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The Euro-Gulf Monitor

2 - 8 February 2024

by Elen'Alba Vitiello

5 Top Points

  1. The UAE Minister of State Noura Al-Kaabi addressed the EU Indo-Pacific Forum in Brussels.

  2. The Al-Duqm Refinery and Petrochemical Industries, the largest joint investment project between Oman and Kuwait, was inaugurated.

  3. Qatar and the US confirmed receiving a new deal proposal from Hamas.

  4. Saudi Arabia held the second edition of the World Defence Show.

  5. Spanish and US high-level officials toured the Gulf countries.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Kingdom of Bahrain 

Wednesday, 7 February–Bahrain’s Crown Prince, Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, co-chaired the third Bahrain-Saudi Arabia Coordination Council in Riyadh. During the event, they announced the opening of the first office of the Saudi-Bahraini Company, established in November 2022 between the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) and the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Bahrain (Mumtalakat). The two sides reviewed joint projects in training, technology, healthcare, and trade, and signed several Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) in the energy, finance, culture, education, and media fields.

State of Kuwait

Tuesday, 6 February–Kuwait’s government published its programme, which addresses economic and social issues. The aim will be to tackle low international indicators and raise living standards, while transforming the economy through production and human resources. Moreover, the government will aim to activate projects that include studying Kuwait-Saudi Arabia railroad connections, among others.

Sultanate of Oman

Wednesday, 7 February–Oman’s Sultan, Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said, and Kuwait’s Emir, Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah,inaugurated the $9 billion (about €8.3 billion) Al-Duqm Refinery and Petrochemical Industries in Oman. Given its proximity to the Arabian Sea, the facility is seen as a window for adjacent markets and global shipping routes. The Al-Duqm refinery is the largest investment of its kind between two Gulf countries, represented by the Oman Oil Company (OQ) and the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC).

 

State of Qatar

Tuesday, 6 February–During a joint press conference in Doha, Qatar’s Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, and the United States’ Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, confirmed receiving a new proposal from Hamas for another pause in Gaza, in the Israel-Hamas conflict, and a captives’ exchange deal. This follows US Secretary of State’s official visit to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Israel, and the West Bank, from 4 to 8 February.

 

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Sunday, 4 February–Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Defence, Khalid bin Salman Al-Saud, inaugurated on behalf of the Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, the second edition of the World Defence Show 2024, in Riyadh, organised by the General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI). The defence show highlighted Saudi Arabia’s commitment to becoming a hub for the defence industry. Following the exhibition, Saudi Minister of Investment, Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al-Falih, and the GAMI’s Governor, Ahmad Abdulaziz Al-Ohali, witnessed the signing ceremonies of 11 cooperation agreements and several joint Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with various international companies specialised in military and defence industries.

Sunday, 4 February–Saudi Arabia’s Defence Minister, Khalid bin Salman Al-Saud, announced that the Kingdom will contribute $26.6 million (about €24.6 million) to support initiatives financing the fund of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC), an intergovernmental alliance between 41 member states, including all GCC countries. 

United Arab Emirates

Friday, 2 February–Starting from 22 February, UAE’s nationals, alongside those from Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, and Saudi Arabia, will be able to get an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) to travel to the United Kingdom. ETA, which is already available for Qatari citizens, costs £12.75 (about €14.93) and allows entries into the UK for two years.

Thursday, 8 February–UAE’s EDGE Group signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Turkish Aerospace during the World Defence Show in Riyadh. Under the MoU, the companies will have to provide continuous intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance.

EU Corner

Friday, 2 February–Qatar’s Ambassador to the European Union and NATO, Abdulaziz bin Ahmed Al-Malki, met with the Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the President of the European Council, Simon Mordue. They discussed recent developments in the region and Qatari-EU relations.

Friday, 2 February—The Minister of State, Noura Al-Kaabi, led the UAE’s delegation to the 3rd EU Indo-Pacific Ministerial Forum in Brussels. In her speech, she stressed the UAE’s emphasis on economic and trade ties to expand international cooperation, building on the country’s strategic position and role as a global trade and investment hub.

Thursday, 8 February–The EU Special Representative for the Gulf Region, Luigi Di Maio, met with Bahrain’s Ambassador to Belgium and Head of the Diplomatic Mission to the European Union, Abdullah bin Faisal Al-Dosari, in Brussels. The meeting discussed regional and international issues of common interest and reviewed ways to develop bilateral cooperation.

Key Official Visits

Saturday, 3 February–Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, met with Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, in New York. During the meeting, they discussed Qatar-UN cooperation and the latest developments in the Middle East, in particular in the Gaza Strip.

Saturday, 3 February–Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs, Khalid bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah, met with Estonia’s Minister of Defence, Hanno Pevkur, and his accompanying delegation, in Doha. They addressed issues of mutual interest and ways to reinforce them.

Sunday, 4 February–On the sidelines of the World Defence Show 2024, Saudi Arabia’s Defence Minister, Khalid bin Salman Al-Saud, separately met with UK’s Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps, and Slovakia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, Robert Kalinak, in Riyadh. During both meetings, strategic partnership, matters of mutual interest, as well as the latest regional and international developments were discussed.

Sunday, 4 February–US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, started his official visitation to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Israel, and the West Bank, from 4 to 8 February, as part of diplomatic efforts to reach an agreement in the Israel-Hamas war. During the tour, he held talks with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud; with Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi; Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani; Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu; and Palestine’s President, Mahmoud Abbas.

 

Tuesday, 6 February–Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union, and Cooperation, Jose Manuel Albares, started his official visit to Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in a new effort to promote solutions to the Middle East crisis through the implementation of the two-state solution, as well as to enhance economic relations. He met with Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani; Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud; and UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. 

Thursday, 8 February–Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, met with Commissioner-General of the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini, and his accompanying delegation, in Riyadh. During the meeting, they discussed ways to enhance Saudi-UNRWA cooperation, and Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister reaffirmed the Kingdom’s support for the humanitarian efforts to alleviate the impact of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

Thursday, 8 February–The Foreign Ministers of Egypt, Sameh Shoukry; Jordan, Ayman Al-Safadi; Qatar, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani; Saudi Arabia, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud; and the UAE, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, held a consultative meeting in Riyadh. During the meeting, the ministers stressed the need to end the conflict in Gaza by reaching an immediate ceasefire, as well as the need to implement the two-state solution and recognize the State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.

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