The Euro-Gulf Monitor
22- 27 November 2020
Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani
‘Round and About the Gulf
Kingdom of Bahrain
Thursday, 26 November–Two Bahraini Coast Guard vessels were intercepted and blocked by the Qatari Coast and Border Security patrol during the Kingdom’s maritime exercise “Al-Manaa” after they reportedly entered Qatar’s waters due to technical issues. The ships were later released. Bahrain’s Government denounced Qatar’s action as a violation of international law and GCC agreements.
State of Kuwait
Monday, 23 November–The United Kingdom and Kuwait held the 16th session of their Joint Steering Group, co-chaired by Kuwait's Deputy Foreign Minister, Khaled Al-Jarallah, and British Minister for Middle East and North Africa, James Cleverly. They assessed furthering cooperation in economy, defence, security, investment, culture, healthcare and cybersecurity.
Sultanate of Oman
Wednesday, 25 November–Oman and China discussed cooperation in economy, trade and Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects in the Sultanate. The 9th Oman-China Joint Committee session was held to promote incentives in bilateral projects, particularly regarding the Chinese BRI and in the fields of manufacturing, energy and mining.
State of Qatar
Thursday, 26 November–Qatar signed agreements worth billions with Turkey, including in industry, investment, trade, water resources and military, as Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met for the 6th Qatar-Turkey Supreme Strategic Committee session in Ankara. Qatar bought, for example, a luxury mall Istinye Park in Istanbul, a 10% stake in Turkey's stock exchange, Borsa Istanbul, and acquired shares of the Middle East Antalya Port Operators from Turkey's Global Ports via Qatar's Terminals W.L.L.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Saturday, 21 November–Saudi Arabia chaired the two-day G20 virtual Summit. Leaders of the 20 largest economies discussed and approved several initiatives regarding global distribution mechanisms of the COVID-19 vaccines, curbing economic recession, enhancing human rights and tackling climate change, among other issues. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, lauded the G20’s economic measures to tackle the pandemic, the $21 billion (USD) support for vaccines and medical material and the G20 Action Plan, which included an $11 trillion (USD) injection into the global economy.
United Arab Emirates
Sunday, 22 November–The UAE’s Supreme Petroleum Council (SPC) announced the discovery of an estimated 22 billion stock tank barrels of unconventional oil resources and 2 billion barrels of conventional oil reserves in Abu Dhabi. The SPC also approved the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company’s (ADNOC) $122 billion (USD) capital expenditure plan for 2021-2025, which aims to bring $43 billion (USD) into the UAE’s economy within the 4 years.
The EU Corner
Saturday, 21 November—President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen participated in the virtual G20 Summit, hosted by Saudi Arabia. The G20 leaders signed the Riyadh Declaration to tackle common challenges, most notably COVID-19, stressing the importance of granting vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics to all countries. Other issues discussed included climate change, debt relief, trade and taxation of the digital economy.
Tuesday, 24 November—The Head of the EU Delegation to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman, Patrick Simonnet, condemned the Houthi missile attack on Saudi Aramco’s oil distribution station in Jeddah. On Monday the Ambassador met the Governor of Jeddah, Prince Mishaal bin Majid bin Abdulaziz, and the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Yousef Al-Othaimeen. They reviewed cooperation in countering extremism and radicalisation, as well as in promoting peaceful relations among different nations.
Wednesday, 25 November—The EU countries’ Ambassadors to Saudi Arabia and the Head of the EU Delegation to the Kingdom, Patrick Simonnet, held a meeting with the Kingdom’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Adel Al-Jubeir, in Riyadh, discussing regional and international challenges.
Key Official Visits
Saturday, 21 November–The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, toured Qatar and Saudi Arabia. In Doha, Secretary Pompeo discussed the Gulf crisis and developments in Lebanon and Iraq with his Qatari counterpart, Mohamed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, and Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and he also met with the Taliban and Afghan government representatives. The following day, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, and the US Secretary met in NEOM to discuss cooperation in counter-terrorism, Iran and the US-Saudi trade relationship. Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Chief of Mossad, Yossi Cohen, also reportedly attended the meeting in NEOM.
Tuesday, 24 November–Kuwaiti Foreign Minister and Acting Information Minister, Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah, met in Washington with US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, within the framework of the 4th US-Kuwait Strategic Dialogue. They discussed bilateral cooperation opportunities and regional developments.
Wednesday, 25 November–Bahrain's Industry Minister, Zayed bin Rashid Al-Zayani, met in Manama with Israel’s Export & International Cooperation Institute Chairman, Adiv Baruch, and the CEO of Israel’s largest bank Hapoalim, Dov Kotler. The meetings came within the framework of a broader Israeli trade delegation to the Kingdom, which included the CEO of the Harel Group, the largest insurance group in Israel, Michel Siboni, and Founder of Viola FinTech Fund, Daniel Tsiddon.
Wednesday, 25 November–Bahrain’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, and India’s External Affairs Minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, discussed bilateral cooperation opportunities in Manama.