The Euro-Gulf Monitor

25 - 31 March 2022

by

Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani

5 Top Points

  1. The Negev Summit in Israel gathered Foreign Ministers of Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Morocco, the UAE and the US.

  2. Doha hosted the first French-Qatari Strategic Dialogue.

  3. Saudi Arabia and Qatar pledged billions in investments to support Egypt’s economy.

  4. Bahrain announced the development of the largest data centre in the region.

  5. Kuwaiti firm Agility acquired British aviation services company for €670 million (EUR).

‘Round and About the Gulf

Kingdom of Bahrain

Wednesday, 30 March–The Bahrain-based telecommunication company, stc Bahrain, announced it will develop the largest data centre in the region. The project will establish a technology park that will expand Bahrain’s digital economy and local innovation sectors within the wider framework of the Economic Vision 2030. Stc Bahrain is owned by the Saudi Telecom Company (stc Group).

State of Kuwait

Wednesday, 30 March–Kuwaiti investment and logistics company, Agility, acquired British aviation services firm, John Menzies, in a €670 million (EUR) worth deal. The British company will be combined with Agility’s National Aviation Services unit, in an effort to establish the world’s largest airport services firm for operating countries.

Sultanate of Oman

Wednesday, 30 March–The UAE’s real estate company, Diamond Developers, partnered with the Oman Tourism Development Company (OMRAN) to develop a €900 million (EUR) touristic mega-project in the Sultanate. The complex, called ‘Yiti’, will be located on the Sea of Oman, spanning 11 square kilometres, and will adopt sustainable solutions for energy efficiency and autonomy. 

State of Qatar

Monday, 28 March–Qatar hosted the 20th Doha Forum 2022, titled ‘Transforming for a New Era’. The event focused on global security, defence, food and energy security as well as climate change. International speakers included President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who intervened virtually, as well as US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, US Special Envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, and EU’s top diplomat, HR/VP Josep Borrell.

 

Tuesday, 29 March–Doha announced it will invest over €4.4 billion (EUR) in Egypt, following a meeting of Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, and Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, in Cairo. On the same day, QatarEnergy announced the purchase of a 40% stake in the Egyptian gas exploration block of North Marakia from the US oil giant, ExxonMobil.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Wednesday, 30 March–Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and the Egyptian Sovereign Fund inked a partnership deal to attract about €9 billion (EUR) in investments into Egypt. On the occasion, Saudi Arabia also deposited over €4.4 billion (EUR) in Egypt’s Central Bank. The investments will focus on education, health, agriculture and finance sectors, seeking to increase local employment and boost Egyptian economy.

 

Wednesday, 30 March–Riyadh hosted the Global Entrepreneurship Congress 2022 (GEC) between 27 and 30 March. The event focused on developing local entrepreneurship and assist the development of startups in the Kingdom. During the congress, twenty-one deals were signed, totalling over €6.8 billion (EUR). For example, Amazon partnered with the Saudi General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to assist businesses in the Kingdom in logistical issues.

United Arab Emirates

Wednesday, 30 March–Dubai hosted the World Government Summit 2022 (WGS2022), hosting more than four thousand attendees from 190 countries. The event focused on current and upcoming global challenges, including climate change and sustainability, global health, technology and cybersecurity, as well as education and gender issues.

The EU Corner

Friday, 25 March—The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, toured Qatar and Kuwait. In Qatar, Borrell attended the Doha Forum 2022, addressing the global impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and meeting with Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani. He also reiterated EU’s commitment to the Middle East Peace Process to the Palestinian Prime Minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh. In Kuwait, he held talks with the Crown Prince, Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, and the Prime Minister, Sabah Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah.

 

Monday, 28 March—The European Union (EU) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held an official meeting in Jeddah. It aimed to discuss issues of common interest and explore ways to deepen cooperation in fields such as education, culture, and the protection of human rights.

Key Official Visits

Sunday, 27 March–Foreign Ministers of Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Morocco and the UAE, as well as the US Secretary of State gathered for the first time in Israel for the ‘Negev Summit’. The diplomats discussed regional and global security, notably the Iranian nuclear file and developments in the Vienna talks, agreeing to work towards a regional framework security and stability, as well as the Palestinian issue. During the event, Bahrain, Morocco and the UAE examined procurement opportunities for the Israeli air defence system, Iron Dome. The diplomats also agreed to make the Negev Summit a permanent diplomatic format.

 

Tuesday, 29 March–China held a summit on economic and humanitarian developments in Afghanistan, gathering the Foreign Ministers of Qatar, Iran, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Indonesia, in Tunxi, eastern China. During the event, Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, held separate meetings with Chinese and Iranian Foreign Ministers, Wang Yi and Hossein Amirabdollahian. The discussions focused on joint cooperation in ensuring stability in Afghanistan as well as cooperation with Beijing.

 

Tuesday, 29 March–France’s Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, travelled to Doha, for the first round of French-Qatari Strategic Dialogue, which marked 50 years of diplomatic relations. The French Minister was received by Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani. They discussed energy cooperation and the Ukrainian crisis, as well as Iran’s nuclear file and developments in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Libya, and Palestine. They also reviewed opportunities for cooperation in economy, defence, security, culture and environment and inked several agreements.

 

Tuesday, 29 March–South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, visited Dubai, meeting with the UAE’s Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum. They discussed bilateral cooperation in tackling the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and expanding trade and investment opportunities in technology, tourism, culture and sports.

 

Wednesday, 30 March–US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, met with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, in Rabat, Morocco. They discussed the Yemen file, with the US Secretary of State highlighting Washington’s support for the Emirates’ defence against Houthi attacks, as well as developments in Ukraine, Iran’s nuclear file, Syria and the Abraham Accords.