The Euro-Gulf Monitor

29 October - 4 November 2021

by

Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani

5 Top Points

  1. Gulf officials attended the COP26 event in Glasgow, discussing climate change and green energy.

  2. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE withdrew their Ambassadors from Lebanon.

  3. Qatar launched the National Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

  4. A delegation of Members of the European Parliament toured Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman.

  5. Saudi Arabia’s King Salman remotely addressed the G20 Summit in Rome.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Kingdom of Bahrain

Sunday, 31 October–Bahrain launched a number of strategic plans for growth and fiscal balance, strategic projects and new sector strategies. The fiscal balance plan increased the value-added tax (VAT) to 10% from 5%. The strategic projects plan aims to generate about €26 billion (EUR) in investments, while the plan for new sector strategies refers to the areas of tourism, logistics, financial services and digital economy, aiming to boost growth by 5% through the non-oil sector by 2022.

State of Kuwait

Tuesday, 2 November–Kuwait received €420 million (EUR) from Iraq as part of a war reparation payment determined by the United Nations. Iraq announced the remaining compensation of about €544 million (EUR) will be paid in 2022.

Sultanate of Oman

Tuesday, 2 November–Oman and Saudi Arabia signed Memoranda of Understanding in transport, telecommunication, digital economy and information technology sectors. The signing took place at the Omani-Saudi Technological Forum in Riyadh. The two countries also agreed on partnering in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and FinTech.

State of Qatar

Thursday, 28 October–Qatar launched the National Environment and Climate Change Strategy. The plan aims to reduce greenhouse gas emission as well as the emission intensity of its liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities by 25% by 2030, restoring biodiversity, develop sustainable water and waste management, circular economy and boost land use productivity. Doha’s move followed the other Gulf countries’ net-zero pledges announced in the previous weeks.

Monday, 1 November–Qatar signed a strategic investment partnership deal with the British company, Rolls-Royce, to establish a global centre for climate technology innovation and invest in new companies in the sustainable energy sector. The agreement aims to develop up to five start-ups in the UK and Qatar valued over €800 million (EUR) by 2030, and up to twenty by 2040.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Friday, 29 October–Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Lebanon amid a continuing escalation between the Gulf countries and Beirut. Riyadh withdrew its Ambassador from Lebanon and urged its citizens to leave the country, with Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE following suit. Saudi Arabia also banned all imports from Lebanon. The countries cited Lebanon’s failure to curb Hezbollah drug smuggling to the GCC and unacceptable statements by the country’s officials against Saudi Arabia and the GCC countries.

United Arab Emirates

Tuesday, 2 November–The UAE co-launched two initiatives for sustainability on the sidelines of the COP26 conference in Glasgow. The first project, the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate), jointly launched with the US, seeking investment in sustainable and smart agriculture, saw international governments pledge investments of up to €3.4 billion (EUR). The second initiative involved an €860 million (EUR) global platform for renewable energy innovation, jointly launched with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

The EU Corner

 

Friday, 29 October—The EU Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process, Sven Koopmans, travelled to Riyadh, where he met with Saudi officials, including Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, to exchange views on the Middle East Peace Process. Koopmans also discussed EU-Saudi cooperation in aid provision to the Palestinians with Head of King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), Abdullah Al-Rabeeah.

 

Tuesday, 2 November—A Delegation of Members of the European Parliament, led by Sven Simon MEP, toured Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman, to discuss the EU-GCC cooperation and EU’s ties with the individual Gulf countries.

 

Tuesday, 2 November—Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE alongside around 100 countries, accounting for more than two-thirds of the global economy, joined the Global Methane Pledge, spearheaded by the EU and the US. The parties committed to collectively reduce global methane emissions by at least 30% by 2030.

 

Tuesday, 2 November—The Head of the EU Delegation to Kuwait, Cristian Tudor, met with the Kuwaiti Assistant Foreign Minister for Human Rights, Talal Al-Mutairi, to exchange views about ways to improve the protection and implementation of unalienable rights.

 

Wednesday, 3 November—The EU announced that the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), involving representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran, will re-convene on 29 November in Vienna to continue talks about reviving the JCPOA. Enrique Mora, Deputy Secretary General/Political Director of the European External Action Service (EEAS), will chair the session. The US delegation will be led by Special Envoy for Iran, Robert Malley.

Key Official Visits

Saturday, 30 October–Rome hosted the Group of 20 (G20) Heads of State and Government Summit. Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud virtually addressed the event, calling for international cooperation in tackling climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. The G20 leaders issued a declaration, charting the path towards global recovery, highlighting their shared vision to combat climate change, reduce inequalities and boost digitalisation.

Wednesday, 31 October–Germany’s Foreign Minister, Niels Annen, toured Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE. The Minister met with Kuwait’s Parliamentary Speaker, Marzouq Al-Ghanim, Oman’s Foreign Minister, Badr Al-Busaidi, Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Soltan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi, and the UAE’s Diplomatic Adviser to the President, Anwar Gargash. Talks covered bilateral relations, GCC unity, Libya, Lebanon and Sudan.

Tuesday, 2 November–The GCC countries’ officials participated in the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow. On the sidelines, numerous bilateral meetings took place, most notably the Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, met for the first time with Bahrain’s Crown Prince, Bahrain’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa. Other Gulf officials at COP26 included Kuwait’s Prime Minister, Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah, Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister, Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, and the UAE’s Foreign Minister, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.