US working with Arab Coalition to prevent Iran from arming Houthis: envoy

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US special representative on Iran Brian Hook with Maj. Gen. Fahd bin Turki, the Arab Coalition’s commander of the joint forces at presser. (AN Photo by Saad Al-Dosari)
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Brian Hook, left, the US special representative on Iran, listens to a member of the Saudi military forces at an army base in Al Kharj, south of the Saudi capital Riyadh, on June 21, 2019. (AFP)
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US special representative on Iran Brian Hook with Maj. Gen. Fahd bin Turki, the Arab Coalition’s commander of the joint forces at weapons display by Coalition. (AN Photo by Saad Al-Dosari)
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US special representative on Iran Brian Hook at weapons display by Coalition. (AN Photo by Saad Al-Dosari)
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US special representative on Iran Brian Hook with Maj. Gen. Fahd bin Turki, the Arab Coalition’s commander of the joint forces at weapons display by Coalition. (AN Photo by Saad Al-Dosari)
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US special representative on Iran Brian Hook at weapons display by Coalition (AN Photo by Saad Al-Dosari)
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US special representative on Iran Brian Hook with Maj. Gen. Fahd bin Turki, the Arab Coalition’s commander of the joint forces at weapons display by Coalition. (AN Photo by Saad Al-Dosari)
Updated 24 June 2019

US working with Arab Coalition to prevent Iran from arming Houthis: envoy

  • ‘If we do not succeed in tackling Iran in Yemen, it will increase the risk of a greater conflict in the region’
  • Iran ‘responds to diplomacy with diplomacy ... war with firm defense’

AL KHARJ, Saudi Arabia: Iran’s use of surrogates to attack Saudi Arabia and destabilize the region needs to be countered, Brian Hook, the US special representative on Iran, told reporters on Friday.

“If we do not succeed in tackling Iran in Yemen, it will increase the risk of a greater conflict in the region,” he said.

The US envoy also said that they are working with the Arab Coalition to prevent Iran from arming the Houthis.

Hook also said Iran has no right to respond to diplomacy “with military force,” a day after Tehran shot down a US reconnaissance drone over the Strait of Hormuz.

“Our diplomacy does not give Iran the right to respond with military force,” Hook said.

“Iran needs to meet diplomacy with diplomacy, not military force.”

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Friday on his Twitter account that Iran “responds to diplomacy with diplomacy ... war with firm defense,” reacting to remarks by US envoy Hook.

The downing of the drone — which Washington insists was over international waters but Tehran says was within its airspace — has seen tensions between the two countries spike further after a series of attacks on tankers the US and its staunch ally, Saudi Arabia, have blamed on Iran.

Tehran denies having been behind the attacks but has frequently threatened in the past to block the vital sea lanes into and out of the Gulf.

“Iran is responsible for escalating tensions in the region. They continue to reject diplomatic overtures to deescalate tensions,” Hook said.

The US diplomat was in Saudi Arabia, where he met deputy defense minister Prince Khaled bin Salman on Friday morning.

The two discussed efforts to counter Iranian actions, Salman said on Twitter.

“We affirmed the kingdom’s support for the United States’ maximum pressure campaign on Iran, which came as a result of continuing Iranian hostility and terrorism, and discussed latest Iranian attacks on the kingdom,” he said.

US President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly said he does not want war, offered mixed messages over the drone, warning that Iran “made a very big mistake” — but also suggesting a “loose and stupid” Iranian general accidentally shot it down.

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have grown sharply since May last year when Trump unilaterally abandoned a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between major powers and Iran, and re-imposed sweeping sanctions.

The US has since bolstered its military presence in the Middle East and blacklisted Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization.

Trump has said he remains open to negotiations with Iran, but its supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last week categorically ruled out talks with Trump after his abandonment of the nuclear deal.

Iran “has no trust in America and will not in any way repeat the bitter experience of the previous negotiations with America,” Khamenei said.


Companies must deploy AI to transform industries: Mubadala deputy CEO

Updated 18 min 40 sec ago

Companies must deploy AI to transform industries: Mubadala deputy CEO

  • ‘One of the mega trends you see around the world is that preferences matter’
  • ‘We have to change the way we view technology’

DUBAI: The next wave of value creation in the business world will not come from companies that develop artificial intelligence (AI), but from those that can innovatively deploy technology to transform industries, Waleed Al-Muhairi, deputy CEO of Mubadala Investment Co., said on Tuesday at the first Middle East SALT conference.

The two-day event is taking place in Abu Dhabi, and is run by former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci.

It is hosting more than 1,000 leaders from the worlds of investment, finance and policymaking at the city’s financial hub, the Abu Dhabi Global Market.

Discussing Mubadala’s partnerships with China, the UAE’s largest trading partner, Al-Muhairi referred to billion-dollar investments in China’s private and public sectors.

“We have a wonderful partnership with China. We’ve established a $10 billion fund there with the China Development Bank, and have deployed almost $2 billion in 15 to 16 different sectors, with technology being the main theme,” he said.

Mubadala currently has $240 billion of assets under management, with close to $100 billion invested in the US (60 percent of the state-owned holding company’s portfolio).

The remaining 40 percent is divided “almost” equally between investments in the UAE, Europe and Asia, “with a heavy concentration in China,” said Al-Muhairi.

“But our objective is to participate in the growth and success of a large, growing and dynamic economy like China’s,” he said, adding that it is only a matter of time before the country becomes the “largest economy on Earth.”

On technology, Al-Muhairi cited Asia-focused private equity firm Hill House, which transformed a mid-level athletic footwear company in China to the No. 1 brand in the country through the deployment of AI.

The company applied the expertise of 50 scientists and engineers to revolutionize the manufacturing process of footwear, while subsequently improving the brand’s retail experience.

By placing censors on the shelves to detect customers’ interest in buying specific footwear, they were able to shorten the cycle of understanding customer feedback and preference, said Al-Muhairi.

“One of the mega trends you see around the world is that preferences matter. And those business that are able to curate a customized experience for customers are going to be the ones who succeed, especially in the retail industry,” he added.

While people often refer to technology as a “sector,” Al-Muhairi believes it is similar to the concept of “electricity” in that it empowers projects and is infused in everything we do today.

“We have to change the way we view technology,” he said, adding that while it is the “life-blood of any successful company” and the “single most important enabler,” it is not an objective in itself. 

“We don’t invest in technology for the sake of technology. We invest in it because it will transform something or it will create value and a return,” he said.