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The Euro-Gulf Monitor

24 - 30 November 2023

by Elen'Alba Vitiello

5 Top Points

  1. The German President went on an official visit to Oman and Qatar.

  2. Qatar contributed to negotiating a two-day ceasefire extension between Israel and Hamas.

  3. Riyadh won the bid to host the World Expo 2030.

  4. The UN COP28 started in Dubai.

  5. The EU and Jordan co-chaired the 8th Union for the Mediterranean Regional Forum in Barcelona.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Kingdom of Bahrain 

Friday, 24 November–The first Bahraini-Egyptian Governmental Committee for Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation meeting was held in Cairo, co-chaired by Bahrain’s Minister of Finance and National Economy, Salman bin Khalifa Al-Khalifa, and his Egyptian counterpart, Mohammed Maait. They agreed on 15 cooperation initiatives and signed 13 Memoranda of Understanding to broaden bilateral trade cooperation by eliminating all obstacles restricting access to markets in the respective countries.

 

State of Kuwait

Sunday, 26 November–Kuwait’s Army led the joint GCC military drill, ‘Integration Ex I’, in Kuwait. The exercise, which will run until 7 December 2023 and is based on the resolutions of the 20th meeting of the GCC Joint Defence Council that took place on 21 November 2023, aimed at achieving more integration and cooperation between the GCC military forces. The Joint Peninsula Shield Force and all GCC forces participated in the military drill. 

 

Sultanate of Oman

Friday, 24 November—Oman LNG signed a nine-year sale and purchase agreement to deliver 1 million metric tonnes per annum of liquified natural gas (LNG) to global energy giant BP starting from 2026.

 

Tuesday, 28 November–The first Omani humanitarian relief aid consisting of five planes loaded with food supplies arrived in the Gaza Strip. Other humanitarian batches will follow.

 

State of Qatar

Monday, 27 November–Qatar helped mediate an agreement between Israel and Hamas to extend the humanitarian pause in Gaza for two additional days.

 

Monday, 27 November–Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, inaugurated the third Strategic Plan for Financial Sector Regulation, launched by the Qatar Central Bank (QCB). It will support the governance and regulatory oversight of financial sectors, the enhancement of the Islamic finance role, digital innovations and advanced technology, environmental, social and institutional governance, sustainability, and talent, as well as providing a roadmap to identify opportunities.

 

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Tuesday, 28 November–Riyadh won the bid to host the World Expo 2030, securing the necessary two-thirds majority of votes in the first round against South Korea’s Busan and Italy’s Rome. It will be the second time that the event will be hosted in the Middle East after Dubai. The Expo, held under the theme ‘The Era of Change: Together for a Foresighted Tomorrow’, will focus on sustainable development goals and solutions. Saudi Arabia allocated $7.8 billion (about €7 billion) to preparations for the event, which will run between 1 October 2030 and 31 March 2031.

United Arab Emirates

Thursday, 30 November–The 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) commenced in Dubai and is set to run until 12 December 2023. It will provide a platform for governments and international organisations to negotiate goals to fight climate change. COP28 is headed by Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber, UAE’s Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology,  the UAE’s Special Envoy for Climate Change, Head of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, and Chairman of the state-owned renewable energy company, Masdar.

 

 

EU Corner

Friday, 24 November–Oman’s Ambassador to Belgium and Head of the EU Mission, Rua Al-Zadjali, met with the EU Special Representative to the Gulf region, Luigi Di Maio, in Brussels to discuss the current developments in the region and ways to enhance the EU-Oman relations.

 

Monday, 27 November–The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, and Jordan’s Foreign Minister, Ayman Safadi, co-chaired the 8th Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Regional Forum, in Barcelona, which aimed to discuss the Israel-Hamas war and to come up with a roadmap for the future of the Gaza Strip and Palestine. Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, participated to present the conclusions of the Arab-Islamic Summit that took place in Riyadh on 11 November 2023. Participants included the UfM 43 members, such as Belgium, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Lebanon, Morocco, Turkey, Tunisia, as well as the Palestinian Authority. Israel did not attend the meeting, claiming that the agenda of the meeting had been altered without consultation.

 

Wednesday, 29 November–The third Saudi-EU Human Rights Dialogue took place in Brussels, headed by Saudi Arabia's President of the Human Rights Commission, Hala bint Mazyad Al-Tuwaijri, and the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Eamon Gimore. They discussed joint cooperation and issues related to Human Rights, Muslim minorities, hate speech, trafficking of persons, racial discrimination, and the Gaza situation.

Key Official Visits

Friday, 24 November–Oman’s Crown Prince, Theyazin bin Haitham Al-Said, met with the United Kingdom’s Prince William of Wales in London. They discussed bilateral cooperation and means of promoting it in different areas to serve joint interests.

Friday, 24 November–Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Defence, Khalid bin Salman Al-Saud, held a phone call with UK’s Secretary of State for Defence, Grant Shapps, to discuss their strategic defence partnership and ways to strengthen and develop it in areas of joint cooperation. They also reviewed the latest developments related to the situation in Gaza.

Sunday, 26 November–Norway’s State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Andreas Motzfeldt Kravik, and his accompanying delegation, travelled to Muscat, Oman. They visited Oman’s National Defence College (NDC) at the Academy for Strategic and Defence Studies, and met with NDC’s Commandant, Rear Admiral Ali Abdullah Al-Shidi. During the visit, the two sides discussed topics of common interest, especially in the academic and military training aspects.

 

Monday, 27 November–Oman’s Foreign Minister, Badr Hamad Al-Busaidi, met with Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mohammed Abdulrahman Al-Thani, in Doha. They expressed their keenness to continue to boost economic cooperation and partnership. 

 

Monday, 27 November–Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs, Khalid bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah, received China’s Deputy Chief of Staff of the Joint Staff Department of the Central Military Commission, Lieutenant General Jing Jianfeng, and his accompanying delegation, in Doha. The meeting dealt with issues of joint interest, military cooperation, and ways to strengthen and develop them.

 

Monday, 27 November–Cyprus’ President, Nikos Christodoulides, went on an official visit to Qatar. He separately met with Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani. They discussed ways to develop joint cooperation, especially in the energy, economy, investment, education, and tourism sector, as well as exchanged views on key regional and international issues, such as the Gaza situation.

Monday, 27 November–On the sidelines of the 8th Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Regional Forum, in Barcelona, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, held separate talks with his counterparts, notably Constantinos Kombos of Cyprus, Catherine Colonna of France, Micheal Martin of Ireland, and Antonio Tajani of Italy. The Ministers tackled international efforts to provide humanitarian and medical aid to prevent the worsening of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, among other issues.

Monday, 27 November–The Ministerial Committee, assigned by the Joint Arab-Islamic Extraordinary Summit, under the chairmanship of Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, met with Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, José Manuel Albares Bueno, in Barcelona. The Committee includes the Foreign Ministers of Egypt, Sameh Shoukry; Jordan, Ayman Al-Safadi; Palestine, Riad Malki; and Türkiye, Hakan Fidan; as well as the League of Arab States’ Secretary General, Ahmed Aboul Gheit. During the meeting, they discussed the latest developments in the Israel-Hamas war and the international action to stop the humanitarian catastrophe. The Committee renewed their demand for the international community to assume its responsibility.

 

Tuesday, 28 November–Germany’s President, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, accompanied by the Minister of State at the Foreign Ministry, Dirk Lölke, and his delegation, travelled to Oman and Qatar to discuss the Hamas-Israel war and the Middle East Peace Process. In Muscat, he held talks with Oman’s Sultan, Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said, in the presence of the Foreign Minister, Badr bin Hamad Al-Busaidi, which also focused on expanding bilateral relations and cooperation, namely in energy and tourism. In Doha, he met with Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, to review bilateral cooperation in energy and investment in addition to the regional situation.

Tuesday, 28 November–Oman’s Foreign Minister, Badr Hamad Al-Busaidi, held a phone call with UK’s Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, David Cameron. They touched on the need to prevent escalation and to address the humanitarian, security, and political repercussions of the Hamas-Israel war in the Gaza Strip.

Tuesday, 28 November–Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, received a phone call from Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, to discuss the Saudi efforts to find a political solution to end the Russian war in Ukraine and reviewed their bilateral relations and several issues of mutual interest.

Wednesday, 29 November–Bahrain’s Chief Executive Officer of the National Space Science Agency (NSSA), Mohammad Ibrahim Al-Asiri, received Indian scientist and former Chief Controller in the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as well as BrahMos Aerospace’s CEO and Managing Director, Apathukatha Sivathanu Pillai, with his accompanying delegation, in Manama. Mohammad Ibrahim Al-Asiri expressed Bahrain’s keenness to enhance cooperation with India in space science and application.

Wednesday, 29 November–Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Talal Khaled Al-Sabah, and Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, met in Kuwait to discuss bilateral ties. Following their meeting, they oversaw the signing of several Memoranda of Understanding, notably in the fields of environmental protection, sustainable development, as well as cultural and technical cooperation.

Wednesday, 29 November–Brazil’s President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, visited Qatar and Saudi Arabia, before heading to Dubai for the COP28. He met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, to explore bilateral investment opportunities and witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on energy cooperation. Brazil’s President then travelled to Qatar, where he met with the Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, to discuss cooperation in energy, economy, and investment as well as the situation in the Gaza Strip.

Wednesday, 29 November–The Ministerial Committee, assigned by the Joint Arab-Islamic Extraordinary Summit, under the chairmanship of Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, met with UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, in New York. The Committee members included the Foreign Ministers of Egypt, Sameh Shoukry; Indonesia, Retno Marsudi; Jordan, Ayman Al-Safadi; Palestine, Riad Malki; Qatar, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani; and Türkiye, Hakan Fidan; as well as the League of Arab States’ Secretary General, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, and UAE’s Minister of State, Khalifa Shaheen Almarar. During the meeting, they tackled the importance of implementing the resolutions issued by the UN regarding the protection and security of civilians in the Israel-Hamas war.

Thursday, 30 November–Swiss President, Alain Berset, led a business and science delegation to Muscat, Oman. The Swiss delegation, which included the Head of the Middle East and North Africa Division at the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Maya Tissafi, and the Swiss Special Envoy for the Middle East, Wolfgang Amadeus Brülhart, also met with Oman’s Foreign Minister, Badr bin Hamad Al-Busaidi, Minister of Education, Madeeha Ahmed Al Shibani, and Minister of Health, Hilal Ali Al-Sabti, to discuss ways to enhance bilateral cooperation.

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