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The Euro-Gulf Monitor

1 - 7 December 2023

by Elen'Alba Vitiello

5 Top Points

  1. The UAE inaugurated the world's largest concentrated solar power project.

  2. Bahrain’s Minister of Oil and Environment Affairs met with the EU Special Representative to the Gulf in Dubai.

  3. Oman signed an agreement to export liquified green hydrogen to Europe.

  4. The Qatar-Saudi Arabia 7th Coordination Council took place in Doha.

  5. The Russian President visited the UAE and Saudi Arabia ahead of talks with Iranian President in Moscow.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Kingdom of Bahrain 

Kingdom of Bahrain  

Friday, 1 December–Bahrain unveiled its National Energy Strategy to decarbonise its economy and achieve its energy transition goals by reducing 30% of its emissions by 2035 and reaching net-zero emissions by 2060. The Strategy’s three main components aim to optimise energy demand to reduce energy intensity and consumption, diversify the country’s power mix to include cleaner energy sources, and deploy carbon abatement technologies to decarbonise hard-to-abate sectors. It is one of the six priority sector strategies stemming from the Kingdom’s Economic Recovery Plan.

 

State of Kuwait

Wednesday, 6 December–In early 2024, Kuwait’s government is expected to award a consultancy contract for the design and feasibility study for a $6.6 billion (about €6 billion) industrial zone, Al-Naayem, which will be one of the largest partnership projects in the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and designed to attract industrial capital to diversify the oil-reliant economy.

 

Sultanate of Oman

Sunday, 3 December–Oman’s Ministry of Energy and Minerals and Hydrogen Oman (Hydrom), signed a Joint Study Agreement with the Port of Amsterdam, Zenith Energy Terminals, and Gaslog, a Greek company that manages liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessels, to collaborate on the development of a liquid hydrogen supply chain to deliver Omani green hydrogen to the Port of Amsterdam and onwards to Europe.

 

Wednesday, 6 December–Oman and India commenced talks for a free trade agreement. In August, the six Gulf countries had already expressed the keenness to restart negotiations on free trade agreement with India. 

 

State of Qatar

Monday, 4 December–Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and Türkiye’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, co-chaired the 9th session of the Qatari-Turkish Supreme Strategic Committee, in Doha. During the session, the Foreign Ministry of Qatar and Turkey signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on conducting political consultations on issues of common concern. Other MoUs have been signed between the governments in the field of military framework, science, investment, labour, humanitarian work, culture, among others.

 

Tuesday, 5 December–Doha hosted the 44th Summit of the GCC Supreme Council, with the presence of Türkiye’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. During the Summit, the GCC leaders discussed the Israel-Hamas war and the Palestinian issue, Iran, Yemen, among other regional issues, as well as ways to enhance GCC-Türkiye cooperation, and reaffirmed their commitment to regional security and stability, denouncing all forms of terrorism. The GCC countries affirmed their solidarity with the Palestinian people and expressed support for the joint initiative  by Saudi Arabia, the European Union, and the Arab League to revive the Middle East peace process.

Tuesday, 5 December–The 7th Qatar-Saudi Arabia Coordination Council in Doha, co-chaired by of Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, resulted in several agreements to deepen bilateral cooperation, notably regarding investments in energy and infrastructure, digital governance, diplomatic training, media, intellectual property, and sports and youth. 

 

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Sunday, 3 December–Saudi Arabia hosted the 15th International Conference on Air Services Negotiations (ICAN), affiliated with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), in Riyadh, to engage with the rapid developments in the aviation sector. During the ICAN meeting, the President of the Saudi General Civil Aviation Authority, Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al-Duailj, inaugurated the new Regional Safety Oversight Organisation for the Middle East and North African States (MENA-RSOO). The members of the organisation, which includes Djibouti, Libya, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Palestine, and Yemen, signed a Memorandum of Agreement that aims to develop aviation cooperation.

United Arab Emirates

Friday, 1 December–During the COP28 Summit in Dubai, the UAE announced it would invest $30 billion (about €27.8 billion) in a new climate investment fund, Alterra, that will aim to mobilise investments worth $250 billion (about €232 billion) by the end of the decade.

Wednesday, 6 December–UAE’s Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, inaugurated the largest concentrated solar power project in the world as part of the fourth phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai. The AED15.78 billion (around €40 billion) project features the tallest solar tower in the world (263.126 metres) and the largest thermal energy storage capacity with a capacity of 5,907 megawatt hours (MWh).

 

 

EU Corner

Saturday, 2 December–On the sidelines of the COP28 Summit in Dubai, the European Union’s (EU) Special Representative for the Gulf Region, Luigi Di Maio, met with Bahrain’s Minister of Oil and Environment Affairs, Mohammed bin Mubarak bin Daina. They reviewed existing EU-Bahrain relations and discussed opportunities to deepen cooperation, particularly, concerning environment, energy, and climate action.

 

Tuesday, 5 December–The fourth EU-Kuwait Human Rights Dialogue, co-chaired by Kuwait’s Assistant Foreign Minister for Human Rights Affairs, Jawaher Ibrahim Al-Sabah, took place in Brussels. The two sides exchanged views about the latest developments in their countries, and reiterated their commitment to an open and constructive dialogue to jointly address challenges and share best practices, with regard to the human rights issues.

 

Tuesday, 5 December–EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, met with Libya’s Vice President of the Presidential Council, Mousa Al-Koni, in Brussels. The discussion focused on how to enhance the ongoing cooperation between the EU and Libya on key areas, including improving migration governance and management, as well as regional cooperation between Libya and the Sahel.

Key Official Visits

Thursday, 30 November–Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Defence, Khalid bin Salman Al-Saud, received a phone call from Iranian Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, Major General Mohammad Bagheri, during which they reviewed bilateral relations in the military and defence fields and discussed issues of mutual concern.

Friday, 1 December–On the sidelines of the COP28 Summit in Dubai, Bahrain’s King, Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, met with Hungarian President, Katalin Novak. They reviewed close bilateral ties and discussed cooperation in various sectors, especially in the economic, commercial, investment, educational, development, environment and energy sector.

Friday, 1 December–United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, David Cameron, separately met with Kuwait’s Emir, Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, and Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, on the sidelines of the COP28 Summit in Dubai. They reviewed bilateral cooperation and discussed the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip.

 

Friday, 1 December–Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, met with King Charles III of the United Kingdom in Dubai. The meeting dealt with Qatar-UK cooperation and means to enhance them as well as prominent issues on the summit’s agenda and developments of joint interest. The next day, Qatar’s Emir met with UK’s Leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer, and his accompanying delegation.

 

Saturday, 2 December–France’s President, Emmanuel Macron, travelled to Doha for talks with Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, after the climate summit in Dubai, where he met with Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, and Israeli President Isaac Herzog. They discussed ways to strengthen Qatari-French strategic cooperation as well as the latest developments in the Gaza Strip and the importance of continuing joint international efforts to ensure a permanent ceasefire.

 

Saturday, 2 December–UAE’s President, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, met with Germany’s Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, to discuss bilateral relations along with a number of regional and international issues of mutual interest, including the situation in Gaza, as well as the importance of achieve a more sustainable future.

Sunday, 3 December–The Summit of the Group 77 plus China (G77 + China) Leaders was held on the sidelines of the COP28 Summit in Dubai, the first of its kind. This Summit aimed to advance international commitment to dealing with climate change through decisive action. The G77 + China, which represents approximately 80% of the world’s population, aims to defend their collective economic interests and strengthen their negotiating power at the UN on major international economic issues.

Monday, 4 December–Oman’s Foreign Minister, Badr Hamad Al-Busaidi, met with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, in Tehran. They discussed means of expanding cooperation, as well as the developments in the Gaza Strip and emphasised on maintaining diplomatic and political efforts in addressing regional challenges. 

 

Monday, 4 December–UAE’s President, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, and Morocco’s King, Mohammed VI, signed a declaration aimed at a solid and innovative partnership in efforts to develop economic, trade, and investment cooperation. Moreover, the two countries inked several MoUs on investment partnerships, including in high-speed train projects in Morocco and the Morocco-Nigeria gas pipeline project as well as in the sectors of water, energy, airport, ports, agriculture and fisheries, tourism and real estate. 

Wednesday, 6 December–Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, went on an official visit to the UAE and Saudi Arabia, his first visit since the Russian war in Ukraine. In Dubai, Putin met with UAE’s President, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, where they stressed the importance of strengthening dialogue and cooperation to ensure stability and progress, and discussed bilateral cooperation in the energy industry and advanced technologies. In Riyadh, Putin met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, to discuss bilateral ties, regional and international developments, and oil market cooperation in OPEC+. The visit came a day ahead of the Iranian President, Ebrahim Raisi’s, visit to Moscow.

Thursday, 7 December–The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, separately held a phone call with Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, and UAE’s Foreign Minister, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, to discuss the need to intensify efforts to reach an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

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