Eryani: Tehran Uses Yemen As Platform to Threaten International Shipping Corridors

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Eryani: Tehran Uses Yemen As Platform to Threaten International Shipping Corridors

Friday, 21 June, 2019 – 10:30
Yemeni Information Minister Muammar al-Eryani (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Washington- Asharq Al-Awsat
Yemeni Information Minister Muammar al-Eryani warned against Iran’s continued practices in the region during his meetings with US officials at the White House on Thursday.

“Iran is spreading terrorism through its Houthi agents and is using Yemen as a platform to threaten neighboring countries and international shipping corridors, and continues to smuggle weapons and support the Houthi militias,” the Yemeni minister said during a meeting with US National Security Council officials.

Eryani warned of the terrorist practices of the Iranian-backed coup militias, their promotion of sectarian terrorist ideology and the recruitment of children in schools.

He stressed that the Yemeni legitimacy “cannot accept any role of Iran in Yemen,” adding that the Iranian regime has “given our country and our people only death, destruction, and sectarian feelings.”

The Iranian minister briefed US officials on “the legitimate government’s efforts to normalize public life in liberated areas, combat terrorism and extremism, rebuild devastated villages and restore the social fabric,” which he said the militias were destroying.

He also pointed to the Saudi-sponsored rehabilitation program for children and its role in reintegrating formerly recruited children in the society.

The Yemeni minister called on the international community and the United States to exert all forms of pressure on Iran to stop its destabilizing activities in Yemen and the rest of the region.

Pakistani FM to AAWSAT: Islamic Summit to Avoid War

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Pakistani FM to AAWSAT: Islamic Summit to Avoid War

Friday, 31 May, 2019 – 10:30
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Reuters
Jeddah- Mohammed Al-Ayed
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has affirmed that the summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) hosted by Saudi Arabia in attendance of Arab, Gulf, and Islamic leaders is an opportunity to address the tensed conditions in the region and avoid the breaking out of the war.

Amid the tension arising from the Iranian interventions in the region, Qureshi said that the war won’t be in the best interest of anyone, and won’t serve the region or the global economy. In fact, it would weaken the investment and increase the threat of terrorist activities, he added.

Despite all, Iran remains part of the region and can’t be removed and that’s why there should be a way to deal with it, Qureshi asserted.

As for the ballistic missiles launched by Houthis – Iran’s arm in Yemen – towards Makkah, Qureshi told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that any attack against the kingdom and the Two Holy Mosques is equivalent to an attack targeting Pakistan.

Qureshi stressed that his country will be ready in case any danger threatens the Saudi territories, lauding the continuous Saudi support to Pakistan.

Commenting on the attacks against energy sources and passages in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, the Pakistani FM stated that these energy sources don’t only contribute to economy and trade development on the level of Saudi Arabia but the world overall.

Further, he considered that the Iranian intention to close the Strait of Hormuz would escalate regional crises — Qureshi urged Iran to desist from escalation and to open up to diplomacy because extremist means would not be constructive.

Qureshi noted that the visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, to Pakistan brought several achievements to both countries, adding that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have key roles in the Islamic world that could boost stability and security in the region.

Iranian Stances Vary on Rouhani’s Demands for More Powers

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Iranian Stances Vary on Rouhani’s Demands for More Powers

Thursday, 23 May, 2019 – 10:00
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. (Reuters)
London – Asharq Al-Awsat
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani faced criticism after he renewed demands to reinforce his powers, while pro-government newspapers endorsed his call amid the increasing pressure by the US on Tehran.

Two weeks ago, the president criticized his limited influence in foreign policy and on Tuesday the IRNA news agency reported that he was seeking expanded, wartime executive powers to better deal with an “economic war” sparked by the US administration’s pullout from the nuclear deal and imposition of severe sanctions

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei expressed his dissatisfaction with Rouhani and how his team handled the nuclear deal also known as JCPOA.

“I did not believe in the way the JCPOA was done, and I have made this clear to the president and the foreign minister on many occasions,” he said.

Referring to a letter he sent to Rouhani, Khamenei stated: “Read my letter regarding the JCPOA and the conditions set for its ratification. But, if these conditions were not met, it is not the Leader’s responsibility to intervene.”

The government has been insisting on powers that allow it to form an operations room to confront the economic war.

Guardian Council Spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei tweeted that former presidents enjoyed wide powers according to the constitution, and currently Rouhani has more powers that can meet the country’s demands.

He also blamed former presidents for not using their full powers to resolve the issues of the country.

Reformist Mostafa Hashemi Taba said that the government powers are “below expectations”, adding that the situation in Iran today is more difficult than the time of war.

The Kayhan newspaper slammed Rouhani for demanding more powers, accusing him of failing to provide solutions to Iran’s economic woes even before the US pulled out of the nuclear deal.

Saudi Islamic scholar arrested over Easter bombings in Sri Lanka

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Saudi scholar arrested over Easter bombings in Sri Lanka

Mohamed Aliyar, 60, is the founder of the Centre for Islamic Guidance, which boasts a mosque, a religious school and a library in Zahran’s hometown of Kattankudy, a Muslim-dominated city on Sri Lanka’s eastern shores.

WORLD Updated: May 13, 2019 10:46 IST

Reuters
Reuters
Kattakudy, Sri Lanka
The government says Zahran, a radical Tamil-speaking preacher, was a leader of the group.(AFP FILE/ Representative Image)

Sri Lankan authorities have arrested a Saudi-educated scholar for what they claim are links with Zahran Hashim, the suspected ringleader of the Easter Sunday bombings, throwing a spotlight on the rising influence of Salafi-Wahhabi Islam on the island’s Muslims.

Mohamed Aliyar, 60, is the founder of the Centre for Islamic Guidance, which boasts a mosque, a religious school and a library in Zahran’s hometown of Kattankudy, a Muslim-dominated city on Sri Lanka’s eastern shores.

“Information has been revealed that the suspect arrested had a close relationship with … Zahran and had been operating financial transactions,” said a police statement late on Friday.

The statement said Aliyar was “involved” with training in the southern town of Hambantota for the group of suicide bombers who attacked hotels and churches on Easter, killing over 250 people.

A police spokesman declined to provide details on the accusations.

Calls to Aliyar and his associates went unanswered. Reuters was unable to find contact details for a lawyer.

The government says Zahran, a radical Tamil-speaking preacher, was a leader of the group.

Two Muslim community sources in Kattankudy told Reuters his hardline views were partly shaped by ultra-conservative Salafi-Wahhabi texts that he picked up at the Centre for Islamic Guidance’s library around 2-3 years ago. The sources are not affiliated with the centre.

“I used to always run into him at the centre, reading Saudi journals and literature,” said one of the sources.

During that time, Zahran started criticising the practice of asking God for help, for instance, arguing that such pleas were an affront to pure Islam.

“That kind of teaching was not in Sri Lanka in 2016, unless you read it in Salafi literature,” the source added, requesting anonymity to avoid repercussions in Kattankudy.

Salafism, a puritanical interpretation of Islam that advocates a return to the values of the first three generations of Muslims and is closely linked to Wahhabism, has often been criticised as the ideology of radical Islamists worldwide.

Wahhabi Islam has its roots in Saudi Arabia and is backed by its rulers, although Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has committed the kingdom to a more moderate form of Islam.

Other than the fact that Zahran visited the centre, the sources in Kattankudy said they did not know of any personal ties between him and Aliyar.

Aliyar founded the centre in 1990, a year after he graduated from the Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh, in what one resident said marked a key moment in the spread of Salafi doctrine in Kattankudy. The centre was partly funded by Saudi and Kuwaiti donors, according to a plaque outside.

TROUBLEMAKER

Reuters spoke to three members of the centre’s board before Aliyar’s arrest. They asked to remain anonymous, citing security concerns amid a backlash against some Muslims.

They said Zahran was a troublemaker and that they had warned authorities about his extremist views. The members said they thought Zahran frequented the library around a decade ago, but had no recollection of him visiting recently and denied that any of its books were to blame for his views.

Funding for the center came from local donations, student fees, and private donors who were classmates of Aliyar’s in Riyadh, the centre’s sources said. Reuters was unable to immediately determine further details about the funding of the centre.

The Saudi government communications office in Riyadh did not respond to requests for comment on the funding of the centre.

(Additional reporting by Stephen Kalin in Riyadh and Ranga Sirilal in Colombo; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer, Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

First Published: May 12, 2019 14:25 IST

Anti-Zionist imam delivers opening prayers in US House

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

(OPED: A Demon leading a prayer in a House full of Demons, what is it that surprises folks about this?)(oldpoet56)

 

Anti-Zionist imam delivers opening prayers in US House

Republican Lee Zeldin, who is Jewish, says decision to invite Omar Suleiman, who has likened Israeli troops to Nazis and called Zionists ‘enemies of God,’ was a ‘terribly bad call’

Omar Suleiman gives an opening prayer for a session of the US House of Representatives, May 9, 2019. (Screen capture: YouTube via JTA)

Omar Suleiman gives an opening prayer for a session of the US House of Representatives, May 9, 2019. (Screen capture: YouTube via JTA)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — An imam who has wished for the end of Zionism, called for a third Intifada and likened Israel to Nazi-era Germany delivered the opening prayer for a session of the US House of Representatives on Thursday.

Omar Suleiman, the founder and president of the Dallas-based Yaqeen Institute, an organization that describes itself as a resource about Islam, referred to recent attacks on houses of worship — which has included synagogues in the United States — in his opening remarks.

“Let us not be deterred by the hatred that has claimed the lives of innocent worshipers across the world, but emboldened by the love that gathered them together to remember you and gathered us together to remember them,” Suleiman said in a short prayer after being introduced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat.

Suleiman has a long record of incendiary social media statements about Israel, as compiled two years ago by Petra Marquardt-Bigman, a researcher, and posted on the Algeimeiner Jewish news site. He has on multiple occasions wished for a third Palestinian Intifada, or violent uprising, likened Israeli troops to Nazis, and has wished for the end of Zionism, calling Zionists “the enemies of God.” He is a backer of the boycott Israel movement.

Pelosi’s office did not reply to multiple requests for comment by publishing time.

Republican Representative Lee Zeldin of New York, who is Jewish, said in a statement that inviting Suleiman to deliver the opening prayer was a “terribly bad call.” Suleiman’s congresswoman, Democratic Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, reportedly invited him to deliver the prayer.

Suleiman in 2016 was at the scene of an anti-police shooting, in which five policemen were slain. He delivered a prayer at a memorial service a week later appearing on a stage with Texas’ two Republican senators, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, then-president Barack Obama and former president George W. Bush.

READ MORE:

Brunei Sultan backtracks on death penalty for gay sex

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S SHINE NEWS)

 

Brunei sultan backtracks on death penalty for gay sex

AFP

AFP

 In this file photo taken on April 3, 2019, Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah delivers a speech during an event in Bandar Seri Begawan.

Brunei’s sultan has announced death by stoning for gay sex and adultery will not be enforced after a global backlash, but critics yesterday called for harsh sharia laws to be abandoned entirely.

In a speech late on Sunday, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said a moratorium on capital punishment that already applies to Brunei’s regular criminal code would also extend to its new sharia code, which includes death by stoning for various crimes.

The code, which also punishes theft with the amputation of hands and feet, fully came into force last month in the small sultanate on Borneo island, making it the only country in East or Southeast Asia with sharia law at the national level.

The move sparked anger from governments and rights groups, the United Nations slammed it as a “clear violation” of human rights while celebrities led by actor George Clooney called for Brunei-owned hotels to be boycotted. In a televised address, the all-powerful sultan made his first public comments about the furore and took the rare step of addressing criticism, saying there had been “many questions and misperceptions” regarding the sharia laws.

“Both the common law and the sharia law aim to ensure peace and harmony of the country,” he insisted, according to an official translation of his speech.

Some crimes in Muslim-majority Brunei including murder and drug-trafficking were already punishable with death by hanging under the regular criminal code, which is enforced alongside the sharia code, but no one has been executed for decades.

Scope for remission

Hassanal said that “we have practiced a de facto moratorium on the execution of death penalty for cases under the common law. This will also be applied to cases under the (sharia penal code), which provides a wider scope for remission.”

But rights groups said the announcement did not go far enough.

“It really doesn’t change anything,” Matthew Woolfe, founder of rights group The Brunei Project, said. “This announcement does nothing to address the many other human rights concerns about the (sharia code).”

The maximum punishment for gay sex between men under the sharia code is death by stoning, but perpetrators can also be sentenced to lengthy jail terms or caning. Women convicted of having sexual relations with other women face up to 40 strokes of the cane or a maximum 10-year jail term.

Whipping and jail terms, as well as severing of limbs for theft, under the new code were not affected by the sultan’s announcement.

It was not clear how far other sharia punishments would be enforced.

The sultan also vowed in his speech that Brunei would ratify the United Nations convention against torture which it signed several years ago.

Former U.S. Soldier, Converted To Islam Planned Mass Murder In L.A. Foiled By FBI

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

A 26-year-old former US Army soldier who served in Afghanistan has been charged with plotting terror attacks in the Los Angeles area, the Justice Department said Monday.

Mark Steven Domingo allegedly sought to detonate improvised explosive devices containing nails this past weekend at a rally in Long Beach that was organized by a white nationalist group.
He was arrested Friday night after he took receipt of what he thought were pressure cooker bombs, US Attorney Nick Hanna announced at a press conference.
“Law enforcement was able to identify a man consumed with hate, and bent on mass murder and stop him before he was able to carry out his attack,” Hanna said.
Domingo allegedly wanted to “seek retribution for attacks against Muslims” and also considered attacks on Jewish people, churches and law enforcement.
He is accused of targeting “Jews as they walked to synagogue, police officers, a military facility, and crowds at the Santa Monica Pier.”
On March 2, DOJ says Domingo posted a video online professing his Muslim faith and wrote, “America needs another Vegas event,” referring to the mass shooting in Las Vegas in October 2017 in which more than 50 people died.
Domingo is a recent convert to Islam, Hanna said.
He wanted to give “them a taste of the terror they gladly spread all over the world,” according to the Justice Department.
Following a mass shooting attack on a mosque in New Zealand in March that killed dozens of people, Domingo posted, “there must be (sic) retribution.”
Domingo asked a FBI informant to find someone to construct an IED, according to the Justice Department. He met with the informant and came armed with an AK-47 style rifle.
There is no ongoing threat to public and no known co-conspirators, Hanna said.
Hanna said the “criminal case outlines a chilling terrorism plot that developed over the past two months and targeted innocent Americans that he expected to gather this past weekend.”
This story has been updated.

Palestinian Authority Rejects Direct Arab Support To Hamas

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Palestinian Authority Rejects Direct Arab Support to Hamas

Monday, 29 April, 2019 – 08:15
Head of Hamas delegation Saleh Arouri and Fatah leader Azzam Ahmad sign a reconciliation deal in Cairo, Egypt, October 12, 2017. (Reuters)
Ramallah – Asharq Al-Awsat
The reconciliation between Hamas movement and the Palestinian Authority (PA) has seen no development in the past few weeks, according to informed Palestinian sources.

The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Fatah’s position remains unaltered and that it had informed the Egyptian leadership that there was no need for any dialogue with Hamas, but rather it should implement the reconciliation agreement of 2017.

The sources pointed out that the policy of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, will restrict the money that reaches Hamas. They indicated that the Authority does not want to keep an ATM for Hamas and do not want any Arab funds to reach the movement directly.

The funds must come through the PA, because it’s capable of employing them to provide relief to Gaza Strip. Otherwise, it will be a direct support for Hamas.

A Fatah delegation recently visited Cairo and conveyed fears to Egypt regarding the ceasefire in Gaza, especially the flow of money to Hamas. Fatah has rejected suggestions from regional countries for a meeting of Palestinian factions.

Fatah says there won’t be any meeting with the Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements before they recognize the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) as the legitimate and sole representative of the Palestinian people, and there will be no meetings regarding reconciliation.

In the context, Secretary of the Central Committee of Fatah, Major General Jibril al-Rajoub said that Hamas is required to take practical steps to end the division.

Rajoub noted that the movement should do what’s necessary to establish a national front based on fortifying the national project based on an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital within the 1967 borders and the return of refugees.

He stressed that Hamas must first remove all forms of its authority in Gaza, return the government to the Strip to carry out its duties and its responsibilities as the Palestinian national government from Rafah to Jenin.

Rajoub noted that the concept of partnership is embodied in a genuine democratic process, such as the recent elections of student councils in the universities of the West Bank.

Earlier, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said he was ready to meet with Abbas in order to restore national unity in the face of the “deal of the century”.

“Hamas has no veto on any meeting that would ensure unity and end the division in order to provide elements of perseverance and confrontation against the deal of the century,” Haniyeh explained.

“Reconciliation and unity are urgent demands… We don’t want an alternative to the PLO,” he added.

Haniyeh’s remarks on the PLO were in response to previous accusations by its officials against Hamas.

PLO officials had previously said that the movement was seeking to form an alternative to the organization. It had called on all Palestinian factions to boycott a supreme body that Hamas has been trying to form on the pretext of confronting the deal of the century.

Sri Lanka Attacks: Relatives Of Key Suspect Zahran Hashim Killed

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Sri Lanka attacks: Relatives of key suspect Zahran Hashim killed

Sri Lankan army personnel stand guard at a checkpoint as they search people and their bags at a check point in Kattankudy near Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, 28 AprilImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Searches have been carried out in Kattankudy

The father and two brothers of the alleged organiser of the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka, Zahran Hashim, were killed in a security forces operation on Friday, police say.

Hashim, who blew himself up at a hotel in Colombo, founded an Islamist group, the NTJ, which has now been banned.

Police have raided the group’s HQ in the eastern town of Kattankudy.

The Sri Lankan president has announced a ban on face coverings, aimed at Muslim women following the attacks.

The attacks targeted churches and hotels, killing at least 250 people.

Sunday church services were cancelled across the country as a precaution but worshippers in the capital gathered to pray outside St Anthony’s, which was badly damaged in the attacks.

How did Hashim’s relatives die?

Security forces raided a house in Sainthamaruthu, near Hashim’s hometown Kattankudy, on Friday.

Gunmen opened fire as troops moved in, police say, and three men set off explosives, killing themselves, six children and three women. Three other people died in gunfire.

The headquarters of the NTJ under police guardImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionPolice sealed off the NTJ’s headquarters on Sunday

A close family relative confirmed for BBC News that Hashim’s father and two brothers died in the raid.

Police sources who spoke to Reuters news agency named the three men as Mohamed Hashim, and his sons Zainee Hashim and Rilwan Hashim.

All three had been seen in a video circulating on social media calling for all-out war against all non-believers, Reuters adds.

In Kattankudy itself, police searched the headquarters of the NTJ (National Thawheed Jamath), which Zahran Hashim had led.

Presentational grey line

‘Safe house’ discovered by chance

By Anbarasan Ethirajan, BBC News, Sainthamaruthu

GV of house that was raided
Image caption The safe house was discovered after local people alerted police

When I entered the house where the Islamists and their families were killed on Friday evening, the smell of death was unbearable.

A police officer at the site also said Zahran Hashim’s mother was also believed to be among the victims.

Security forces have been conducting raids across the country but this safe house was discovered by chance, when the suspicious house owner and local people alerted the police.

Every day, police are making arrests, seizing weapons, explosives and jihadist material suggesting the radicalisation process, however small it may be, has been happening over a period of time. If the security agencies had missed this, then it is a colossal failure.

The ongoing raids and discovery of weapons and material are gradually building up tensions among the communities. A hotel owner said she was worried because she was a Catholic. Muslims say they are nervous to visit Sinhala-majority areas. Some foreign governments have warned that there is a possibility of further attacks and if those happen, fragile ethnic relations could be further strained.

Presentational grey line

Announcing the ban on face coverings, which will begin on Monday, President Maithripala Sirisena said he was taking the emergency measure on national security grounds.

The announcement made no specific mention of the niqab and burka – worn by Muslim women – but instead said people’s faces should be fully visible so they could be identified.

What happened on Easter Sunday?

Sri Lanka has been on high alert since a co-ordinated wave of bombings last Sunday, which also wounded more than 500 people.

The bombings targeted churches that were packed full for the Easter holiday, as well as hotels popular with tourists.

As well as St Anthony’s Shrine, bombers struck churches in Negombo and the eastern city of Batticaloa, and hotels in the capital, Colombo.

Most of those killed were Sri Lankan, but dozens of foreign citizens were also among the dead.

Media caption‘This is Sri Lanka’: Fighting back with peace

While the authorities have blamed the NTJ for the attacks, they say they must have had help from a larger network.

The Islamic State group, which carried out mass attacks on civilians in Paris and other locations in recent years, has said it was involved, but has not given details.

How are the victims being remembered?

Christians in Sri Lanka prayed at home while the Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, held a televised Mass, attended by the president and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

He called the attacks an “insult to humanity” in the service, broadcast from a chapel in his residence.

Media caption Sri Lankans pray and light candles, one week after a string of bombings by Islamist militants

“Today during this Mass we are paying attention to last Sunday’s tragedy and we try to understand it,” he said.

“We pray that in this country there will be peace and co-existence and understanding each other without division.”

Scores of people gathered for the public service outside St Anthony’s, where Buddhist monks joined Catholic priests in a show of solidarity with the Christian community.

Crowds of people watched the heavily-guarded church from behind a barricade, with some singing hymns and passing rosary beads through their hands.

Many lit candles and placed them in a makeshift memorial for the victims.

The church’s bells tolled at 08:45 (03:15 GMT) – the exact moment a bomber detonated his device one week ago.

The hands of its damaged clock tower are still stuck at that time.

(Persian) Gulf Acquisitions, Mergers Grow by 39 Percent

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Gulf Acquisitions, Mergers Grow by 39 Percent

Sunday, 28 April, 2019 – 08:45
General view of Aramco’s Ras Tanura oil refinery and oil terminal in Saudi Arabia May 21, 2018. (Reuters)
London – Mutlaq Muneer
The number of merger and acquisition deals (M&As) in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) grew 39 percent year-on-year during the first quarter of 2019, according to a report released by Kuwait Financial Center (MARKAZ) on Saturday.

The Saudi market topped the Arabian Gulf markets in terms of M&As in Q1-19, in which the sector witnessed Aramco’s 70 percent acquisition of SABIC in a deal worth USD69.1 billion.

In January, the Kuwait Finance House (KFH) said it gave initial approval for the average of stock exchange with AUB Bahrain at a rate of 2.33 shares of AUB’s in return for one share in KFH, added the report.

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB), listed on Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX), announced last month that its general assembly approved its merger with Union National Bank (UNB).

Italy’s Eni and Austria’s OMV will collectively acquire a 35 percent stake in ADNOC Refining for an estimated USD5.8 billion, whereby ADNOC will retain the remaining 65 percent stake in the company. KKR and BlackRock have acquired a 40 percent stake in ADNOC Oil Pipelines, an entity that will lease ADNOC’s interest in 18 pipelines for 23 years.

GCC acquirers accounted for 60 percent of the total number of transactions during Q1 2019 and 75 percent during Q4 2018. Foreign acquirers accounted for 34 percent of the total number of transactions during Q1 2019 and 17 percent during Q4 2018. Buyer information was not available for 6 percent of the transactions in Q1 2019.

Each of the GCC acquirers seemed to have a different appetite with regards to M&A transactions during Q1 2019.

Kuwaiti acquirers preferred investing in their home country. Saudi acquirers mostly invested in their home country and equally between other GCC countries and outside the GCC. UAE acquirers mostly invested outside the GCC and within their home country. Bahraini acquirers only invested outside the GCC. Qatari and Omani acquirers each engaged in one acquisition in their respective countries.

Q1 2019 witnessed a 70 percent increase in the number of completed transactions by foreign buyers compared to Q1 2018. In comparison to Q4 2018, the number of such transactions grew by 89 percent.

UAE targets represented 71 percent of the closed transactions by foreign acquirers during Q1 2019, while Saudi Arabia and Kuwait represented 23 percent and 6 percent respectively of the transactions during the same period. Bahraini, Omani and Qatari targets did not attract any foreign buyers during Q1 2019.

As per MARKAZ’s report, the industrial, financial and consumer sectors in the GCC accounted for 62 percent of M&As in the region during the first three months of 2019.

The media, insurance, telecommunication services and aviation sectors each accounted for 2 percent of the total closed transactions during Q1 2019, collectively amounting to 8 percent of the transactions during the period.

There was a total of 14 announced transactions in the pipeline during Q1 2019, representing a 27 percent increase in the number of announced transactions compared to Q4 2018.

UAE and Saudi Arabia collectively accounted for 79 percent of the announced transactions during Q1 2019. Oman and Qatar made up 21 percent of the announced transactions.