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The Euro-Gulf Monitor

14 - 20 April 2023

by Veronica Stigliani & Elen'Alba Vitiello

5 Top Points

  1. Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister met with Syria’s President in Damascus.

  2. Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands discussed the export of clean hydrogen to Europe.

  3. Kuwait and Italy discussed collaboration on food security.

  4. Bahrain, the UK and the EU discussed space sector cooperation.

  5. Iran’s President officially invited Saudi Arabia’s King to visit the country.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Kingdom of Bahrain  

Monday, 17 April–The Chief Executive Officer of Bahrain’s National Space Science Agency (NSSA), Mohammed Ibrahim Al-Asiri, held talks with the United Kingdom’s National Space Center, the Harwell Space Cluster, the Satellite Applications Catapult, and the Technology and Innovation, as well as the European Space Agency. The meetings stressed cooperation, exchanged expertise and discussed joint research projects to support Bahrain’s space sector growth.

State of Kuwait

Monday, 17 April–Kuwait’s Crown Prince, Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, announced that the 2020 National Assembly, which was previously reinstated by the Constitutional Court, will be dissolved, in line with the Article 107 of the Constitution, and new parliamentary elections will be held within two months from the dissolution. 

 

Tuesday, 18 April–Kuwait’s Acting Director-General of the Public Authority of Agriculture Affairs And Fish Resources, Mishal Al-Quraifah, held a meeting with Italian Ambassador to Kuwait, Carlo Baldocci, to discuss food security collaboration to exchange expertise on agricultural developments.

Sultanate of Oman

Monday, 17 April–Oman’s Sultan, Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said, issued a decree allowing Omani nationals to marry non-Omanis without an approval from the government. The royal decree included seven articles with the first one stipulating the cancellation of the previous law authorising the issuing of provisions regulating the marriage of Omanis to foreigners and making amendments to the legislation regulating Omani nationality.

 

Tuesday, 18 April–The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources (MAFWR) signed an agreement to design, construct, and implement the Omani Electronic Falaj Management System (LMD), in cooperation with the UNESCO Chair for Aflaj Studies at the University of Nizwa. The project, funded by the Agricultural and Fisheries Development Fund, comes within the water sector development initiatives included in the country’s vision “Oman 2040”. 

State of Qatar

Tuesday, 18 April–Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) could reopen their embassies in mid-June as part of the efforts to resume diplomatic relations in line with the Al-Ula Declaration signed in January 2021 to decrease the intra-GCC tensions.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Saturday, 15 April–Saudi Arabia and the Yemeni Houthis freed hundreds of prisoners of war as part of a multi-day exchange amid concerted efforts to end Yemen’s war. The first flight arrived in the capital city of Sanaa with 120 Houthi prisoners, and was followed by a flight to Riyadh carrying 20 former detainees, among which 16 Saudis and three Sudanese. The exchange came after 318 prisoners were transported on Friday on four flights between government-controlled Aden and the rebel-held capital, Sanaa. 

 

Monday, 17 April–Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, met with two Saudi astronauts ahead of their historic 10-day trip to the International Space Station (ISS). The astronauts, Ali Al-Qarni and Rayyanah Barnawi, who will become the first Saudi woman in space, will blast off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on May 8 from Florida as part of the Axiom-2 mission.

 

Monday, 17 April–Iran’s Foreign Ministry’s Spokesperson, Nasser Kanaani, confirmed that Iran’s President, Ebrahim Raisi, officially invited Saudi Arabia’s King, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, to visit the country. The move follows Iran-Saudi Arabia’s agreement on restoring diplomatic ties. 

United Arab Emirates

Monday, 17 April–The asset management subsidiary of Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital's energy company Acelen will invest $2.5 billion (about 2.3 billion EUR) in the next 10 years to produce renewable diesel and sustainable aviation kerosene in the north-eastern Brazilian state of Bahia. The project, which is expected to start production in the first quarter of 2026, aims to meet increasing global demand for clean fuels.

EU Corner

Saturday, 15 April–The European Union strongly condemned the eruption of violence between the Sudan Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces in Sudan and called for immediate de-escalation. The EU will continue to closely coordinate with regional and international partners to promote a political agreement that brings peace, stability, and economic development.

 

Monday, 17 April–In relation to the European Union corruption scandal, the European Parliament (EP) reportedly agreed on internal guidelines aiming to limit the Parliamentarians’ contacts with Moroccan and Qatari diplomats to multilateral fora. Specifically, the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are urged to request the Parliament’s permission before inviting Qatari and Moroccan diplomats to the Parliament and notify EP’s President, Roberta Metsola, when meeting with the diplomats; MEPs will not be allowed to take official trips to Qatar or Morocco while the criminal probe continues; and Qatari and Moroccan lobbyists on the transparency register are banned from the Parliament’s grounds as a precautionary measure.

 

Tuesday, 18 April–The European Commission adopted a proposal for the EU Cyber Solidarity Act to strengthen EU’s cybersecurity capabilities, supporting the awareness of cybersecurity threats and incidents, bolster preparedness, and reinforce solidarity and response capabilities across Member States.

 

Tuesday, 18 April–The European Parliament approved three climate laws for the EU's effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030, an updated version of the Emission Trading System (ETS I). To keep EU industries competitive, a carbon border levy (CBAM) directed at goods coming into Europe was adopted, as well as a separate carbon trading system (ETS II), to be be introduced for homes and cars in 2027. ETS I and II will yield €700 billion in government revenue across the EU, which member states must reinvest into a green economy.

 

Thursday, 20 April–New Heads of EU Delegations to the Gulf countries were nominated—Anne Koistinen as the EU Ambassador to Kuwait; Christophe Farnaud as EU Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman; and Lucie Berger as EU Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates. 

Key Official Visits

 

Friday, 14 April–The UAE's Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and President-designate of the COP28 Summit, Sultan Al-Jaber, met with Japan's Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, and Japan’s Foreign Minister, Yoshimasa Hayashi, prior to the G7 Ministerial meeting. The meeting aimed to review bilateral relations and discuss ways to boost cooperation in combating the climate crisis.

 

Friday, 14 April–Bahrain’s Minister of Finance and National Economy, Salman bin Khalifa Al-Khalifa, met with the Counselor of the US Department of State, Derek Chollet, and with the US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Barbara Leaf, on the sidelines of the meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington. The two sides discussed ways to deepen cooperation in the financial and economic fields, and exchanged views on the latest global economic developments.

 

Friday, 14 April–Foreign Ministers from the six GCC countries, Egypt, Iraq and Jordan, met in Jeddah, to discuss a solution to the Syrian war and agreed that the Arab world must play a leading role in brokering peace, highlighting the need to set up necessary mechanisms and intensify consultations. They also discussed the Palestinian issue.

 

Friday, 14 April–Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, met with Iraq's Parliament Speaker, Mohammed Al-Halbousi, on the sidelines of the international meeting on Syria held in Jeddah. On the same occasion, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Abdellatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani held talks with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister and  Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fouad Hussain. Discussions aimed to review relations, discuss the regional situation, and strengthen cooperation in various fields.

 

Friday, 14 April–The Netherlands’ Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Wopke Hoekstra, travelled to Saudi Arabia. Together with Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, he reviewed Saudi-Dutch relations, and discussed international efforts to resolve the Russian-Ukrainian crisis politically. He also met with Energy Minister, Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, to discuss the export of clean hydrogen to Europe, possibly via the Rotterdam Port. The Dutch official also met with the GCC Secretary General, Jasem Albudaiwi, to discuss the Netherlands-GCC relations.

 

Saturday, 15 April–The UAE President, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, received Brazil’s President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, in Abu Dhabi. The two leaders explored opportunities for collaboration in the fields of sustainability, innovation and economy. They also discussed the COP28 climate conference, to be hosted by the UAE later this year, and the climate crisis.

 

Monday, 17 April–Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, visited Saudi Arabia, where he met with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and with Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud. Discussions focused on the Israeli-Palestine conflict, the Arab Peace Initiative and on the regional situation.

 

Monday, 17 April–Kuwait’s Foreign Minister, Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, received his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba.

 

Tuesday, 18 April–Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, met Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad, in Damascus. The visit constituted a step towards ending Syria’s decade-long regional isolation, and focused on ways to achieve a comprehensive political settlement to the Syrian crisis.

 

Tuesday, 18 April–The UAE President, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, received Jordan’s King, Abdullah II, in Abu Dhabi. The two leaders discussed cooperation on supporting regional stability and prosperity.

 

Tuesday, 18 April–Bahrain’s Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications, Mohammed bin Thamer Al-Kaabi, received the General Manager of the German DFS Aviation company, Andreas Boetsch, to discuss the air navigation developments in Bahrain.

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