The Euro-Gulf Monitor
11 - 31 August 2023
by Elen'Alba Vitiello
5 Top Points
The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Argentina, Egypt, and Ethiopia were invited to join BRICS.
Iran’s Foreign Minister visited Riyadh.
EU Special Representative for the Gulf Region visited Bahrain and Qatar.
The 1st Saudi-Turkish-Pakistani Tripartite Committee meeting was held in Riyadh to discuss defence cooperation.
GCC Secretary-General highlighted GCC countries’ interest in concluding free trade agreements during discussions with New Zealand.
‘Round and About the Gulf
Kingdom of Bahrain
Sunday, 13 August–Bahrain’s National Space Science Authority (NSSA) opened the registration for all programmers, scientists, designers, technicians, and others to participate in the 6th edition of the Space Applications Hackathon Challenge, which will be held from 7 to 8 October 2023 for the first time in Bahrain. Co-organised by NASA, the participants will have to use software development, engineering, art, science and other skills to solve science-related challenges written by NASA personnel. Different space agencies will participate in this edition, including the European, Italian, Canadian and Japanese Space Agencies, amongst others.
Saturday, 26 August–Bahrain’s Survey and Land Registration Bureau (SLRB), the government body in charge of land, aerial, and hydrographic survey services, as well as registration of real estate properties in the country, signed an agreement in London that renewed joint cooperation with the British Hydrographic Office. The agreement paved the way for the exchange of information that contributes to the development of navigational charts and a secure maritime traffic to and from Bahrain.
State of Kuwait
Wednesday, 30 August–Kuwait and the United Kingdom signed a declaration of intent to establish the Kuwait National Centre for Cybersecurity. As part of the agreement, signed by Mohammed Burki, head of the Kuwait Centre, and Juliet Wilcox, Cyber Security Ambassador for UK Defence and Security Exports at the Department for International Trade, the UK will provide the necessary systems and capabilities to help the center protect the country from cyber-threats.
Sultanate of Oman
Monday, 14 August–Oman LNG signed a binding term-sheet agreement with German-based firm, Secure Energy for Europe (SEFE), to supply 400,000 tonnes of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) a year starting from 2026. The agreement is based on a four-year contract and opens doors for new opportunities in the European markets.
State of Qatar
Wednesday, 16 August–QTerminal, Qatar’s terminal operating company managing the Hamad Port, acquired a majority stake in the Kramer Group, a provider of integrated logistics and container services located in the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Europe’s biggest port.
Tuesday, 22 August–Qatar’s Power International Holding, a real estate firm, is under discussion with Sonatrach, the Algerian national state-owned oil company, to build a new petrochemical complex in Algeria, as it has implemented new hydrocarbon laws that are designed to attract investors and stimulate funding.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Sunday, 13 August–Saudi Arabia appointed Naif bin Bandar Al-Sudairi, Ambassador to Jordan, as its first Non-Resident Ambassador to Palestine and Consul General in Jerusalem. He met with Norwegian Special Representative to the Middle East Peace Process, Hilde Haraldstad, in Amman, Jordan.
Monday, 28 August–Saudi Arabian Football Federation appointed Roberto Mancini, former Italian national team football coach, as the Saudi national team’s manager for the 2023 Asian Cup, taking place in Qatar from 12 January to 10 February 2024.
United Arab Emirates
Thursday, 24 August–The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia were officially invited to join the BRICS group of developing economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) from 1 January 2024. The applications of Iran, Argentina, Egypt, and Ethiopia to join BRICS were also approved during the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Thursday, 31 August—Between 26 and 27 September 2023, the UAE emirate of Sharjah will host the first Gulf-Iraq Business Forum, which will explore opportunities for investment, boosting trade exchange and strengthening economic ties between the Gulf and Iraq. The event will be held under the patronage of Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, Sultan bin Mohammed Al-Qasimi.
Friday, 18 August–Saudi Arabia’s Governor and Board Member of the Digital Government Authority, Ahmed Mohammed Alsuwaiyan, met with European Commission’s Director General of the Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology, Roberto Viola, on the sidelines of the G20 Ministerial Working Group Digital Economy Meeting, in Bengaluru, India. They discussed ways to enhance Saudi-EU cooperation and partnership in the digital transformation.
Monday, 21 August–The European Union Special Representative for the Gulf Region, Luigi Di Maio, visited Bahrain and Qatar, where he met several high representatives.
In Bahrain, he met with the Minister of Defence, Lieutenant General Abdulla bin Hassan Al-Nuaimi, to discuss regional security and the EU’s role. With the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Abdulla bin Adel Fakhro, he discussed partnership on digital and green transformation, before meeting with Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani. Di Maio also met with the Advisor to Bahrain’s King for Diplomatic Affairs, Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, and the Secretary General of the King Hamad Global Centre for Peaceful Coexistence, Abdullah bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa.
In Qatar, Di Maio met with Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulraham Al-Thani, to discuss regional security, de-escalation and opportunities for regional and bilateral joint action through the EU’s Strategic Partnership with the Gulf.
Wednesday, 30 August–UAE’s Arab Youth Centre launched the second edition of the “Negotiation Skills Bootcamp” in partnership with the Delegation of the European Union to the UAE. The European Union and the UAE are working together to boost policy-making and climate negotiations skills on climate issues ahead of COP28 in Dubai.
Key Official Visits
Tuesday, 15 August–Oman’s Foreign Ministry Political Undersecretary, Khalifa Alharthy, received separately the Swedish Special Envoy to Yemen, Peter Semneby, the United Nations Special envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, and US Special Envoy for Yemen, Timothy Lenderking, to review the latest developments regarding Yemen and the regional and international efforts to find a solution.
Thursday, 17 August–Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, travelled to Saudi Arabia, marking the first trip by Iran’s top diplomat in years after the two nations reached a détente with Chinese mediation. He met with his Saudi counterpart, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, in Riyadh, and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, in Jeddah. This comes as the two countries are reopening diplomatic missions and explore bilateral cooperation and ways to develop it. Iranian Foreign Ministry later said that the Saudi-Iranian joint economic committee would meet soon.
Thursday, 17 August–UK’s Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, spoke on the phone with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud. The leaders expressed their commitment to further develop their trade and investment relationship, and to strengthen their defence and security cooperation.
Thursday, 17 August–Kuwait’s Head of the National Center for Cyber Security, Mohammad Bouaraki, met with Google’s Global Vice President of Cybersecurity Sales, Dominick Delfino, in Kuwait, to develop cooperation and coordination between Google and Kuwait’s cybersecurity apparatus, in line with Kuwait’s Vision 2035.
Monday, 21 August–Qatar’s Minister of State for International Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lolwah bint Rashid Al-Khater, met with Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Peter Szijjarto, and Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister, Mihaly Varga, in Budapest. During the meeting, they discussed economic, international, environmental, and industry cooperation. The Qatari Minister invited the two Hungarian Ministers to attend the International Horticultural Expo 2023 in Doha.
Wednesday, 23 August–The Saudi-Turkish-Pakistani Tripartite Committee held its first meeting in Riyadh to discuss defence cooperation, developments in the defence industry, in addition to technology transfer and localisation, and scientific research. The meeting was attended by Saudi Arabia’s Assistant Minister of Defence, Tala bin Abdullah Al-Otaibi, Pakistani Army’s Chief of General Staff, General Muhammad Saeed, and Turkish Deputy Minister of Defence, Celal Sami Tufekci.
Thursday, 24 August–Kuwait’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Salem Abdullah Al-Sabah, met with his Indian counterpart, Vallamvelly Muraleedharan, in Kuwait City, to discuss ways to strengthen bilateral relations and strategic cooperation.
Friday, 25 August–Bahrain’s Minister of Finance and National Economy, Salman bin Khalifa Al-Khalifa, met with UK’s Deputy Director of the Investment Office, Mark Cooper, in Manama, to discuss ways of further bolstering joint economic and investment cooperation.
Friday, 25 August–The first round of the Political Consultations Committee between the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Hungary’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade was held in Budapest. The meeting was led by UAE’s Assistant Foreign Minister for Political Affairs and Envoy of the Foreign Minister, Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, and Hungary’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Levente Magyar. The two sides reviewed the growing bilateral relations and discussed opportunities to strengthen economic and trade cooperation.
Sunday, 27 August–The Qatari-Saudi Follow-Up Committee convened its 14th meeting in Doha, chaired by Qatar’s Special Envoy of the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Regional Affairs, Ali bin Fahad Al-Hajri, and Saudi Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Political Affairs, Saud bin Mohammed Al-Sati. The Follow-Up Committee meetings aim to implement the Al-Ula Declaration.
Monday, 28 August–Bahrain’s Minister of Interior, Rashid bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa, met with the Director-General of Customs Administration of the Netherlands, Nanette van Schelven, and her accompanying delegation, in Manama. Bahrain’s Customs President, Ahmed bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, attended the meeting, where they exchanged expertise and training. The Dutch delegation was also briefed on the directorate’s effort to facilitate travel and trade, and to secure Bahrain’s borders.
Tuesday, 29 August–In Slovenia, on the sidelines of the 18th session of the Bled Strategic Forum 2023 ‘Solidarity for Global Security’, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Member of the Council of Ministers and Climate Envoy, Adel Al-Jubeir, met with German Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Niels Annen, to discuss bilateral relations and ways to strengthen them.
Tuesday, 29 August–Kuwait’s Crown Prince, Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, and his accompanying delegation flew to London to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Kuwait Investment Office (KIO), where he met with the British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak. On the occasion, Kuwait and the UK signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on an investment partnership, which has been co-signed by UK’s Minister of State in the Department for Business and Trade, Dominic Johnsons, and Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Oil, Minister of State for Economic and Investment Affairs, Saad Al-Barrak. Furthermore, Dominic Johnsons signed a MoU with Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Jarrah Jaber Al-Sabah, in the presence of Kuwait’s Foreign Minister, Salem Abdullah Al-Sabah, celebrating the 125th anniversary of Kuwait-UK partnership in 2024.
Tuesday, 29 August–Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulraham Al-Thani, met with Yemen’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, Ahmad Awad bin Mubarak, in Doha. During the meeting they discussed cooperation between the two countries, particularly in development projects, and the Yemeni situation. Mohammed bin Abdulraham Al-Thani reaffirmed that negotiation between the Yemenis, based on the outcomes of the national dialogue, the Gulf initiative, and the relevant Security Council resolutions, is the sole way to solve the Yemeni crisis.
Thursday, 31 August—In Riyadh, Minister of Trade and Export Growth of New Zealand, Damien O’Connor, met with the Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Jassem Albudaiwi, to discuss the progress on concluding the GCC-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement. Albudaiwi highlighted the GCC countries’ interest in concluding free trade agreements to boost economic activity and forge economic partnerships.