The Euro-Gulf Monitor

1 - 7 July 2022

by Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani

5 Top Points

  1. Saudi Arabia appointed the first female Deputy Secretary General of the Cabinet.

  2. Qatar and Iran held talks over the Nuclear Deal with Washington.

  3. The Kuwait Finance House will buy Bahrain’s Ahli United Bank for €11.4 billion.

  4. The EU and Bahrain agreed to mutually recognise COVID-19 digital certificates.

  5. Gulf ministers attended the Consultative Meeting of the Arab League’s Foreign Ministers in Beirut.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Kingdom of Bahrain

Sunday, 3 July–Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa decreed the establishment of the Military Institution for the Development of Warfare Industries at the Bahrain Defence Force (BDF). The institution will develop military industries in the Kingdom, regulating activities of designing and developing defence and security systems in a bid to localise defence research, development projects and military industry and bolster the labor and manufacturing sectors.

State of Kuwait

Wednesday, 6 July–The Kuwaiti bank, Kuwait Finance House (KFH), agreed to purchase Bahrain’s Ahli United Bank for €11.4 billion (EUR), in one of the largest banking agreements of 2022. With the transaction, the bank will become the seventh largest lender in the region, with more than €112 billion in assets managed.

Sultanate of Oman

Monday, 4 July–Oman’s Ministry of Agriculture signed 28 land usufruct agreements with private firms worth over €82 million. The deals will finance agricultural, fishery, livestock and water projects, including the development of a mineral water purification and bottling plant as well as fruit and vegetable production, in a bid to enhance food security in the Sultanate.

State of Qatar

Tuesday, 5 July–The UK-based energy giant, Shell, signed a deal with QatarEnergy to acquire a 6.25% stake in Doha’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) North Field East plant expansion project worth €28.4 billion. Shell joined TotalEnergies, Eni, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil in the project, which seeks to increase Qatar’s LNG output from 77 million tons per year to 110 million by 2027 to meet the rising global energy demand.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Monday, 4 July–Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud appointed the first female Vice Secretary General of the Council of Ministers in the country’s history. Al-Shehana bint Saleh Al-Azzaz was one of the first practising female lawyers in the Kingdom and served as Assistant Minister of Tourism and as high-ranking lawyer with the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF).

 

Monday, 4 July–Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud decreed the allocation of over €5 billion to assist low-income citizens and social security beneficiaries amid rising global prices. The same day, the UAE set aside €6.8 billion for social assistance activities for its nationals.

United Arab Emirates

Monday, 4 July–The Dubai-based oil and gas firm, Dragon Oil, signed a €970 million with Turkmenistan’s state-owned energy company, Turkmen Oil, to renew its production partnership in the country until 2035. Dragon Oil is expected to increase its investment in the country by over €7 billion to support its renewed production programmes.

The EU Corner

Friday, 1 July–The European Union (EU) and Bahrain agreed on mutual recognition of digital certificates of vaccination, examination or recovery from COVID-19. The measure comes after the European Commission confirmed Bahrain’s compliance with the international technical standards and will facilitate mobility between Europe and the Gulf country.

Key Official Visits

Saturday, 2 July–Lebanon hosted a two-day consultative meeting of the Arab League states’ Foreign Ministers. Attendees included Kuwait’s Foreign Minister, Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah, Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al-Thani, as well as diplomatic representatives of Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. During the summit, the Arab Foreign Ministers pledged to support Lebanon in tackling its economic crisis and adopting political reforms. On the sidelines of the event, Foreign Ministers of Qatar and Kuwait held separate meetings with Lebanese President, Michel Aoun, discussing food and energy security, economic cooperation as well as developments in Syria and Palestine.

 

Monday, 4 July–British Minister for Asia and the Middle East, Amanada Milling, toured Bahrain and Qatar. In Manama, Minister Milling met with Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, reviewing UK-GCC cooperation and the recent free trade agreement negotiations. In Doha, Milling met with Qatari State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sultan Saad Al-Muraikhi, and with Labor Minister, Ali bin Samikh Al-Marri, discussing strategic cooperation in energy and investment as well as Qatar’s progress on labour reforms.

 

Tuesday, 5 July–British Minister of Investment, Gerry Grimstone, travelled to Muscat, where he was received by Oman’s Foreign Minister, Badr Hamad Al-Busaidi. They discussed UK-Oman partnership in economy and investment and ways to enhance it.

 

Tuesday, 5 July–Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, attended the International Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief, in London. During the event, the Minister stressed the Kingdom’s efforts to pursue interreligious tolerance, domestically and regionally. On the sidelines of the event, Minister Al-Zayani also met with his Lebanese and Hungarian counterparts, Abdullah Bou Habib and Péter Szijjártó, reviewing cooperation in promoting religious tolerance and international security.

 

Tuesday, 5 July–The acting Afghan Defence Minister, Mohammed Mujahid, was received by Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani in Doha. The talks covered Afghanistan’s economic crisis, women’s rights in the country, and plans to secure Kabul’s international airport.

 

Wednesday, 6 July–Qatar’s Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, travelled to Tehran for a meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amirabdollahian, and Iran’s Security Chief, Ali Shamkhani. The two ministers examined the chances of reaching a US-Iranian return to the Nuclear Deal, with Tehran’s top diplomat sustaining that the country is open to further negotiation. Minister Al-Thani called on both Iran and the US to restore the 2015 nuclear agreement (JCPOA), while also inviting Tehran to hold talks with other regional actors.

 

Thursday, 7 July–Foreign Ministers of the G20 travelled to Bali for a two-day summit on the conflict in Ukraine and its impact on the global economy as well as on food and energy security. Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, will attend the event, along with his counterparts from the G20 states, including the US, Russia, China and the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, while Ukraine’s Foreign Minister addressed the meeting virtually.