The Euro-Gulf Monitor
2 - 8 June 2023
by Elen'Alba Vitiello
5 Top Points
Iran reopened its embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Bahrain and the UAE boost political and economic cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The EU officials met with UAE’s COP28 President Designate in Brussels.
Oman awarded three green hydrogen production projects worth nearly 19 billion EUR.
The US Secretary of State paid a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia.
‘Round and About the Gulf
Kingdom of Bahrain
Friday, 2 June–Bahrain Foreign Ministry Undersecretary for Political Affairs, Abdulla bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, participated in the 20th session of the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, an inter-governmental security conference in Singapore, where he met with Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Kao Kim Hourn. Bahrain aims to boost political and economic cooperation, and strategic partnership with ASEAN member states, in light of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), which was signed in 2019.
Tuesday, 6 June–In Manama, Bahrain’s Minister of Tourism, Fatima bint Jaafar Al-Sairafi, and his Saudi Arabian counterpart, Ahmed Al-Khateeb, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that aims to promote the two countries as a joint regional and global tourism destination. The MoU aims to foster tourism development through collaboration of joint events and exchanging information on tourism legislation, data and statistics, licensing, operation and management.
State of Kuwait
Tuesday, 6 June–Kuwait’s parliamentary election saw a 51% voter turnout. The opposition secured 29 of the 50 seats in the National Assembly. More than two thirds of the lawmakers retained their seats and only one woman was elected, less than in the previous 2022 election. Following the election, Kuwait’s Emir, Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, accepted the government’s resignation and appointed Ahmad Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah and his Cabinet as a caretaker government until a new Cabinet is formed.
Sultanate of Oman
Friday, 2 June—Hydrogen Oman (Hydrom) signed three agreements with consortia of companies from Denmark, USA, UK, Kuwait, Singapore and Oman to develop Oman’s first green hydrogen blocks, which will involveinvestments of more than $20 billion (around €18.6 billion).
Thursday, 8 June—Russia and Oman signed an agreement to avoid double taxation, which is expected to come into force on 1 January 2024.
State of Qatar
Sunday, 4 June–Qatar Fund for Development launched a new $10.5 million (about €9.8 million) drought assistance and resilience programme with the United States Agency for International Development and the British Embassy in Mogadishu, Somalia, in response to the humanitarian crisis in Somalia. Through the Building Resilient Communities in Somalia (BRCiS) consortium, the trilateral partnership expands on the famine prevention and resilience initiatives made in 2021-2022 by all three parties.
Tuesday, 6 June–Qatar Armed forces concluded the first coordinating meeting of Exercise Ferocious Falcon-5, which welcomed forces, experts and military advisors from the US, France, Turkey, and Italy. The meeting aims to prepare for Ferocious Falcon-5 Exercise, which will take place in October 2023.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Sunday, 4 June–Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister, Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, announced that Saudi Arabia will voluntarily cut oil production by 1 million barrels per day from July, compared to 10 million a day in May 2023, after the OPEC+ (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies) met in Vienna, Austria, to discuss oil production policy and ways to stabilise oil markets and agreed to extend production cuts to 2024, when the targets would drop by a further 1.4 million barrels per day.
Monday, 5 June–Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, launched a new project, the Sports Clubs Investment and Privatisation Project, aimed at establishing the Saudi Professional League as one of the top 10 leagues in the football world through private investment and increase the league revenue from 450 million SAR (about €112 million) to more than 1.8 billion SAR (about €448 million) annually.
Tuesday, 6 June–Following the bilateral agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran to resume bilateral relations, brokered by China in March 2023, Iran reopened its embassy in Riyadh, after 7 years of closure. The opening ceremony was attended by Saudi’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Saudi Consular Affairs, Ali Al-Youssef, and his Iranian counterpart, Ali Reza Bekdli, as well as Iranian Chargé d'Affaires, Hassan Zarnegar. On the sidelines of the opening ceremony, Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Waleed Al-Khuraiji, met with Ali Reza Bekdli, to further discuss ways of cooperation.
United Arab Emirates
Wednesday, 7 June–UAE’s Al Maktoum International Airport, located in Dubai South, is set to be the world’s largest airport by 2050, amid the $33 billion (about €30 billion) Dubai World Central (DWC) expansion plan. Once completed, it will have the capacity for more than 160 million passengers per year, and it will serve as a multi-modal logistics hub for 12 million tonnes of freight.
Wednesday, 7 June–The UAE and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Joint Sectoral Cooperation Committee formally inaugurated the launch of their partnership in Jakarta, Indonesia. During the meeting, which was attended by UAE’s Minister of State, Ahmed Al-Sayegh, and ASEAN’s Deputy Secretary-General of the Political Security Community Department, Michael Tene, both sides agreed to develop cooperation notably in economy, trade, investment, energy and sustainability, and technology sector.
Tuesday, 6 June–The GCC Secretariat General in Riyadh, hosted the Gulf-European Conference on Combating Extremist Ideology, under the framework of joint EU-GCC cooperation. European Union Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman, Patrick Simonnet, and EU Special Representative for the Sahel region, Claudio Del Rey, participated in the conference.
Wednesday, 7 June–EU High Representative, Josep Borrell, EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, and EU Executive Vice-President, Frans Timmermans, met with COP28 President Designate and UAE’s Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, Ahmed Al-Jaber, in Brussels, to discuss preparations for COP28, hosted in Dubai between 30 November-12 December. Both sides highlighted the importance of cooperation to advance the climate objectives and drive a just energy transition. Ahmed Al-Jaber was accompanied by Lana Nusseibeh, Assistant Minister for Political Affairs and recently appointed Envoy of the UAE Foreign Minister to the European Union.
Key Official Visits
Friday, 2 June–On the sidelines of the Friends of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) Foreign Ministerial Meeting in Cape Town, the UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, and Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, held separate meetings with their Russia and Iranian counterparts, Sergey Lavrov and Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. The UAE, Saudi Arabia and other countries such as Türkiye, Syria, Iran and Afghanistan are in queue to join BRICS.
Friday, 2 June–Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister, Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, met with his Chinese counterpart, Zhang Jianhua, in Riyadh, to discuss ways to strengthen their relation in various energy fields, keeping in mind Saudi Vision 2030 and China’s Belt and Road initiative. They discussed the importance of energy supply and potential cooperation in crude-to-chemicals projects, peaceful use of nuclear energy, national projects for uranium exploration and mining, and projects for electricity, renewable energy, and clean hydrogen.
Saturday, 3 June–Representatives from 78 countries, amongst them Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, Qatar’s Minister of Interior, Khalifa bin Hamad Al-Thani, Kuwait’s Foreign Minister, Salem Abdullah Al-Sabah, and representatives of NATO and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), flew to the Turkish capital, Ankara, and participated in the inauguration ceremony of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan‘s new presidential term.
Monday, 5 June–Kuwait’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Salem Abdullah Al-Sabah, met with US commander of Naval Forces Central Command, Brad Cooper, to discuss naval security cooperation and ways to enhance it. They highlighted the importance of strengthening the security of waterways and ensuring freedom of navigation for vessels in the Gulf region.
Monday, 5 June–German Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office, Tobias Lindner, visited the Gulf region to meet and discuss avenues of cooperation with UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Oman’s Undersecretary at the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, Mohsin bin Hamad Al-Hadhrami, Qatar’s Director of Policy and Planning Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Khalid bin Fahad Al-Khater, and Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Cabinet Member, and Envoy for Climate, Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir.
Tuesday, 6 June–United States’ Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, flew to Saudi Arabia for a three-day trip. Blinken met with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud. He attended the GCC-US Joint Ministerial Meeting on Strategic Partnership at the GCC Secretariat General to discuss political and security relations and key regional issues, including conflicts in Yemen, Sudan, Syria, and the Palestinian territories. Finally, Blinken co-hosted the Ministerial meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS with Saudi Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, to highlight the critical role of the Coalition and address the continuing ISIS threat.
Tuesday, 6 June–Foreign Minister of Cyprus, Constantinos Kombos, met with Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, in Jeddah. They reviewed bilateral relations in different fields and ways to enhance them, also through intensifying joint coordination.
Tuesday, 6 June–GCC countries’ citizens will be able to travel to the United Kingdom with an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), lasting two years, for £10 (about €11), starting from February 2024 (from October 2023 for Qatari citizens). The UK Government removed the £30 (about €34.50) visit visa requirements that had to be paid for every separate visit.
Thursday, 8 June–The Economic and Social Committee of the Saudi Arabia-UK Strategic Partnership Council held its third meeting in London, headed by Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Commerce, Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi, and UK’s Secretary of State for the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero, Grant Shapps. They discussed the ways to enhance economic cooperation in financial services, such as FinTech, banking, green finance and priority investment sectors.
Thursday, 8 June–Qatar and France held the second Strategic Dialogue in Doha, chaired by Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, and French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna. The prominent areas of cooperation between both countries include education, sports, youth, culture, economy, investment, defence, security, and energy.