The Euro-Gulf Monitor
21 - 27 January 2022
Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani
5 Top Points
Bahrain, Egypt and UAE leaders held a summit in Abu Dhabi to discuss regional security.
Saudi Arabia and Iraq agreed to link their electricity grids.
Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, visited Tehran.
The EU and Kuwait discussed expanding relations in security, environment and energy.
Oman launched the largest green energy project in the country.
‘Round and About the Gulf
Kingdom of Bahrain
Wednesday, 26 January–Bahrain’s labour fund, Tamkeen, launched fifteen development and digitalisation programmes aimed at the Kingdom’s key economic sectors. The projects seek to develop the job market, particularly in the private sector, and boost economic growth as part of the wider Bahraini National Economic Recovery Program.
State of Kuwait
Monday, 24 January–The energy company Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company (KUFPEC) announced its first offshore exploration discovery of gas and condensate, resulting from a drilling campaign in Indonesia. The company holds 100 percent participating interest in the block, where the discovery was made, with its Indonesian subsidiary (KUFPEC Indonesia) holding a 30 years-long production sharing contract.
Sultanate of Oman
Wednesday, 26 January–Oman inaugurated the largest renewable energy project in the country, the ‘Ibri 2 Solar Energy Project’. It includes a 500 megawatt solar power plant with about 1.5 million bifacial solar panels, in an investment worth over €370 million (EUR). Ibri 2 is set to assist the Sultanate’s Vision 2040 goal to generate up to 39 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2040.
Wednesday, 26 January–Oman launched the first Electricity Sport Market in Middle East which will enable producers to compete in offering their surplus capacity. Muscat also decided to limit power tariffs for residents in 2022 at December 2021 standards.
State of Qatar
Friday, 21 January–Qatar and Turkey reached a preliminary agreement on managing security at Kabul’s international airport following the Taliban’s power takeover of Afghanistan. According to the deal, internal security will be ensured by the actor operating the airport, while external security will be ran by the Taliban. Further talks are set to be held between Doha, Ankara and the Taliban over financing and operational aspects of the site.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Monday, 24 January–Saudi Arabia hosted the sixth In-Kingdom Total Value Add (IKTVA) Forum, which aims to present opportunities for business localisation. The Kingdom’s energy giant, Saudi Aramco, announced that during the event fifty memoranda of understanding were signed with international companies to cooperate in localising energy sector activities as Riyadh aims to localise seventy percent of its energy products in line with the Vision 2030.
Tuesday, 25 January–Saudi Arabia and Iraq announced they will link their electricity grids. The link is expected to be completed in 2024, while it will produce one gigawatt of energy in its initial stage. The deal aims to reduce Baghdad’s energy dependence on Iran and ensure the country has emergency reserves in case of power cuts.
United Arab Emirates
Friday, 21 January–The UAE Space Agency and the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) established the Emirates’ first Space Economy Zone in Masdar City. The project aims to expand the space sector in the country through public-private partnerships, research and development as well as assist startups active in space and technology innovation.
The EU Corner
Thursday, 20 January–The Director of the EU Project Critical Maritime Route Wider Indian Ocean (CRIMARIO), Martin Cauchi-Inglott, visited Saudi Arabia to meet with several Saudi representatives, to explore ways to cooperate in the field of maritime security, improving communication and coordination between the EU and Saudi Arabia.
Friday, 21 January–The Fourth Trade and Investment Dialogue between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the European Union was held at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels. The meeting was chaired by the Assistant Secretary for Political Affairs and Negotiations of the GCC, Abdulaziz Hamad Al-Owaisek, and the Director-General of the Trade Directorate at the EU Commission, Leon Delvax. The event discussed EU-GCC economic relations, finding ways to boost trade while facing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Monday, 24 January–The Foreign Minister of Kuwait, Ahmed Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah, met with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, in Brussels. During the meeting, they expressed their willingness to expand EU-GCC relations and cooperate on climate change, energy transition, security and economy. High Representative Borrell also praised Kuwait for its traditional role of a mediator in regional crises.
Key Official Visits
Saturday, 22 January–Kuwait's Foreign Minister, Ahmed Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah, travelled to Lebanon and the United States (US). In Beirut, he met with Lebanese President, Michel Aoun, and Parliament Speaker, Nabih Berri. The visit was the first official trip by a senior GCC official since the 2021 Gulf-Lebanese diplomatic rift. The discussions focused on ending the current diplomatic tension, particularly through implementing United Nations Security Council’s resolutions and security cooperation with the GCC. In Washington, the Kuwaiti Minister met with US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, discussing the Iranian nuclear deal and security in the Gulf.
Tuesday, 25 January–Qatar’s Minister of Justice, Masoud bin Mohammed Al-Amri, travelled to Algiers, for talks with Algeria’s Prime Minister, Aymen Benabderrahmane, and Justice Minister, Abdul Rashid Tabbi. During the visit, they signed a bilateral cooperation deal on legal issues.
Tuesday, 25 January–The US Special Envoy, David Satterfield, kicked off his tour of Kenya, Egypt, the UAE, Turkey and Israel, which will conclude on 4 February 2022. Satterfield will discuss security in the Horn of Africa, stability in Sudan and aspects related to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
Wednesday, 26 January–Abu Dhabi hosted a summit between Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE. The meeting gathered Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, and Ruler of Dubai and UAE’s Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum. The leaders discussed regional security, with particular reference to the drone and missile attacks on the UAE carried by the Iran-aligned Houthi militia, underlining the need to consolidate security and counter-terrorism cooperation.
Thursday, 27 January–Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, travelled to Tehran for a meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. The two officials discussed developments in nuclear talks in Vienna and in Afghanistan. The visit follows a phone call between Doha’s Foreign Minister and the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, held on 24 January, and precedes his visit to Washington scheduled for 28 January.