The Euro-Gulf Monitor

10 – 16 September 2021

by

Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani

5 Top Points

  1. Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister toured Pakistan, Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan.

  2. The UAE will invest $6.5 billion (USD) to increase employment in the private sector.

  3. The UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, travelled to Riyadh for his first regional visit since taking office on 5 September.

  4. Saudi Arabia launched “The Human Capability Development Programme” aimed at improving labour skills and education.

  5. Cyprus’ President and several Ministers visited Bahrain to boost bilateral relations.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Kingdom of Bahrain

Tuesday, 14 September–Bahrain’s first Ambassador to Israel, Khaled Yousef Al-Jalahma, presented his credentials to Israeli President, Isaac Herzog. A few days earlier, the Kingdom’s national carrier, Gulf Air, announced it will launch flights between Manama and Tel Aviv from October.

State of Kuwait

Monday, 13 September–The state-owned Kuwait Oil Company plans to invest about $6.1 billion (USD) in exploration activities by 2026 and to boost oil production to 4 million barrels per day by 2040.

Sultanate of Oman

Thursday, 16 August–Oman plans to build a smart city in the residential complex of Ras Al-Hamra. The Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) and National Energy Center inked an agreement to cooperate in developing a city with sustainable smart infrastructures and reducing energy consumption.

State of Qatar

Wednesday, 15 September–Qatar resumed distributing economic aid to Gaza, sending around $40 million (USD). The payments were halted during the clashes between Israel and Hamas in May 2021.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Wednesday, 15 September–Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, announced a new national plan, the Human Capability Development Programme. The strategy aims to develop the educational base of Saudi nationals and develop their skills for the job market. As part of the programme the Kingdom aims to increase kindergarten enrolment from 23% to 90% and get two Saudi universities among the world’s top 100 by 2030.

United Arab Emirates

Sunday, 12 September–The UAE will allocate $6.5 billion (USD) to incentivise the employment of Emirati nationals in the country’s private sector, aiming to fill 10% of positions in private companies with UAE citizens by 2026. The initiative will also introduce training grants, child allowances and salary top-ups. The programme is part of the UAE’s 50 new economic projects that are planned to be launched within the next 9 years in a bid to attract $150 billion (USD) in foreign investment.

The EU Corner

 

Tuesday, 14 September‒The Head of the EU Delegation to Qatar, Cristian Tudor, met with the Qatari Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lolwah Al-Khater, to discuss the Afghan file. They stressed the importance of providing humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people and explored ways to foster strategic partnership. Ambassador Tudor also held separate meetings with the Qatari Minister of Commerce and Industry, Ali bin Ahmed Al-Kuwari, to review EU-Qatar economic cooperation.

 

Key Official Visits

Friday, 10 September–Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, toured Pakistan, Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan. Discussions focused on the situation in Afghanistan and the need to ensure the country’s stability. During his visit to Kabul, the Qatari official met with the Taliban-appointed Acting Prime Minister, Muhammad Hasan Akhund, discussing safe passages for people exiting the country, as well as humanitarian assistance and women rights. During his tour, the Qatari Minister met with his counterparts from Pakistan, Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Turkey, Mevlut Cavusoglu, and Iran, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

Monday, 13 September–Foreign Ministers of France and Spain, Jean-Yves Le Drian and Jose Manuel Albares Bueno, travelled separately to Doha on 13 and 14 September. They met with Qatar’s Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani. Both European Ministers thanked Qatar for its role in the evacuation of their citizens from Afghanistan and discussed the recent developments in the country. The French Minister also affirmed that France will not recognise the Taliban government.

Monday, 13 September—The President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, accompanied by several Ministers, travelled to Bahrain, where he held talks with King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa. The two countries reviewed the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, EU-Bahrain relations, and enhancing bilateral cooperation, notably in trade, agriculture, tourism, renewable energy and climate change. They also signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Financial and Technical Cooperation and a Visa Waiver Agreement for diplomatic, special, and official passports.

Tuesday, 14 September–Austria’s Foreign Minister, Alexander Schallenberg, met with his Omani counterpart, Badr Hamad Al-Busaidi, in Muscat. They discussed the latest developments in Yemen, Afghanistan and the nuclear talks with Iran. The two ministers also reviewed investment opportunities in light of the Sultanate’s Vision 2040.

Wednesday, 15 September–Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, met with French President, Emmanuel Macron, in Paris. They discussed the crisis in Afghanistan, with President Macron thanking the UAE for the support in the French citizens’ evacuation from the country. The talks also covered cooperation in investment and culture. The following day, the Emirati Crown Prince met in London with UK Premier, Boris Johnson. They launched a “Partnership for the Future”, a framework for investment in technology, science, energy and infrastructure, which will be supported by bilateral Strategic Dialogues every year, chaired by the countries’ foreign ministers.

Wednesday, 15 September–The UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, held talks with Yemen’s President, Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, Prime Minister, Maeen Abdulmalik, and the US Special Envoy to Yemen, Tim Lenderking, in Riyadh. It was Grundberg’s first visit to the region since assuming office on 5 September 2021.