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GULF
Country profile: Iraq PDF Print E-mail

Iraq, in an area once home to some of the earliest civilisations, became a battleground for competing forces after the US-led ousting of President Saddam Hussein in 2003.

The Shia-led government struggled to restore order until a "surge" of US troops in late 2007 began to push insurgents and militias out of cities and provinces they had long contested.

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Country profile: Kuwait PDF Print E-mail
Kuwait is a small, oil-rich country nestling at the top of the Gulf, flanked by large or powerful neighbours - Saudi Arabia to the south, Iraq to the north and Iran to the east.
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Country profile: Bahrain PDF Print E-mail

Bahrain - whose name means "two seas" - was once viewed by the ancient Sumerians as an island paradise to which the wise and the brave were taken to enjoy eternal life.

It was one of the first states in the Gulf to discover oil and to build a refinery; as such, it benefited from oil wealth before most of its neighbours.

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Country profile: Iran PDF Print E-mail

Iran became a unique Islamic republic in 1979, when the monarchy was overthrown and religious clerics assumed political control under supreme leader Ayatollah Khomenei.

The Iranian revolution put an end to the rule of the Shah, who had alienated powerful religious and political forces with a program of modernization and Westernization.

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Country profile: Qatar PDF Print E-mail

Qatar, a former pearl-fishing centre and once one of the poorest Gulf states, is now one of the richest countries in the region, thanks to the exploitation of large oil and gas fields since the 1940s.

Dominated by the Al-Thani family for almost 150 years, the mainly barren country was a British protectorate until 1971, when it declared its independence after following suit with Bahrain and refusing to join the United Arab Emirates.

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Country profile: Oman PDF Print E-mail

The oldest independent state in the Arab world, Oman is one of the more traditional countries in the Gulf region and was, until the 1970s, one of the most isolated.

Occupying the south-east corner of the Arabian peninsula, it has a strategically important position at the mouth of the Gulf.

At one time Oman had its own empire, which at its peak in the 19th century stretched down the east African coast and vied with Portugal and Britain for influence in the Gulf and Indian Ocean.

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Country profile: Saudi Arabia PDF Print E-mail

One of the most devout and insular countries in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has emerged from being an underdeveloped desert kingdom to become one of the wealthiest nations in the region thanks to vast oil resources.

But its rulers face the delicate task of responding to pressure for reform while combating a growing problem of extremist violence.

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Country profile: United Arab Emirates PDF Print E-mail

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven states formed in 1971 by the then Trucial States after independence from Britain.

Although each state - Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al Qaiwain - maintains a large degree of independence, the UAE is governed by a Supreme Council of Rulers made up of the seven emirs, who appoint the prime minister and the cabinet.

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