Week in pictures: March 15 - March 22 2012

Arabian Business rounds up the week's biggest stories across the Middle East
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Four more members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have decided to close their embassies in Syria over its violent crackdown on mass protests against President Bashar al-Assad, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported late on Thursday. (AFP/Getty Images)
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India's Sachin Tendulkar became the first cricketer to score 100 international centuries during an Asia Cup one-day match against Bangladesh on Friday. (AFP/Getty Images)
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The UAE's central bank has directed lenders in the Gulf state to help reduce the debt burden of UAE nationals, with some bankers saying banks may have to write off certain personal loans.
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Qatar is set to add a new hotel attraction to its hospitality landscape in 2013, a city centre hotel complete with a man-made beach, a wave pool, rivers, a waterfall and an 18-hole golfing green, a spokesperson for the company behind the project told Arabian Business.
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A Qatar backed firm has pulled out of a GBP£500m (US$800m) deal to invest in Britain’s Silverstone Grand Prix circuit, putting the future of the Formula One showcase in jeopardy.
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An Arab expatriate living in Saudi Arabia has been sentenced to six years in jail and 600 lashes after being convicted of sorcery and fraud, Arab News has reported.
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The economy and energy minister of Bulgaria, Traicho Traikov, resigned from his role shortly after returning from a business forum in Qatar intended to stimulate investment in the former Eastern bloc nation.
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The Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee has submitted to a list of potential female athletes. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Abu Dhabi plans to build a terminal for importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) at a port that would bypass the need for vessels to pass through the Strait of Hormuz, which has recently been threatened with closure by Iran.
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Developers of the $4bn mixed-use Dubai Sports City project have promised to hand over a minimum of six new projects this year, following outcry from investors over building delays.
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The UAE was the largest importer of arms in the Middle East over the last five years, with its total volume of annual purchases rising by 153 percent in 2011, according to the latest data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
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The ruler of Kuwait has received assurances from Iran that the Strait of Hormuz will not be blockaded. (AFP/Getty Images)
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A second performance by US pop queen Madonna in Abu Dhabi on June 4 is taking a little longer to sell out than her first one, with 3,000 tickets currently remaining unsold.
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The crisis in the eurozone is “a once in a lifetime opportunity” for Gulf investors to snap up trophy assets for knockdown prices, a leading Qatari banker told Arabian Business.
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An influential US consumer watchdog is investigating online reports that Apple new iPad throws off an unusually large amount of heat and will publish its findings this week. (AFP/Getty Images)
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All banking executives sitting on the boards of directors of the UAE’s top banks are to face more scrutiny and will undergo a 'fitness test' to assess their expertise, the UAE central bank governor announced on Tuesday.
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Staff at HSBC Middle East have received an email announcing immediate company plans to implement redundancies.
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Saudi Arabia’s mortgage market is the least developed among the six Gulf Cooperation Council states almost a year after advisers to the king approved an overhaul of the mortgage law, CBRE Group said.
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Etihad Rail CEO Richard Bowker left the company behind the UAE’s proposed US$11bn railway network in order to join British football’s governing body.
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Abu Dhabi's tourism developer said on Wednesday it remained "deeply committed" to safeguarding worker welfare following a new report on conditions on its Saadiyat Island.
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Dubai announced plans on Wednesday to follow neighbour Abu Dhabi in establishing a cultural district which will include a museum, two art hotels and an opera house.
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Some 600 lingerie shops in Saudi Arabia have been closed for not adhering to new government rules which ban stores from employing male sales assistants, the Saudi Gazette reported.
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Dubai-based TV network MBC is planning on launching localised content for Iraq, Egypt and North Africa as part of a major revamp at the satellite broadcaster, a senior executive revealed.
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Indebted Indian carrier Kingfisher Airlines has stopped issuing tickets to UAE travel agents ahead of plans to cease its flights to Dubai.