The Euro-Gulf Monitor
14 - 19 March 2021
Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani
5 Top Points
Qatar, US, Russia, China and Pakistan attended the Moscow peace summit on Afghanistan.
Saudi Arabia made changes to its kafala system, lifting mobility limitations for expat workers.
Companies listed in the UAE will have to include at least one woman on their board.
Bahrain chaired the 147th GCC Ministerial Council, calling for unity in the Gulf and condemning the Houthi attacks.
The EU and Kuwait discussed cooperation in energy and trade.
‘Round and About the Gulf
Kingdom of Bahrain
Wednesday, 17 March–Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, chaired the 147th session of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Ministerial Council meeting, gathering the GCC Foreign Ministers and the GCC Secretary General, in Riyadh. Focusing on regional security issues, they condemned the Houthi militia’s attacks against Saudi Arabia, underlined the importance of unity to implement the Al-Ula Summit’s outcomes, and highlighted the need to include Iran’s ballistic missiles and nuclear programme in future talks with Tehran.
State of Kuwait
Sunday, 14 March–The Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) on cooperation and expertise exchange in research, data as well as technological development in the oil sector and digital services in the energy field.
Sultanate of Oman
Sunday, 14 March—Oman’s Tax authority issued regulations for the 5% Value Added Tax (VAT) implementation planned on 16 April 2021.
Wednesday, 17 March–Oman introduced several initiatives to attract and facilitate investments. This included cooperation agreements between the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion (MoCIIP) and the Consumer Protection Authority, the MoCIIP and the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (Madayn) as well as introduction of new incentives, including reducing several fees by 50% and a 2-year rent value exemption, in Madayn’s industrial cities.
State of Qatar
Monday, 15 March–Qatar hosted the International Event for Homeland Security and Civil Defence (Milipol Qatar) between 15 and 17 March. The event gathered almost 150 exhibitors and national pavilions of Brazil, France, Germany, the UK and the US. The event showcased latest technology in the fields of security and defence, from biometrics to counter-drone systems and a number of deals were inked for a total of about $107 million (USD).
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Sunday, 14 March–Saudi Arabia implemented its Labour Reform Initiative, removing several limitations on expat workers in the country. Under the new initiative, foreign workers will not need their employer’s consent to exit and enter the country and to change jobs after completing their contracts.
United Arab Emirates
Sunday, 14 March–The UAE provisioned that all companies listed in the country will now be required to have at least one female director on the board. The measure followed an agreement signed on Saturday between the UAE Central Bank and Aurora50, a social enterprise for gender balance in the workplace, seeking to enhance female representation in the UAE companies’ leadership.
The EU Corner
Sunday, 14 March–The EU countries’ Ambassadors held a meeting with the Saudi State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Adel Al-Jubeir, to discuss EU-Saudi cooperation in several fields. The Head of the EU Delegation to Saudi Arabia, Patrick Simonnet, also met with the Saudi Minister of Transport, Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser, to explore ways to improve sustainable mobility.
Thursday, 18 March–The Head of the EU Delegation to Kuwait, Cristian Tudor, met with the Director of the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, Samira Al-Sayed Omar, to implement cooperation in the energy transition process. The Ambassador also held a meeting with the Chairman of Kuwait's Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mohammed Jassem Al-Sager, to discuss trade between Kuwait and the EU.
Key Official Visits
Tuesday, 16 March—Oman’s Undersecretary for Diplomatic Affairs at the Foreign Ministry participated in the 2nd Tehran Dialogue Forum, organised (virtually) by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran under the patronage Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Wednesday, 17 March–Iraq’s Foreign Minister, Fuad Mohammed Hussein, visited Doha, where he met with Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. They reviewed regional developments, security cooperation and opportunities for Qatari companies in Iraq.
Wednesday, 17 March–Kuwait’s Oil Minister, Mohammed Al-Fares, and Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, discussed energy cooperation in Riyadh.
Thursday, 18 March–British Minister for International Trade, Ranil Jayawardena, met with Bahrain’s Transportation and Telecommunications Minister, Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed, in Manama. Their discussions covered the UK-Bahrain cooperation in transportation and telecommunication sectors.
Thursday, 18 March–Qatar’s Special Envoy for Counterterrorism and Mediation of Conflict Resolution, Mutlaq Al-Qahtani, participated as an honorary guest in an Afghanistan peace summit in Moscow. The conference was attended by the representatives of the Afghan government, the Taliban, as well as the US, Russia, China and Pakistan. The four external state-participants called for halting violence and engaging in peace talks, committing to political and economic support once peace would be achieved.
Thursday, 18 March–Kuwait’s Foreign Minister, Ahmed Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah, met in Islamabad with Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan, and with his Pakistani counterpart, Mahmood Qureshi. The talks covered cooperation in the fields of economy, defence and investment. They also discussed the economic opportunities of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and issues related to the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan.