The Euro-Gulf Monitor

16 - 22 April 2021

by

Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani

5 Top Points

  1. Greece will deploy a Patriot anti-aircraft battery in Saudi Arabia and boost cooperation with the GCC.

  2. The United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia discussed defence cooperation.

  3. Oman introduced a 5 percent value-added tax (VAT) to tackle fiscal deficit.

  4. Foreign Ministers of Greece, Cyprus, Israel, the UAE met to discuss boosting cooperation.

  5. The EU and Kuwait discussed post-pandemic economic cooperation.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Kingdom of Bahrain

Monday, 19 April–Bahrain’s national airline, Gulf Air, will start its first flights to Israel’s Tel Aviv from 3 June. The step follows the Emirati airlines, Etihad and Flydubai, which already began operating flights between the UAE and Israel. On 21 April, the Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Abdullatif Al-Zayani, and his Israeli counterpart, Gabi Ashkenazi, discussed ways to enhance cooperation in various fields.

State of Kuwait

Monday, 19 April—Kuwait’s Prime Minister, Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, and Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, discussed ways to boost bilateral cooperation, notably in economic, trade and investment fields, and strengthening Russia’s ties with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Sultanate of Oman

Friday, 16 April–Oman implemented a 5 percent value-added tax (VAT) on selected goods and services. The VAT will not be applied to specific categories such as basic goods, healthcare products, education and investments in oil and natural gas. The Sultanate aims to raise about $1 billion (USD) in 2021 as a result of the measure.

State of Qatar

Friday, 16 April–Qatar’s Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, announced that the country is negotiating with vaccine manufacturers ways to provide vaccinations to all attendees of the World Cup in 2022, which is expected to be the first carbon-free world event.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Tuesday, 20 April–Greece will deploy a Patriot anti-missile battery to Saudi Arabia to help protect the Kingdom’s energy infrastructure and civilian areas. The deal was signed in Riyadh on the occasion of the visit of Greek Foreign Minister, Nikos Dendias, and Defence Minister, Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, to Saudi Arabia. A Memorandum of Understanding was also inked between the GCC Secretariat General and the Greek government.

United Arab Emirates

Wednesday, 21 April–The Emirati Central Bank (CBUAE) announced the extension of its Targeted  Economic Support Scheme (TESS), the financial assistance for companies and citizens economically affected by the pandemic, until 30 June 2022.

The EU Corner

Sunday, 18 April‒Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Commerce and Investment, Majid Bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi, met with several representatives of EU member states to discuss trade and economic cooperation between the Kingdom and the EU.

 

Tuesday, 20 April‒The Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) resumed its work on the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal. The Commission, chaired by the Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service, Enrique Mora, decided the creation of a third group of experts to monitor the fulfilment of the agreed measures, such as those regarding sanctions.

 

Wednesday, 21 April‒The Head of the EU Delegation to Kuwait, Cristian Tudor, held a meeting with the Director of the Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA), Meshaal Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah. The discussion focused on the post-pandemic economic recovery and the role of international investments. The EU Ambassador also met with the Assistant Foreign Minister for European Affairs, Walid Al-Khubaizi, to enhance cooperation between the EU and Kuwait.

Key Official Visits

Friday, 16 April–Adviser to the UAE’s President, Anwar Gargash, and Foreign Ministers of Greece, Cyprus and Israel met in Cyprus to discuss strengthening cooperation, including in energy, trade, technology, healthcare and investments, as well as regional security issues.

 

Saturday, 17 April–The UAE’s Foreign Minister, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, received Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Mahmood Qureshi, in Abu Dhabi. They agreed on extending the term for the payment of the $2 billion (USD) worth loan granted to Pakistan in 2019. The Pakistani Minister also welcomed the UAE’s efforts in mediating between Pakistan and India. The following day, the UAE’s Foreign Minister received his Indian counterpart, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, to discuss cooperation in the commercial, cultural and health sectors.

 

Sunday, 18 April–Israel’s Special Envoy to the Gulf States, Zvi Heifetz, met in Abu Dhabi with the UAE’s Foreign Minister, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. They discussed the development of UAE-Israel relations following the Abraham Accords’ signing and expanding cooperation in economy, investment, tourism and healthcare.

 

Monday, 19 April–Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister, Hassan Diab, met in Doha with Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and Prime Minister, Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al-Thani. They discussed Lebanon’s economic crisis, with the Lebanese Premier lamenting about the lack of unified approach by Arab countries in tackling the country’s rift and calling on Qatar for economic assistance.

 

Tuesday, 20 April–The UK’s Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for the Gulf, Edward Lister, met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, in Jeddah. They explored Saudi-British cooperation and discussed regional developments. The British Envoy also met with Saudi Deputy Defence Minister, Khalid bin Salman Al-Saud, discussing cooperation in the defence sector.

 

Wednesday, 21 April—The GCC countries Ministers participated in the Meeting of Financial and Economic Cooperation Committee, discussing strengthening economic and development cooperation and plans to finalise GCC’s economic integration by 2025.

 

Wednesday, 21 April—Kuwait’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ahmed Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah, and his Moroccan counterpart, Nasser Bourita, held virtual talks, discussing Morocco’s strategic cooperation with the GCC, strengthening bilateral cooperation and regional issues, notably Lebanon, Libya, Palestine and Yemen. Bourita praised Kuwait’s support for Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara

 

Thursday, 22 April—King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud will represent Saudi Arabia at the virtual Leaders Summit on Climate (22-23 April), hosted by US President, Joe Biden, who invited 40 world leaders, including from China, Israel, Russia, Turkey, the UAE, and the European Union, on the occasion of Earth Day to discuss ways to mitigate climate change.