The Euro-Gulf Monitor

28 October - 3 November 2022

by Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani

5 Top Points

  1. Pope Francis arrived in Bahrain, becoming the first Head of the Catholic Church to visit the country.

  2. The UAE and the US pledged to jointly invest €100 billion (EUR) in clean energy by 2035.

  3. The EU and Bahrain discussed human rights and inter-religious dialogue.

  4. QatarEnergy chose US energy company, ConocoPhillips, as the third international partner in the North Field South Gas project.

  5. The European Parliament’s Vice-President, Eva Kaili, toured Kuwait and Qatar.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Kingdom of Bahrain

Thursday, 3 November—Pope Francis arrived in Bahrain, becoming the first Head of the Catholic Church to visit the Kingdom. It was his second trip to the Gulf after the 2019 visit to the Emirates. The Pope will intervene at the ‘Bahrain Forum for Dialogue: East and West for Human Coexistence’, and will meet with Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Al-Tayeb. He will also lead a public mass at the Bahrain National Stadium, where 28,000 people are expected to gather.

State of Kuwait

Monday, 31 October—Kuwait’s Prime Minister, Ahmad Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, announced the launch of a national anti-drug campaign, which will seek to counter drug smuggling, raise public awareness and establish rehabilitation centres across the country. The plan will also include international partnerships with global experts in the field as well as an inter-ministerial cooperation mechanism to boost anti-drug efforts.

Tuesday, 1 November—Kuwait’s newly elected National Assembly approved the state budget for 2022-2023 with the lowest financial deficit in 9 years. The budget estimates €76 billion (EUR) in spending and €409 million (EUR) in deficit, while oil income will account for over 90% of national revenues, which are expected to increase due to higher fossil fuel prices amid the global energy crisis.

Sultanate of Oman

Tuesday, 1 November—Oman inked a deal with Brazilian mining giant, Vale SA, to study the development of a mega-industrial hub in Duqm, which would focus on low-carbon iron and steel-making plants. The project falls within the Sultanate’s plan to reduce industrial carbon emissions as part of its wider objective to reach net zero emissions by 2050. The Brazilian company also signed agreements for mega-hubs feasibility studies with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in line with the GCC states’ sustainability goals. 

State of Qatar

Saturday, 30 October—The state-owned QatarEnergy awarded US energy company, ConocoPhillips, a 6.25% stake in the North Field South Gas project, making the firm the third international partner. ConocoPhillips joined British Shell and French TotalEnergies in the €29 billion (EUR) liquified natural gas (LNG) expansion project, which is set to boost Qatar’s production from 77 million to 110 million tonnes per year by 2025 and to 126 million tonnes per year by 2027. QatarEnergy will hold a 75% stake in the project, while the remaining 25% is reserved for international companies.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Tuesday, 1 November—Saudi Arabia’s futuristic city, NEOM, announced it will invest €175 million (EUR) in the German aerospace firm, Volocopter, which specialises in designing electric personal air vehicles. The move is part of NEOM’s bid to lead future urban air mobility innovation through sustainable technologies and follows the establishment of the NEOM-Volocopter joint venture in 2021, which will design electric air taxi vehicles to connect NEOM’s regions of The Line, Oxagon and Trojena.

 

Wednesday, 2 November—Riyadh hosted the Saudi-German Business Forum, which gathered representatives from 40 Saudi and German companies to discuss industrial cooperation in several sectors, including water, renewable energy and medical technologies, artificial intelligence and vehicles.

United Arab Emirates

Tuesday, 1 November—The UAE and the US signed a strategic partnership deal to invest €100 billion (EUR) to produce 100 gigawatts of clean energy by 2035. The agreement, named ‘Partnership for Accelerating Clean Energy’ (PACE), seeks to boost the global shift to green energy by developing clean and nuclear energy technologies, enhancing industrial decarbonisation and managing carbon and methane emissions.

EU Corner

Thursday, 27 October—The EU-Bahrain Human Rights Working Group held its 6th meeting in Manama, agreeing to expand the exchange of experience and best practices to address the human rights file. The two sides particularly focused on freedom of expression, women’s and labour rights, and freedom of religion, with the EU hailing the Kingdom’s commitment to promoting inter-religious dialogue.

 

Monday, 31 October—The European Parliament’s Vice-President, Eva Kaili, toured Kuwait and Qatar. In Kuwait, Kaili met with Prime Minister, Ahmad Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah discussing EU-Kuwait parliamentary cooperation and women empowerment efforts. In Doha, she met with Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani as well as with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, and Energy Minister, Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi. The talks focused on the EU-Qatar strategic partnership on energy, parliamentary cooperation, Qatar’s labour reforms and the upcoming FIFA World Cup.

Key Official Visits

Thursday, 27 October—Czech Foreign Minister, Jan Lipavsky, travelled to Doha, where he met with Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani. Minister Lipavsky inaugurated the country’s Embassy in Qatar, while discussing energy security, trade and commercial cooperation with the Qatari officials.

 

Sunday, 30 October—Bahrain’s Minister of Industry and Commerce, Zayed bin Rashid Al-Zayani, travelled to Tel Aviv, for talks with Israeli President, Isaac Herzog, and Finance Minister, Avigdor Liberman. They discussed opportunities for a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries as well as developing commercial and economic ties, with Minister Al-Zayani stating that the Kingdom expects to ink the FTA by the end of 2022. The following round of negotiations is expected to take place in mid-November in Manama.

 

Tuesday, 1 November—The 22 members of the Arab League gathered in Algeria for the first summit of the organization in three years. The meeting focused on the ongoing war in Ukraine and its impact on food security, climate change, Palestine, Yemen, Iran’s nuclear file and Libya. Following the event, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, announced that Riyadh will host the next Arab League summit in 2023. The GCC attendees included Bahrain’s Special Representative of the King, Mohammed bin Mubarak Al-Khalifa, Kuwait’s Crown Prince, Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Oman’s Deputy Prime Minister, Asa’ad bin Tariq, Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, and the UAE’s Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

 

Wednesday, 2 November—Bahrain’s Minister of Industry and Commerce, Zayed bin Rashid Al-Zayani, met with British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, during the Second Arab-British Economic Summit in London. They discussed the importance of developing trade and investment ties between the two countries. The event also addressed developments in talks for a UK-GCC free trade agreement (FTA), as well as opportunities for further investment and commercial cooperation.