20 October, 2017

GCC IN REVIEW: 16 - 20 October

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Kingdom of Bahrain

Wednesday, 18 October—The Bahrain Defence Force signed an agreement with the United States’s Lockheed Martin to complete a $3.8 billion purchase of 16 upgraded F-16 fighter jets. The deal follows US President Trump’s decision to ease restrictions on arms sales to a number of Arab countries, including Bahrain.

Thursday, 19 October—Bahrain’s Economic Development Board (EDB) revealed that $200 million worth of investments into Bahrain’s manufacturing and logistics sector was attracted in the first half of this year. According to Bahrain’s Industry Minister, Zayed R. Al Zayani, this is the result of a substantial increase in the number of international businesses looking to use Bahrain as a hub to access and seize the regional opportunities offered in the GCC market and beyond.

State of Kuwait

Wednesday, 18 October—Kuwait’s Defence Ministry and the US State Department approved the $29 million sale to Kuwait of 218 M1A1 Abrams tank hulls with 120mm cannons and 218 AGT-1500.

Thursday, 19 October—Kuwait’s National Assembly Speaker, Marzouq al-Ghanim, during Inter-Parliamentary Union talks, accused the Israeli authorities of carrying out sate terrorism against Palestinians in the West Bank. His comments caused the Israeli delegate to abandon the conference plunging Kuwait-Israel relations to a new low. 

Sultanate of Oman

Tuesday, 17 October—Oman’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, during his official visit to Berlin, met the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. During the meeting, they discussed Germany-Oman cooperation to enhance values of tolerance and coexistence. 

Thursday, 19 October—Oman’s Sohar Port authority announced the start of the first phase of its mega expansion plans. Such expansion is overseen by the Sohar International Development Company (SIDC), a 50/50 joint venture between the Omani government, represented by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, and the Port of Rotterdam.

State of Qatar 

Wednesday, 18 October—Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund announced it withdrew $20 billion of its overseas investments. Qatar’s Finance Minister, Ali Shareef al-Emad, confirmed that the Qatar Investment Authority deposits were being used to provide liquidity for Qatar’s banking system to combat capital outflows exceeding $30 billion. 

Thursday, 19 October—Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, stressed Doha’s willingness to start dialogues with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE, to resolve the boycott crisis. However, the Qatari Emir did not mention the possibility of Qatari concessions, to start the dialogue process.

Thursday, 19 October—Qatar’s General Electricity & Water Corporation (Kahramaa), has unveiled prospects for developing joint cooperation and business opportunities with a visiting delegation from a number of Russian Electricity companies.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Monday, 16 October—Jonathan Labin, Managing Director of Facebook for the Middle East and North Africa, declared that Facebook will be investing all that is within its ability to back the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 transformation programme. 

Wednesday, 18 October—Col, Turki bin Saleh Al-Malki, spokesmen of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen which supports the restoration of the UN-recognised government, announced the killing of 20 Houthi militiamen as a result of a special operation, conducted by the Saudi military off the Najran area. The operation successfully foiled an attempt by the militia to move towards the border between Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

Wednesday, 18 October—Saudi Arabia’s oil giant, Aramco, confirmed an agreement on technological cooperation, with Russia’s Gazprom, prompted by the recent state visit to Russia by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz. Gazprom-Neft chief, Alexander Dyukov, clarified that the companies had pinpointed six spheres of cooperation, such as equipment localization, to boost oil production and exploration.

Thursday, 19 October—Manal Hassan Radwan, spokeswomen for the delegation of Saudi Arabia at the United Nations, condemned Iran for taking advantage of the lifting of international sanctions. Saudi Arabia claims the easing of sanctions allows Iran to carry out an aggressive foreign policy which destabilises the region. 

Friday, 20 October—Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz, made a telephone call to Iraq’s Prime Minister, Haydar Al-Abadi. The two leaders discussed ways to enhance bilateral cooperation by developing the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council.

United Arab Emirates

Tuesday, 17 October—The UAE’s Defence Ministry announced the death of two pilots from the United Arab Emirates Air in Yemen after their planes crashed as a result of a technical failure. The UAE has spearheaded the Arab alliance coalition fighting Iran-backed Houthis and Saleh militias in order to restore the UN-legitimised government in Yemen.

Thursday, 19 October—Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister and Vice-President of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai, announced government plans for an important cabinet reshuffle.