The Euro-Gulf Monitor
13 - 19 January 2023
by Veronica Stigliani & Elen'Alba Vitiello
5 Top Points
1. Leaders from Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Oman, Qatar and the UAE gathered in Abu Dhabi to discuss regional security.
2. Oman will build the Middle East’s first space rocket launch centre, the Etlaq Space Launch Complex.
3. Abu Dhabi’s Masdar and four Dutch companies partnered on supplying green hydrogen to Europe via Amsterdam.
4. UK strengthens energy cooperation with Saudi Arabia and UAE.
5. The European Commission officials travelled to Abu Dhabi to attend the IRENA General Assembly and the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.
‘Round and About the Gulf
Kingdom of Bahrain
Wednesday, 18 January‒Bahrain Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Youth and Sports (SCYS), Eyman bin Tawfeeq Al-Moayed, met with Israel’s Ambassador to Bahrain, Eitan Na'eh. They discussed the various issues and ways of boosting bilateral cooperation in the youth field and reaffirmed the importance of joint meetings to booster bilateral relations.
State of Kuwait
Wednesday, 18 January‒The Kuwait-based Arab Investment & Export Credit Guarantee Corporation signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Export Credit Greece (ECG) to promote trade and investment relations between Kuwait and Greece.
Sultanate of Oman
Sunday, 15 January‒The government-owned energy investment company, OQ, inaugurated its new ammonia plant in the Governorate of Dhofar, with an investment cost of about $463 million (417 million EUR) and a production capacity of 1,000 metric tons per day of liquid ammonia.
Wednesday, 18 January‒Oman will build the Middle East’s first space rocket launch centre, named Etlaq Space Launch Complex. It will be located in the port town of Duqm, and will be accessible for expanding rocket companies. The initiative, which is expected to be completed next year, aims to boost the region’s space programmes.
State of Qatar
Saturday, 14 January‒Qatar and France discussed means of joint coordination to procure Syrian humanitarian and development aid. Officials of Qatar’s Foreign Ministry, Qatar Fund for Development, Education Above All, and Qatar Charity attended the meeting with French Special Envoy for Syria, Brigitte Curmi, and French Ambassador, Jean-Baptiste Faivre.
Tuesday, 17 January‒Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, commented on CNBC for the first time on the allegations of paying off European officials. He rejected the allegations against Qatar as baseless reports by the media, saying the country itself has not yet received any complaints from the Belgian authorities.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Friday, 13 January‒Saudi Arabia signed five agreements with private sector companies, worth more than $11.5 billion (10.6 billion EUR), to set up projects in the industrial cities of Ras Al-Khair and Yanbu. The agreements aim to expand Saudi Arabia’s industrial base, and include the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu, the Royal Commission in Ras Al-Khair Industrial City, the Red Sea Aluminum Industrial Company, EV Metals, the Tamouh Development and Investment Company, and the Petroleum Protection Services.
Tuesday, 17 January‒Saudi Arabia launched the Events Investment Fund (EIF), aimed to develop a sustainable infrastructure for the culture, tourism, entertainment and sports sectors across the country. The fund also aims to create strategic partnerships to boost local industry, increase foreign investment and pursue Saudi Vision 2030’s goals. The EIF will be chaired by Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Salman, with an initial capitalisation of $3.7 billion (3.4 billion EUR).
United Arab Emirates
Friday, 13 January‒The Abu Dhabi clean energy company, Masdar, signed a preliminary agreement with four Dutch companies — the Port of Amsterdam, SkyNRG, Evos Amsterdam and Zenith Energy —to explore the development of a green hydrogen supply chain between the UAE and the Netherlands.
Saturday, 14 January‒The Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) 2023, themed “United on Climate Action Towards COP28,” kicked off in the UAE capital, gathering heads of state, industry leaders, entrepreneurs, and investors from all over the world. During the six-day event several accords were signed, including: a deal between the UAE and the US to fund 15 new gigawatts of clean and renewable energy projects in the US, a Clean Energy Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the UAE and the UK on cooperation on energy and climate, an agreement between Abu Dhabi’s clean energy company Masdar and Azerbaijan’s state oil firm Socar to develop renewable energy projects, and a preliminary agreement on hydrogen sector and carbon neutrality between UAE and Japan.
Monday, 16 January‒The EU Delegation to Kuwait and Kuwait’s Ministry of Information co-organised a workshop on strategies to counter extreme narratives in mainstream and social media. The participants included EU’s Chargé d’Affaires a.i., Gediminas Varanavicius, Kuwait’s Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Development and International Cooperation, Hamad Al-Mashaan, and a number of Kuwait and EU counter-terrorism and strategic communication experts, among others.
Sunday, 17 January‒The European Commission Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, and the European Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, concluded their visit to the UAE where they participated at the 13th session of the General Assembly of International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the launch of the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. During the visit, the EU officials also met with UAE representatives and the international business community to discuss opportunities for cooperation in various sectors, including renewable energy and circular economy to strengthen the EU-Gulf cooperation.
Thursday, 19 January‒The EU adopted its initial annual humanitarian aid budget of €1.7 billion for 2023. €382.2 million of its funding will be allocated in the Middle East and North Africa to address the ongoing regional crises in Yemen, Syria and its neighbouring countries.
Key Official Visits
Friday, 13 January‒The UK Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, Grant Shapps, travelled to Saudi Arabia and the UAE to discuss boosting clean energy cooperation. In Riyadh, Shapps met with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy, Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, to review cooperation in renewable energy, petrochemicals, power plants, and carbon capture, utilisation, and storage technologies. In Abu Dhabi, he signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance UAE-UK strategic and technical cooperation in clean energy and investment, including the new low carbon super fuel hydrogen.
Saturday, 14 January‒South Korean President, Yoon Suk Yeol, undertook a four-day visit to the UAE, where he met with the UAE President, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, and with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, among other officials. During the visit, several deals were signed: the UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure and the South Korean Ministry of Environment inked a deal on water resources; the UAE Space Agency and South Korea’s Ministry of Science and Information and Communications Technology agreed to amend a 2017 deal on joint space exploration; the Mubadala Investment Company and the Korea Development Bank announced a ‘sovereign investment partnership.’ During the visit, the South Korean President also attended the UAE-Korea Business Forum in Abu Dhabi.
Sunday, 15 January‒The UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, travelled to Belgrade, where he met with Serbia’s President, Aleksandar Vucic. The meeting aimed to discuss cooperation in various fields as part of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership signed between the two countries in September 2022.
Sunday, 15 January‒Kuwait’s Crown Prince, Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, received Jordan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Ayman Al-Safadi, to review bilateral relations. The meeting also focused on the regional and international situation, discussing how to address crises in a coordinated way.
Monday, 16 January‒The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos kicked off, gathering 2,700 world leaders from 130 countries, including 52 heads of state. The UAE delegation included Minister for Governmental Development and Future, Ohood Al-Roumi, and Minister for Digital Economy, AI and Remote Working System, Omar Al-Olama. Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, led the Saudi delegation, including Climate Affairs Envoy, Adel Al-Jubeir, Minister of Investment, Khalid Al-Falih, and Minister of Finance, Mohammed Al-Jadaan. Bahrain’s delegation was led by Minister of Sustainable Development, Noor bint Ali Alkhulaif, and included Abdulla bin Adel Fakhro, Minister of Industry and Commerce. Qatar’s Foreign Minister, Mohammed Al-Thani, also attended the forum, intervening at an event on energy and politics.
Wednesday, 18 January‒Leaders from Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Oman and Qatar gathered in Abu Dhabi for high-level talks on regional security, trade and development. The UAE President, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, received Bahrain’s King, Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, Jordan’s King, Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein, Oman’s Sultan, Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said, and Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.
Wednesday, 18 January‒The UAE and Kazakhstan signed agreements in the fields of health, aviation, development, investment, renewable energy, logistics and education. The accords were signed during Kazakhstan’s President, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, three-day visit to the Gulf country, during which he held a meeting with the UAE President, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, aimed at enhancing political, diplomatic, commercial, economic and cultural co-operation. President Tokayev also attended the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.