The Euro-Gulf Monitor

23 - 29 April 2021

by

Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani

5 Top Points

  1. Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Petroleum plans to buy a share in the Tamar natural gas field in the Eastern Mediterranean from Israel’s Delek Drilling for $1.1 billion.

  2. Saudi Arabia will form a Net-Zero Producers Forum with Canada, Norway, Qatar and the US to develop net zero emission strategies.

  3. Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, toured Qatar, Iraq and Oman, discussing regional stability and Yemen.

  4. Kuwait suspended Parliamentary activities until the end of Ramadan.

  5. The JCPOA Commission resumed talks in Vienna.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Kingdom of Bahrain

Friday, 23 April–Israel and Bahrain agreed to mutually recognise their digital COVID-19 vaccination and green passports to allow quarantine-free travel between the two countries. The provision currently applies to people vaccinated with a vaccine that is recognised by the other country but is planned to be expanded also to vaccines that are not currently recognised by one of the two countries.

 

Thursday, 29 April—Over 60 percent of Bahrain’s adult population received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 47 percent got both doses. The Kingdom aims to increase the portion of fully vaccinated adult population to 60 percent by the end of May.

State of Kuwait

Tuesday, 27 April–Kuwait’s National Assembly Speaker, Marzouq Al-Ghanim, suspended Parliamentary activities until the end of Ramadan amid renewed clashes between the government and the opposition. The move came as several opposition parliamentarians occupied the Ministers’ seats in the Assembly to protest the postponement of the Prime Minister’s questioning until 2022, prompting the government to boycott the session.

Sultanate of Oman

Wednesday, 28 April–Oman’s state-owned oil company, OQ SAOC, announced it will issue bonds to fund its five-year spending plan worth $7.9 billion (USD) as it aims to diminish reliance on state funding in light of the pandemic’s negative economic impact. The company’s first issuance of bonds aims to raise at least $500 million (USD).

State of Qatar

Thursday, 29 April–Qatar aims to boost its fish farming sector as climate change effects and overfishing are expected to lead to decrease fish reserves in the country’s waters by almost one-third by 2100. Samkna fish farm plans to expand its production to 4,000 tonnes per year as it seeks to be able to cover 60 percent of Qatar’s local fish demand in five years.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Monday, 26 April–Saudi Arabia agreed to establish a Net-Zero Producers Forum, along with  Canada, Norway, Qatar and the United States. The Forum will focus on lowering emissions through the implementation of the Paris Agreement. To do so, the Kingdom highlighted its plans to adopt a circular carbon economy approach, increasing the use of gas and renewable energies.

 

Tuesday, 27 April–Saudi Arabia intercepted a remote-controlled, explosive-laden boat near Yanbu port in the Red Sea, which is important for the Kingdom’s energy exports.

United Arab Emirates

Monday, 26 April–The Israeli Delek Drilling group inked a $1.1 billion (USD) non-binding agreement with Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Petroleum, provisioning the sale of 22 percent of the Israeli group’s stake in the Eastern Mediterranean natural gas field, Tamar, to the UAE. The two arrangement should be finalised by 31 May 2021 and would become the largest UAE-Israel commercial deal.

The EU Corner

Sunday, 25 April‒The Head of the EU Delegation to Kuwait, Cristian Tudor, held a meeting with Kuwait’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Majdi Al-Dhafiri, to boost EU-Kuwaiti cooperation on regional issues. The Ambassador also visited the American University of Kuwait (AUK), where he met with its President to discuss collaboration in the academic field and ways to increase international academic exchanges.

 

Sunday, 25 April‒On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the announcement of Saudi Vision 2030, the Head of the EU Delegation to Saudi Arabia, Patrick Simonnet, congratulated the Kingdom for its efforts and economic achievements.

 

Tuesday, 27 April‒The Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), chaired by the Deputy Secretary General and Political Director of the European External Action Service, Enrique Mora, resumed its work in Vienna. Representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran discussed the implementation of the JCPOA and the possibility for the United States to re-join the accord.

Key Official Visits

Sunday, 25 April–Italy’s Foreign Minister, Luigi Di Maio, met with his UAE counterpart, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, in Abu Dhabi. They discussed the Italian-Emirati cooperation, particularly in tackling the pandemic, and Italy’s presence at the upcoming Expo 2020 Dubai.

 

Monday, 26 April–Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, toured Qatar, Iraq and Oman. In Doha, Minister Zarif met with Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. They discussed cooperation in trade, economy and investment. In Baghdad, Zarif met with Iraq’s President, Barham Salih, discussing regional stability. In Muscat, Iran’s Minister held separate meetings with his Omani counterpart, Badr Hamad Al-Busaidi, and with the Houthis’ Spokesman, Mohammed Abdul Salam.

 

Monday, 26 April–Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, met in Doha with Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and delivered him a letter with a formal invitation to visit Saudi Arabia from King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud. They also discussed the work of the Saudi-Qatar Coordination Council and bilateral cooperation in promoting regional stability. Two days later, Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, endorsed the call of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince to promote foreign policy based on non-interference in states’ domestic affairs, respecting their sovereignty and promoting regional dialogue, including with Iran.