The Euro-Gulf Monitor
2 - 7 April 2021
Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani
‘Round and About the Gulf
Kingdom of Bahrain
Tuesday, 6 April–Bahrain’s Government amended the Press, Printing and Publishing Law, abolishing the jailing of journalists in the Kingdom. A number of other amendments concerning digital media, prohibiting calls for discrimination, hostility, violence and terrorism based on national, racial and religious grounds, were approved.
State of Kuwait
Tuesday, 6 April–Kuwait and China discussed digital economy cooperation within the framework of the Digital Belt and Road Initiative and Kuwait’s development plan. The talks were attended by Kuwait’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Kuwait’s Supreme Council for Planning and Development, China’s Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Public Diplomacy Association. Kuwait’s representatives praised the BRI’s benefits and the compatibility between the Chinese projects and Kuwait’s Vision 2035, particularly regarding transports, energy and information technology.
Sultanate of Oman
Wednesday, 7 April–Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said issued a decree that reorganised the country’s retirement and social protection systems, establishing a Social Security Fund and a Pension Fund for the military. The decree also established that a minimum of thirty years of service will be necessary in order to retire.
State of Qatar
Wednesday, 31 March–Qatar announced further restrictions on public and private activities as COVID-19 cases spiked in the country. Doha announced that from 9 April indoor activities will be banned, except for retails and work, with further limits to outdoor public gatherings. The measures will be applied for an indefinite period.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Wednesday, 7 April–Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, announced a project ‘A Journey Through Time’ to develop the Al-Ula area into the Kingdom’s cultural and touristic centre, providing 38,000 jobs and generating $32 billion (USD) from investments by 2035.
United Arab Emirates
Tuesday, 6 April–The UAE announced that its first nuclear energy plant, Barakah Unit 1, started commercial operations. The Barakah plant is expected to generate 25% of the UAE’s electricity demand, which now became the first Arab country to generate power from its own nuclear facility.
The EU Corner
Monday, 5 April—The Foreign Minister of Finland, Pekka Haavisto, and his Saudi Arabian counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, met in Riyadh. They discussed strengthening EU-Saudi cooperation to alleviate the Ethiopian crisis. During the visit, Haavisto held talks with the CEO of the Saudi Fund for Development, Sultan Al-Morshed, exploring EU-Saudi collaboration in the development sector. Apart from Riyadh, Haavisto also visited the UAE on his way to Ethiopia.
Tuesday, 6 April‒The Head of the EU Delegation to Saudi Arabia, Patrick Simonnet, met with the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Saudi Space Authority, Sultan bin Salman Al-Saud, to explore ways to enhance EU-Saudi cooperation in the space domain. The EU Ambassador also visited the headquarters of the daily Arab News, and met with the Chief Editor, Faisal Abbas, to discuss the role of media in the Gulf and fields of common interests.
Wednesday, 7 April‒The EU Delegation to Kuwait, the EU-GCC Clean Technology Network, and Kuwait’s Public Authority for Applied Education and Training organised an event on renewable energy projects in the GCC and the EU. The debate focused on how to enhance Euro-Gulf collaboration to implement the green transition in the framework of Kuwait’s Vision 2035.
Key Official Visits
Sunday, 4 April–The UAE hosted the GCC and MENA Climate Change Dialogue in Abu Dhabi, gathering representatives from Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Sudan and the US. The participants pledged to enhance investments in renewable energy sources and increase collaboration on the issue. On the sidelines, Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, and the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, discussed financial collaboration in decabornising economies.
Monday, 5 April–Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, met with Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, in Doha. The two sides signed several Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) in the fields of agriculture, food security, crime prevention and energy.
Monday, 5 April–The UAE vowed to invest $3 billion (USD) in Iraq, as Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, received Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, in Abu Dhabi. The two leaders discussed economic and political cooperation, as well as the establishment of the Iraq-UAE Business Council.
Tuesday, 6 April–Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, travelled to Amman, where he met with his Jordanian counterpart, Ayman Safadi. Prince Faisal bin Farhan reiterated Saudi Arabia’s support for Jordan and its security, crucial for regional stability, and delivered a message from King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud to Jordan’s King Abdullah II. Following the recent arrests in Jordan, all GCC countries expressed their support for King Abdullah II.
Tuesday, 6 April—Kuwait’s Foreign Minister, Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah, held talks with the visiting Yemeni counterpart, Ahmed Bin Mubarak, on the situation in the country and bilateral cooperation. Yemen’s Foreign Minister also met with the Director of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, Abdel Wahab Al-Badr, discussing development and reconstruction projects in Yemen.
Wednesday, 7 April–Libya’s Prime Minister, Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibeh, met with Kuwait’s Emir Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah during his visit to the Gulf country. The two sides discussed collaboration regarding the Libyan file and uniting the Gulf countries’ positions on the issue. The Libyan Prime Minister will also tour Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Wednesday, 7 April—Chairman of Sudan’s Sovereignty Council, Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, accompanied by Sudan’s Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Finance and Economic Planning, arrived in Qatar for a two-day visit to Doha to meet with Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.