The Euro-Gulf Monitor

11 - 17 March 2022

by

Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani

5 Top Points

  1. British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, toured Saudi Arabia and the UAE to discuss energy security and situation in Ukraine.

  2. The Saudi National Development Fund announced it will inject over €137 billion (EUR) into the Kingdom’s economy.

  3. Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, travelled to Moscow for talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov.

  4. Kuwait appointed the new Central Bank Governor and the new CEO of Kuwait Petroleum Corporation.

  5. The EU and the GCC agreed on a special energy cooperation strategy to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russia.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Kingdom of Bahrain

Monday, 14 March—Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, received a phone call from the United Kingdom’s Minister for Asia and the Middle East at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Amanda Milling, centred on bilateral relations and ways to boost cooperation.

 

Tuesday, 15 March–Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa discussed developments in Ukraine in a phone call with Russian President, Vladimir Putin. The two leaders reviewed ways to avoid the expansion of the current conflict to other areas in the region with King Hamad highlighting the need to ensure humanitarian aid for civilians.

State of Kuwait

Monday, 14 March–Kuwait’s Cabinet appointed Basel Ahmed Salem Al-Haroun as the new Central Bank Governor, starting from 1 April 2022, and Nawaf Saud Al-Sabah as the CEO of the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation.

Sultanate of Oman

Sunday, 13 March–Oman announced it will list up to thirty-five state-owned companies on the Muscat Stock Exchange (MSX) within the next five years, in a bid to increase private foreign investment in the Sultanate. The listing will also involve up to two companies operating in the oil sector in 2022.

State of Qatar

Friday, 11 March–Qatar was officially designated by the US as a major non-NATO ally. US President, Joe Biden, had previously announced the move in January 2022, highlighting the relevance of the US-Qatari strategic relations.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Tuesday, 15 March–Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, announced that the Saudi National Development Fund (NDF) will inject over €137.7 billion (EUR) into the Kingdom’s economy by 2030. The announcement was made during the launch of the NDF strategy, which seeks to boost the Kingdom’s non-oil sector.

 

Wednesday, 16 March–Saudi Arabia launched sixty water projects worth about €8.45 billion (EUR). The projects will mainly focus on desalination and increasing strategic water reserves, while being also part of Riyadh’s willingness to invest in sustainable areas and tackle climate change.

United Arab Emirates

Wednesday, 16 March–The UAE’s Ministry of Economy launched a new strategy for the National Programme for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The new plan will seek to increase institutional support to private businesses through procurement and financial services, in a bid to enhance the private sector’s role in the Emirates’ economy.

The EU Corner

Friday, 11 March—The Head of the EU Delegation to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman, Patrick Simonnet, held a press conference to present the EU plan to increase cooperation with the Gulf countries in the energy field. The plan aims to reduce the European dependence on Russia amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, increasing imports of green hydrogen from the Gulf. The EU and the GCC countries agreed on a special cooperation strategy that will enter into effect in January 2023.

 

Sunday, 13 March—The EU strongly condemned missile attacks on Erbil in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, claimed by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and stressed support for Iraq’s sovereignty and stability.

 

Sunday, 13 March—The EU expressed its opposition to the execution of 81 people in Saudi Arabia, condemning the application of the death penalty and confirming its commitment to work for the abolition of this punishment worldwide. The EU also welcomed the release of Raif Badawi, stressing the importance of deepening human rights collaboration with Saudi Arabia.

 

Tuesday, 15 March—The EU and Saudi Arabia reviewed cooperation in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, notably regarding the COVAX programme and exporting vaccines and the mutual recognition of vaccine certificates. The topics were discussed during talks between the Head of the EU Delegation to Saudi Arabia, Patrick Simonnet, and the Saudi Minister of Health, Fahad Al-Jalajel.

 

Wednesday, 16 March—The Head of the EU Delegation to Kuwait and Qatar, Cristian Tudor, hosted the Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Kuwait, Hideko Hadzialic. They affirmed the commitment of the EU and the UNDP to promote development and health security in 13 Arab countries and in the Palestinian territories by launching a report named ‘Making a Difference: EU-UNDP Partnership in the Arab States’.

Key Official Visits

Friday, 11 March—Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, met with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, on the sidelines of the 2nd Antalya Diplomacy Forum, held in Turkey. The two sides lauded the recent progress in bilateral relations and discussed ways to boost cooperation.

 

Friday, 11 March—Qatar and Egypt discussed enhancing bilateral relations during a meeting between Egypt’s Assistant Foreign Minister for Arab Affairs, Alaa Moussa,  and Qatar’s Assistant Foreign Minister for Regional Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulaziz bin Saleh, in Cairo.

 

Sunday, 13 March–Qatar hosted Chad’s peace talks, gathering Chad's Prime Minister, Albert Pahimi Padacke, African Union Commission Head, Moussa Faki Mahamat, and some fourty-four opposition and rebel groups’ representatives. Libya’s Foreign Minister, Najla Al-Mangoush, also took part in the talks upon an invitation from Qatar’s Foreign Ministry.

 

Sunday, 13 March–Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa travelled to the UAE for talks with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. They reviewed Bahraini-Emirati strategic relations and regional stability.

 

Monday, 14 March–Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, met with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, in Moscow. They discussed developments in Ukraine, with Qatar’s Foreign Minister calling for an urgent political resolution of the crisis and avoiding further escalations in the region.

 

Tuesday, 15 March–British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, toured Saudi Arabia and the UAE to discuss energy supplies to the UK and the EU countries amid the war in Ukraine. In the Emirates, the British Prime Minister met with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, discussing energy security, defence and trade. In Riyadh, the UK’s Premier met with Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, discussing opportunities for Saudi Arabia to increase its oil output towards Europe and human rights issues, while also signing an agreement for establishing a UK-Saudi Strategic Partnership Council.

 

Wednesday, 16 March—The UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change and Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, Sultan bin Ahmed Al-Jaber, met with Morocco’s Prime Minister, Aziz Akhannouch, and other Moroccan officials, on the sidelines of the 15th MENA Energy Conference hosted by Rabat, to discuss investment opportunities and ways to enhance bilateral cooperation, notably in energy and renewables, industry, minerals, infrastructure, communications, tourism and agriculture.