Author and analyst Matthew Hedges is this week’s podcast guest as he joins Arab Digest editor William Law to discuss his recently published book, an analysis of how Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, has assiduously built a military, digital and economic power base while remaining largely in the shadows. Matthew talks,too, about his detention and abuse at the hands of the UAE’s State Security Department while he was in the country doing research for the book.
Summary: with the passing of the ailing president of the UAE, Abu Dhabi’s crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed assumes a title that he has long held in every other aspect but name. In a smooth transition, all that remains is his decision about who to appoint to assume the position of crown prince.
Summary: attention-grabbing headlines notwithstanding, the UAE’s move to a corporate tax is unlikely to alter the Gulf state’s lucrative role as a tax haven while personal income tax still looks a long way off.
Summary: with the closing of Dubai’s world fair questions are raised about its legacy.
Arab Digest editor William Law’s guest this week is the author and MENA analyst Christopher Davidson. Their conversation focusses on how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is proving beneficial for the region’s autocratic leaders and not simply because the price of hydrocarbons has soared. Amongst other windfalls Russia’s oligarchs are finding new homes in the Gulf and bringing their wealth with them.
Summary: a massive redevelopment project under the aegis of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is levelling huge tranches of the Red Sea city of Jeddah with residents being given scant notice before their homes are knocked down.
Arab Digest editor William Law is in conversation with Dr Ali Bakir, a MENA region geopolitical and security analyst at Qatar University’s Ibn Khaldoon Center for Humanities and Social Sciences. On the table is a discussion about the UAE’s diplomatic initiative in Syria as ‘Little Sparta’ curbs its military adventures in favour of soft power approaches aimed at relationship building with, amongst others, Iran.
Summary: Pre-pandemic, Dubai’s economy was stuttering but now the picture is bleaker and much more challenging.