21 December, 2017

GCC IN REVIEW: 17 – 21 December 2017

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Kingdom of Bahrain

Tuesday, 19 December—A Bahraini fisherman who has been missing since three days after straying into Qatar's territorial waters, has been arrested and transferred to Qatar’s public prosecution. The demarcation of maritime boundaries is a strong point of contention between the two Arab Gulf countries. Bahraini fishermen have often reported harassment by Qatar’s Coast Guard in contested waters. 

Wednesday, 20 December—The Bahrain Bourse (BHB) announced that, as according to the invitation by the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB), Bahraini and non-Bahraini investors can directly subscribe through the primary market of BHB in the Government Development Bonds issued by the CBB on behalf of the Government of Bahrain. Investors will also be able to trade the bonds in the secondary market at the BHB.

State of Kuwait

Wednesday, 20 December—Kuwait’s Defence Ministry ordered an investigation into a deal with aircraft maker Airbus to supply 30 Caracal military helicopters, worth one billion Euros for its air force. The announcement comes as Airbus faces several international investigations into commercial and military sales that have raised questions over the future of senior managers. 

Thursday, 21 December—Kuwait’s Oil Minister, Bakheet Al-Rashidi, unveiled OPEC’s commitment to set the output reduction at 122%. Al-Rashidi is also Chairman of OPEC’s Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee. 

Sultanate of Oman

Monday, 19 December—Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said issued four Royal Decrees endoring the oil agreement signed between the Government of the Sultanate of Oman, Occidental Hafar LLC and Oman’s Oil Exploration and Production Company.

Wednesday, 20 December—Oman’s Ministry of Oil and Gas stated that Oman’s crude oil production in November touched 28.88 million barrels. China retained its position as the leading importer of Oman Crude in November, with the country constituting 84% of the total exports followed by Taiwan 8.28%.

State of Qatar 

Sunday, 17 December—Qatar’s Football Federation officials requested to use Iran’s Kish Island to host Qatar 2022 World Cup teams. According to Iranian media, the president of the Qatar Football Association, Sheikh Hamad Al-Thani, will send a high-level delegation representing the 2022 World Cup executive committee to visit Kish Island in a bid to take care of any possible lack of facilities.

Thursday, 21 December—Qatar’s Qatargas Operating Company Limited unvailed the signing of a new Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA) with Austria’s OMV Gas Marketing & Trading GmbH. Under the terms of the agreement, Qatargas will deliver up to 1.1 million tonnes of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) per annum to the Austrian company for five years. 

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Monday, 18 December—Saudi Arabia's fiscal deficit fell to 8.9% of gross domestic product this year from 12.8% in 2016. Saudi Arabia’s Undersecretary of the Ministry of Finance for Communication and Information, Yarub Abdullah Al-Thunayan, said that the fiscal deficit reduction was due to the economic reform plans adopted by the Kingdom in the frameworks of Vision 2030. 

Tuesday, 19 December—Saudi Arabia’s newly appointed Ambassador to Baghdad, Abdulaziz bin Khalid Al-Shammari, announced that the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council aims to open new cooperation options. The Ambassador affirmed that Saudi Arabia intends to open two consulates in Najaf and Basra, and to establish a Saudi-Iraqi coordination council for trade between the two countries.

Tuesday, 19 December—Saudi Arabia’s air defences intercepted a missile fired from neighbouring Yemen towards the Kingdom's capital, Riyadh. Saudi Arabia’s authorities said that the missile was directed at residential areas and that there were no casualties. Abdulmalik Al-Houthi, the leader of Yemen’s Iran-baked militias, confirmed the launch in a televised address.

Wednesday, 20 December—Saudi Arabia officially announced the permanent closure of its only land border with Qatar. The border was reopened for two weeks in August for pilgrims who wished to perform the annual Hajj pilgrimage to pass through. In June the Arab quartet already blocked direct air and land transport to and from Qatar. 

Thursday, 21 December—Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, revealed the largest expenditure budget in the history of the Kingdom. The budget, the King said, takes into account the lower oil price levels compared to previous years, and has been planned in order to continue the development and enhancement process towards achieving the Kingdom's Vision 2030.

United Arab Emirates

Tuesday, 19 December—Etihad Airways is set to scrap flights to Tehran from January, the latest route to be dropped as the Abu Dhabi airline pursues a strategy review. Etihad has made few details public about its strategy review, which was launched since the departure of its group chief executive, James Hogan, who led the airline for a decade. 

Thursday, 21 December—The Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Mohammad Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum attended the inauguration of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Centre for Accelerated Research (MBRCAR), which includes a financial grant for a research community of 3,000 scientists to carry out and complete new research in the field of space science and technology. 

Author: Antonino Occhiuto