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The Euro-Gulf Monitor

23 - 29 February 2024

by Elen'Alba Vitiello

5 Top Points

  1. Ukraine’s President and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince discussed peace prospects and a prisoners’ release deal between Ukraine and Russia in Riyadh.  

  2. Qatar’s Emir vowed to invest €10 billion in French economy by 2030 during a meeting with France’s President in Paris.

  3. The European Commissioner for Trade held talks with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Commerce, UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Trade and GCC’s Secretary General in Geneva.

  4. The EU and Bahrain discussed the establishment of the European Chamber of Commerce in Bahrain.

  5. Oman and Iran held the 10th Strategic Consultations Committee meeting in Tehran.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Kingdom of Bahrain 

Monday, 26 February–During the event organised by the Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee and the State of Palestine, held in Geneva, Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdullatif bin Rashi Al-Zayani, affirmed that the two-state solution was the only solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and for achieving peace in the region, highlighting thealignment with the Arab Peace Initiative.

Tuesday, 27 February-Bahrain's King, Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, issued a decree appointing Essam Abdulaziz Al-Jassim as Bahrain's Ambassador Plenipotentiary to France, and Osama Abdulla Al-Absi as Bahrain’s Ambassador Plenipotentiary to Italy.

State of Kuwait

Tuesday, 27 February–Kuwait’s Cabinet approved a draft decree to hold the National Assembly (parliament) election on 4 April, which has been communicated to the Emir, Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah. This comes after the dissolution of the parliament by the Emir on 15 February.

Sultanate of Oman

Tuesday, 27 February–The 10th Strategic Consultations Committee between Oman and Iran was held in Tehran. Chaired by Oman’s Undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry for Political Affairs, Khalifa Ali Al-Harthy, and Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs, Ali Bagheri, the Committee focused on boosting economic, cultural, and maritime security cooperation, and encouraged investment exchange. They also mentioned a set of regional and international issues of common interest, and reiterated their call to the international community to stop the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.

 

State of Qatar

Sunday, 25 February—Qatar's Minister of Energy and President of QatarEnergy, Saad bin Sherida Al-Kaabi, announced a new expansion of QatarEnergy's Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) production by further 16 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) to increase Qatar’s total production capacity from the current 77 mtpa to 142 mtpa by 2030. Qatar is among the world's top exporters of LNG.

Monday, 26 February–During the Web Summit in Doha, the first one held in the Middle East, Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, announced that the Qatar Investment Authority will invest $1 billion (about €923 million) in international and regional venture capital funds. Qatar’s Minister underlined the significance of the event for technological advancements. The event welcomed technology majors, such as Amazon, Meta, Shell, Huawei, Snapchat, and TikTok, alongside 12,000 participants and investors

 

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Friday, 23 February–Saudi Arabia’s President of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al-Duailej, and China’s Administrator of the Civil Aviation Administration, Song Zhiyong, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Beijing to bolster air traffic and develop cooperative frameworks in transportation and air freight. This aligns with Saudi Vision 2030 and the Saudi Aviation Strategy goals, aiming to boost trade exchange and stimulate economic growth between the two countries.

 

Wednesday, 28 February–Saudi Arabia’s Justice Minister, Walid bin Mohammed Al-Samaani, and Belarus’ Minister of Justice, Sergei Khomenkho, signed a comprehensive road map for collaboration towards strengthening legal and judicial ties, in Belarus. The road map aims at enhancing judicial collaboration and facilitating exchange of expertise.

United Arab Emirates

Monday, 26 February–Abu Dhabi hosted the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The four-day event brought together ministers and senior officials, representing 175 states, private sector leaders, NGOs, and civil society representatives, to discuss international trade rules and regulations.

EU Corner

Tuesday, 27 February–On the margins of the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the European Commissioner for Trade, Valdis Dombrovskis, met with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Commerce, Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi, UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Thani bin Ahmed Al-Zeyoudi, and GCC’s Secretary General, Jasem Mohamed Albudaiwi, with whom he discussed trade-related priorities and explored ways to deepen EU-GCC trade cooperation. 

Wednesday, 28 February–Bahrain’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) and the EU-GCC Dialogue on Economic Diversification hosted an event on establishing the European Chamber of Commerce in Bahrain, aiming at strengthening EU-Bahrain trade and investment ties.

Wednesday, 28 February–The EU Ambassador to the Kingdom of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the Sultanate of Oman, Christophe Farnaud, met with Oman’s Minister of Energy and Minerals, Salim bin Nasir Al-Aufi, in Oman to discuss green hydrogen projects and potential for further EU-Oman collaboration in the renewable energy sector.

Key Official Visits

Friday, 23 February–On the margins of the G20 Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, met with the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Stéphane Séjourné, to explore ways to enhance bilateral relations, and to discuss regional and international issues of mutual concern, with a particular focus on the developments in the Gaza Strip and its surroundings.

Saturday, 24 February–UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, received Denmark’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, in Abu Dhabi. During the visit, the two sides reviewed prospects of enhancing cooperation, including in economy, commerce, investment, and renewable energy. They also discussed the current developments in the Middle East region, and particularly in the Gaza Strip, and the security and humanitarian implications.

Sunday, 25 February—Saudi Arabia's Minister of Economy and Planning, Faisal bin Fadhil Alibrahim, met with the Austrian Federal Minister for the EU and Constitution, Karoline Edtstadler, in Riyadh. During the meeting, the two sides discussed bilateral relations and ways to strengthen economic cooperation, as well as the recent developments in the Middle East.

 

Monday, 26 February–On the margins of the 55th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, held in Geneva, Qatar’s Minister of State for International Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lolwah bint Rashid Al-Khater, met with the Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, Riad Al-Maliki, to discuss the latest developments in the Gaza Strip and its surroundings and the international efforts to reach a ceasefire and address the humanitarian situation. On the occasion, Al-Khater also held separate talks with Ireland’s Minister of State for European Affairs and Defence, Peter Burke, and the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hanke Bruins, regarding bilateral cooperation, especially in the humanitarian and development fields in Gaza and Sudan.

Monday, 26 February–Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, held talks with Russia’s Chairman of the State Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, in Riyadh. The officials discussed bilateral relations and aspects of parliamentary cooperation, as well as reviewed issues of common interest.

Monday, 26 February–UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, received Malta’s Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade, in Abu Dhabi. During the meeting, they reviewed the UAE-Malta ties and discussed opportunities to strengthen them in all fields.

Monday, 26 February—Chaired by Qatar's Minister of State for Interior Affairs, Abdulaziz bin Faisal Al-Thani, the 41st session of the Arab Interior Ministers took place in Tunisia. The session discussed several topics related to strengthening security cooperation among Arab countries, including a draft of the 11th Arab security plan, the 9th Arab media plan for security awareness and crime prevention, and the 8th phased plan for the Arab strategy for traffic safety. All GCC countries attended the meeting.

Tuesday, 27 February–Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, went on an official two-day visit to Paris, and held talks with France’s President, Emmanuel Macron. Qatar announced it will invest €10 billion in the French economy by 2030, aimed at strengthening Qatar-France strategic partnership in the defence, security, investment and economic sectors. Both sides also discussed efforts to achieve a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, release French hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, and called for the opening of all crossings to allow humanitarian relief to the Gaza Strip. They also discussed the situation in Lebanon.

Tuesday, 27 February–Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, went on an official visit to Riyadh, where he met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, to discuss the peace plan to end the Ukraine-Russian crisis and a possible deal to secure the release of Ukrainian prisoners from Russia. During the talks, Mohammed bin Salman stressed the Kingdom’s support for all international efforts aimed at resolving the crisis and alleviating humanitarian suffering. Moreover, he reportedly proposed to hold a Ukrainian-Russian summit in Riyadh. Finally, they discussed Saudi-Ukrainian economic cooperation and Saudi Arabia's involvement in Ukraine's reconstruction. 

Wednesday, 28 February-United Kingdom's Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, Michelle Donelan, went on a two-day visit to the UAE, aiming to strengthen bilateral Artificial Intelligence (AI) cooperation. During her visit, she met with academics, businesses and government representatives to understand the UAE's approach to AI. She also met with UAE's Minister of State for AI, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, Omar bin Sultan Al-Olama, one of the world's first government ministers appointed to deal with AI.

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