The Euro-Gulf Monitor

17  December 2021 - 7 January 2022

by

Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani

5 Top Points

  1. UK and GCC discussed boosting ties and the planned UK-GCC Free Trade Agreement negotiations at a summit in England.

  2. Kuwait sworn in a new Cabinet after a year-long parliamentary standoff.

  3. EU and Bahrain discussed strengthening bilateral cooperation.

  4. Saudi Arabia announced a €17 billion investment plan named ‘Jeddah Central Project’.

  5. Qatar announced it will invest in modular nuclear power technology developed by Rolls Royce Holdings. 

‘Round and About the Gulf

Kingdom of Bahrain

Thursday, 30 December–Bahrain appointed Waheed Mubarak Sayyar as its first Ambassador to Syria since 2011, when it downgraded diplomatic relations with Damascus amid the conflict. The move comes as part of the Gulf countries’ resumption of diplomatic ties with Syria.
 

Tuesday, 21 December–Bahrain and the UAE launched a jointly produced nanosatellite, named Light-1, to the International Space Station. The nanosatellite, built by the Bahrain National Space Science Agency (NSSA) and the UAE Space Agency, will assist geoscientific research and was carried on a SpaceX Falcon 9 spacecraft.

State of Kuwait

Tuesday, 28 December–Kuwait formed a new government headed by Prime Minister, Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah, following the Cabinet’s resignation in November 2021 amid a standoff with the National Assembly. Three opposition parliamentarians were appointed as Ministers of: Information and Culture; Social Affairs and Community Development; and National Assembly Affairs.

Sultanate of Oman

Monday, 20 December–Oman’s Ministry of Energy and Minerals awarded a concession to the energy giant, Shell, to develop and produce natural gas from the Block 10 of the Mabrouk North East gas field until 2024. As part of the deal, Shell will also support the development of Oman’s hydrogen sector.

State of Qatar

Monday, 20 December–The Qatar Investment Authority will invest about €99 million (EUR) in a 10% stake in a new modular nuclear power business developed by the British aerospace company, Rolls-Royce Holdings. The technology will provide nuclear power with low carbon emissions and with one-tenth of the size of a standard nuclear facility.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Friday, 17 December–Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, announced the launch of a €17.7 billion (EUR) worth investment plan named the Jeddah Central Project. The plan aims to develop 5.7 million square meters of land through infrastructure, facilities and landmark projects. The plan is expected to inject about €11 billion (EUR) into the Saudi economy by 2030.

United Arab Emirates

Monday, 3 January–The UAE signed a €46 million (EUR) worth contract with Israel’s defence company, Elbit Systems, to provide airborne electronic warfare defensive systems to the UAE Air Force. The deal was awarded to the Elbit Systems’ Emirati subsidiary, which will provide Direct Infrared Countermeasures (DIRCM) system, J-MUSIC, as well as its infrared-based Passive Airborne Warning System (PAWS) to the Emirati fleet of five Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport.

 

Saturday, 1 January–The UAE took up its seat as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. The country was elected in June 2021 for the 2022-2023 term along with Albania, Brazil, Gabon and Ghana.

The EU Corner

Thursday, 6 January–The Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, David McAllister, visited Bahrain to discuss strengthening EU-Bahraini cooperation. He held talks with several Bahraini officials, including: Foreign Minister, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani; Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Zayed bin Rashid Al-Zayani; members of the Council of Representatives’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and National Security Committee; Chairman of the Shura Council, Ali bin Saleh Al-Saleh; President of the National Institution for Human Rights (NIHR), Ali Ahmed Al-Derazi, and Secretary-General of the Higher Education Council, Rana bint Isa bint Daij Al-Khalifa.

Key Official Visits

Sunday, 20 December–British Foreign Minister, Elizabeth Truss, held a meeting with Foreign Ministers of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the UAE Assistant Minister for Political Affairs and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, and the GCC Secretary General at Chevening House in England. The talks focused on strengthening cooperation in trade, development, environment and security, particularly in sustainable energy, digital infrastructure, cyber and joint investment in infrastructure and clean technology in the developing world. They  also discussed plans to reach a UK-GCC Free Trade Agreement as well as regional security, with particular reference to Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Yemen.

 

Saturday, 25 December–Morocco’s Prime Minister, Aziz Akhannouch, visited the UAE. He met with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, to review collaboration in security, economy and investment, as well as opportunities offered by the EXPO 2020 Dubai.

 

Saturday, 1 January–Kuwait’s Foreign Minister, Ahmed Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah, was received by Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, in Manama. They discussed bilateral relations and Minister Al-Sabah handed King Hamad a letter from Kuwait’s Emir Nawaf Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah.

 

Sunday, 2 January–Saudi Arabia’s Interior Minister, Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif Al-Saud, was received by Algerian President, Abdelmajid Tebboune, in Algiers. The talks reviewed Saudi-Algerian relations, focusing on cooperation in environmental issues and security.

 

Sunday, 2 January–Yemen’s Prime Minister, Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed, visited the UAE, where he held separate meetings with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, and the UAE Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum. Talks focused on the Emirates’ role in Yemen, the need to restore stability in the country and humanitarian support.

 

Monday, 3 January–British Interior Minister, Priti Patel, visited the UAE, where she met with her Emirati counterpart, Saif bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. The two ministers reviewed cooperation in domestic security and policing. 

 

Monday, 3 January–Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, met with his Jordanian counterpart, Ayman Al-Safadi, in Amman. The two Ministers discussed Iran’s role in the region as well as developments in Palestine and Yemen. Jordan highlighted its support for Saudi Arabia’s security and regional stability.