01 December, 2017

GCC IN REVIEW: 26-30 November 2017

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A Weekly Publication of the main news surrounding the GCC States

Kingdom of Bahrain

Wednesday, 29 November—Bahrain’s Ambassador to Baghdad, Salah Al-Maliki, announced that his country has submitted to the Iraqi authorities a list of people, living in Iraq, wanted by Bahrain for plotting violent actions in Bahrain and some neighbouring countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE as well as seeking to compromise Iraqi-Bahraini bilateral relations.

Thursday, 30 November—Bahrain’s Crown Prince, Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, met with the United States Senate Majority Leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, in Washington. The discussion involved a range of global security issues, in particular the need to strengthen international policy coordination and strategies to counter terrorism and extremist ideologies.

State of Kuwait

Tuesday, 28 November—Kuwait’s cabinet strongly condemned the recent bomb attack which took place in Egypt’s North Sinai Governorate. The cabinet also affirmed that Kuwait stands side by side with Egypt in supporting measures to ensure security and fighting terrorism.

Thursday, 30 November—Kuwaiti officials declared that the GCC summit, scheduled for 05 and 06 December, hosted by Kuwait, will take place despite tensions between Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE on one side and Qatar on the other, in relation to Doha’s current foreign policy.

Sultanate of Oman

Monday, 27 November—Oman’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, Ali bin Massoud Al-Sunaidi, received Executive Vice Governor of Chandnog Province, Lee Qun. The two explored means of enhancing the commercial exchange between the two countries. They also reviewed investment opportunities in the Special Economic Zone Authority of Duqm (SEZAD) in the fields of storage, distribution, petrochemicals and food industries, in addition to discussing investments in the renewable energy, such as solar and wind energy.

Wednesday, 29 November—Oman’s Minister Responsible for Defence Affairs, Bader bin Saood Al-Busaidi, met at the Pentagon with the US Deputy Secretary of Defence, David J. Trachtenberg. The meeting discussed a number of issues of common concern and the existing military cooperation between the defence ministries of the two countries. The meeting was attended, from the Omani side, by the Sultanate's Ambassador to the USA and the Military Attaché of the Sultanate's Embassy in Washington.

State of Qatar 

Sunday, 26 November—Qatar’s Minister of Economy and Trade, Ahmed bin Jassim Al-Thani, met with Iran's Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif. The meeting took place as Qatar signed a commercial deal with Iran and Turkey. The deal aims to form a joint working group to facilitate the transit of goods between the three countries. Iranian sources affirm that Tehran's exports to Qatar have increased by 119% in October 2017 when compared to last year.

Wednesday, 29 November—Qatar's Investment Authority (QIA) CEO, Abdullah bin Mohamed Al-Thani, declared that Qatar Investment Authority is ready to invest in state organisations like Qatar Airways and Katara to cope with unfolding economic hardships. QIA was already forced to pump billions of dollars in Qatari banks to offset the impact of the other Arab Gulf states withdrawing money from them.

Thursday, 30 November—France’s Defence Minister, Florence Parly, said she hopes to sell 12 Rafale fighter jets to Qatar.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Sunday, 26 November—Defence ministers from 41 Muslim countries have met in Riyadh for the inaugural meeting of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC), marking the official launch of a pan-Islamic, unified front to support the global struggle against terrorism and violent extremism. During the meeting, presided by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, the Secretary General of the Muslim World League, Mohammad Al-Issa, spoke of Ideology, and the necessity of promoting a message that counters the narrative of violent extremist ideology and reaffirms the Islamic principles of tolerance and compassion.

Monday, 27 November—Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center sent 32 trucks carrying 791 tons of food baskets to Yemen to be distributed to needy families in the governorate of Marib—an area recently liberated from Iranian-backed militias by forces loyal to Yemen’s UN-backed government after fierce fighting to dislodge Houthi rebels from the governorate.

Monday, 27 November—The Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI), a state-owned bank established to facilitate the country’s foreign trade, has applied for a branch license in Saudi Arabia and obtained verbal approval from the Saudi Central Bank. According to the chairman of TBI, Faisal Al-Haimus, this move evidences the recently enhanced relations and the will to deepen economic cooperation between Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Wednesday, 29 November—Miteb bin Abdullah, Senior Saudi Prince and former head of Saudi Arabia’s National Guard, was released after more than three weeks in detention on allegations of corruption. Miteb is the son of the late King, Abdullah, and the cousin of the Kingdom's Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman. Mohammed bin Salman declared that the majority of the detainees in relation to the corruption scandal have agreed to reach settlements for their release.

Thursday, 30 November—Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, received at his palace in Riyadh British Prime Minister, Theresa May. The two sides reviewed the bilateral relations between the two countries and means of enhancing them, in addition to discussing developments in the region. The meeting was also attended by a number of senior Saudi and British officials.

United Arab Emirates

Monday, 27 November—The UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, declared that a solution to the Syrian conflict “cannot be Iranian or Turkish,” urging a stronger Arab role to the crisis. He added that “with the exception of Riyadh’s efforts to unify the opposition, the Russian-Iranian-Turkish consensus takes the lead while the Arab role is secondary.”

Wednesday, 29 November—Emirati media warned that off-plan property sales in Dubai for November has taken a dip, with just over 1,523 units sold. That compares with more than 2,000 off-plan units in July and August and 1,800 plus for September and October. Investors will be watching closely whether the sales chill extends into December and January as well, or whether the November dip only constitutes a blip.

By Antonino Occhiuto