The Euro-Gulf Monitor
21 - 27 July 2023
by Elen'Alba Vitiello
5 Top Points
The GCC countries participated in the International Conference on Development and Migration in Rome.
Qatar appointed its first Ambassador to the UAE since 2017.
Saudi Aramco expands in China.
The EU Representative for the Gulf met with the GCC Secretary General in Rome.
Portugal held the first round of political discussions with Kuwait and Oman.
‘Round and About the Gulf
Kingdom of Bahrain
Tuesday, 25 July—Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa named Abdulla bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the King Hamad Global Centre for Peaceful Coexistence, in addition to his positions as Undersecretary for Political Affairs at the Foreign Ministry, Deputy Secretary General of the Supreme Defence Council, and Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the Bahrain Centre for Strategic, International and Energy Studies.
Wednesday, 26 July–Bahrain’s Deputy President for Cyber Operations at the National Cyber Security Centre, Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa, and Director-Manager of Amazon Web Services, Naif Alanazi, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cyber security in cloud computing, in line with Bahrain’s digital transformation plans.
State of Kuwait
Monday, 24 July–The Kuwait National Petroleum Company exported its first shipment of motor fuel and low-sulphur to the European markets. The company has been able to achieve financial returns from selling its products that conform to European and US standards since it launched the clean fuel project in March 2022.
Sultanate of Oman
Wednesday, 26 July–The Chairman of Oman’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Naif bin Ali Al-Abri, signed an air services agreement with the Director of the Aviation Department of Belarus’ Ministry of Transport and Communications, Igor Golub. This allows airlines of both countries to operate passenger and air cargo flights between Muscat, Minsk, and other significant locations within Oman, and establish cooperation agreements for code-sharing operations.
State of Qatar
Sunday, 23 July–Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, appointed Salmeen Saee Al-Mansuri as the country’s first Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) since the 2017 Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) crisis errupted.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Friday, 21 July–Saudi Aramco, the Saudi Arabian state-owned energy major, acquired a 10% stake in Rongsheng Petrochemical, a Chinese petrochemical firm, for an estimated $3.4 billion (about €3 million). The deal calls for the supply of 480,000 barrels of Saudi crude oil a day to Rongsheng’s affiliate and allows Aramco to advance its liquids to chemicals strategy and grow its presence in China.
United Arab Emirates
Tuesday, 25 July–Following the recent establishment of the Dubai Centre for Artificial Intelligence (DCAI), which assists Dubai’s government entities in harnessing generative AI tools, the Dubai Assembly for Generative AI will take place on 11 and 12 October 2023. It aims at introducing governments and societies to tools and opportunities provided by advanced technologies. The event is being held under the directives of Dubai’s Crown Prince, Hamdan bin Mohammed Al-Maktooum.
Sunday, 23 July–Kuwait’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Salem Abdullah Jaber Al-Sabah, held talks with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, on the sidelines of the International Conference on Development and Migration, in Rome. They discussed the Schengen visa for Kuwaiti citizens, as well as the progress in cooperation between Kuwait and the EU in various sectors.
Tuesday, 25 July–The European Union (EU) Special Representative for the Gulf Region, Luigi Di Maio, met with the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Jasem Albudaiwi, and UAE’s Minister of State in the Foreign Ministry, Shakhboot Nahyan Al-Nahyan, on the sidelines of the European Corporate Council on Africa and the Middle East (ECAM) Summit in Rome, to discuss the EU-GCC strategic partnership and framework to facilitate private investments.
Wednesday, 26 July–Saudi Arabia’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Waleed Abdulkarim El-Khereiji, bid farewell to Patrick Simonnet, who ends his mandate as EU’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman.
Wednesday, 26 July–The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, reiterated the EU’s rejection of all forms of incitement to religious hatred and intolerance, following the burning of the Quran in Denmark. All six GCC countries condemned the burning.
Key Official Visits
Thursday, 20 July–The 3rd Bahrain-US Strategic Dialogue, co-chaired by Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Adullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, and US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, took place in Washington, DC. They tackled regional and international issues, from security to economic prosperity, and discussed political, security, cultural, and energy efficiency cooperation within the context of the US-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement. In support of this, both sides expressed their intention to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the US Export-Import Bank and the Bahrain Ministry of Finance and National Economy, and, in connection to the Abraham Accords, reaffirm regional cooperation within the Negev Forum working groups. During his visit, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister also met with US State Department’s Senior Advisor for Regional Integration, Daniel Shapiro, to review joint cooperation and ways to promote peace and stability in the Middle East.
Saturday, 22 July–Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry Undersecretary for Consular and Administrative Affairs, Mohammed Ali Behzad, met with Egypt’s Assistant Foreign Minister for Financial and Administrative Affairs, the General Court, and the Administrative Capital, Yasser Reda. The two sides discussed joint coordination and cooperation between the two ministries.
Sunday, 23 July–The GCC countries, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, attended the International Conference on Development and Migration in Rome, Italy, led by the Italian President of the Council of Ministers, Giorgia Meloni, and in the presence of European Union and African leaders, to launch an international road map for the implementation of measures for growth and development in the wider Mediterranean and Africa, that will address the causes of irregular migration, defeat human trafficking, protect the environment, and to meet the challenges of energy diversification.
Bahrain, represented by the Representative for Humanitarian Work and Youth Affairs, National Security Advisor, Nasser bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, stressed its commitment to supporting labour rights and combating all forms of human trafficking, and the importance of exchanging international expertise through such conferences.
Kuwait, represented by the Prime Minister, Ahmad Nawaf Al-Sabah, and the Foreign Affairs Minister, Salem Abdullah Al-Sabah, expressed the Kuwait Fund for Economic Development’s role in helping countries to achieve development projects.
Oman, represented by the Foreign Minister, Badr bin Hamad Al-Busaidi, and his delegation, seeks to identify solutions to the challenges of immigration, illegal movement, smuggling and trafficking of migrants.
Qatar, represented by the Minister of State for International Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lolwah bint Rashid Al-Khater, noted the importance of reaching practical and comprehensive international solutions to the migration issue, based on the principles of the United Nations Charter.
Saudi Arabia, represented by the Minister of the Interior, Abdulaziz bin Saud Al-Saud, and his delegation, called on the international community to achieve solidarity and cooperation to address political, social, and economic aspects behind the irregular migration.
The UAE, represented by the President, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, announced a pledge of $100 million (about €89.8 million) to support development projects in countries affected by irregular migration.
Sunday, 23 July–Kuwait’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Salem Abdullah Al Sabah, received a phone call from his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, focusing on bilateral relations and ways to strengthen them in various domains.
Sunday, 23 July–Qatar's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mohammad bin Abdulaziz Al-Khulaifi, met with the Iranian Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), Ali Ahmadian, in Tehran, to discuss bilateral cooperation relations and ways to enhance and develop them, as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest. Qatar's Minister also met with Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, to deliver an invitation from Qatar's Amir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, to Iran's President, Ebrahim Raisi, inviting the President to visit Qatar.
Monday, 24 July–Manama hosted the 2nd meeting of the high-level working group of the Asian Cooperation Dialogue Forum, aiming to promote cooperation among the Asian countries and Bahrain. The event was co-chaired by Bahrain’s Chief of Asian and Pacific Affairs, Fatima Abdullah Al-Dhaen, and the Secretary-General of the Asian Cooperation Dialogue, Poornchai Danvivathana. On the sidelines, Fatima Abdullah Al-Dhaen held talks with China’s Director General of West Asian and North African Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Wang Di, to discuss regional and international developments, and cooperation between the two countries.
Monday, 24 July–The 1st round of Kuwaiti-Portuguese political consultations was held at Kuwait’s Foreign Affairs Ministry. Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Jarrah Jaber Al-Sabah, and Political Director of the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rui Vinhas, reviewed different aspects of cooperation and ways to enhance them in various fields, as well as regional and international developments.
Tuesday, 25 July–Bahrain’s Deputy Prime Minister, Khalid bin Abdulla Al-Khalifa, met with the CEO of the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), Sultan bin Abdulrahhman Al-Marshad, in Manama. They reviewed bilateral economic cooperation and ways to strengthen it to achieve common goals. During his Bahrain visit, Sultan bin Abdulrahhman Al-Marshad also signed a development agreement with the Acting President of the Arabian Gulf University (AGU), Abdulrahman Yusuf Ismaeel, to finance the medical devices supply project for the academic hospital in Bahrain, worth 173.7 million Saudi riyals (about €41.8 million).
Tuesday, 25 July–United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, went on a 3-day visit to Qatar, Kuwait, and Jordan, to emphasise British partnership with the Gulf countries and Jordan, set to benefit from UK’s new visa travel scheme, announced in June 2023. On his first stop, he met with Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, to discuss regional and international issues, including the Iranian Nuclear Deal, and the Afghan, Syrian and Palestinian situation. In Kuwait, he met with the Crown Prince, Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, and the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Talal Khaled Al-Sabah, to discuss bilateral cooperation developments.
Wednesday, 26 July–The first political consultation session between Oman and Portugal took place in Muscat. The Head of the Omani Foreign Ministry’s Europe Department, Munthir Mahfoudh Al-Manthri, and Director General of Foreign Policy at the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ruy Fenhas, exchanged views on several regional and international issues of common interest.