The Euro-Gulf Monitor

11 - 17 February 2022

by

Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani

5 Top Points

  1. Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, visited Abu Dhabi.

  2. Israel’s Premier, Naftali Bennett, visited Bahrain for the first time.

  3. The EU presented the ‘Next Generation EU’ package to Qatar and Kuwait.

  4. The UAE and India will sign a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

  5. Italy and Qatar held their first Strategic Dialogue in Rome.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Kingdom of Bahrain

Saturday, 12 February—Manama confirmed that an Israeli navy officer will be stationed at the US 5th Fleet’s headquarters in Bahrain as part of an international coalition to secure freedom of navigation.

 

Wednesday, 16 February–The Bahrain-based international investment manager, Investcorp, acquired sixty-four industrial assets in the US, in an operation worth over €562 million (EUR). The purchase is part of the company’s investment strategy related to the logistic, industrial and supply-chain sectors in the US, and resulted in the increase of its holdings in the US real estate sector up to over €3 billion (EUR).

State of Kuwait

Wednesday, 16 February–Kuwait’s Minister of Defence, Hamad Jaber Al-Ali, and Minister of Interior, Ahmed Al-Mansour, resigned over tensions with the country’s National Assembly. Kuwait has undergone repeated parliamentary stalemates in the last year, which resulted in two Cabinet resignations, followed by the launch of a national dialogue between the Government and the National Assembly in October 2021.

Sultanate of Oman

Thursday, 17 February–The second Oman-UAE Economic Forum was held in Dubai. The event was chaired by Oman’s Minister of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion, Qais bin Mohammed Al-Yousuf, and was attended by UAE’s Minister of Economy, Touq Al-Marri, and Minister of Foreign Trade, Thani Ahmed Al-Zeyoudi. The two sides reviewed expanding economic ties, especially in the areas of construction, trade, industry and investment.

State of Qatar

Monday, 14 February–Qatar and Italy held their first Strategic Dialogue in Rome. On the occasion, Doha’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohamed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, was received by Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Luigi Di Maio. The event focused on Italian-Qatari strategic partnership, developments in Libya, Afghanistan and Iran, as well as energy and economy relations.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Wednesday, 16 February–The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stated that it is cooperating with Saudi Arabia and Egypt to develop nuclear power in both countries. The cooperation was disclosed by IAEA’s Director General, Rafael Grossi, and follows Riyadh’s announcement in January 2022 that the Kingdom seeks to use its deposits of uranium resources to develop nuclear energy.

United Arab Emirates

Thursday, 17 February–The UAE and India completed talks over a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which will be signed on 18 February 2022 in a virtual meeting between Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, and Indian Premier, Narendra Modi. The talks kicked off in September 2021, with the CEPA aiming to increase Emirati-Indian trade to more than €88 billion (EUR) in five years.

The EU Corner

Sunday, 13 February‒The EU Commissioner for Budget and Administration, Johannes Hahn, visited Qatar and Kuwait to present the Next Generation EU package and discuss investment opportunities. In Doha, Commissioner Hahn held separate meetings with the Qatari Minister of Finance, Ali bin Ahmed Al-Kuwari, and with the Governor of the Qatar Central Bank, Bandar bin Mohammed bin Saud Al-Thani. In Kuwait, Johannes Hahn met with the Governor of the Kuwait Central Bank, Mohammed Yousef Al-Hashel, and the Director of the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA), Ghanem Suleiman Al-Ghenaiman.

 

Sunday, 13 February‒Diplomats from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman took part in a five-day training organised by the EU Delegation to the three countries, in Riyadh. The training, named ‘EU policies and decision making’, was opened by the Head of the EU Delegation to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman, Patrick Simonnet, and aimed to improve knowledge about the EU institutions’ functioning and values.

 

Tuesday, 15 February‒The Saudi Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, received the Head of the EU Delegation to Saudi Arabia, Patrick Simonnet, and several others EU diplomats, in Riyadh, to discuss the regional situation ahead of the upcoming EU-GCC meeting in Brussels, scheduled for 21 February.

 

Wednesday, 16 February‒The Head of the EU Delegation to Kuwait, Cristian Tudor, and the Kuwaiti Assistant Foreign Minister for Europe Affairs, Naser Abdullah Al-Hayen, discussed the results of the third Senior Officials’ Meeting between Kuwait and the European External Action Service (EEAS) held on 10 February 2022. In particular, the meeting focused on the implementation of the agreements reached by the two sides.

Key Official Visits

Sunday, 13 February–Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, visited Nicosia, meeting with Cyprus’ President, Nicos Anastasiades. They discussed bilateral relations and cooperation in combating terrorism, as well as the recent attacks by the Iran-aligned Yemeni Houthis. The Saudi Minister also hailed Cyprus’ role in mediating between the EU and the Middle East countries.

 

Monday, 14 February–Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, visited Abu Dhabi, meeting with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, and UAE’s Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum. The leaders defined the visit as the start of a new phase of UAE-Turkish strategic partnership. The talks focused on coordination in maintaining regional stability and cooperation in defence, trade and energy. They also signed thirteen cooperation deals in sectors such as technology, economy, environment, industry and agriculture.

 

Tuesday, 15 February–Israel’s Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, travelled to Manama, in the first visit by an Israeli Prime Minister to Bahrain. He was received by Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa and Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa. The leaders discussed regional tensions, notably the Houthi attacks and Iran. Israel highlighted its willingness to support the Gulf’s security and stability. The two countries also established a ten-year cooperation plan ‘Warm Peace Strategy’, identifying strategic partnership areas, such as food security, water, sustainable energy, trade and investment.

 

Wednesday, 16 February–Croatia’s Foreign Minister, Gordan Grlic Radman, visited Riyadh, meeting with his Saudi counterpart, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud. The two ministers discussed developments in Yemen and agreed on the need to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions. They also examined ways of expanding cooperation in security, economy, technology, environmental protection and tourism.

 

Wednesday, 16 February–The Prime Minister of Iraq’s Kurdistan region, Mansour Barzani, was received by Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and some senior Qatari officials, in Doha. They discussed cooperation in economy, trade and energy, with particular reference to Kurdistan’s gas potentials.