The Euro-Gulf Monitor

3 - 9 December 2021

by

Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani

5 Top Points

  1. Emirati National Security Adviser, Tahnoon bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, met with Iranian President, Ebrahim Raisi, in Tehran.

  2. Oman and Saudi Arabia signed deals worth over €26 billion (EUR).

  3. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince toured the Gulf countries ahead of the GCC Summit in Riyadh. 

  4. Bahrain announced the doubling of its VAT to 10 percent from 2022.

  5. French President, Emmanuel Macron, visited Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE and called for a broader involvement of the Gulf countries and Israel in nuclear talks with Iran.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Kingdom of Bahrain

Wednesday, 8 December–Bahrain announced the doubling of its value-added tax (VAT) to 10 percent, a change that will be valid from 2022. The VAT increase aims to assist the Kingdom’s efforts to achieve a balanced budget by 2024 and support its economic recovery plans.

State of Kuwait

Sunday, 5 December–Kuwait banned all commercial ships carrying goods to and from Israel from entering its territorial waters. The decree was announced by Kuwait’s Minister of Public Works and Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology, Rana Al-Fares.

Sultanate of Oman

Monday, 6 December–Omani and Saudi Arabian companies signed thirteen deals worth €26.6 billion (EUR) in the sectors of renewable energy, pharmaceutical industries, mining and investment in the Omani Duqm petrochemical complex project. The deals were signed during the visit of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, to Muscat, where he was received by Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tarik Al-Said.

State of Qatar

Tuesday, 7 December–Qatar’s Finance Minister, Ali bin Ahmed Al-Kuwari, announced the country approved its budget for the 2022 fiscal year, which will amount to €49.3 billion (EUR). About €17 billion will be allocated for major projects, including infrastructure, health and education.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Monday, 6 December–Saudi Arabia’s oil giant, Saudi Aramco, announced that a consortium of firms led by BlackRock Inc. inked a €13.6 billion (EUR) worth contract for the purchase of a 49 percent stake of a new entity, which holds twenty-year leasing rights over pipelines carrying Aramco’s gas across the Kingdom. The new investment is part of the Kingdom’s aim to enhance foreign investment in the country as well as fund an increase in its oil and gas outputs.

United Arab Emirates

Friday, 3 December–The UAE signed a €17 billion (EUR) worth contract with France for the purchase of eighty French-manufactured Rafale fighter jets and twelve Caracal multirole military helicopters. The deal is the largest international order ever made for the Dassault-made Rafale jets, and was signed during the visit of French President, Emmanuel Macron, to Abu Dhabi.

 

Tuesday, 7 December–The UAE announced it will shorten its working week to 4.5 days and shift to a Saturday-Sunday weekend from its previous Friday-Saturday break. The decision will be effective from January 2022, with private companies remaining free to choose their working week.

The EU Corner

Saturday, 4 December‒The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, met with the Secretary General of the League of Arab States, Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, to discuss shared priorities and interests in the Middle Eastern region. High Representative Borrell and Secretary General Aboul-Gheit also considered organising a ministerial meeting between the EU and the League of Arab States next year.

 

Monday, 6 December‒An EU Delegation visited the King Abdulaziz University, in Jeddah, to explore ways to boost EU-Saudi exchanges in the field of education and research. The delegation discussed international projects with the President of the University, Abdul Rahman bin Obaid Al-Youbi, and with other academics and teachers.

 

Tuesday, 7 December‒The EU expressed concern for the ongoing military escalation in Yemen, condemning the recent cross-border attacks by the Houthis against Saudi Arabia. The EU called on all parties to cooperate in order to achieve a political agreement, according to the peace process led by the United Nations.

 

Wednesday, 8 December‒The Head of the EU Delegation to Kuwait, Cristian Tudor, and Kuwait’s Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Development and International Cooperation, Hamad Suleiman Al-Mashaan, discussed a common EU-Kuwait vision for the international order based on a shared legislative framework.

Key Official Visits

 

Saturday, 4 December–French President, Emmanuel Macron, concluded its tour of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. During his trip, the French President met with Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud. Talks covered developments in Afghanistan, Yemen, Iran and Lebanon, as well as cooperation in economy, investment and defence. Paris and Riyadh agreed to enhance humanitarian assistance to Lebanon. President Macron also called for a broader involvement of the Gulf countries and Israel in nuclear talks with Iran.

 

Monday, 6 December–The UAE’s Senior National Security Adviser, Tahnoon bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, met with Iranian President, Ebrahim Raisi, in Tehran. They discussed developments in the talks between Iran and the P4+1 countries (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and Germany) over the Iran Nuclear Deal (aka JCPOA) in Vienna, Austria. The visit came after the latest round of talks adjourned on 3 December.

 

Monday, 6 December–Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, kicked off a GCC tour, which included visits to Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE. For the first time since the end of the intra-GCC Crisis (2017-2021), the Saudi Crown Prince visited Doha, meeting with Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. Talks during the tour focused on regional security and Iran, as well as bilateral partnerships with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. The tour also anticipates a GCC summit to be held in Riyadh in mid-December, which will address developments in Iran, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Palestine and GCC unity.

 

Monday, 6 December–Bahrain’s Minister of Interior, Rashid bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa, visited Dubai, where he was received by his Emirati counterpart, Saif bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. The two Ministers discussed cooperation in policing and domestic security as well as the relevance of the EXPO 2020 event in promoting the region.

 

Tuesday, 7 December–Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, held a two-day visit in Doha, where he met with Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. The Turkish President co-chaired the seventh Qatar-Turkey Supreme Strategic Committee meeting, during which the two countries signed fifteen deals for collaboration in the sectors of investment, trade, defence, politics, economy and culture.