The Euro-Gulf Monitor
12 - 18 May 2023
by Veronica Stigliani & Elen'Alba Vitiello
5 Top Points
Luigi Di Maio has been appointed as the first EU Special Representative for the Gulf region.
Kuwait’s Foreign Minister toured the US and Canada.
The first UK-UAE Strategic Dialogue took place in London.
Germany’s Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, visited Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
The first meeting of the Standing Committee for Women’s Affairs in the GCC was held in Oman.
‘Round and About the Gulf
Kingdom of Bahrain
Tuesday, 16 May–The first meeting of the Standing Committee for Women’s Affairs in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, held in Muscat, Oman, took place, following Bahrain’s proposal to form a GCC committee for Women’s affairs. During the meeting, Bahrain’s Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Women (SCW), Hala bint Mohammed Jaber Al-Ansari, expressed the hope that this would serve as a starting point to establish the committee, which will enhance cooperation among the GCC countries on women’s advancement.
Tuesday, 16 May–Bahrain’s Minister of Municipalities Affairs and Agriculture, Wael bin Nasser Al-Mubarak, inaugurated the sixth edition of Smart Cities Summit 2023 in Manama. The international summit, which focuses on using artificial intelligence and technology, was attended by 250 participants from public and private sectors from around the world.
State of Kuwait
Sunday, 14 May–Kuwait celebrated the 60th anniversary of its membership to the United Nations. Kuwait’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Tariq Al-Bannai, highlighted Kuwait-UN cooperation in different fields, namely humanitarian, peace, security, economic and development sectors.
Wednesday, 17 May–Kuwait’s ex-Members of the Parliament filed a petition challenging the March 2023 ruling, which nullified the 2022 Parliament, aiming to postpone the scheduled election on 6 June 2023. The petition was signed by six members of the 2022 Assembly, who are arguing that the court had exceeded its powers in issuing that verdict. The deliberation on the petition is ongoing. The total number of registered candidates for the 2023 election reached 252 (239 men and 15 women).
Sultanate of Oman
Saturday, 13 May–Oman and Etihad Rail Company, the developer and operator of the UAE-Oman Rail Network, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Brazil’s mining firms Vale, to explore utilising rail to transport iron ore and its derivatives between Oman and the UAE. The agreement, signed in Abu Dhabi, connects Vale’s industrial complex in Sohar Port and Freezone to its planned mega-industrial complex in the UAE.
Tuesday, 16 May–Oman’s Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology launched a special programme for cutting down carbon emissions. The programme includes a number of projects and initiatives to be applied in various sectors, including the transport sector or the communications and information technology sector, which account for nearly 20% of the total carbon emissions in Oman.
State of Qatar
Thursday, 11 May–Qatar’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), Alia Ahmed bin Saif Al-Thani, and the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, Rosemary Di Carlo, signed a contribution agreement to support UN’s mandate related to conflict prevention and resolution.
Monday, 15 May–Qatar and Bahrain will resume flights from 25 May 2023, in a continuing process of restoration of ties between both countries. It came amid a number of other efforts to resolve regional disputes, including bringing Syria back into the Arab League, and reviving ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Friday, 12 May–Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, held a phone call with his Iranian counterpart, Hussein Amir-Abdollahian, to discuss joint cooperation across several fields. The two ministers also reviewed issues of common concern, in light of the recent agreement brokered by China.
Monday, 15 May–Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education signed 17 agreements to train Saudi doctors in the two stages of fellowship in Germany, Sweden and Ireland. The agreement aims to enhance the capabilities of health cadres, and expand the training opportunities available globally, in various health specialisations.
United Arab Emirates
Friday, 12 May–The UAE and Tunisia signed an agreement to restore the Tunis home of 14th century thinker Ibn Khaldun and turn it into a museum. The agreement was signed by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre, Abdulrahman Al-Owais, and Tunisia's Minister of Cultural Affairs, Hayat Al-Qarmazi.
Tuesday, 16 May–Abu Dhabi’s clean energy company Masdar and European plane maker Airbus signed a pact to support the growth of the global sustainable aviation market amid green transition efforts. Under the agreement, the two companies will collaborate on the development of sustainable aviation fuels, green hydrogen and direct air capture technology.
Sunday, 14 May–The European Union welcomed the ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which should bring an end to the violence in and around Gaza, and commended Egypt for facilitating the agreement. The EUreiterated its readiness to work with its partners to bring relief for both Israelis and Palestinians and restore a political horizon, in line with the March 2023 negotiations in Aqaba, Jordan, and Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, to work towards de-escalation.
Monday, 15 May–The European Council appointed Luigi Di Maio, former Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, as EU’s Special Representative for the Gulf region, to further develop a strong, comprehensive and strategic EU-Gulf partnership. Di Maio will take up his duties on 1 June 2023, with an initial mandate of 21 months.
Tuesday, 16 May–European Union’s High Representation for the Middle East Peace Process, Sven Koopmans, travelled to Bahrain and Oman and met with Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, and Oman’s Minister of the Royal Office, Mohammed Al-Nu’mani. They discussed their common interest to achieve regional stability and reviewed means to enhance their cooperation with the EU.
Tuesday, 16 May–EU’s High Representative and Vice President, Josep Borrell, received United Arab Emirates’ Foreign Minister, Abdallah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, in Brussels. During the meeting, they had an in-depth exchange on geopolitical issues, such as the EU-facilitated Dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, the developments in Sudan and Iran, and the negative consequences of Russia’s invasion in Ukraine. They also discussed trade and investment, economic diversification, energy transition, as well as the upcoming COP28 in Dubai.
Key Official Visits
Friday, 12 May–Kuwait’s Foreign Minister, Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, travelled to the US and Canada. In Washington, he met with US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, to discuss the latest international developments and explore ways to promote bilateral cooperation to ensure regional peace and stability. In Toronto, he met with his Canadian counterpart, Melanie Joly, to boost bilateral ties and broaden coordination regarding regional and international issues of common interest, including Syria, Yemen and Palestine.
Friday, 12 May–The UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, received Singapore's Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for Social Policies, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, in Abu Dhabi. The two sides discussed means of enhancing bilateral relations in various fields, including trade, education, and scientific research.
Friday, 12 May—Saudi Arabia and the United States announced that the Representatives of the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) signed a declaration commitment to protect the civilians of Sudan after their talks in Jeddah. Following the signing, the Jeddah Talks focused on reaching an agreement on a 10-day ceasefire, with a US-Saudi and internationally-supported ceasefire monitoring mechanism.
Saturday, 13 May–Oman and Luxembourg held talks on investment opportunities in the green hydrogen sector in Muscat. The Omani side was chaired by the Minister of Energy and Minerals, Salim bin Nasser Al-Aufi, while the Luxembourgishside was chaired by the Minister of Energy and Spatial Planning, Claude Turmes. The meeting reviewed investment opportunities in the green hydrogen sector in Oman, as well as bilateral cooperation to take advantage of the financial capabilities enjoyed by Luxembourg as a global financial centre.
Saturday, 13 May–Bahrain’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Abdulla bin Adel Fakhro, paid an official visit to South Korea, where he met with the Minister of Trade, Ahn Dukgeung. The two sides reviewed bilateral relations, and expressed their willingness to enhance commercial and industrial cooperation.
Saturday, 13 May–In anticipation of the 32nd Arab Summit in Jeddah on 19 May, Libya’s Foreign Minister, Najla Al-Mangoush, embarked on a tour of the Gulf countries with the aim of mobilising Arab support for holding national elections in Libya and to discuss bilateral cooperation and position on regional issues, including Sudan. She met with Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani; Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani; Kuwait’s Foreign Minister, Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah; Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, and Oman’s Foreign Minister, Badr Hamad Al-Busaidi.
Sunday, 14 May–The Kuwait-Iraq technical committee, co-chaired by Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Mansour Al-Otaibi, and Iraqi Counsellor, Othman Al-Aboudi, held its sixth meeting in Kuwait, aiming to discuss technical and legal aspects for demarcation of the maritime borders beyond the mark and agreed on pursuing the dialogue to further strengthen their bilateral relations.
Sunday, 14 May–Oman’s Secretary General at the Ministry of Defence, Mohammed Nasser Al-Zaabi, received Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Republic of Korea, Kim Seung-Kyum, in Muscat. During the meeting, attended by senior officers from the two countries, the two sides reviewed several matters of mutual interest.
Sunday, 14 May–Saudi Arabia and Bahrain held the Coordination Committee in the fields of investment, environment and infrastructure, in Manama. The meeting was co-chaired by Bahrain’s Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications, Mohammed bin Thamer Al-Kaabi, and Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Investment, Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al-Faleh. The two sides reiterated the commitment of their leadership to further strengthen bilateral relations.
Monday, 15 May–Germany’s Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, travelled to Saudi Arabia and Qatar from 15 to 17 May. In Jeddah, she held a meeting with her Saudi counterpart, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, on ways to enhance bilateral efforts in establishing the foundations for regional and global peace, and ways to enhance coordination on various regional and international issues in the political, security, and economic sectors. In Doha, she met Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, to discuss economic relations, particularly the energy field and investment in clean energy, and cooperation in the education field.
Tuesday, 16 May–The first UK-UAE Strategic Dialogue took place in London. The meeting was chaired by the UAEMinister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, and the UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, James Cleverly. The Strategic Dialogue aimed to enhance cooperation in the promotion of regional security, generating economic prosperity, and addressing pressing global challenges. During his visit to the UK, Minister Al-Nayan also met with the UK Secretary of State for the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, Grant Shapps.
Tuesday, 16 May–Oman’s Secretary General at the Ministry of Defence, Mohammed, Nasser Al-Zaabi, received a delegation from the French Senate, in Muscat. The two sides reviewed bilateral relations and exchanged views on matters of common concern. During their visit, the members of the delegation visited the Maritime Security Centre (MSC), viewing its latest equipment and technologies used in carrying out its national duties.
Tuesday, 16 May—During the 4th Saudi-Algerian Political Consultations Committee session in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, and his Algerian counterpart, Ahmed Attaf, signed an agreement to establish the Saudi-Algerian Supreme Coordination Council.
Wednesday, 17 May–Bahrain’s Interior Minister, Rashid bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa, received UK Defence Senior Advisor to the Middle East, Martin Sampson, in Manama. The meeting reviewed security cooperation and coordination, along with the latest regional and international security developments.
Wednesday, 17 May–Bahrain’s Undersecretary at the Ministry of Labor, Khalifa bin Salman bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa, met with a delegation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), headed by Asmaa El-Ganainy, in Manama. The delegation’s visit to the country is part of Bahrain’s efforts to enhance cooperation with IMF and other international organisations to exchange and evaluate experiences to serve its development goals and national priorities.
Wednesday, 17 May–Kuwait’s Foreign Minister, Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, met with Lebanon’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, Abdallah Bouhabib, on the sideline of the Foreign Ministers’ preparatory meeting for the 32nd Arab League Summit. Both sides discussed bilateral relations and recent development in Lebanon.
Wednesday, 17 May–Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani, received a phone call from France’s Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna. They discussed bilateral cooperation and ways to support and develop them. Moreover, Colonna thanked Qatar for its role in the de-escalation situation of Palestine and Israel, the cease-fire, and the truce agreement.
Thursday, 18 May–Foreign Ministers of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan met on the sidelines of the preparatory ministerial meeting for the 32nd Arab Summit in Jeddah, within the framework of continuous consultation to discuss regional and international developments, including the developments regarding the agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran to restore diplomatic relations.