The Euro-Gulf Monitor
17 - 23 November 2023
by Elen'Alba Vitiello
5 Top Points
The Qatar-Bahrain Causeway project was discussed.
Saudi Aramco discovered two new natural gas fields in eastern Saudi Arabia.
Qatar contributed to negotiating a four-day ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
The EU High Representative visited Bahrain, Israel, Jordan, Palestine, and Qatar.
The 7th EU-GCC Business Forum took place in Manama.
‘Round and About the Gulf
Kingdom of Bahrain
Friday, 17 November–Bahrain hosted the 19th Manama Dialogue 2023, a platform for decision-makers, policymakers, and strategists to discuss pressing political, defence, and external security issues. Organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the event was attended by representatives from the GCC countries, Arab League, European Union, and the United States, among others.
State of Kuwait
Tuesday, 21 November–Kuwait’s National Assembly’s legal and legislative committee discussed ways to reform the election system in the country, including proposals to introduce party-like lists. The Head of the committee, Mohannad Talal Al-Sayer, will receive all proposals and, after discussing them, the committee will finalise a draft law to be ready for the assembly debate on 19 December 2023.
Sultanate of Oman
Tuesday, 21 November–Oman hosted the 20th meeting of the GCC Joint Defence Council under the chairmanship of the Deputy Prime Minister for Defence Affairs, Shihab bin Tarik Al-Said, with the participation of all GCC Ministers of Defence and the GCC’s Secretary-General, Jasem Mohamed Al-Budaiwi. The participants discussed ways to improve the armed forces of the GCC countries and their military cooperation.
State of Qatar
Wednesday, 22 November–Qatar helped mediate an agreement between Israel and Hamas on a four-day ceasefire, starting from 24 November 2023, which will include the release of some 50 women and children hostages from Hamas’ captivity in exchange for some 150 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons and facilitate more aid delivery to Gaza. Qatar also coordinated with Egypt and the United States on the breakthrough.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Sunday, 19 November–The state-owned Saudi Arabian Oil Group (Aramco) discovered two new natural gas fields in the Empty Quarter, as well as near Dhahran and Al-Hofuf, in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. The fields will contribute to boosting the reserves of resources and bolster Riyadh’s leading status in the international energy sector.
Monday, 20 November–The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) signed a three-year currency swap agreement with the Central Bank of China, marking a milestone in financial cooperation between the two countries. The accord established a maximum swap value of 50 billion Chinese yuan (about €6.4 billion), which will bolster the Saudi-Chinese economic relations.
Wednesday, 22 November–Saudi Arabia’s Transport General Authority (TGA) inaugurated the first hydrogen truck in collaboration with Almajdouie Logistics, a supply chain provider in the Middle East, as part of the Kingdom’s sustainable development efforts to limit carbon emissions.
United Arab Emirates
Wednesday, 22 November–The Emirates airline suspended flights to and from Israel and will not accept customers with onward connection to Tel Aviv due to ongoing military conflict in Gaza.
Wednesday, 22 November–The UAE’s President, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, attended the online G20 Leaders’ Summit, which was held to review the progress made following the G20 Summit in September, hosted in New Delhi. The summit reviewed climate change, sustainability, energy, and international security issues. During the meeting, the UAE’s President put emphasis on climate change and the efforts to triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030, advocate for low-cost climate financing for developing countries, and make biofuels alliances.
Monday, 20 November–The 2nd EU-Bahrain Political Dialogue took place in Manama, co-chaired by the European External Action Service (EEAS) Deputy Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Enrique Mora, and Bahrain’s Undersecretary for Political Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abdulla bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa. The dialogue focused on EU-Bahrain bilateral relations in the context of the Joint Communication for a Strategic Partnership with the Gulf and followed up on the 27th EU-GCC Joint Council held on 10 October in Muscat. The parties also discussed Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, the ongoing war against Hamas, Gulf regional security, as well as the situation in Yemen and Syria.
Tuesday, 21 November–The EU High Representative, Josep Borrell, went on an official visit to Bahrain, Israel, Jordan, Palestine, and Qatar from 16 to 21 November 2023, in the context of the Israel-Hamas war and the humanitarian situation in Gaza. In Israel, he met with the President, Isaac Herzog, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Eli Cohen, members of the Israeli Defence Forces, and two groups of family members of the hostages. In Ramallah, Borrell met with the Palestinian Authority’s President, Mahmoud Abbas, the Prime Minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, and Foreign Minister, Riyad Al-Maliki. Later, he participated in the Manama Dialogue in Bahrain, where he met with Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, Bahrain’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, among others. Borrell then travelled to Qatar, where he met with the Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, and to Jordan, where he met the King, Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein.
Tuesday, 21 November–The 7th EU-GCC Business Forum took place in Manama, under the theme, ‘Redefining Economies - Building a Sustainable and Diversified Future’. Co-hosted by the European Commission and Bahrain’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce, the forum focused on energy transition, circular economy advancements, logistics and transport innovation, and women’s economic empowerment. The forum offered the opportunity for policymakers, industry leaders, entrepreneurs, and governments to explore how to further develop EU-GCC business relations. The forum saw the participation of EU Special Representative for the Gulf, Luigi Di Maio, GCC’s Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs and Negotiations, Abdel Aziz Abu Hamad Aluwaisheg, representatives of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, among others.
Key Official Visits
Friday, 17 November–Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, travelled to Manama, where he met with Bahrain’s King, Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, to discuss bilateral relations and means to enhance them. He then held talks with Bahrain’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, focusing on the finalisation of the Qatar-Bahrain Causeway project, which would connect the two countries.
Friday, 17 November–Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, received a phone call from his French counterpart, Catherine Colonna. They discussed the military escalation in the Gaza Strip, as well as their bilateral relations and ways to bolster them in all fields.
Friday, 17 November–Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, received a phone call from Finland’s Foreign Minister, Elina Valtonen, to discuss the conflict in Gaza.
Saturday, 18 November–Qatar’s Minister of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Saleh Al-Khulaifi, met with the Minister of State for the Middle East, South Asia and United Nations at the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Tariq Ahmad, in Doha. During the meeting, they reviewed bilateral cooperation and ways to support and develop them, as well as the latest developments in the Gaza Strip.
Sunday, 19 November–Qatar’s Minister of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Saleh Al-Khulaifi, received Germany’s Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office, Tobias Lindner, in Doha, to discuss bilateral cooperation and the latest developments in the Gaza Strip.
Sunday, 19 November–Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State and Member of the Cabinet, Turki bin Mohammed Al-Saud, travelled to Qatar and Kuwait. He separately met with Kuwait’s Crown Prince, Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and with Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, to discuss bilateral relations and ways to develop them.
Monday, 20 November–On the sidelines of the Manama Dialogue in Bahrain, Commander-in-Chief of the Bahrain Defence Force (BDF), met with the Chief of the British Defence Staff, Admiral Antony David Radaking, and signed a Declaration of Intent to develop the UK-Bahrain military cooperation.
Monday, 20 November–US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Barbara Leaf, travelled to Bahrain, Israel, Kuwait, Oman, Palestine, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, from 14 to 20 November, in the context of the Israel-Hamas war and to increase the flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza. She met with senior representatives of each country.
Tuesday, 21 November–Kuwait’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Salem Abdullah Al-Sabah, held talks with the visiting Secretary-General of the Saudi Arabia-based Digital Cooperation Organisation (DCO), Deemah Al-Yahyah, to discuss accelerating digital-driven economic growth in Kuwait.
Tuesday, 21 November–Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, Ahmad Fahad Al-Sabah, and his Omani counterpart, Shihab bin Tariq Al-Said, discussed bilateral ties and military cooperation on the sidelines of the 20th meeting of the GCC Joint Defence Council, in Muscat. They also discussed the latest regional and global developments.
Tuesday, 21 November–Qatar’s Minister of State for International Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lolwah bint Rashid Al-Khater, met with Jordan’s Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, Bishr Hany Al-Khasawneh, in Amman. They discussed bilateral relations and ways to enhance cooperation regarding the Gaza Strip, especially regarding the transport and delivery of humanitarian aid within the framework of joint coordination, approved by the Joint Arab-Islamic Summit in Riyadh on 11 November 2023.
Wednesday, 22 November–The 4th round of the Saudi-Finish Joint Committee concluded in Riyadh, headed by the governor of Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Foreign Trade for International Relations, Abdulaziz bin Omar Al-Sakran, and Finland's Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, Petri Peltonen. The Joint Committee discussed the development of bilateral economic relations, especially in trade, establishing joint projects, exchanging experiences, and enhancing communication between the two governments.
Wednesday, 22 November–The Ministerial Committee, assigned by the Joint Arab-Islamic Extraordinary Summit, under the chairmanship of Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, went on an official visit to France and the United Kingdom. The Committee members are the Foreign Ministers of Egypt, Sameh Shoukry; Indonesia, Retno Marsudi; Jordan, Ayman Al-Safadi; Nigeria, Yusuf M Tuggar; Palestine, Riad Malki; and Türkiye, Hakan Fidan; as well as the League of Arab States’ Secretary General, Ahmed Aboul Gheit. In Paris, they met with the President, Emmanuel Macron, and the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna. In London, they met with Foreign Secretary, David Cameron, and the Minister of State for the Middle East, South Asia and United Nations at the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Tariq Ahmad. They called on France and the United Kingdom to play a balanced role in accordance with international law to reach an immediate and complete ceasefire, and to implement all relevant international resolutions in the Israel-Hamas war.
Thursday, 23 November–The 11th session of the UAE-Bahrain Joint Higher Committee, chaired by Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, and UAE’s Foreign Minister, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, took place in Abu Dhabi, to discuss the development of Bahraini-UAE relations. Following the session, five Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) were signed, between UAE’s Federal Authority for Government Human Resources (FAHR) and the Bahraini Civil Service Bureau; UAE’s Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure and Bahrain’s Ministry of Electricity and Water Affairs; UAE’s Ministry of Education and the Nasser Vocational Training Centre in Bahrain; UAE’s and Bahrain’s University; and the Dubai Future Foundation and Bahrain’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce.