The Euro-Gulf Monitor

17 - 24 March 2022

by

Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani

5 Top Points

  1. Leaders of Egypt, Israel and the UAE held a trilateral summit discussing Ukraine, energy and food security.

  2. Syria’s President, Bashar Al-Assad, visited the UAE, for the first time in over a decade.

  3. Qatar hosted the Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition & Conference (DIMDEX 2022).

  4. Kuwait inaugurated a biofuel project worth over €14 billion (EUR).

  5. A Saudi delegation took part in the European Humanitarian Forum in Brussels.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Kingdom of Bahrain

Monday, 21 March—Bahrain is keen to continue working with Qatar on developing the causeway linking the two countries and called on Doha to respond to its invitations for bilateral talks in line with the Al Ula declaration, according to a statement by Undersecretary for Land Transportation and Post at Bahrain's Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications.

 

Wednesday, 23 March–The Scandinavian food cooperative, Arla Foods, announced a €57.3 million (EUR) worth investment in Bahrain. The company, which is the largest dairy food producer in Scandinavia, will expand its manufacturing plant in the Kingdom as part of a long-term strategy to boost production in the region.

State of Kuwait

Tuesday, 22 March–Kuwait’s Emir Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah inaugurated a €14.1 billion (EUR) biofuel project, which seeks to aid the development of the Al-Ahmadi and Mina Abdullah refineries. The plan aims to boost Kuwait’s oil refining sector while also developing its clean energy industry, within the country’s wider strategy to enhance its national economy.

Tuesday, 22 March–Kuwait and Saudi Arabia agreed to jointly develop the shared Durra gas field to boost gas production as well as to establish a joint venture named ‘Al-Khafji Joint Operations Company’. The plant is expected to produce one billion standard cubic feet of gas per day and eighty-four thousand barrels of condensates per day.

Sultanate of Oman

Wednesday, 23 March–Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said decreed the expansion of the country’s five-year plan for 2021-2025, through a number of new projects in the health, aviation, education, transport and tourism sectors. The country’s leader also decreed an increase of financial liquidity for the plan’s development budget for 2022 by over €472 million (EUR).

Thursday, 24 March—On 30 March, Oman’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion (MoCIIP) will host the second round of the Tejarah Talks with local experts and business leaders to explore the post-COVID corporate culture, including its importance and challenges.

State of Qatar

Wednesday, 23 March–Qatar hosted the Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition & Conference (DIMDEX 2022) between 21 and 23 March 2022. The event gathered two hundred international companies from sixty-eight countries, with ten states hosting their own pavilions. During the exhibition, Qatar signed several deals with international defence companies, such as the British BAE Systems and the Turkish Yonca-Onuk. Italy’s Leonardo agreed to build a Naval Operation Centre for the Qatari Emiri Navy.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Tuesday, 22 March–Saudi Arabia’s futuristic city, NEOM, announced the launch of ‘ENOWA’, a company that will cover the city’s sustainable energy and water infrastructure. The city aims to be fully powered by sustainable energy and assist Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 goal to achieve net zero emissions by 2060.

Thursday, 24 March—Saudi Arabia plans to host Yemeni peace talks between all parties to the conflict, including the internationally recognised government, the Houthis and the Southern Movement, organised by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) between 31 March and 7 April, the first week of Ramadan.

United Arab Emirates

Friday, 18 March–The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) awarded five-year long contracts worth €598 million (EUR) to international companies for cementing services in its onshore and offshore fields. The deals were granted to the US oil companies Halliburton, Baker, National Energy Services Reunited (NESR), as well as to the Emirati energy firms, Emjel Oil Field Services and Emirates Western.

Thursday, 24 March—The second unit (Unit 2) of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant became commercially operational, according to the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC).

The EU Corner

Monday, 21 March‒The EU condemned the missile and drone attacks by the Houthi militia against Saudi Arabia. The EU opposed the attacks, conducted on Sunday against Saudi civilians, as undermining the Yemen peace process, and called on the Houthi militia to engage with the UN Special Envoy, Hans Grundberg, to achieve a political resolution of the conflict.

 

Monday, 21 March‒The Head of the EU Delegation to Kuwait and Qatar, Cristian Tudor, and the Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Protocol Affairs of Kuwait, Dhari Ajran Al-Ajran, discussed the regional and international situation, and EU-Kuwait bilateral relations.

 

Monday, 21 March‒A Saudi delegation attended the European Humanitarian Forum (EHF), held from 21 to 23 March in Brussels, which gathered EU and non-EU humanitarian bodies, UN agencies, non-governmental organisations, and international financial institutions to discuss the humanitarian and financial needs amid the ongoing international crises, such as the Ukrainian conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chair of the Saudi Delegation, Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, General Supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, met with the European Commission’s Deputy Director General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, Micheal Kohler, and the European Parliament’s Chair of the Delegation for Relations with the Arab Peninsula, Hannah Neumann, among others.

Key Official Visits

Friday, 18 March–Syria’s President, Bashar Al-Assad, visited the UAE, in the first visit to an Arab country since the eruption of the Syrian civil war in 2011. The Syrian President met with the UAE’s Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, and with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. The leaders discussed Syrian-Emirati relations, particularly in the areas of economy, investment and commerce.

 

Sunday, 20 March–Germany’s Vice-Chancellor and Economic and Climate Minister, Robert Habeck, toured Qatar and the UAE to discuss energy security and ways to reduce Berlin’s reliance on Russian gas. In Doha, the German Minister was received by Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. They agreed to establish a long-term energy partnership, settling on securing liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies to Berlin. In the UAE, Minister Habeck met with Emirati Foreign Minister, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, signing deals to establish joint projects in the hydrogen sector.

 

Monday, 21 March–The UAE’s Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, held separate meetings with the Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg and Estonian President, Alar Karis, officially visiting the UAE. The talks with Grand Duke Henri focused on cooperation in finance, data and sustainable development. The UAE Prime Minister also discussed Estonian-Emirati cooperation in digital governance, digital economy and e-services with the Estonian President.

 

Tuesday, 22 March–The 48th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) was held in Islamabad, Pakistan. Foreign Ministers from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) attended the event, which focused on recent developments in the Islamic world, the Palestinian issue, Afghanistan, as well as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its wider geopolitical implications.

 

Tuesday, 22 March–Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, Israel’s President, Naftali Bennett, and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, held a trilateral summit in Sharm El-Sheikh. The three leaders discussed developments in Ukraine, energy and food security, as well as the Iranian file and regional security. They also reviewed opportunities for further cooperation in economy and investment.

 

Tuesday, 22 March—The UAE Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, Suhail bin Mohammed Al-Mazrouei, and the visiting Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Liesje Schreinemacher, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on hydrogen energy.

 

Thursday, 24 March–Oman’s Foreign Minister, Badr Hamad Hamood Al-Busaidi, visited New Delhi, meeting with his Indian counterpart, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. The two ministers highlighted Omani-Indian strategic partnership and their commitment in developing cooperation in security, defence, energy, economy, technology and cultural sectors.