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The Euro-Gulf Monitor

16 - 22 February 2024

by Elen'Alba Vitiello

5 Top Points

  1. Kuwait and Qatar agreed to strengthen defence cooperation.

  2. Saudi Arabia and France signed plan to strengthen cooperation in transport and logistics.

  3. Qatar and Bahrain discussed their joint causeway project.

  4. EU and GCC Representatives met at the Munich Security Conference.

  5. The UAE and France held the 2nd meeting of the High-Level Business Council.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Kingdom of Bahrain 

Tuesday, 20 February–The fourth Bahrain-Qatar Follow-up Committee, co-chaired by Bahrain’s Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Political Affairs, Abdulla bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, and Qatar’s Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ahmed bin Hassan Al-Hammadi, took place in Manama. The Committee agreed to restructure the Board of Directors of the delayed Qatar-Bahrain causeway project, known as the ‘Friendship Bridge’, to take the necessary steps to improve trade and travel.

State of Kuwait

Tuesday, 20 February–Kuwait’s Emir, Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, and Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, affirmed the two countries’ keenness to strengthen defence cooperation and develop strategic relations to protect their national and regional security and stability. Moreover, they discussed the situation in the Gaza Strip and called for increasing pressure on Israel, as well as the importance of Iraq’s commitment to the agreement regulating maritime navigation in the Khor Abdullah waterway.

Sultanate of Oman

Monday, 19 February–Oman’s Ministry of Energy and Minerals is developing a National Energy Model, aimed at formulating a roadmap for the country’s energy future. The model, which is expected to be completed in about one year, will simulate the impact of future energy policies and investments in the energy sector, help identify optimal pathways for Oman’s energy demand, and facilitate informed decision-making for a sustainable energy future, in line with Oman’s 2040 Vision.

 

State of Qatar

Sunday, 18 February–Qatar and the United Kingdom (UK) launched a new co-funding initiative for international development cooperation and humanitarian response, in Doha, jointly allocating $50 million (about €46 million) to address the most pressing humanitarian and development challenges.

 

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Wednesday, 21 February–Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with France’s shipping giant CMA CGM Group to boost cooperation in the transport and logistics sectors. The agreement aims to explore investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia in alternative fuel solutions to reduce emissions, transferring knowledge and best practices, as well as training cadres.

United Arab Emirates

Monday, 19 February–UAE’s Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Managing Director and Group CEO of ADNOC, Sultan bin Ahmed Al-Jaber, and the Chairman and CEO of TotalEnergies, Patrick Pouyanné, co-chaired the second plenary meeting of the UAE-France High-Level Business Council, in Paris. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed to establish the UAE-France Bilateral Climate Investment Platform, an investment framework that enables French and Emirati investors to accelerate the deployment of joint projects and investments of mutual interest in the clean energies sectors. Moreover, TotalEnergies Renewables and Masdar, Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, signed a MoU, for partnership in the development of renewable energy projects.

Wednesday, 21 February–Abu Dhabi’s real estate investment and development firm, Eagle Hills International, signed a joint cooperation agreement valued at $4 billion (about €3.7 billion) to establish Binaa Al-Bahrain, a new real estate development company in Bahrain. Binaa Al-Bahrain will support innovative real estate projects through its partnerships with Edamah, the real estate arm of Mumtalakat’s Bahrain Holding Company and Bahrain’s Sovereign Wealth Fund. The joint project seeks to strengthen Bahrain-UAE relations.

EU Corner

Friday, 16 February–EU High Representative, Josep Borrell, held separate talks with the Foreign Ministers of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, Salem Abdullah Al-Sabah and Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, and the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Jassem Mohamed Albudaiwi, on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. During the meetings, the latest developments in the Gaza Strip, the war in Ukraine and Iran’s nuclear file were discussed, as well as efforts to address the crisis, and ways to strengthen cooperation between the EU and the GCC.

Friday, 16 February–On the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, EU Special Representative for the Gulf Region, Luigi Di Maio, held talks with Kuwait’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya, focused on ways to strengthen EU-Kuwait cooperation in various fields, and on the Gaza Strip crisis.

Tuesday, 20 February–EU Ambassador to Bahrain, Oman, and Saudi Arabia, Christophe Farnaud, held a meeting with the Federation of Saudi Chambers to explore areas of EU-Saudi Arabia Cooperation.

Key Official Visits

Friday, 16 February–EU, GCC, and UN representatives attended the two-day Munich Security Conference (MSC) 2024, among other senior-decision makers and leaders from around the world, to address issues and challenges that threaten international security, such as the Middle East instability and in particular the Israel-Hamas war. The conference was attended by the Foreign Minister of Bahrain, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani; Kuwait, Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya; Oman, Badr bin Hamad Al-Busaidi; Qatar, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani; Saudi Arabia, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud; as well as UAE’s Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Managing Director and Group CEO of ADNOC, Sultan bin Ahmed Al-Jaber. 

On the sidelines of the conference:

 

  • Bahrain’s Foreign Minister separately met with his Icelandic counterpart, Bjarni Benediktsson, his Latvian counterpart, Krišjānis Kariņš, among others.

  • Kuwait’s Foreign Minister separately met with Belgium’s Foreign Minister, Hadja Lahbib; Iraq’s President of Kurdistan Region, Nechirvan Barazani; and Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council, Rashad Muhammad Al-Alimi, among others. 

  • Oman’s Foreign Minister separately met with the Foreign Minister of Austria, Alexander Schallenberg; Bulgaria, Mariya Gabriel; the Netherlands, Hanke Bruins Slot; Romania, Luminita Odobescu, among others.

  • Qatar’s Foreign Minister separately met with Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister, Mariya Gabriel; Denmark’s Foreign Minister, Mette Frederiksen; Estonia’s Foreign Minister, Kaja Kallas; Germany’s President of the Christian Democratic Union, Friedrich Merz; UK’s Labour Party Leader, Keir Starmer; as well as NATO’s Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, among others.

  • Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister separately met with France’s Diplomatic Advisor to the President, Emmanuel Bonne; as well as UK’s Foreign Secretary, David Cameron, Labor Party Leader, Keir Starmer, and Shadow Foreign Secretary, David Lammy, among others.

  • UAE’s Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Managing Director and Group CEO of ADNOC, signed a Joint Declaration of Intent (JDI) with Germany’s State of Baden-Württemberg, in particular with its Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labour and Tourism, and Ministry of Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector. The partnership involves cooperation among various private and public sector entities to promote bilateral relations, as well as green industrial investments.

Sunday, 18 February–Kuwait’s Prime Minister, Mohammad Sabah Al-Sabah, met with the Governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan, and his accompanying delegation, in Kuwait. 

 

Monday, 19 February–Oman’s Undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry for Political Affairs, Khalifa Ali Al-Harthy, and China’s Director General of the Department of West Asian and North African Affairs of the Ministry of the People’s Republic, Wang Di, met in Muscat to discuss bilateral cooperation.

Monday, 19 February–Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Sultan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi, met with Norway’s State Secretary, Andreas Motzfeldt Kravik, in Doha. The meeting focused on bilateral cooperation and a number of topics of common interest.

Tuesday, 20 February–Bahrain’s Minister of Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments Affairs, Nawaf bin Mohammed Al-Maawda, met with UK’s Minister of State for the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, and United Nations at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (UK FCDO), Tariq Ahmad, in London. The meeting reviewed means of cooperation in judicial development.

Tuesday, 20 February–Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy, Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, met with UK’s Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, Claire Coutinho, and her accompanying delegation, in Riyadh. During the meeting, they discussed bilateral relations in the energy sector, and reviewed future opportunities for collaboration.

Wednesday, 21 February–Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Acting Minister of Interior, Fahad Youssef Saud Al-Sabah, received UK’s Defence Senior Advisor for the Middle East, Air Marshal Martin Sampson, and Middle East Advisor, Admiral Edward Ahlgren, in Kuwait. They discussed topics of mutual interest and joint action in the defence sector, as well as regional and international developments.

Thursday, 22 February–On the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, separately met with US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, and Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry. The latest developments in the Gaza Strip were discussed. With his Egyptian counterpart, Saudi Foreign Minister also discussed bilateral relations and ways to enhance them in various fields.

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