Saudi Arabia

  • The Gulf's Soccer Showdown

    The World Cup’s knockout rounds are in full swing, and followers of Middle East soccer will now have to root for teams outside the region. Despite some compelling narratives – the dramatic politicization of Egyptian star Mo Salah, Iran’s rags-to-riches goalkeeper saving a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman shrugging off his team’s loss to Russia with Vladimir Putin – most Middle Eastern sides rather ignominiously crashed out of the tournament in the group stages.

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  • Saudi Arabia Puts Women in the Driver's Seat

    On June 4, Saudi Arabia issued driver’s licenses to ten women for the first times in their lives. This followed a repeal—announced by royal decree last September—of the female driving ban, which officially ended on June 24. In what is one among a number of ambitious socioeconomic reforms driven by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS), women in the Saudi Arabia can now obtain a license and drive without the presence of a male guardian.

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  • Yemen’s Never-Ending War

    The assault by the United Arab Emirates’ forces and their local allies in a Saudi-led coalition on the Yemeni port city of Hudaydah that began last week and remains underway rightly raised concerns once again about the potential humanitarian consequences of Yemen’s ongoing war. Hudaydah is one of the impoverished country’s most important ports, the channel through which most international aid and imports reach Yemeni families in dire need of food, medicine, and fuel. But the discussion surrounding humanitarian aid in the Yemen war has become badly entangled in geopolitics, and it has become difficult to separate posturing on the part of the belligerent parties and wishful thinking on the part of international powers from the actual needs on the ground.

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  • Bridging the Gulf in the GCC

    Relations between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have been fractured for much of the past year. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar in June 2017 citing reports that Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani had made remarks of the United States while offering support for Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Iran, and claiming Doha’s policies fueled regional terrorism and extremism.

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  • Little Fires Everywhere: The Middle East After Trump’s Iran Deal Decision

    The best-selling novel “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng provides an apt title for the next book in the long-running non-fiction history of Middle East conflicts—that which will come after US President Donald J. Trump moves to modify or nullify the Iran nuclear agreement. Those fires, not so little for those directly affected, are burning in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, and Gaza.  The challenges for US policy in the coming months will not be directly related to Iran’s nuclear program. Iran’s nuclear program poses no short-term threat. Iran will not have a nuclear weapons capability in the near future regardless of the president’s decision.  It will be the “little fires” that require more attention than ever.

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  • Khoury Quoted in Newsweek on Saudi Arabia's Vegan Prince's New Project


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  • The Saudi Public Investment Fund: The Emerging Financial Vehicle Behind Vision 2030

    The $230 billion Public Investment Fund (PIF) is emerging as the central financial vehicle to consolidate and then exercise Saudi Arabian economic power in the service of goals outlined by the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman (MbS). Its role in Saudi economic diversification makes the PIF the critical organ for realizing Vision 2030, and its newfound prominence at the expense of traditional economic power centers (like SAMA, the central bank) highlights the consolidation of authority under MbS.

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  • Here’s What Happened During the Saudi Crown Prince’s International Debut

    Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to the United States, following on the heels of his trips to the United Kingdom and Egypt, marks his debut on the international stage as the king-in-waiting of a country he could rule for decades.

    In the United Kingdom and now in the United States, the crown prince, popularly known as MbS, has capitalized on an opportunity to try and reassure international investors that Saudi Arabia is a safe place for business in the wake of anti-corruption crackdown in November 2017 that created unease among international investors.

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  • A Renewed Foresight in Middle Eastern Diplomacy: India’s Role at the Table

    Recent aviation agreements connecting Saudi Arabia, India, and Israel signal potential openness toward improving relations in light of growing geopolitical and security concerns.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on March 7 that Saudi Arabia granted permission to Air India to use Saudi airspace for direct flights from Delhi to Tel Aviv, affirming allegations leaked in Israeli press in February. Direct flights from Delhi to Tel Aviv over Saudi airspace will begin March 22. Thus far, Saudi officials have remained mum.

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  • The War in Yemen: No End in Sight

    US President Donald J. Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman’s shared animosity toward Iran is apparently getting in the way of ending the war in Yemen that has claimed the lives of thousands of civilians and put millions more on the brink of starvation.

    While Yemen was very much on the agenda when Trump met the crown prince at the White House in Washington on March 20, there was scarce mention following their meeting of any productive effort to end the war in that country.

    “I just don’t see between these two men in charge that they’re going to be able to do the right thing [in Yemen,] which is to put diplomacy first,” said Nabeel Khoury, a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

    “Saudi Arabia and the United States, the two big powers that can actually make things happen in Yemen, are looking past Yemen,” he added.

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