The Euro-Gulf Monitor
21 - 26 March 2021
Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani
‘Round and About the Gulf
Kingdom of Bahrain
Wednesday, 24 March–Bahrain’s synagogue, the only one in the region, will fully reopen after several decades, hosting the first of its weekly prayer services on Saturday, 27 March. The synagogue, called The House of Ten Commandments, is located in Manama and had only hosted special prayer services in the past years.
State of Kuwait
Thursday, 25 March–The state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) is expected to face a shortfall of almost $20 billion (USD) over the next five years, due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the global energy demand. The company is expected to tackle the deficit through major loans on the international markets.
Sultanate of Oman
Monday, 22 March–Oman’s COVID-19 number of cases keep its authorities alert as the Sultanate renewed its nighttime curfew until 8 April and announced a possible full national lockdown until the end of May. Since the start of the pandemic, the country has counted about 150,000 infections.
Thursday, 25 March—India’s ACME Group signed a $2.5 billion investment deal with Oman Company for Development of Special Economic Zone (Tatweer) to set up a large-scale hydrogen facility, capable of producing 2200 metric tonnes of green ammonia a day, in Duqm.
State of Qatar
Monday, 22 March–Qatar Petroleum (QP) inked a $3 billion (USD) deal with the China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec). The agreement provisions the supply of 2 million tons of liquified natural gas (LNG) per year to China for 10 years.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Monday, 22 March–Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, announced the Kingdom has presented a new peace plan to end the Yemen conflict. The initiative includes an immediate national ceasefire, to be supervised by the United Nations, the reopening of the Sanaa airport and the Hodeidah port on the Red Sea, both controlled by the Houthi militia, and renewed negotiations between the warring sides.
United Arab Emirates
Sunday, 21 March–The UAE launched national strategy for industry and advanced technology, named “Operation 300bn,” which aims to raise the industrial sectors’ contribution to the national GDP from Dh133 billion ($36 billion USD) to Dh300 billion ($81.6 billion) by 2031. The initiative will focus on Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) solutions and future industries, and will support about 13,500 industrial small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Sunday, 21 March–The Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund, Mubadala Investment Company, signed a $1.1 billion (USD) deal with the United Kingdom’s Office for Investment in the fields of life sciences and healthcare. The agreement aims to enhance bilateral trade and investment in the future life science and healthcare companies in the UK.
The EU Corner
Monday, 22 March–The EU welcomed Saudi Arabia’s latest ceasefire proposal to resolve the Yemeni war, and praised the efforts of the UN, the US and Oman to reach an inclusive political agreement to end the crisis.
Wednesday, 24 March–The Head of the Saudi Mission to the EU, Saad Mohammed Alarify, organised a working lunch with the Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs of the EU, Enrique Mora, and the Ambassadors of the GCC countries, to discuss regional developments and boosting EU-GCC cooperation.
Thursday, 25 March—The EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borell, and the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, held talks about the EU-US cooperation and the latest developments regarding Iran and the JCPOA, Afghanistan and other areas in Brussels.
Thursday, 25 March–The Head of the EU Delegation to Saudi Arabia, Patrick Simonnet, met with the CEO of Saudi Aramco, Amin Hassan Nasser, in Dhahran, to discuss the opportunities and the challenges of the energy transition.
Thursday, 25 March–Kuwait and Luxembourg signed two agreements to boost bilateral relations and trade. Kuwait’s Ambassador to Brussels, Jasem Al-Budaiwi, signed an air services agreement with Luxembourg’s Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and a double taxation avoidance protocol with Luxembourg’s Ministry of Finance.
Key Official Visits
Sunday, 21 March–Egypt’s Assistant Foreign Minister for Arab Affairs, Yasser Othma, visited Manama, meeting with Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani. The discussion covered Bahraini-Egyptian relations and coordination in tackling regional issues.
Sunday, 21 March–Syria's Foreign Minister, Faisal Mekdad, met with Oman’s Foreign Minister, Badr Al-Busaidi, in Muscat. They discussed bilateral ties and signed a deal related to issuing visas to holders of diplomatic, special and service passports between the two countries.
Wednesday, 24 March–China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, and Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, in NEOM. They discussed bilateral cooperation in the fields of 5G, artificial intelligence, data security and trade, as well as projects related to the Chinese Belt & Road Initiative. They also discussed developments in Syria, Yemen and the Iranian nuclear issue. The Chinese Minister will tour the region, visiting Bahrain, Oman, the UAE, Turkey and Iran, until 30 March.
Wednesday, 24 March–Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohamed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, visited Baghdad, where he met with Iraq’s Prime Minister, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi. They reviewed bilateral cooperation and Qatar’s Minister called for a national dialogue between the various Iraqi political forces. During his visit, the Qatari Minister also visited Erbil, meeting with the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Masoud Barzani.
Wednesday, 24 March–Tunisia’s Minister of Economy, Finance and Investment Support, Ali Kooli, met with Qatar’s Prime Minister, Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al-Thani, to discuss economic and financial cooperation on the occasion of the Qatari-Tunisian Business Forum hosted in Doha. The Qatar Chamber and the Tunisian Union of Industry and Commerce agreed to establish a joint business council.