch and was lost.
The UAE has been scaling back its military commitment to Yemen, in an unannounced move which appears to have been at least partly prompted by the Hodeidah peace agreement between the Houthi rebels and the Saudi-backed government of President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi signed in Stockholm in December.
Western allies of Saudi Arabia and the UAE are having to get creative in order to continue delivering weaponry to the Gulf. The United States and United Kingdom governments are both seeking loopholes to be able to fulfil previously agreed contracts. However, some deals continue to be held up, notably in France where another shipment of arms destined for Saudi Arabia has failed to leave port.
The Dubai authorities are having to contend with a potentially delicate political balancing act involving the battle for control over port operations in Djibouti, and the commercial emirate’s relations with the Chinese government – which has made a big entry into Djibouti – and its Belt and Road Initiative, a global trade strategy in which Sheikh Mohammed wants to take a big role
A UAE delegation led by minister of state Sultan Bin Ahmed Sultan Al-Jaber has been to Belgrade for the first session of the UAE-Serbia Joint Committe. The UAE has become a prominent player in the Serbian economy in recent years, with an estimated $4bn of investments and partnerships.
The European Union added the UAE and Oman to its blacklist of ‘non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes’” on 12 March. The decision is a setback for the UAE, which had been included in the original list issued in December 2017 but which then successfully lobbied to be taken off the list the following month.
Federal Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum has unveiled close to Dh18bn ($4.9bn) of infrastructure spending for the northern emirates, during a series of visits to the often over-looked region over the course of late February and early March – seemingly part of a wider carrot-and-stick approach to the area.
Etihad Airways is offloading its stakes in two real estate developments that share its name, Etihad Plaza and Etihad Airways Centre, while taking full control of its own headquarters building, in a Dh1.2bn ($327m) deal with the local Aldar Investment Properties.
The bi-annual Idex show offers further evidence of Gulf governments’ determination to develop indigenous defence industries – an increasingly important aim for Saudi Arabia and the UAE amid rising opposition in some key supplier countries to selling arms to those involved in the Yemen war
The UAE scored a PR victory when it hosted Pope Francis’ three-day visit in early February – the first to the Arabian Gulf by a pontiff. Prior to his arrival, Francis said the UAE was “striving to be a model for coexistence, human fraternity, a meeting of faiths and civilisations”. But he also criticised events in Yemen, pointing to “children who are hungry, who are thirsty, they don’t have medicine and… are in danger of death”.