The Euro-Gulf Monitor
22 - 28 April 2022
Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani
5 Top Points
Leaders of Egypt, Jordan and the UAE held a trilateral summit in Cairo.
Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, travelled to Saudi Arabia.
The EU Commission proposed lifting visa requirements for Qatari and Kuwaiti nationals.
Oman announced investment opportunities worth €3.6 billion (EUR).
Bahrain granted the license to operate satellite and internet services to SpaceX’s Starlink.
‘Round and About the Gulf
Kingdom of Bahrain
Wednesday, 27 April–Bahrain’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), granted the US space company, SpaceX, the license to operate satellite and internet services in the Kingdom through its ‘Starlink’ satellite constellation. Bahrain is the first GCC country to award a license to Starlink, and the move is part of Manama’s efforts to improve the country’s digitalisation process.
State of Kuwait
Wednesday, 27 April–Kuwait approved the funding of the South Saad Al-Adbullah Smart City housing units’ project worth over €6.4 billion (EUR). Kuwait’s Minister of Finance, Abdulwahab Al-Rushaid, announced that 30,000 residential units will be built as Kuwait aims to host over 400,000 people in its first Smart City.
Sultanate of Oman
Tuesday, 26 April–Oman’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion announced eighteen investment opportunities worth over €3.6 billion (EUR) in the sectors of tourism, circular economy and environmental solutions that will be developed in the next twenty years.
Wednesday, 27 April–The Oman Investment Authority (OIA) announced it will split the Sultanate’s sovereign wealth fund into two units—the National Development Portfolio and the Generation Portfolio, which will manage the country’s local and foreign assets respectively. In 2020, Muscat had combined its two wealth funds into a single entity, which managed assets valued up to €16 billion (EUR) at the time.
State of Qatar
Tuesday, 26 April–The state-owned energy giant, QatarEnergy, is reportedly assessing an expansion of its liquefied natural gas (LNG) capacity, in light of the rising LNG demands by the US and European partners following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The firm is evaluating the addition of one gas-liquefaction plant to its €28.5 billion (EUR) worth North Field Expansion Project, which aims to increase Doha’s LNG output by 40% by 2026. Qatar is also expected to ink a LNG purchase deal with Iraq in May 2022 amid Baghdad’s efforts to reduce its energy reliance on Iran.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Tuesday, 26 April–Saudi Arabia signed an agreement with the US-based electric vehicle manufacturer, Lucid Motors, for the purchase of up to one-hundred thousand vehicles over the next ten years. The agreement is part of Riyadh’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and expand its sustainability strategies in line with its Vision 2030 and the Middle East Green Initiative.
Wednesday, 27 April–Riyadh kicked off the first phase of its cloud-seeding programme, which aims to increase rainfalls in the Kingdom. The move, which will use meteorological techniques to stimulate rainfalls over the regions of Riyadh, Qassim and Hail, was announced by the Saudi Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture, Abdulrahman Al-Fadhli. The cloud-seeding programme is part of the country’s Middle East Green Initiative, launched in October 2021 by the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud.
United Arab Emirates
Tuesday, 26 April–The Abu Dhabi Chemicals Derivatives Company (Taziz) signed a deal with Indian petrochemicals giant, Reliance Industries, for establishing a €1.8 billion (EUR) worth joint venture named ‘Taziz EDC &PVC’. The agreement includes the establishment of a petrochemical production facility at the Taziz industrial complex in Ruwais. The move came two months after the UAE and India signed a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) aiming to increase trade and economic cooperation.
The EU Corner
Sunday, 24 April—The Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Saudi Arabia, Patrick Simonnet, and the Lebanese Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Fawzi Kabbara, met in Riyadh to discuss regional challenges and ways to address them.
Tuesday, 26 April—The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Hissein Brahim Taha, and the Head of the EU Delegation to Saudi Arabia, Patrick Simonnet, held an official meeting in Jeddah. They explored ways to boost OIC-EU cooperation in several fields, and discussed regional and international dossiers, including Ukraine, Palestine, Syria, Afghanistan, Chad, the Sahel region, as well as transnational issues connected to Islamophobia and hate crimes. Ambassador Simonnet also met with the Vice President of the Islamic Development Bank, Mansur Muhtar, to discuss opportunities in the field of digitalisation and environmental protection.
Wednesday, 27 April—The European Commission proposed the lifting of visa requirements for citizens of Kuwait and Qatar entering Europe for up to 90 days. The proposal aims to strengthen EU-Arab Gulf business, social and cultural ties. If the European Parliament and the Council approve it, the EU will seek to negotiate reciprocal visa waiver agreements with the two Gulf countries.
Key Official Visits
Saturday, 23 April–Saudi Arabia and Iran held the fifth round of talks in Baghdad. The talks were attended by Saudi Arabia’s Intelligence Chief, Khalid bin Ali Al-Humaidan, and Iranian Deputy Secretary of Tehran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), Saeed Iravani, with discussions covering regional tensions and developments in Yemen.
Saturday, 23 April–Qatar attended a US-hosted meeting at the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany, which gathered officials from 43 countries to discuss the Ukrainian conflict and boosting Ukraine’s defence capabilities. The event was chaired by the US Defence Secretary, Lloyd Austin, and included officials from 14 non-NATO countries, including Israel, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. During the summit, participants pledged defence and diplomatic support to Ukraine, while also agreeing to meet monthly to discuss developments in the conflict.
Sunday, 24 April–Leaders of Egypt, Jordan and the UAE held a trilateral summit in Cairo, discussing Israeli-Palestinian tensions, the Ukrainian crisis and Arab cooperation. The summit gathered Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. The leaders highlighted the urgency of reaching a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian issue, Arab cooperation in food and energy security, as well as developments in the Ukrainian conflict.
Thursday, 25 April–The Head of Chad’s Transitional Military Council, Mahamad Idriss Deby, visited Jeddah, where he was received by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud. They discussed Saudi-Chadian ties and prospects of peace in the African country.
Wednesday, 27 April–The Head of Yemen’s Presidential Council, Rashad Al-Alimi, travelled to Jeddah, where he was received by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud. The talks focused on opportunities to find a peaceful solution to the Yemen crisis, the recent establishment of the eight-member Presidential Council as well as the UN-brokered two-month truce.
Thursday, 28 April–Pakistan’s recently elected Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif, kicked off a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia to discuss Pakistani-Saudi ties, notably in economy, trade and investment, as well collaboration on international and regional issues.
Thursday, 28 April–Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, travelled to Saudi Arabia for talks with the Kingdom’s leadership. The Saudi-Turkish diplomatic rapprochement, bilateral ties in economy, trade and investments, as well as regional security are expected to be at the top of the agenda.