The Euro-Gulf Monitor

10 - 16 December 2021

by

Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani

5 Top Points

  1. Israel’s Prime Minister held his first official visit to the UAE.

  2. Saudi Arabia hosted the GCC and Egypt Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and the 42nd GCC Summit.

  3. Qatar Energy expanded its presence in the East Mediterranean energy explorations, acquiring new stakes in Egypt and Cyprus.

  4. Kuwait officially approved the enlisting of women in its military ranks.

  5. Qatari and the EU officials met in Brussels to discuss cooperation and the situation in Afghanistan.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Kingdom of Bahrain

Tuesday, 14 December–Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund, Mumtalakat, and the Abu Dhabi-based sovereign investment company, Mubadala, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen strategic cooperation and explore co-investment opportunities. Mubadala manages assets worth about €215 billion (EUR), while Mumtakalat’s assets are around €16.7 billion (EUR).

State of Kuwait

Wednesday, 15 December–Kuwait’s Ministry of Defence announced that women will be allowed to enlist in the military starting from 19 December 2021.

Sultanate of Oman

Thursday, 16 December–Oman and Iran discussed military cooperation during the Omani-Iranian Military Friendship Committee meeting in Tehran and held a joint naval search and rescue exercise. Brigadier General Abdulaziz Abdullah Al-Manthari, Assistant Chief of Staff of Oman’s Armed Forces for Operations and Planning, held talks with Mohammad Ahadi, Iran’s Deputy Defence Minister for International Affairs, Iran’s Navy Commander, Rear Admiral Shahram Irani, and Iranian Military’s Chief of Staff, Major General Mohammad Bagheri.

State of Qatar

Friday, 10 December–The Qatari state-owned oil and gas company, Qatar Energy, and the US energy giant, ExxonMobil, signed a deal with Cyprus for oil and gas exploration and production sharing in the island’s offshore Block 5. The former will own a 40% stake and the latter will own the remaining 60%. The deal provoked opposition from Turkey. Later that week, Qatar Energy announced it will acquire 17% stakes in two Shell-operated concessions (Block 3 and Block 4) in Egypt's Red Sea region.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Sunday, 12 December–Saudi Arabia approved its national budget for 2022, expecting about €246 billion (EUR) revenue and €224 billion (EUR) expenditure. The country will also cut about 10% of its defence budget and reduce the general spending by almost 6% compared to 2021.

 

Monday, 13 December–Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister, Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, announced that the Kingdom will invest €122.5 billion (EUR) in renewable energy and energy distribution by 2030.

United Arab Emirates

Tuesday, 14 December–The UAE suspended talks with the United States (US) over the €20 billion (EUR) deal for the purchase of fifty F-35 fighter jets, eighteen MQ-9B drones. The preliminary agreement for the sale was signed on January 2021.

The EU Corner

Sunday, 12 December‒The Head of the EU Delegation to Saudi Arabia, Patrick Simonnet, and the Secretary General of the Muslim World League, Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, discussed ways to improve Euro-Gulf mutual understanding, promoting initiatives to boost inter-institutional cooperation.

 

Monday, 13 December‒The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, met with Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, in Brussels. They discussed EU-Qatar relations, focusing on energy transition, the Iran nuclear deal, and developments in Afghanistan. Borrell praised Qatar for facilitating communication between the EU and the Taliban interim government.

 

Monday, 13 December—The European Commission adopted a decision recognising the UAE-issued COVID-19 certificates as equivalent to the EU Digital COVID Certificates.

Key Official Visits

Monday, 13 December–During his first official visit to the UAE, Israel’s Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, met with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. The two leaders discussed Emirati-Israeli cooperation in economy, technology, cyber-security, environment, food security and infrastructure. They also discussed the establishment of a joint research and development (R&D) fund that will focus on renewable energy and climate change, as well as the creation of a UAE-Israel Business Council.

 

Monday, 13 December–Foreign Ministers of the GCC countries and Egypt gathered in Riyadh to inaugurate the Egyptian-GCC political consultation mechanism. The event was chaired by Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, and focused on strengthening relations between Egypt and the Gulf countries. During the event, Cairo’s Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, underlined the connection between the security of the Arab Gulf and Egypt.

 

Monday, 13 December–Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, visited Dubai, meeting with the UAE’s Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, and with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. They discussed commercial and economic relations between Turkey and the Emirates, while also reviewing the diplomatic rapprochement between the two countries.

 

Tuesday, 14 December–The 42nd Summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Supreme Council was held in Riyadh, gathering leaders of the Gulf countries. The event was chaired by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, with talks focusing on regional security and intra-GCC cooperation, particularly through economic integration. The Summit was attended by Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, Kuwait’s Crown Prince, Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Oman’s Deputy Prime Minister for Cabinet Affairs, Fahd bin Mahmoud Al-Said, Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and the UAE’s Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

 

Tuesday, 14 December—Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf travelled to the UAE on a several-day working visit. He spoke at the EXPO Dubai and pledged that Sweden will cooperate with the UAE in innovation and mitigating climate change impacts in order to help build sustainable societies.

 

Wednesday, 15 December–Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tarik Al-Said met with the United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth II at the Windsor Castle in Northern Ireland. The two sides reviewed British-Omani historical relations.