Iran Deal Could Open Door to Gulf Businesses

While executives see opportunities, governments remain at loggerheads on other issues

DUBAI—In the 10 years since RAK Ceramics opened a $40 million tile manufacturing plant in Iran, the United Arab Emiratesbased firm has racked up millions of dollars in losses in the Persian country, fired hundreds of employees and all but extinguished its kilns.

But this summer Iran struck a nuclear deal with the U.S. and other foreign powers. Now with sanctions on Tehran expected to ease, RAK Ceramics is looking to boost output of the kitchen and bathroom tiles it sells in Iran and the wider region. Executives for one of the world’s largest manufacturers of tiles and sanitary ware by capacity are now betting the long wait on Iran is about to pay off.

“We were a patient investor,” says Abdallah Massaad, RAK Ceramics’ chief executive.

RAK Ceramics is one of a handful of Arab-owned firms positioning themselves to profit from a post-sanctions neighbor, even as frosty relations between Iran and most of the Gulf Cooperation Council—Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the U.A.E., Oman, Qatar and Kuwait—show few signs of thawing.

The week after the U.A.E. joined Saudi Arabian-led airstrikes in April against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, U.A.E.-owned Etihad Airways launched a daily commercial service to Tehran. Dubai-owned FlyDubai has launched seven new routes to Iran this year after a bilateral aviation agreement was signed in January between the U.A.E. and Iran.

Dubai’s Jumeirah Group, operator of the ultra-luxury Burj Al Arab hotel, is searching for properties in Iran. Officials at DP World, one of the world’s biggest shipping-container handlers, recently visited the Persian state to see the country’s ports and railway infrastructure can be used to transport goods faster between China and Europe.

“I am not a politician, I am a businessman,” said Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, chairman of Dubai government-owned DP World, and one of the most prominent Emirati businessmen. “What I look for is if there is an opportunity for our customers.”

The forays by Gulf businesses, though still in their infancy, could further complicate political alliances across the Middle East by deepening commercial ties between Iran and some of its less-hostile neighboring states. Such developments could begin to shift the region’s center of economic gravity from Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil producer, to Iran, home to an educated and burgeoning middle class.

As executives from the Gulf are eyeing Iran for business opportunities, their governments are locking horns elsewhere in the region. Saudi Arabian warplanes, supported by the U.A.E., Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait, continue to bombard Iran-backed Houthi militants in Yemen. The tiny Gulf island of Bahrain in July pulled its ambassador from Iran in protest at alleged Iranian meddling in its affairs. Gulf-backed rebels also face off against the Iranian-supported government of President Bashar Al Assad in Syria.

The foreign ministers of the GCC in August publicly backed the nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers in meetings with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. But some, such as the U.A.E.’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, have also voiced concern that the deal will embolden Iran.

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at loggerheads                        

engaged in a disagreement or dispute; quarreling:

They were at loggerheads over the distribution of funds.

tile   /taɪl/   N [C]  

a flat square piece of baked clay or another substance used for covering a wall or a floor

ceramic/vinyl tiles

based       Adj     

having a base of operations(oftenused as a combiningform);

“a locally based business”;

“an Atlanta-based company”;

“carrier-based planes”

rack up   /rak/   PhV   informal          

rack up something

to get a large number or amount of something

“The film racked up five Oscar nominations.”

loss   /lôs,läs/   N        

an amount of money lost by a business or organization.

“insurance can protect you against financial loss”

synonyms:   deficit, debit, debt, indebtedness, deficiency

“a loss of $15,000”

all but                        

all but something

“everyone or every thing except those mentioned All but the weakest plants survived the hot weather.”

extinguish   /ikˈstiNGɡwiSH/   V         

Cause (a fire or light) to cease to burn or shine:

“More than 200 firefighters from Arlington, Va., and other nearby towns, extinguished a fire that burned for nearly three days.”

kiln   /kɪln/   N                           

a large oven for burning, drying, or processing something, such as porcelain or bricks

struck   /strək/  

past and past participle of strike.

Strike   /strīk/

to ​reach or make an ​agreement:

“Do you ​think the ​government should ​try to strike a ​deal with the ​terrorists?”

Sanitary ware   /ˈsanɪt(ə)rɪwɛː/   N        

plumbing fixtures, as sinks or toilet bowls, made of ceramic material or enameled metal.

چینی بهداشتی

capacity   /kəˈpæsəti/   N        

the amount of goods that a company can produce, or the amount of work it can do

“New machinery could increase our production capacity by 25 per cent.”

“The plant has a capacity of 120,000 tonnes per annum.”

“The present rail network has plenty of spare capacity.”

at full capacity (=producing as many goods as possible, or doing as much work as possible):

“The factory is now operating at full capacity.”

bet      V  informal           

Used to express certainty:

“I bet this place is really spooky late at night he’ll be surprised to see me, I’ll bet”

is about to       BE ABOUT + TO-infinitive

Be about + to-infinitive refers to arranged actions that happen in the immediate future. It is often used with just:

“Hurry up! The ceremony is about to begin!” “Do you have a minute?” “I’m sorry, I’m just about to leave.”

pay off      PhV      

To result in profit or advantage; succeed

To be advantageous and yield benefits

 “Your efforts will eventually pay off.”;

“All those weeks of studying will pay off when you take the exam.”

chief executive                                  

the person with overall responsibility for the efficient running of a company, organization, etc

handful   N        

a ​small ​number of ​people or things:

“She ​invited all her ​friends to her ​party, but only a handful of them ​turned up.”


frosty   /ˈfrɔ·sti/    Adj     

unfriendly or not ​welcoming:

“a frosty ​manner”


Gulf Cooperation Council   N        

شورای همکاری کشورهای عرب خلیج فارس


thaw   /THô/   V        

to become more friendly

“Stefan began to thaw a little after he felt more comfortable with the situation.”


airstrike   N  

 حمله هوایی

rebel   /ˈreb·əl/   N        

a ​person who ​refuses to ​accept the government’s ​power and uses ​force to ​oppose it, or a ​person who ​opposes ​authority and ​thinks or ​behaves ​differently:

“The ​government ​tried to set up ​talks with the rebels.”

“Though he ​dressed ​unusually, he never ​meant to be a rebel.”


route   /ro͞ot,rout/   N        

A road, course, or way for travel from one place to another:

 “the route from Maine to Boston takes you through New Hampshire;”

“ocean routes that avoided the breeding grounds of whales.”


outlook   /ˈoutˌlo͝ok/   N        

the prospect for the future

“the outlook for steel demand in the United States — Wall Street Journal”



Providing an extremely high degree of luxury, well beyond what “luxury” would normally imply

Luxury N   uk   /ˈlʌk.ʃər.i/   us   /-ʃɚ-/

great ​comfort, ​especially as ​provided by ​expensive and ​beautiful things:

“to ​live in luxury a luxury ​cruise a luxury ​hotel”


property   /ˈpräpərdē/   N        

A building or buildings and the land belonging to it or them:

“he’s expanding now, buying property the renovation of commercial properties”


port      /pôrt/    N        

a harbor.

“the port has miles of docks”

synonyms:   harbor, dock(s), haven, marina, harborside; anchorage, moorage, harborage, roads

“shells exploded down by the port”


goods  /ɡʊdz/  N        

objects produced for sale

“a store specializing in leather goods”


prominent   /ˈprämənənt/   Adj     

important; famous.

“she was a prominent member of the city council”

synonyms:   important, well known, leading, eminent, distinguished, notable, noteworthy, noted, illustrious, celebrated, famous, renowned, acclaimed, famed, influential, affluential, major-league

“a prominent surgeon”


foray   /ˈfôrˌā,ˈfärˌā/   N        

an attempt to become involved in a new activity or sphere.

“my first foray into journalism”

“Anna’s forays into cooking were never very successful.”


infancy   /ˈinfənsē/   N        

the early stage in the development or growth of something.

“opinion polls were in their infancy

synonyms:   beginnings, early days, early stages; 

seeds, roots; 

start, commencement, rise, emergence, genesis, dawn, birth, inception

“music video was in its infancy”


tie   /tī/   N        

a thing that unites or links people.

“it is important that we keep family ties strong”

synonyms:   bond, connection, link, relationship, attachment, affiliation, allegiance, friendship;

kinship, interdependence

“family ties”


hostile   /ˈhästl,ˈhäˌstīl/   Adj     

unfriendly; antagonistic.

“a hostile audience”

synonyms:   unfriendly, unkind, bitter, unsympathetic, malicious, vicious, rancorous, venomous, poisonous, virulent; antagonistic, aggressive, confrontational, belligerent, truculent, vitriolic; bellicose, pugnacious, warlike

“a hostile attack”


neighboring   /ˈnābəriNG/   Adj     

next to or very near another place; adjacent.

“a couple at a neighboring table”

synonyms:   adjacent, adjoining, bordering, connecting, abutting;

proximate, near, close, close/near at hand, next-door, nearby, in the vicinity

“the owner of the neighboring property”


gravity   /ˈɡravədē/   N        

center of gravity

 The point of greatest importance, interest, or activity:

“The center of gravity for the English language is no longer Britain. American English is the greatest influence on English everywhere”


burgeoning   /ˈbɜrdʒənɪŋ/   Adj     

growing or developing quickly

the nation’s burgeoning middle class


warplane   /ˈwôrˌplān/   N             

an airplane designed and equipped to engage in air combat or to drop bombs.


bombard   /bämˈbärd/   V        

attack (a place or person) continuously with bombs, shells, or other missiles.

“the city was bombarded by federal forces”

synonyms:   shell, pound, blitz, strafe, bomb; assail, attack, assault, batter, blast, pelt

“gun batteries bombarded the islands”


-backed   /bækt/  suffix   used with some nouns to make adjectives meaning that a group or action is supported by an organization or country, usually a powerful one

the military-backed government

“a U.S.-backed peace plan”


Pull out   Phv          

To withdraw something or someone, as from a situation or commitment:

“The government pulled out its ambassador before the war began.”

“We pulled the children out of school and educated them at home.”

ambassador   /amˈbasədər/   N        

an accredited diplomat sent by a country as its official representative to a foreign country.

“the French ambassador to Portugal”

synonyms:   envoy, plenipotentiary, emissary, (papal) nuncio, representative, high commissioner, consul, consul general, diplomat;

“the American ambassador”


protest   /ˈprōˌtest/   N        

a statement or action expressing disapproval of or objection to something.

“the Hungarian team lodged an official protest”

synonyms:   objection, complaint, exception, disapproval, challenge, dissent, demurral, remonstration, fuss, outcry

“he resigned as a protest”


alleged   /əˈledʒd/   Adj, formal    

said or ​thought by some ​people to be the ​stated ​bad or ​illegal thing, ​although you have no ​proof:

“It took 15 ​years for the alleged ​criminals (= ​people ​thought to be ​criminals) to ​prove ​their ​innocence.”

“Several alleged ​drug ​lords are to be put on ​trial.”

“Opposition ​parties have ​protested over alleged ​vote ​rigging in the ​election.”


meddling   N        

The act or an instance of interfering or intruding:

interference, intervention, intrusion, obtrusion.


affair   uk   /əˈfeər/   us   /-ˈfer/   N[C]                   

a ​situation or ​subject that is being ​dealt with or ​considered:

“She ​organizes her ​financial affairs very ​efficiently”.

“He’s always ​meddling in (= ​trying to ​influence) other people’s affairs.”

“What I do in my ​spare ​time is my affair (= only ​involves me).”


face off    PhV   informal          

if people or groups face off, they compete or fight with each other

“Soldiers and protesters faced off during riots.”


voice   /vois/   V        

express (something) in words.

“get teachers to voice their opinions on important subjects”

synonyms:   express, vocalize, communicate, articulate, declare, state, assert, reveal, proclaim, announce, publish, publicize, make public, make known, table, air, vent; utter, say, speak;

informal come out with

“they voiced their opposition”


embolden   /əmˈbōldən/   V        

give (someone) the courage or confidence to do something or to behave in a certain way.

emboldened by robust passenger traffic, the airlines put through major fare increases”

synonyms:   fortify, make brave/braver, encourage, hearten, strengthen, brace, stiffen the resolve of, lift the morale of; rouse, stir, stimulate, cheer, rally, fire, animate, inspirit, invigorate;

informal   buck up

“emboldened by the brandy, he walked over to her table”



We are going to learn English through comprehensible inputs meaning anything familiar to us such as reading of Iran news every day, so this is a place where we would like to share our assignments. We would be grateful if you could give us your comments and feedback. Please leave your questions regarding the text in comments below as well.