The Euro-Gulf Monitor

27 May - 2 June 2022

by Veronica Stigliani & Omaima Houbadi

5 Top Points

  1. The GCC Foreign Ministers held talks with Russian and Ukrainian counterparts in Riyadh.

  2. The UAE, Egypt and Jordan entered into a trilateral industrial partnership.

  3. Greece and Saudi Arabia deepened business ties and move closer to finalising the East to Med Data Corridor project connecting Europe and Asia.

  4. The UAE and Israel signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

  5. Bahrain and the European Union aim to strengthen cooperation on freedom of religion and belief.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Kingdom of Bahrain

Saturday, 28 May—Bahrain and Morocco signed a renewable energy cooperation agreement during a virtual meeting between Bahrain’s Electricity and Water Affairs Minister, Wael bin Nasser Al-Mubarak, and Morocco’s Minister of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development, Leila Benali.

State of Kuwait

Tuesday, 31 May‒Kuwait’s Cabinet appointed four women for the first time to the Municipal Council as it filled the six remaining seats on the 16-member Council following an election. The new members include: Sharifa Al-Shalfan, Alyya Al-Faresi, Munira Al-Amir and Farah Al-Roumi.

Sultanate of Oman

Tuesday, 31 May‒The Central Bank of Oman is developing a digital currency and open banking services, amid the growing popularity of cryptocurrencies, in order to modernise the sector and boost financial inclusion and stability.

State of Qatar

Sunday, 29 May—The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence announced it will provide military and counter-terrorism support to Qatar during the FIFA World Cup in Doha, which will include maritime security support from the Royal Navy and joint policing of the skies by the Joint Typhoon Squadron of the Royal Air Force and the Qatari Emiri Air Force.

Monday, 30 May—Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, urged the international community to engage with the Taliban on the economic front and help boost employment and growth in Afghanistan amid the Taliban’s increased efforts to restrict women’s rights and freedoms.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Sunday, 29 May—King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud appointed Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Adel Al-Jubeir, as Saudi Arabia’s Climate Envoy. King Salman also appointed Abdulrahman bin Abdullah Al-Kanhal and Hammoud bin Badah Al-Muraikhi as advisers to the Royal Court.

Thursday, 2 June—The UN Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, announced that the warring parties in Yemen agreed to extend the two-month truce introduced on 2 April.

United Arab Emirates

Monday, 30 May‒The UAE, Egypt and Jordan signed a trilateral industrial partnership to boost sustainable development. UAE’s President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, received Egypt’s Prime Minister, Mostafa Madbouly, and Jordan’s Prime Minister, Bisher Al-Khasawneh, on the occasion. Abu Dhabi's sovereign wealth fund, ADQ, will manage a $10 billion (USD) investment fund targeting five key sectors: petrochemicals; metals, minerals and downstream products; textiles; pharmaceuticals; agriculture, food and fertilisers.

Wednesday, 1 June‒Abu Dhabi banned single-use plastic bags. Dubai will introduce a mandatory 25 fils ($0.07) charge for single-use bags in the next month.

The EU Corner

Monday, 30 May‒Manama hosted a three-day conference on freedom of religion and belief, organised by the European Union (EU) and Bahrain. The event, titled ‘Broadening the Tent: Freedom of Religion and Belief,’ gathered EU and Bahraini decision-makers in a bid to enhance constructive dialogue on pluralism and diversity. It was decided to hold the conference annually and to establish the EU-Bahrain Fund focusing on youth projects and the EU-Bahrain Joint Working Group on Freedom of Religion and Belief. On the sidelines, the two sides discussed the upcoming EU-Bahrain Senior Official Meeting in Brussels.

Monday, 30 May—The GCC countries’ Ambassadors to the EU, participated in the ‘Islam in Central and Eastern Europe’ conference, organised by the European People’s Party’s Working Group on Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue at the European Parliament in Brussels.

Tuesday, 31 May‒The Head of the EU Delegation to Saudi Arabia, Patrick Simonnet, said the EU is working to lift Schengen visa requirements for citizens of the GCC countries traveling to Europe to enhance travel exchanges between the two regions. Earlier in May, the United Kingdom simplified the electronic visa procedure for Saudi, Bahraini, and Emirati nationals travelling to the UK.

 

Wednesday, 1 June—Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President of the European Commission, met with Mohammad Obaid Al-Rajhi, Kuwait’s Minister of State for National Assembly and Youth Affairs, to discuss EU-Kuwait cooperation and Schengen visa waivers for Kuwaiti citizens. Schinas also met with Qatar’s Assistant Foreign Minister, Lolwah bint Rashid Al-Khater, to review bilateral cooperation, Schengen visa waivers for Qatari citizens, Qatar’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup 2022, and the latest developments in Afghanistan and Ukraine.

Key Official Visits

Saturday, 28 May‒The UAE Foreign Minister, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, held talks with Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, in Istanbul. The meeting focused on the Ukrainian crisis and enhancing UAE-Turkey cooperation.

Sunday, 29 May—Saudi Arabia’s Investment Minister, Khalid Al Faleh, led a high-level investment and business delegation to Athens in a bid to strengthen Saudi-Greek economic cooperation, notably in energy, tourism, construction, infrastructure and agri-food sectors. Al Faleh and Greece’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Economic Diplomacy and Openness, Kostas Fragogiannis, co-chaired the Greek-Saudi Business Forum. During the 5th Joint Interministerial Committee, Saudi Arabia and Greece agreed in principle on the main terms of the agreement to construct a submarine and terrestrial optic data transmission cable system connecting Europe and Asia via Greece and Saudi Arabia, known as the East to Med Data Corridor (EMC) project.

 

Monday, 30 May—The UAE and Turkey discussed ways to bolster military and defence cooperation as the UAE President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, and several Emirati military officials received Defence Minister of Turkey, Hulusi Akar, in Abu Dhabi. On the occasion, Turkey inked two Memoranda of Understanding with Tawazun, the UAE’s military procurement agency.

 

Tuesday, 31 May‒The UAE’s Minister of Economy, Abdullah bin Touq Al-Marri, and Israel’s Minister of Economy and Industry, Orna Barbivay, signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), in Dubai. The accord aims to boost non-oil trade and investment, while creating opportunities in key industries, such as energy, environment, and digital trade.

Tuesday, 31 May‒Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, paid an official visit to Bahrain before heading to Saudi Arabia. He held talks with King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa and Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, on the situation in Ukraine, the ceasefire in Yemen, the Palestinian issue and Iran’s nuclear programme.

 

Wednesday, 1 June—Riyadh hosted the 5th GCC-Russia Joint Ministerial Meeting for Strategic Dialogue, attended by the GCC Secretary General, Nayef Al-Hajraf, Foreign Ministers of the six GCC countries and Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov. The same day, the GCC Foreign Ministers held a virtual meeting with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, to discuss Ukraine-GCC cooperation and the impact of the Ukraine crisis on the global food security and energy market.

 

Tuesday, 31 May‒Bahrain and Oman signed a Memorandum of Understanding to boost parliamentary cooperation during a visit by an Omani delegation, led by the First Deputy Chairman of the Shura Council, Khalid bin Hilal Al-Maawali, which was received by Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa and Bahrain’s Speaker of the Council of Representatives, Fawzia Abdulla Yusuf Zainal.

 

Tuesday, 31 May—Doha hosted the 3rd Qatar-Poland New Tech Forum to boost bilateral trade and investment cooperation, notably in the technology sector. Poland’s Ambassador to Qatar, Janusz Janke, highlighted Qatar’s role as a key economic partner to Warsaw.

Wednesday, 1 June‒The Economic Affairs’Advisor to the King of Bahrain, Hassan bin Abdullah Fakhro, and Israel's Ambassador to Bahrain, Eitan Naeh, discussed trade and economic cooperation.

Thursday, 2 June—Kuwait’s Assistant Foreign Minister for Development Affairs and International Cooperation, Hamad Suleiman Al-Mishan, met with the Ombudsperson for the UN Security Council (UNSC) ISIL and Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee, Richard Malanjum, in New York to discuss the removal of Kuwaiti citizens from the UNSC sanctions list.