The Euro-Gulf Monitor
17 - 23 March 2023
by Veronica Stigliani & Elen'Alba Vitiello
5 Top Points
Kuwait’s 2022 parliamentary elections were annulled by the Constitutional Court.
Oman joined the Arab Charter on Human Rights.
The EU-Iraq Cooperation Council held its first meeting in seven years.
Saudi Arabia’s and Iran’s Foreign Ministers agreed to meet n the near future.
The UAE and Georgia finalised a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA)
‘Round and About the Gulf
Kingdom of Bahrain
Sunday, 26 March–Bahrain’s National Space Science (NSSA), represented by space engineer Yaqoob Khalid, participated in the 17th International Conference on Space Operations held in the UAE. Yaqoob presented a scientific research, his design and testing of a material that is used for the first time in the world for manufacturing nano-satellite structures.
Tuesday, 28 March–Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry summoned Iraq’s Chargé d’Affaires, Moayad Omar Abdul Rahman, for breaching diplomatic norms, interfering with international affairs of the Kingdom. Shortly after, Iraq’s Foreign Minister, Fuad Hussain, decided to bring the Iraqi representative back to Baghdad. The breaching of diplomatic norms has not been specified, and Iraq has yet to publicly respond.
State of Kuwait
Friday, 24 March–Kuwait’s non-resident Ambassador to San Marino, Nasser Sanhat Al-Qahtani, signed a memorandum of understanding with San Marino’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Luca Beccari, covering investment and double taxation protection, aiming to boost bilateral cooperation.
Sultanate of Oman
Sunday, 26 March–Oman offered Ukraine to open a grain centre on its territory, according to the Ukrainian Special Representative for the Middle East and Africa, Maxim Sobh. The initiative would give Ukraine access to one of the most modern logistics hubs already operating in the Indian Ocean.
State of Qatar
Monday, 27 March–Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, appointed Abdullah bin Khalifa Al-Kaabi as Undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior; Abdulaziz bin Faisal Al-Thani as Minister of State for Interior Affairs; and Khalifa bin Hamad Al-Thani, previously Minister of Interior, as Commander of Internal Security Force (Lekhwiya).
Wednesday, 29 March–Qatar’s state-owned energy company, QatarEnergy, signed a deal to acquire from ExxonMobil stakes in two Canadian offshore explorations blocks to expand its global oil and gas portfolio.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Sunday, 26 March–Saudi Arabia’s oil company Aramco announced a joint venture with China North Industries Group Corp (NORINCO) and Panjin Xincheng Industrial Group to build a major integrated refinery and petrochemical complex in China. The construction is set to begin in the second quarter of 2023. Aramco will supply up to 210,000 barrels per day of crude oil to the plant, which is expected to be fully operational by 2026.
Monday, 27 March–Saudi Arabia’s state news agency announced that Riyadh and Teheran will hold a session of talks during the holy month of Ramadan, following the recent announcement to resume diplomatic ties.
Wednesday, 29 March–Saudi Arabia approved a bid to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a political and security union of Eurasian countries, founded in 2001.
United Arab Emirates
Monday, 27 March–Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) signed a preliminary agreement with Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia and the chemical industry services provider, Currenta, to explore opportunities for the creation of a low-carbon ammonia value chain.
Tuesday, 28 March–The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and UK energy company, BP, made a non-binding offer to acquire 50% of Israel's NewMed Energy.
Wednesday, 29 March–UAE’s President, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, appointed Mansour bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, previously Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Presidential Court, as UAE’s Vice President; Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, previously member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Office, as Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi; Tahnoun bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, previously National Security Adviser, and Hazza bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, previously Deputy Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council, as Deputy Rulers of Abu Dhabi.
Sunday, 26 March–The European Union condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin's intention to station tactical nuclear arms in Belarus by July as it would threaten European security and called on Minsk to rethink the move.
Tuesday, 28 March–The EU Global Action on Space hosted a business to business online webinar on International cooperation between the Gulf countries and the European Union, focusing on business potential, economic growth and collaboration between space and non-space ecosystems, in a bid to help European space companies to find a business partner in the GCC.
Wednesday, 29 March–Swedish Foreign Minister, Tobias Billstrom, announced he will summon Russian Ambassador to Stockholm, Victor Tatarintsev, after he stated that Sweden would become a legitimate target once it joins the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
Key Official Visits
Saturday, 25 March–Bahrain’s Minister of Sustainable Development, Noor bint Ali Al-Khulaif, met with several UN officials, in New York, to discuss the sustainable development goals. The meeting occurred on the sidelines of the UN 2023 Water Conference on the Midterm Comprehensive Review of the Implementation of the Objectives of the International Decade for Action. Among the officials who took part to the meeting were the Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), Li Junhua, the President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for the 2023 session, Lachezara Stoeva, and the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), Rola Dashti.
Sunday, 26 March–Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, received the Kuwait-based Head of the regional delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, Mamadou Sow, in Manama. The meeting, also attended by Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry Protocols Department Chief Ambassador, Salah Mohammed Shehab, aimed to consolidate partnership between the Gulf and the ICRC.
Sunday, 26 March–Oman’s Minister of Transport, Communications and Information Technology, Said Hamoud Al-Mawali, met with Mauritania’s Minister of Digital Transition, Innovation and Modernization, Moctar Ahmed Al-Yedaly, in Muscat. The meeting aimed to discuss aspects of cooperation in the fields of communications and information technology (IT), and was attended by undersecretaries and specialised officials from both sides.
Monday, 27 March–The UAE and Israel inked a customs agreement, following the signing of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in May 2022. The accord was signed by the UAE Ambassador to Israel, Mohamed Al-Khaja, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Eli Cohen, in the presence of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in Jerusalem.
Tuesday, 28 March–Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Interior, Abdulaziz bin Saud Al-Saud, met with UK Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, in London, to discuss ways to further enhance joint security cooperation. They also signed several agreements for the cooperation in the security, development and training fields.
Tuesday, 28 March–Qatar’s Minister of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Al-Khulaifi, met with Iran’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, to discuss bilateral cooperation in Tehran.
Wednesday, 29 March–Oman’s Foreign Minister, Badr bin Hamad Al-Busaidi, met with Germany’s Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, in Berlin. The meeting aimed to review the cooperation in the development of renewable energy and green hydrogen, in a bid to enhance strategic partnerships. He also met with Germany’s State Secretary of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, Udo Philipp, to discuss climate change challenges, reducing carbon emissions, and promoting investments in green hydrogen.