The Euro-Gulf Monitor
11 - 16 October 2020
‘Round and About the Gulf
Kingdom of Bahrain
Monday, 12 October–Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa reiterated the country’s commitment to the Arab Peace Initiative regarding the Israeli-Palestinian issue. During a speech to launch the third-year sessions of the fifth legislative term, King Hamad stressed the importance of cooperation for achieving regional stability and prosperity, stressing that the negative economic impact of the pandemic will not affect the Kingdom’s dedication for regional peace.
State of Kuwait
Thursday, 15 October–Kuwait vowed to provide $1.5 million (USD) to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to support its efforts to help Palestinian refugees across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza. On the same day, the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) donated $5.5 million to the Palestinian Health Ministry as part of a previously guaranteed $250 million grant.
Sultanate of Oman
Monday, 12 October–Oman’s Sultan, Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said, issued a decree introducing a 5% value-added tax (VAT) on most goods and services within six months. The 5% VAT imposition, which was postponed from 2018, could assist the Sultanate in improving economic situation amid COVID-19 pandemic.
State of Qatar
Tuesday, 13 October–Qatar Petroleum, signed a 25 year deal with the British National Grid’s Grain liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal, located on the Isle of Grain, to store 7.2 million tonnes of LNG from QP annually, starting from 2025.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Wednesday, 14 October—Saudi Arabia inaugurated the first locally made HSI32 fast interceptor boats, developed by the French CMN and the Saudi Zamil Offshore Services Company, as the Kingdom seeks to localise 50% of military spending by 2030. The interceptors will enhance the capabilities of the Royal Saudi Navy Forces and contribute to regional maritime security. On Friday, the Saudi Advanced Technologies Company obtained a quality license from the British BAE Systems to produce mechanical components of the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets in the Kingdom.
United Arab Emirates
Monday, 12 October–Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan discussed regional peace challenges and cooperation possibilities in a phone call with Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. They also covered opportunities for cooperation in combating the pandemic, empowering youth and enhancing tolerance and dialogue. The same day, the first UAE ship with goods arrived at Haifa, Israel.
Thursday, 15 October–The UAE signed a preliminary double tax agreement with Israel.
The EU Corner
Sunday, 11 October–Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, and the Heads of the EU countries’ Missions to the country, discussed the normalisation deal between Israel and the Kingdom.
Wednesday, 14 October–President of the European Commission, Ursula Von Der Leyen, and President of the European Council, Charles Michel, expressed the EU’s commitment to strengthen cooperation with Kuwait in a letter of congratulations to the new Emir, Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.
Thursday, 15 October–The EU condemned Israel’s announcement of new settlements in the West Bank and called for immediate cooperative action between Israelis and Palestinians against the backdrop of the Abraham Accords. EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, stated that Israel’s new settlements plan endangers the future of a two state solution.
Key Official Visits
Monday, 12 October–Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, met with the EU member states’ Foreign Ministers and with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, in Luxembourg. They discussed enhancing the EU-Saudi cooperation and dialogue.
Wednesday, 14 October–Saudi Arabia and the US held Strategic Dialogue in Washington, DC, co-chaired by the Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, and the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. They discussed strengthening security and economic ties, and highlighted their commitment to countering threats to regional security posed by Iran’s nuclear program and its support to the Houthis in Yemen. Secretary Pompeo expressed optimism for an Israeli-Saudi normalisation deal.
Wednesday, 14 October–Kuwait’s Emir Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah received Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, delivering a letter from Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, concerning regional and international developments as well as bilateral cooperation.
Tuesday, 13 October–Italy and Bahrain discussed strategic partnership and cooperation opportunities in a virtual meeting between Undersecretary for International Affairs at Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abdulla bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, and Italy’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Marina Sereni. They praised the advancement in bilateral relations, the strategic importance of the opening of Bahrain’s Embassy in Rome and of the launch of the Gulf Air line towards Milan.