Posts Tagged ‘Abu Dhabi’

Iran threatens ballistic missile attacks on the capitals of Saudi Arabia and the UAE in video

September 25, 2018

An Iranian media outlet close to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) published a video on Tuesday threatening the capitals of Saudi Arabia and the UAE with missile attacks.

The video tweeted and later deleted by the semi-official Fars news agency comes as Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed Riyadh and Abu Dhabi for an attack on a military parade in the city of Ahvaz on Saturday.

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Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

The video shows file footage of previous ballistic missile attacks launched by the Guard, then a graphic of a sniper rifle scope homing in on Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. The video also threatened Israel.

“The era of the hit-and-run has expired,” Khamenei’s voice is heard in the video, the segment taken from an April speech by the supreme leader. “A heavy punishment is underway.”

Iran has fired its ballistic missiles twice in anger in recent years. In 2017, responding to an Daesh attack on Tehran, the IRGC fired missiles striking targets in Syria. Then, earlier this month, it launched a strike on a meeting of Iranian Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq.


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Houthi Military Media Unit shows the launch by Iran-backed Houthi forces of a ballistic missile aimed at Saudi Arabia March 25, 2018. Houthi Military Media Unit-Handout via Reuters

The IRGC, a paramilitary force answerable only to Khamenei, has sole control over Iran’s ballistic missile program.

Under Khamenei’s orders, Iran now limits its ballistic missiles to a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles), which gives Tehran the range to strike Israel, Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as regional American military bases.

Saturday’s attack targeted one of many parades in Iran marking the start of the country’s long 1980s war with Iraq, part of a commemoration known as “Sacred Defense Week.” Militants disguised as soldiers opened fire as rows of troops marched past officials in Ahvaz.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani attends a news conference at the Chancellery in Vienna, Austria July 4, 2018. (Reuters)

Arab separatists in the region claimed the attack and Iranian officials have blamed them for the assault. The separatists accuse Iran’s government of discriminating against its ethnic Arab minority. Iran’s Khuzestan province, where Ahvaz is the provincial capital, also has seen recent protests over Iran’s nationwide drought, as well as economic protests.

Daesh also claimed Saturday’s attack, initially offering incorrect information about it and later publishing a video of three men it identified as the attackers. The men in the video, however, did not pledge allegiance or otherwise identify themselves as Daesh followers.

Iranian state TV reported that authorities have detained 22 people linked to the group behind the attack and confiscated ammunition and communication equipment. Fars also reported that five militants took part in the assault, all of whom were killed. It said two of them were brothers and another one was their cousin.

On Monday, the IRGC’s acting commander, Gen. Hossein Salami, vowed revenge against the perpetrators and what he called the “triangle” of Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States.

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Gen. Hossein Salami

“You are responsible for these actions; you will face the repercussions,” the general said. “We warn all of those behind the story, we will take revenge.”

Khamenei said Monday that the attack showed Iran has “a lot of enemies.” He linked the attackers to the United States, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

“Definitely, we will harshly punish the operatives” behind the terror attack, he said.

The Associated Press


Doors of Holy Kaaba opened for Prime Minister Imran Khan

September 19, 2018

JEDDAH: Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is on maiden foreign trip to Saudi Arabia, performed Umrah early on Wednesday.

As per details, the doors of Holy Kaaba were  opened for the Prime Minister Imran Khan, and was bestowed with the opportunity of going inside Holy  Kaaba. He prayed for the Muslim world there.

On Tuesday evening, Imran Khan arrived in Jeddah after visiting the Prophet’s Mosque in Madina, where he had also spent some time and offered prayers.

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Upon his arrival at King Abdulaziz International airport, he was warmly received by Makkah Deputy Emir Prince Abdullah Bin Bandar, Minister of Media Dr Awwad Al-Awwad, Mayor of Jeddah Saleh Al-Turki, Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf Bin Saeed Al-Malki, and several other senior civil and military officials.

Prime Minister’s trip to Saudi Arabia began exactly one month after he assumed office, which was arranged on the invitation of King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.

The Prime Minister along with delegation, comprising Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Asad Umar and some other cabinet’s members, will later arrive in Abu Dhabi in the evening on September 19, where he may also watch the much hyped Pakistan-India cricket match.

Pakistan’s PM arriving in Saudi Arabia Tuesday in first foreign visit

September 18, 2018

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will begin his two-day official visit to Saudi Arabia on the invitation of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman on Tuesday.

This will be his first foreign trip to any country after assuming charge of the highest political office in the country.

After concluding his visit to Saudi Arabia, Khan, along with his delegation, will arrive in Abu Dhabi on Sept. 19 where he will be received by United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. (Photo courtesy: Imran Khan/Facebook)

According to an official handout circulated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Khan will also be accompanied by the foreign minister, minister for finance and adviser to the prime minister on commerce.

During his stay in Saudi Arabia, he will call on the King and hold a bilateral meeting with the Crown Prince.

King Salman will also host a state banquet for him at the Royal Court.

As members of Khan’s federal cabinet meet their counterparts, Dr. Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC),  will call on the prime minister.

Khan will also perform Umrah and visit Madinah during his stay in the Kingdom.

After concluding his visit to Saudi Arabia, Khan, along with his delegation, will proceed to the UAE on Sept. 19 to meet with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The two leaders will discuss issues of bilateral interest in their meeting.

UAE is trying to end “Iran’s uncontrollable influence in Iraq”

August 30, 2018
A leading Lebanese newspaper revealed documents showing that the UAE is trying to create a rift between Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Iran.

“One of the documents shows that UAE Ambassador to Baghdad Hassan Ahmad al-Shaha wants Iraqi prime minister’s position to get closer to Saudi Arabia,” the Arabic-language al-Akhbar daily reported on Wednesday.

FARS News (Iran)

“A telegraph (sent by al-Shaha to the UAE government) clearly shows that Abu Dhabi is attempting to confront Iran’s influence in Baghdad through controlling Haider al-Abadi,” it added.

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Haider al-Abadi

The report said that based on the telegraph, the Persian Gulf littoral states support al-Abadi to get rid of what it calls “Iran’s uncontrollable influence in Iraq”.

Documents leaked from the UAE embassies in several Arab states showed in July that Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have pressured Sudan to darken ties with Iran and the resistance front and distance from Qatar.

Al-Akhbar revealed that UAE Ambassador to Khartoum Hamad al-Junaibi has sent a letter to Abu Dhabi in November 2013, criticizing Sudan for its attempts to receive more aid from Qatar while supporting the Saudi-led anti-Yemen coalition.

He added that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir resorts to any means to strengthen ties with Qatar, calling on Abu Dhabi officials to pressure him to join the Saudi-led coalition against Doha.

Other documents leaked from different UAE embassies in Arab states also indicated attempts by Doha to coax them into distancing from Iran and the resistance front.

Trump seeks to revive ‘Arab NATO’ to confront Iran

July 29, 2018

The Trump administration is quietly pushing ahead with a bid to create a new security and political alliance with six Gulf Arab states, Egypt and Jordan, in part to counter Iran’s expansion in the region, according to US and Arab officials.


The White House wants to see deeper cooperation between the countries on missile defense, military training, counter-terrorism and other issues such as strengthening regional economic and diplomatic ties, four sources said.

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The White House’s hope is that the effort, tentatively known as the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), might be discussed at a summit provisionally scheduled for Washington on Oct. 12-13, several sources said.

The White House confirmed it was working on the concept of the alliance with “our regional partners now and have been for several months.”

Sources from some of the Arab countries involved also said they were aware of renewed efforts to activate the plan. Officials from other potential participants did not respond to requests for comment.

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“MESA will serve as a bulwark against Iranian aggression, terrorism, extremism, and will bring stability to the Middle East,” a spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council said.

The spokesperson declined to confirm that Trump would host a summit on those dates and sources cautioned that it remains uncertain whether the security plan will be finalized by mid-October. Similar initiatives by previous US administrations to develop a more formal alliance with Gulf and Arab allies have failed in the past.


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Washington, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi accuse Iran of destabilizing the region, fomenting unrest in some Arab countries through proxy groups and increasingly threatening Israel.

It is unclear how the alliance could immediately counter Tehran but the Trump administration and its Arab allies have joint interests in the conflicts in Yemen and Syria as well as defending Gulf shipping lanes through which much of the world’s oil supplies are shipped.

A senior Iranian official told Reuters the approach would have “no result” beyond “deepening the gaps between Iran, its regional allies and the US-backed Arab countries.”

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An Iranian made ballistic missile is launched from Yemen by Houthi rebels into Saudi Arabia — Reuters file photo

As Trump pursues his “America First” policy, the White House is eager to have US allies worldwide shoulder more of the burden in confronting regional security threats.

The UAE is ready to deploy more troops across the Middle East to counter its foes, as it believes it can no longer rely on Western allies like the US and Britain, UAE Minister Anwar Gargash said on Thursday.

Setting up a regional anti-missile defense shield, which the US and Gulf countries have discussed for years without result, would be a goal for the alliance, a source familiar with the plan said, as well as training to upgrade the countries’ militaries.

sh into its system.

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Tension with Iran has increased since Trump announced in May that the US was pulling out of a 2015 international deal to limit Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. On Monday, Iran dismissed a warning from Trump that it risked dire consequences “the likes of which few throughout history have suffered before” if it made threats against the US.

Arab News



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On Thursday, Iran’s Quds force chief Qassem Soleimani said the Red Sea was no longer safe due to the presence of U.S. forces.

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© AFP/File | Iranian President Hassan Rouhani shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) during a welcoming ceremony on January 23, 2016 in the capital Tehran

Pompeo to stress need to boost pressure on Iran on NATO sidelines

July 10, 2018

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Brussels on Tuesday, where he plans meetings on the sidelines of the NATO summit aimed at stepping up pressure on Iran and reassuring allies about alternative oil supplies, a State Department official said.

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan meet at the Al Shati Palace in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, July 10, 2018. Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS

Pompeo flew from Abu Dhabi, where he discussed Iran with leaders of the United Arab Emirates. Senior State Department officials have also completed three days of talks on Iran in Saudi Arabia, and “discussed new ways to deprive the regime of revenues,” a State Department official told reporters traveling on Pompeo’s plane.

“In our meeting with the Saudi energy minister, we discussed maintaining a well-stocked oil market to guard against volatility,” he said. “We discussed U.S. oil sanctions to deny Iran revenue to fight against terrorism. We talked about minimizing market disruptions and helping partners find alternatives to Iran oil.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan talk as they meet at the Al Shati Palace in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, July 10, 2018. Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS

At NATO, Pompeo would discuss Iran with ministers from Britain, France and Germany, and in other bilateral meetings, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

He said a meeting with political directors of the so-called E-3 countries of France, Germany and Britain, who signed an international agreement on Iran that the Trump administration has withdrawn from, would now be held in Brussels on Wednesday or Thursday. He said it was postponed for a couple of days due to scheduling issues.

The United States pulled out of a multinational deal in May to lift sanctions against Iran in return for curbs to its nuclear program. Washington has since told countries they must halt all imports of Iranian oil from Nov. 4 or face U.S. financial measures, with no exemptions.

Since Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement, European states have been scrambling to ensure Iran gets enough economic benefits to persuade it to maintain the nuclear curbs required in the deal.

But so far it has proven difficult to offset the impact of continued U.S. sanctions, with European firms reluctant to risk far-reaching U.S. financial penalties to do business in Iran.

“No matter how much people write about trans-Atlantic rifts, in the case of Iran we agree on much more than we disagree,” the U.S. official said. “The European nations are as frustrated as we are with Iran’s missile program, the missile attacks that they are facilitating.”


Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by David Alexander; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

Switzerland investigates six for suspected bribery of foreign officials in 1MDB probe

July 10, 2018

Switzerland is investigating six people on suspicion of bribing foreign officials and other offences, as part of a money laundering investigation into Malaysian state fund 1MDB, the Swiss attorney general’s office said on Tuesday.

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FILE PHOTO – Men walk past a 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) billboard at the fund’s flagship Tun Razak Exchange development in Kuala Lumpur March 1, 2015. REUTERS/Olivia Harris/File Photo

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is not one of the “public officials under accusation”, the statement said.

The six under investigation are two former officials from 1MDB, two former officials from Abu Dhabi sovereign funds and two officials of Saudi energy group Petrosaudi.

The statement was issued after Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber met with his Malaysian counterpart Tommy Thomas in Kuala Lumpur.

Reporting by Rozanna Latiff, A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Neil Fullick

Qatar ‘must stop support for terror’, top UN court told

June 28, 2018

Abu Dhabi on Thursday called on Doha to stop “supporting terrorist groups and individuals” and strongly denied human rights abuses against Qatari citizens before the UN’s top court.

The bitter Gulf crisis pitting Doha against its neighbours including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain moved to the international courts Wednesday, with Qatar accusing the UAE of fostering an “environment of hate” against its citizens.

© AFP/File | This file combination shows the leaders in the Gulf diplomatic battle: (L to R) Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Saudi King Salman, United Arab Emirates Prime Minister and ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed and Bahrain’s King Hamad

But Abu Dhabi’s representatives Thursday fired back, saying relations were cut with Qatar “because of its support for terrorism, its interference with the affairs of its neighbours and its dissemination of hate speech.”

“Our government has asked Qatar time-and-again to cease this conduct,” the UAE’s ambassador to the Netherlands, Saeed Alnowais, told the International Court of Justice.

“Although Qatar repeatedly committed to do so, it has failed to live up to its commitments,” Alnowais said at the Hague-based ICJ.

At the start of the crisis last June, Qatar, a gas-rich peninsula nation, found its only land border closed, its state-owned airline barred from using its neighbours’ airspace, and Qatari residents expelled from the boycotting countries.

– ‘Discrimination’ –

Doha earlier this month dragged the emirates before the Hague-based body — which rules in disputes between countries — accusing it of racism and human rights abuses against its citizens.

The legal moves at the ICJ come after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed all ties with Doha on June 5 last year accusing it of supporting terrorism and Iran.

Doha denies the allegations and its lawyers Wednesday told a 16-judge bench that Abu Dhabi has implemented a “series of broad discriminatory measures” against Qataris including expelling them, stopping their access to health care and criminalising any statements that express sympathy with Qatar.

Basing its claim on the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), Qatar also accuses the UAE of shutting down its media networks including Al Jazeera.

Both Doha and Abu Dhabi are signatories to the convention.

Doha is demanding the ICJ urgently intervene and hand down provisional measures to stop further prejudice as well as, over the longer term, order “full reparation, including compensation for the harm suffered as a result of the UAE’s actions in violation of the CERD.”

UAE representative Alnowais however said his country “completely rejects the allegations, all of which are without any merit or basis.”

“Qatar has put forward no credible evidence to substantiate any of these claims,” he said, adding it consisted “only of anecdotal and unverified statements,” he said.

“The UAE’s measures against the Qatari government are carefully measured to have the least possible impact on ordinary people,” Alnowais added.

– Shattered alliances –

Diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis have so far proved fruitless in what was previously one of the most stable regions in the Arab world.

The wrangling has shattered old alliances and rendered the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council practically obsolete, pushing Qatar towards Turkey and Iran.

Qatar maintains the dispute is an attack on its sovereignty and punishment for pursuing an independent foreign policy.

Experts say it could now take the ICJ’s judges weeks or even months to hand down a decision.

Meanwhile in a surprise tit-for-tat move, Saudi Arabia, the UAE announced in state media Wednesday they too planned to file their own case at the UN’s top court against Doha, accusing it of violating their airspace.

The UAE has filed two complaints with the ICAO over what Qatar’s rivals say are airspace violations that threaten civil aviation.

The UAE accuses Qatar of sending fighter jets to intercept passenger flights and a civilian helicopter in Bahraini airspace. These accusations have been denied by Doha.

Doha’s neighbours say the ball is in Qatar’s court to end the crisis. It has been handed a list of 13 demands by its Gulf neighbours, including closing Al Jazeera, removing Turkish troops from the country and scaling back its cooperation with Iran, with which it shares the world’s largest gas field. It has not met any of them.


Saudi-led coalition launches attack on Yemen’s Hodeidah

June 13, 2018

Troops backed by a Saudi-led coalition on Wednesday launched an assault on Yemen’s main port city of Hodeidah, in the biggest battle of a three-year war between an alliance of Arab states and the Iran-aligned Houthis.

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Vision Fund: “The most powerful investor in our world”

May 11, 2018

Succeed or fail, Masayoshi Son is changing the world of technology investing

TWO years ago, if you had asked experts to identify the most influential person in technology, you would have heard some familiar names: Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Alibaba’s Jack Ma or Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. Today there is a new contender: Masayoshi Son. The founder of SoftBank, a Japanese telecoms and internet firm, has put together an enormous investment fund that is busy gobbling up stakes in the world’s most exciting young companies. The Vision Fund is disrupting both the industries in which it invests and other suppliers of capital.

The fund is the result of a peculiar alliance forged in 2016 between Mr Son and Muhammad bin Salman. Saudi Arabia’s thrusting crown prince handed Mr Son $45bn as part of his attempt to diversify the kingdom’s economy. That great dollop of capital attracted more investors—from Abu Dhabi, Apple and others. Add in SoftBank’s own $28bn of equity, and Mr Son has a war chest of $100bn. That far exceeds the $64bn that all venture capital (VC) funds raised globally in 2016; it is four times the size of the biggest private-equity fund ever raised (see Briefing). One VC grandee calls Vision Fund “the most powerful investor in our world”.

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Power does not necessarily mean success. Sceptics about the Vision Fund have lots of ammunition. After a long bull market, the valuations of tech firms are stretched. Mr Son personally makes most of the investing decisions. He has notched up some triumphs in his career, including an early bet on Alibaba. But his dotcom-era investments mean he is also the person to have lost more money than anyone else in history. His pursuit of the “singularity”, the point at which computer intelligence exceeds the human kind, might make him a visionary—or just an eccentric. The money is being shovelled out almost as fast as it was taken in. The fund has already spent $30bn, nearly as much as the $33bn raised by the entire American VC industry in 2017. And because about half of its capital is in the form of debt, it is under pressure to make interest payments. This combination of gargantuanism, grandiosity and guaranteed payouts may end up in financial disaster. Indeed, the Vision Fund could mark the giddy top of the tech boom.

But even if the fund ends up flopping, it will have several lasting effects on technology investing. The first is that the deployment of so much cash now will help shape the industries of the future. Mr Son is pumping money into “frontier technologies” from robotics to the internet of things. He already owns stakes in ride-hailing firms such as Uber; in WeWork, a co-working company; and in Flipkart, an Indian e-commerce firm that was this week sold to Walmart (see article). In five years’ time the fund plans to have invested in 70-100 technology unicorns, privately held startups valued at $1bn or more. Its money, often handed to entrepreneurs in multiples of the amounts they initially demand and accompanied by the threat that the cash will go to the competition if they balk, gives startups the wherewithal to outgun worse-funded rivals. Mr Son’s bets do not have to pay off for him to affect the race.

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Mr Son’s second impact will be on the venture-capital industry. To compete with the Vision Fund’s pot of moolah, and with the forays of other unconventional investors, incumbents are having to bulk up. Sequoia Capital, one of Silicon Valley’s most famous names, is raising its biggest-ever fund in response. Mr Son is also bringing capital to places where it is still in fairly short supply—to India, to South-East Asia and to several European countries. When the Vision Fund invested close to $500m in Improbable, a British virtual-reality firm, it broke a funding record, and its €460m ($565m) in Auto1, a German online car dealer, was one of the country’s biggest such investments in several years. Rather than wait for founders to make the trip to California, investors are under greater pressure to seek out entrepreneurs.

The Vision Fund’s unprecedented span, across countries and industries, leads to its third impact. Mr Son says he wants to create a “virtual Silicon Valley in SoftBank”, meaning a platform on which unicorns can offer each other contacts and advice, buy goods and services from each other, and even join forces. The concept of portfolio companies collaborating is familiar from private equity, but the fund’s sheer breadth marks it out. Mr Son is, for example, trying to orchestrate his various ride-hailing investments so that they do not burn through so much cash by competing with each other. He encouraged Uber to sell its South-East Asian business to Grab earlier this year and is urging it to make a deal in India with Ola.

The Vision Fund model is disruptive, then. But is it good for innovation and consumers? Mr Son’s project certainly has its attractions. It is shaking up the cosy world of Silicon Valley venture capital. And it may nurture competition against the tech giants. The fund offers founders of startups an alternative to cashing out to the likes of Google, Facebook and Amazon; its massive chequebook also gives those entrepreneurs a better shot at competing with the titans. The fund may perform a similar function in China, where nearly half of all unicorns are by now backed by one of the country’s four tech giants, Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent or

…or Masachism?

Yet its disadvantages extend beyond the risk of losses. Its sheer size risks raising the cost of running a startup for everyone. Young firms that receive its cash often spend it on sales and marketing, which puts pressure on every other company in the industry to spend as lavishly in order to acquire customers. Companies that receive hundreds of millions of dollars of capital in one go are elevated far above their competitors. That hands a single individual kingmaking powers, while keeping young firms out of the clarifying glare of the public markets for even longer. Attempts to carve up markets among portfolio firms may in time raise a different set of competition concerns.

A proper verdict on the Vision Fund will not be possible for years. But the fate of many startups and the choices consumers enjoy in the future will be guided by the bets Mr Son is making today. Fortune’s biggest wheel is spinning.

This article appeared in the Leaders section of the print edition under the headline “The $100 billion bet”