US secretary of state John Kerry and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed arrive to attend the joint meeting between GCC foreign ministers and the US in Doha on August 3. EPA
US secretary of state John Kerry and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed arrive to attend the joint meeting between GCC foreign ministers and the US in Doha on August 3. EPA

Deal with Iran ‘will make the Gulf safer’



ABU DHABI // Gulf Cooperation Council foreign ministers welcomed the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers on Monday, following a presentation in Doha from the US secretary of state.

“We are confident that what they undertook makes this region safer and more stable,” said Qatari foreign minister Khalid Al Attiya.

John Kerry told the ministers that there would be “live oversight over Iran”, according to Mr Al Attiya, who said this was “reassuring to the region”.

Qatar currently heads the six-nation GGC’s rotating presidency. Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed led the UAE delegation to the meeting.

The deal, signed on July 14, sees Iran scale back its nuclear programme in exchange for relief from debilitating international sanctions. After years of tensions with Iran, Gulf Arab officials had voiced sceptisim about the agreement because of outstanding questions over its details. Monday’s meeting with Mr Kerry was the first time the states praised the agreement as a bloc.

“Once fully implemented, the [Iran deal] contributes to the region’s long-term security, including by preventing Iran from developing a military nuclear capability,” Mr Kerry said.

Many Gulf Arab officials are concerned that once sanctions on Iran are lifted, Tehran will increase support to its regional proxies, such as Hizbollah in Lebanon and the Assad regime in Syria, and also increase its military prowess through purchases for its armed forces.

As part of an effort to support Gulf Arab countries, Mr Kerry said a number of working groups would begin meeting in Saudi Arabia next week to address key concerns. They will aim to develop the GCC’s missile defence capabilities, expedite the transfer of arms, increase special forces training, maritime and cyber security programmes and boost intelligence sharing.

Mr Kerry said Washington “agreed to expedite certain arms sales that are needed and that have taken too long in the past”.

The US state department last week authorised the sale to Saudi Arabia of 600 PAC-3 missiles and related equipment, costing $5.4 billion (Dh19.8bn), along with $500 million in ammunition for other weapons.

Mr Kerry arrived in Doha from Cairo, where he met Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El Sisi. Despite a fraying of ties following Mr El Sisi’s removal of former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi in 2013, the two countries appear to be rekindling their traditionally close alliance in the face of violence from regional extremist groups.

Mr Kerry’s trip through the region also coincided with statements from Iranian leaders that suggested the nuclear deal would lead to a new era.

On Sunday, Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani said the deal created “a new atmosphere. The climate will be easier.”

Writing in Lebanon's Assafir newspaper, Iranian foreign minister Mohammed Javad Zarif called for talks between all Muslim countries under United Nations supervision to end the conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

Yet, despite the overtures, some regional observers still doubt Tehran’s intentions.

“We are witnessing an Iranian media offensive,” said Mustafa Alani, a security analyst with close ties to Riyadh, commenting on Mr Rouhani’s speech and Mr Zarif’s article.

“Our concern in the GCC is the Iranian interventionist policies in Bahrain, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. This is in the hands of the Revolutionary Guard and the supreme leader,” he said.

Neither Mr Zarif nor Mr Rouhani would be able to guarantee their overtures because of the power structure in Iran, which gives supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei the final say on all matters.

Mr Alani said that while GCC states would not publicly oppose the nuclear deal, they would continue to demand clear commitments from Washington on how it will counter Iran’s “interventionist” policies.

In Doha, Mr Kerry also held a meeting with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and Saudi Arabian foreign minister Adel Al Jubeir to discuss the situation in Syria, where Moscow and Riyadh support opposite sides in the conflict.

jvela@thenational.ae

* with reporting from Agencies

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UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian
Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).
Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming
Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics
Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

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Directed by: Joseph Kosinski

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Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

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Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
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Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

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Gearbox: Seven-speed automatic

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Torque: 720Nm @ 6,750rpm

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A semen analysis of the father showed abnormal sperm so the couple required IVF.

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Day five of the treatment saw two male embryos transferred to the patient.

The woman recorded a positive pregnancy test two weeks later. 

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Women’s race:
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3. Dera Dida (ETH) 2:19:29
Men's race:
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Etihad Airways flies daily to the Maldives from Abu Dhabi. The journey takes four hours and return fares start from Dh3,995. Opt for the 3am flight and you’ll land at 6am, giving you the entire day to adjust to island time.  

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Juventus 1 (Dybala 45')

Lazio 3 (Alberto 16', Lulic 73', Cataldi 90+4')

Red card: Rodrigo Bentancur (Juventus)

Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

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“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

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The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

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