The Euro-Gulf Monitor

28 - 3 June 2021

by

Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani

5 Top Points

  1. UAE and Israel cement diplomatic and business ties as the UAE’s Embassy in Tel Aviv opens.

  2. Yemen’s President Hadi met with Swedish Foreign Minister, Ann Linde, in Riyadh.

  3. Bahrain will host a Russian Sputnik V vaccine production facility for the MENA region.

  4. EU-Oman political consultations reviewed Libya, Syria and the JCPOA talks.

  5. The US Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, is touring Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kenya.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Kingdom of Bahrain

Thursday, 3 June–Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund, Mumtalakat, Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), and the Russian pharmaceutical holding company, Binnopharm Group, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a Sputnik V vaccine production facility in Bahrain, which would manufacture and distribute the Russian COVID-19 vaccine across the Middle East and North Africa.

State of Kuwait

Monday, 31 May–Kuwait will resume issuing family and business visas to Pakistani citizens after a ten-year ban. The measure was announced following the visit by Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Rasheed Ahmad, to Kuwait and his meeting with the country’s Prime Minister, Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah.

Sultanate of Oman

Tuesday,1 June–Oman’s Ministry of Labour announced new fees for expat workers inthe country. The new measures provision work permit fees to be applied tonon-Omani employees in upper, intermediate occupations, as well as technical and specialised ones. The decision comes as part of the wider plan of Omanisation of the Sultanate’s workforce.

State of Qatar

Wednesday, 2 June– Microsoft signed a deal with the National Museum of Qatar to support smart exhibitions and enhance digital learning through the use of Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) digital centre. Last week, Microsoft also announced a partnership with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to enhance digital transformation in Qatar. The partnership will accelerate service digitalisation and cloud adoption in a number of sectors such as energy, education and healthcare.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Friday, 28 May–Saudi Arabia and Greece inked a tourism and travel partnership agreement. The deal will facilitate cooperation in the development of specialised tourism, such as sport, adventure and luxury one, as well as knowledge exchange regarding legislation, procedures and further air connectivity. The deal came on the sidelines of the ‘Tourism Recovery Summit,’ hosted in Riyadh, which gathered leaders from the public and private travel industry sector.

United Arab Emirates

Monday, 31 May–The UAE’s Embassy in Tel Aviv officially opened and started operating. On the same day, the Emirates and Israel signed a tax treaty agreement, aiding business investments through tax deduction and further assisting conditions. Israel also announced that it will open an economic attaché office in Abu Dhabi during the summer, headed by Aviad Tamir, to support investments between the two countries.

The EU Corner

Saturday, 29 May–The Head of the EU Delegation to Kuwait, Cristian Tudor, and Kuwait’s Assistant Foreign Minister for Europe Affairs, Walid Al-Khubaizi, discussed cooperation. The EU Ambassador also visited the Shagaya Renewable Energy Park, a project developed by the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research that combines sources of clean energy.

 

Tuesday, 1 June–The second round of EU-Oman (virtual) political consultations, co-chaired by the Undersecretary for Diplomatic Affairs at Oman’s Foreign Ministry, Khalifa bin Ali Al-Harthy, and the Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service, Enrique Mora, focused on addressing regional challenges, including Yemen, Syria, and the ongoing talks on the Iran nuclear deal, among others.

Key Official Visits

Saturday, 29 May–Tunisia’s Prime Minister, Hichem Mechichi, visited Doha, meeting with Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani. They discussed the establishment of a joint Tunisian-Qatari economic forum and reviewed investment opportunities in industry, green energy and information technology, as well as the latest developments in Libya.

Monday, 31 May–The United States Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, started his tour of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kenya, to discuss the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) issue. In Doha, the US Envoy met with Qatar’s Special Envoy for Counterterrorism and Mediation of Conflict Resolution, Mutlaq bin Majed Al-Qahtani. In Riyadh, he met with Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud. The tour will proceed to the UAE and Kenya, concluding on 6 June.

Monday, 31 May–Yemen’s President, Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, met in Riyadh with Sweden’s Foreign Minister, Ann Linde, and Sweden’s Envoy to Yemen, Peter Semneby. President Hadi praised Sweden’s and the EU’s role in supporting peace in Yemen and lamented the Houthis’  rejections of attempts to establish peace through the Stockholm Agreement. Minister Linde reiterated Sweden’s commitment to restoring stability in Yemen. During her visit, the Swedish Minister also met with Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud.

Monday, 31 May–Malta’s Foreign Minister, Evarist Bartolo, held separate meetings with his Saudi counterpart, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, and Secretary General of the GCC, Nayef Al-Hajraf, in Riyadh. Minister Bartolo discussed Maltese-GCC cooperation, particularly in trade, investment, renewable energy and environment.

Tuesday, 1 June–Palestinian Prime Minister, Mohammed Shtayyeh, visited Kuwait to meet with the country’s officials, including Emir Nawaf Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and Prime Minister Sabah Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah. They discussed developments in the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem. Kuwait’s Emir reaffirmed his country’s support for the Palestinian cause.