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The Euro-Gulf Monitor

22 - 28 December 2023

by Elen'Alba Vitiello

5 Top Points

  1. The GCC and South Korea signed a Free Trade Agreement.

  2. Saudi Arabia and Türkiye discussed military and defence cooperation.

  3. Qatar and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement to facilitate cross border travel.

  4. UAE’s AD Ports Group signed a concession agreement with Egypt’s Red Sea Ports Authority.

  5. Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Defence met with the UK's Prime Minister and Minister of Defence in London.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Kingdom of Bahrain 

Monday, 25 December–Bahrain’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased by 2.45% in the third quarter of 2023, compared to the same period in 2022, according to the Information and eGovernment Authority. The report indicated that the growth is due to the increase in the non-oil sector, which included the Financial Corporations, the manufacturing industry, and the hotel and restaurant activity. 

State of Kuwait

Tuesday, 26 December–Kuwait’s new Emir, Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, held customary talks with current and former National Assembly Speakers and Ministers, in view of appointing Kuwait’s new Prime Minister to form a new Cabinet. The Emir will decide whether to reappoint Ahmad Al-Nawaf Al-Sabah, who resigned on 20 December, or name a newPrime Minister.

 

Sultanate of Oman

Wednesday, 27 December–Oman's Nama Water Services Company signed an agreement with Target LLC, a leading contractor in the sultanate, to implement works over a 15 square kilometre area related to water supply within the Sultan Haitham City. This will boast 20,000 residential units along with key modern lifestyle amenities, as well as green space. The project aims to achieve the goals of activating basic services and service projects, and to implement smart cities projects.

 

State of Qatar

Thursday, 28 December—The national flag carrier Qatar Airways will expand its network of connections to Europe in 2024—resuming flights to Venice, Italy from June and inaugurating flights to Hamburg, Germany in July 2024.

 

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Friday, 23 December—Saudi Arabia’s government welcomed the statement issued by Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, regarding reaching a roadmap for peace in the country as the Iran-backed Houthis and the internationally recognised Yemeni government agreed on a set of measures to implement a nation-wide ceasefire, improve living conditions in Yemen, and engage in preparations for the resumption of an inclusive political process under UN auspices.

 

Wednesday, 27 December—Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, delivered the annual royal speech to inaugurate the work of the fourth year of the eighth session of the Shura Councilon behalf of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud for the first time, in which he outlined the Kingdom’s achievements and plans domestically and internationally.

United Arab Emirates

Wednesday, 27 December–UAE’s AD Ports Group signed a $200 million (about €180.1 million) concession agreement with Egypt’s Red Sea Ports Authority to develop over the next three years a multi-purpose terminal at Safaga Sea Port, the first internationally operated port serving the Upper Egypt region. The project is expected to bring substantial economic impact, with cost savings and efficiency improvements to traders and businesses in the region.

 

EU Corner

Friday, 22 December–The European Union (EU) High Representative, Josep Borrell, and EU Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, issued a joint statement on the risk of famine in Gaza in the context of the Israel-Hamas war. For 2024, the EU has set aside €125 million in humanitarian support, through its humanitarian food assistance, to ensure continued support for people in Palestine.

Key Official Visits

Friday, 22 December–Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, met with Jordan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, Ayman Al-Safadi, in Doha. The two sides discussed the latest developments in the Israel-Hamas war, in addition to prospects for de-escalation and ceasefire in Gaza.

Friday, 22 December–During his visit to London, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Defence, Khalid bin Salman Al-Saud, met with UK’s Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, and with his British counterpart, Grant Shapps. They reviewed the Saudi-Britishstrategic partnership and explored prospects for enhancing bilateral military and defence cooperation.

Sunday, 24 December–Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, met with Abu Dhabi’s Deputy Ruler and UAE National Security Advisor, Tahnoun bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, in Doha. They discussed bilateral cooperation and several regional and international issues of common interest.

 

Sunday 24 December—Bahrain’s Ambassador of Bahrain to the United States, Abdullah bin Rashid Al-Khalifa, participated in the third National Space Council Meeting, chaired by the US Vice President, Kamala Harris. The meeting discussed expanding and strengthening the 33-member Artemis Accords coalition aiming to support sustainable and safe exploration of space.

 

Monday, 25 December–Qatar’s Chamber (QC) board member, Nasser bin Sulaiman Al-Haider, met with Iranian Deputy Advisor for Economic Affairs, Ahmed Akhondi, in the Iranian Yazd Province. During the meeting, they addressed bilateral cooperation to enhance ties between the private sectors of Qatar and Yazd Province. Nasser bin Sulaiman Al-Haider also expressed the interest of Qatari businessmen in learning about the investment opportunities in Yazd.

 

Monday, 25 December–Qatar’s Minister of Interior and Commander of the Internal Security Force, Khalifa bin Hamad Al-Thani, met with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Interior, Abdulaziz bin Saud Al-Saud, in Riyadh. They discussed a range of topics of common interest, including bilateral security cooperation. Following the meeting, the two sides signed anaction plan for facilitating traveller’s procedures and exchanging and vetting the data of the Salwa-Qatar port, the land border crossing between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. 

Monday, 25 December–The Saudi-Japanese Vision 2030 held its seventh ministerial meeting in Riyadh to strengthen the strategic partnership in various sectors. The meeting was co-chaired by Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Investment, Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al-Falih, Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Ken Saito, and Japan’s Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister, Yoichi Fukazawa. The agenda included a review of the work of various subcommittees of the Saudi-Japanese Vision 2030 body, which was set up in 2016. They also agreed to set up several initiatives for mutual economic progress.

Wednesday, 27 December–A meeting of the joint technical team between Qatar and the UAE was held in Abu Dhabi to enhance joint police work. The Qatari delegation was headed by the Assistant Director of the Licensing Affairs Department at the General Traffic Department, Lieutenant Colonel Ali Hassan Al-Kaabi, and the UAE’s delegation was led by the head of the technical team for joint security projects, Brigadier Abdulaziz Abdullah Al-Ahmad.

Wednesday, 27 December–Saudi Arabia’s Chief of General Staff, Fayyadh bin Hamed Al-Ruwaili, visited Türkiye and met with his Turkish counterpart, General Metin Gurak, and Türkiye’s Minister of National Defence, Yaşar Güler, among others. The talks explored ways to enhance and develop defence and military cooperation.

 

Thursday, 28 December—The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) signed a Free Trade Agreement with South Korea, the second trade deal this year after Pakistan. The agreement was signed between GCC Secretary General, Jasem Mohamed Albudaiwi, and South Korea’s Trade Minister, Ahn Duk-geun, in Seoul.

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