The Euro-Gulf Monitor
21 - 26 February 2021
Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani
5 Top Points
Saudi Arabia announced women will be admitted into armed forces.
Kuwait celebrated its 60th National Day and 30th Liberation Day.
UAE, Egypt and Qatar discussed restoration of ties and coordination or regional security issues in Kuwait.
The International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX 2021) in Abu Dhabi saw the signing of deals worth US$5.7 billion.
EU-Gulf officials discussed the energy transition process at the International Energy Forum in Riyadh.
‘Round and About the Gulf
Kingdom of Bahrain
Wednesday, 25 February–Bahrain approved the Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. The Kingdom was the first country in the world to authorise it. Currently, Bahrain offers four vaccines: the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the Chinese Sinopharm one, the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Russia’s Sputnik V.
Wednesday, 25 February–Bahrain’s Crown Prince, Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, held a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, discussing Iran, cooperation in establishing a vaccine manufacturing plant in Israel and the Netanyahu’s future visit to the Kingdom.
State of Kuwait
Wednesday, 22 February–Kuwait will close its borders from 25 February to 30 March as a precautionary measure to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
Wednesday, 25 February–Kuwait celebrated its 60th National Day, honouring the late Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah’s ascension to power in 1950. On 26 February, the country marked the 30th anniversary of its liberation from Iraq’s occupation in 1991.
Sultanate of Oman
Monday, 22 February–Oman’s Supreme Committee announced that citizens from 10 countries will not be allowed to enter the Sultanate until 9 March. The countries are: Brazil, Lebanon, South Africa, Sudan, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia.
State of Qatar
Monday, 22 February–Qatar Airways, the country’s national carrier, partnered with UEFA EURO 2020, to be the tournament’s official airline. The UEFA Championship tournament will be held from 11 June to 11 July 2021 and will be hosted in 12 cities, including Amsterdam, Baku, Dublin, London, Rome and St. Petersburg.
Friday, 26 February—Qatar signed a 10-year agreement with Pakistan on the provision of 3 million tons of liquified natural gas (LNG) a year.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Sunday, 21 February–The Saudi Ministry of Defense announced that women will be permitted to join the armed forces. Admissions to sign up for ranks from soldier to sergeant in the Saudi Arabian Army, Royal Saudi Air Defense, Royal Saudi Navy, Royal Saudi Strategic Missile Force, and Armed Forces Medical Services will be open to women aged between 21 and 40 possessing at least a high school degree.
United Arab Emirates
Wednesday, 24 February–Abu Dhabi hosted the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX 2021) and Naval Defence and Maritime Security Exhibition (NAVDEX) from 21 to 25 February, gathering a number of private entities and foreign government officials. As part of the event, the UAE signed $5.7 billion (USD) worth contracts with local and international defence companies.
Wednesday, 24 February—The UAE Cabinet approved the establishment of the Executive Office of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT), which will become the country’s main coordinating body on national AML/CFT efforts.
The EU Corner
Monday, 22 February—The EU Ambassador to Yemen, Hans Grundberg, met with the US Special Envoy to Yemen, Timothy Lenderking. Welcoming the Biden administration’s efforts to stabilise the Yemeni crisis, the Ambassadors discussed fields of EU-US cooperation to end the war.
Wednesday, 24 February—The Head of the EU Delegation to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman, Patrick Simonnet, met with the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Nayef Falah Mubarak Al Hajraf. They discussed matters of common interest as well as economic and political cooperation between the EU and the GCC. On the same day, the EU Ambassador also met with the Saudi Deputy Minister for Political and Economic Affairs, Adel bin Siraj Mardad.
Thursday, 25 February—The 5th Energy and Climate Day, co-organised by the International Energy Forum and the European Commission, took place in Riyadh. Titled “New Energy and Climate Solidarity,” the event focused on the European Green Deal and the Circular Carbon Economy. The speakers included Ministers, Ambassadors and experts from the EU and the Gulf countries, who discussed cooperation to reach the climate goals and advance the energy transition process.
Key Official Visits
Monday, 22 February–Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa met with the UAE’s Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, in his Abu Dhabi residence. They discussed Bahraini-Emirati relations and regional developments.
Monday, 22 February–Delegations from the UAE and Qatar met in Kuwait, in the first meeting after the end of the Gulf Crisis. They discussed ways to restore diplomatic, commercial and travel ties as well as coordinating action in maintaining regional stability and unity among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. The next day, Kuwait hosted talks between the Qatari and Egyptian delegations.
Monday, 22 February—Iraq’s Foreign Minister, Fuad Hussein, and Iraq’s Minister of Interior, Othman Ali Al-Ghanimi, held separate talks with their Saudi counterparts, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud and Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif Al-Saud, in Riyadh.
Monday, 22 February–Jordan’s Foreign Minister, Ayman Al-Safadi, meet with his Qatari counterpart, Mohamed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, and Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, in Doha. They discussed economic cooperation and the upcoming Palestinian elections, stressing the importance of regional stability. On the same day, Qatar’s Emir received the President of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, Nasr Musa Al-Hariri, to discuss the Syrian issue and reiterated Qatar’s support for a political solution in Syria on the basis of the first 2012 Geneva Declaration.
Wednesday, 24 February–Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, and his Omani counterpart, Badr bin Hamad Al-Busaidi, reviewed cooperation in energy, technology, cybersecurity, health and agriculture during their talks in Muscat.
Wednesday, 24 February–US Special Envoy to Yemen, Timothy Lenderking, toured Oman and Saudi Arabia, discussing developments in Yemen and the Gulf countries’ support in solving the crisis through diplomatic efforts. In Riyadh, he met with Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Adel Al-Jubeir, and Deputy Minister of Defence, Khalid bin Salman Al-Saud, highlighting the crucial importance of the Kingdom’s partnership. Lenderking also met with Yemen’s Minister of Foreign and Expatriate Affairs, Ahmed bin Mubarak, and later with Oman’s Foreign Minister, Badr bin Hamad bin Hamood Al-Busaidi, in Muscat.
Thursday, 25 February—Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, sent a written message to Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani. The message was delivered by Bahrain’s Undersecretary for Regional and GCC Affairs at the Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Waheed Mubarak Sayyar, to Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Sultan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi, during his visit to Doha.