The Euro-Gulf Monitor
28 March - 2 April 2021
Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani
‘Round and About the Gulf
Kingdom of Bahrain
Tuesday, 30 March–Bahrain appointed Khalid Yusuf Al-Jalahma as the Head of its diplomatic mission to Israel. The new Ambassador is former Director of Operations at the Kingdom’s Foreign Ministry and former Deputy Chief of Mission at Bahrain’s Embassy in the United States (2009-2013).
State of Kuwait
Monday, 29 March–Kuwait’s Parliament approved a draft law to allocate $1.99 billion (USD) in bonuses to frontline workers tackling the pandemic. The following day, the country’s government took the oath of office in the Parliament and approved a draft bill for financial assistance to businesses hit by the pandemic’s economic effects.
Sultanate of Oman
Thursday, 1 April–Oman’s Ministry of Health signed a contract for 2.5 million doses of the Russian-manufactured Sputnik-V vaccine. In the meantime, the country will maintain the nighttime curfew until 8 April 2021.
State of Qatar
Wednesday, 31 March–Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs, Khalid bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah, and the United Kingdom’s Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, inked a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen the partnership between the two countries’ Air Forces. As part of the agreement, their joint Hawk training squadron will be stationed at the Royal Air Force (RAF) Leeming and RAF Voyager will be regularly deployed to Qatar to provide air-to-air refuelling.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Saturday, 27 March–Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saudi, announced the Kingdom’s ‘Saudi Green’ and ‘Middle East Green’ initiatives to address climate change and accelerate clean energy transition through regional cooperation. It aims to reduce carbon emissions in the region by 60% by increasing the use of renewables, planting 50 billion trees (10 billion in Saudi Arabia) and extending the number of natural reserves. Saudi Arabia itself plans to generate 50% of its energy from renewables by 2030.
Tuesday, 30 March—Saudi Arabia announced new Shareek (Partner) investment programme to boost the private sector’s role in the country’s economic diversification and enhance the public-private cooperation. Under the plan, 24 local private companies, led by Saudi Aramco and SABIC, will inject 5 trillion riyals (over $1.3 trillion USD) into the Kingdom’s economy by 2030 (2 trillion riyals by 2025).
United Arab Emirates
Sunday, 28 March–The UAE announced it will produce 200 million doses of the Hayat-Vax, a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Chinese pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm. The manufacturing will be established in Abu Dhabi under a joint venture between Sinpharm and the Emirates tech company Group 42.
The EU Corner
Monday, 29 March–The Head of the EU Delegation to Saudi Arabia, Patrick Simonnet, welcomed the Saudi initiatives “Green Saudi Arabia" and "Green Middle East". Praising the leading role of Riyadh in the region to fight climate change and to pursue the energy transition, the Ambassador confirmed the EU’s willingness to cooperate with the Kingdom to achieve the common goals on environment.
Wednesday, 31 March–The EU Ambassador to Qatar, Cristian Tudor, welcomed the announcement of the Foreign Minister of Qatar, Mohammed bin Abdoulrahman Al-Thani, to allocate 100 million dollars as humanitarian aid to the Syrian people, and lauded Qatar’s commitment to the Syrian crisis.
Thursday, 1 April–The EU-GCC Clean Energy Technology Network and the EU Delegation to Kuwait organised a webinar on net-zero energy buildings. The participants discussed ways to strengthen the EU-Kuwait cooperation in the energy transition process and exchanged opinions on how to face the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in the field of sustainable development.
Friday, 2 April–The Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) held a meeting on the possibility for the United States to re-join the Iran nuclear deal. The meeting, chaired by the Deputy Secretary General and Political Director of the European External Action Service, Enrique Mora, gathered representatives from China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran, who also discussed ways to ensure the implementation of the international accord.
Key Official Visits
Saturday, 27 March–Qatar’s Foreign Minister, Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, met with Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Istanbul. They discussed regional developments, mainly focusing on Syria and Libya.
Monday, 29 March–China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, continued its regional tour, visiting Bahrain, Oman, the UAE, Turkey and Iran. In Bahrain, Minister Yi was received by King Hamad King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, discussing scientific, economic and cultural cooperation. In Oman, the Sultanate’s Foreign Minister, Badr Hamad Al-Busaidi, discussed with Minister Yi collaboration in projects related China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative’, as well as science and technology. In the UAE, Minister Yi met with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, and Foreign Minister, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, discussing efforts in countering terrorism, energy, finance and high-tech.
Monday, 29 March–The United Kingdom’s Minister of State for Middle East and North Africa, James Cleverly, and Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, co-chaired the 13th meeting of the Bahraini-British Joint Committee, hosted in Manama. The two sides reviewed aspects of bilateral cooperation in security, trade, finance and economy and inked a joint action plan.
Wednesday, 31 March–Iraq’s Prime Minister, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, visited Riyadh, meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud. The two sides arranged the creation of a joint Saudi-Iraqi fund worth $3 billion (USD), and discussed cooperation on combating terrorism and in the fields of military, investment, energy, culture, tourism and politics.