The Euro-Gulf Monitor

18 - 24 February 2022

by

Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani

5 Top Points

  1. The 26th GCC-EU Joint Council and Ministerial meeting was held in Brussels.

  2. Doha hosted the Gas Exporting Countries Forum.

  3. Saudi Arabia celebrated the ‘Founding Day’ for the first time. 

  4. Oman launched a new business initiative labeled the ‘Tejarah Talks’.

  5. The Houthis (Yemen) expressed support for Russia’s move to recognise the independence of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Kingdom of Bahrain

Monday, 21 February–Bahrain kicked off the construction of the United States Trade Zone in Salman Industrial City. The project will be part of Manama’s Industrial Sector Strategy 2022-2026 and its post-COVID Economic Recovery Plan. The site also seeks to enhance US-Bahraini commercial, trade and industrial cooperation. 

State of Kuwait

Tuesday, 22 February–The US State Department approved a potential military sale to Kuwait worth  around 1 billion USD (over 890 million EUR) to design and build Kuwait’s Defence Ministry’s  headquarters and provide the related equipment.

Sultanate of Oman

Wednesday, 23 February–Oman’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion launched the ‘Tejarah Talks’, a series of informal sessions discussing economic and investment opportunities in the Sultanate as well as some key issues related to economic diversification and the future of business and industry in the post-COVID era. The sessions will be live streamed for the public on the Ministry’s Twitter account. The initiative comes as part of the wider Oman Vision 2040 strategy.

State of Qatar

Tuesday, 22 February–Doha hosted the Gas Exporting Countries Forum to discuss the situation in the gas market amid heightened tensions with Russia. The event gathered leaders and representatives from eleven states, including Iran’s President, Ebrahim Raisi, Algeria’s President, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Libya’s Prime Minister, Abdulhamid Dabaiba, UAE’s Energy Minister, Suhail Al-Mazrouei, and Russia’s Energy Minister, Nikolay Shulginov. During the summit, Qatar’s Energy Minister, Saad Al-Kaabi, stressed that it would be impossible to replace Russian gas supplies to Europe in case of supplies’ disruption and sanctions. The Minister also affirmed that Qatar could divert up to ten or fifteen percent of liquefied natural gas (LNG) volumes to Europe, as its exports are locked by contracts with Asian buyers. During the event, Russian Energy Minister Shulginov delivered a letter from Russian President, Vladimir Putin, to Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Tuesday, 22 February–Saudi Arabia celebrated the ‘Founding Day’ for the first time, commemorating the establishment of the first Saudi State, the Emirate of Diriyah, by Imam Muhammad bin Saud in February 1727. The holiday was introduced by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud in January 2022 to honouring the country’s historical heritage and traditions.

United Arab Emirates

Wednesday, 23 February–The UAE hosted the ‘Unmanned Systems Exhibition’ (UMEX), a regional conference dedicated to drones, robotics and cutting-edge technologies for unmanned systems. The event hosted seven country pavilions, including China, France and Italy, as well as Israel and Ukraine, the newcomers to the exhibition. During the event, the UAE’s Defence Ministry signed twelve deals with local and international companies worth over €513 million (EUR).

The EU Corner

Monday, 21 February‒The 26th GCC-EU Joint Council and Ministerial Meeting took place in Brussels. During the Joint Council, chaired by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, and Saudi Arabia‘s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, the EU and GCC Ministers committed to strengthening cooperation, particularly in the fields of regional security, counterterrorism, health, cybersecurity and climate change, and established a Joint Cooperation programme for 2022-2027 aimed to boost political dialogue. The Council also reviewed regional crises, including Palestine, Yemen, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan, exploring how to address them in a concerted way.

 

Monday, 21 February‒The Qatari State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Soltan Bin Saad Al-Muraikhi, and the European External Action Service (EEAS) Secretary General, Stefano Sannino, met in Brussels to sign an agreement formalising the establishment of the EU Delegation to Qatar in Doha.

 

Friday, 24 February‒The Head of the EU Delegation to Kuwait, Cristian Tudor, and the Kuwaiti Minister of State for National Assembly Affairs, Muhammad Obaid Al-Rajhi, discussed EU-Kuwait cooperation in several fields and exchanged opinions on matters of common interest.

 

Key Official Visits

Sunday, 20 February–The Munich Security Conference gathered head of states, ministers and high-level officials, including from the US, Russia, Israel, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, to discuss key international security issues, such as the developments in the Gulf-Israeli relations and the Abraham Accords, and climate change and food security in the Middle East. On the sidelines of the event, Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, met with Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saudi, to discuss the developments in the region and Gulf unity.

 

Tuesday, 22 February–Kuwait held a trilateral meeting with Egypt and Algeria. Kuwait’s Emir Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber, and Crown Prince, Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, received Algeria’s President, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, and Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. The leaders discussed economic and security issues, as well as the upcoming Arab League Summit 2022 in Algiers.

 

Tuesday, 22 February—The Yemeni Houthis’ political leader, Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi, expressed the Houthis’ support for Russia’s move to recognise the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk,  which was the prelude to Russia’s military operations against Ukraine.

 

Wednesday, 23 February–Cyprus’ President, Nicos Anastasiades, led a ministerial delegation to the UAE. They met with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, to discuss the developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, Cypriot-Turkish tensions as well as business opportunities between Cyprus and the UAE. The Cypriot delegation included Ministers of Finance, Energy, Transports and Agriculture.

 

Thursday, 24 February–Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir, toured South America, visiting Ecuador, Chile, Peru, Uruguay, Paraguay, Colombia and Costa Rica. Talks with the countries’ leaders and ministers focused on investment opportunities, trade, and commerce, especially in the sectors of tourism, energy, agriculture and technology.