Euro-Gulf Information Centre
GULF IN REVIEW
31 December 2018 - 04 January 2019
Kingdom of Bahrain
Saturday, 29 December—More than 300,000 Saudi travellers crossed the King Fahd Causeway as the school holiday began. To ease the traffic conditions, Bahraini authorities waived routine border procedures. Bahrain is increasingly becoming a tourism hub for the wider Gulf.
Sunday, 30 December—The Court of Cassation of Bahrain upheld a five-year prison sentence for Nabeel Rajab from 21 February 2018 for deliberately generating disinformation in relation to the Yemen conflict. The laws that read ‘deliberately disseminating, in wartime, false or malicious news, statements or rumours […] to cause damage to military preparations,’ ‘publicly offending a foreign country,’ and ‘insulting a statutory body’ were applied in this case.
Thursday, 3 January—Bahrain’s Cabinet held an extraordinary session to review and approve the Government Action Plan (GAP) for the Fifth Legislative Term (2019-2022) before referring it to the Council of Representatives. The GAP prioritises the strengthening of private sector’s role, achieving fiscal balance, boosting economic growth, improving services to citizens and maintaining Bahrain’s competitiveness and its role as a financial and commercial hub.
State of Kuwait
Thursday, 3 January—Kuwait’s Public Authority for Roads and Transportation announced the opening of the land section of the Sheikh Jaber Causeway’s Doha-link, which connects Doha with Shuwaikh. The entire Sheikh Jaber Causeway, the world's longest bridge, linking Kuwait City to Subiyah New Town across Kuwait Bay, should be completed by April 2019. The construction is approximately 48 kilometres long and costs about $2.6 billion.
Friday, 4 January—The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, will visit Kuwait on 15 January to attend the third round of strategic dialogue between Kuwait and the United States. The two sides are expected to discuss military, economic, educational, trade and customs issues, in addition to joint efforts to combat terrorism as well as the current situation in Yemen and Syria, Iraqi developments, the GCC crisis and the Gulf-Iranian relations.
Sultanate of Oman
Tuesday, 1 January—Sultan Qaboos ratified Oman’s budget for 2019 projected at OR12.9 billion (approximately $33.5 billion), which represents a 3.1% increase from 2018. The budget estimates revenues of OR 10.1 billion, of which 74% will come from oil and gas. The majority of the budget deficit (OR2.8 billion) will be covered by bank borrowings and around 14% by the state reserves.
State of Qatar
Tuesday, 1 January—Qatar’s Speaker of the Shura Council, Ahmed bin Abdullah bin Zaid Al-Mahmoud, met with Nils Schmid, Member of Bundestag and Spokesman of the Social Democratic Party’s parliamentary group in the Committee of Foreign Affairs, to review parliamentary relations between Qatar and Germany and discuss ways how to develop them further. Doha will host the Inter-Parliamentary Union session in April 2019.
Tuesday, 1 January—Qatar’s Cabinet approved the establishment of Microsoft’s Global Data Centre, the Azure Cloud Computing, in the country. On the occasion, the Cabinet issued a draft law to establish the Media City to manage and develop media activity, and attract international technology companies, media, as well as research and training institutions in the field. The Media City should operate on its own independent budget.
Tuesday, 1 January—Qatar Airways acquired a 5% stake in China Southern Airlines.