The Euro-Gulf Monitor
3 - 9 September 2021
Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani
5 Top Points
The UAE launched a Fourth Industrial Revolution project aimed at establishing 500 new companies in the country.
Saudi Aramco signed 22 deals worth $24 billion (USD) as part of its industrial investment programme.
Arab League will establish a regional data center in Bahrain to drive digital transformation.
US Secretary of Defence, Lloyd Austin, toured Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait to discuss Afghanistan.
The EU and Kuwait discussed energy cooperation.
‘Round and About the Gulf
Kingdom of Bahrain
Wednesday, 8 September–Bahrain will host a regional data centre aimed at driving digital transformation in the Arab League countries. The partnership deal was signed by the Arab League’s Arab Federation for Digital Economy (AFDE) and the ATDXT LLC, a UAE-based digital transformation company. Services provided by the data hub will cover the areas of governance, security, energy, health and business.
State of Kuwait
Monday, 6 September–Kuwait’s Army announced it will likely allow women to enlist by the end of 2021. The announcement was made by Assistant Chief of Staff of the Kuwaiti Armed Forces, Major General Dr Khaled Al-Kandari. In February 2021, Saudi Arabia also allowed women to enrol in the army as part of the country’s reforms.
Sultanate of Oman
Wednesday, 8 August–Oman launched its Cultural Strategy for 2021-2040, highlighting the importance of innovation. The five-phase plan was approved by Oman’s Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, Theyazin bin Haitham Al-Said, and will focus on 11 cultural fields.
State of Qatar
Sunday, 5 September–Qatar dispatched medical and food supplies to Afghanistan, while announcing it will deliver further humanitarian assistance in the upcoming days. Doha’s Foreign Ministry also announced it is active in establishing a humanitarian corridor to Kabul amid Qatar’s expanded engagement with the country.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Wednesday, 8 September–Saudi Aramco signed 22 Memoranda of Understanding and one joint venture deal in a $24 billion (USD) bid to expand its industrial investment programme, Aramco Namaat. The Saudi energy giant signed deals with DHL Supply Chain for logistical activities, as well as separate deals for engineering, procurement and construction with Samsung Engineering, Hyundai, and Saipem, among others.
United Arab Emirates
Tuesday, 2 September–Mubadala Petroleum, a subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi-owned Mubadala Investment Company, finalised a deal with Israeli energy company, Delek Drilling, to purchase a 22% stake in the East Mediterranean Tamar gas field. The agreement, which was preliminarily signed in April 2021, is the biggest commercial deal between the UAE and Israel.
Wednesday, 8 September–The UAE launched the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network project to help implement advanced technologies across its industry sector. The plan includes establishing 500 national companies that will employ 4IR technologies to attract foreign and local investments. The project also includes the 10x10 programme, which envisages a 10% increase in exports to 10 countries, including China, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia and the United Kingdom.
The EU Corner
Sunday, 5 September‒The Head of the EU Delegation to Saudi Arabia, Patrick Simonnet, and the Saudi Minister of State for African Countries Affairs, Ahmed Abdulaziz Qattan, met in Riyadh. During the meeting, they discussed bilateral relations as well as the common challenges and opportunities in the African continent.
Tuesday, 7 September‒The Head of the Kuwaiti Mission to the EU, Jasem Albudaiwi, held a virtual meeting with the Head of the EU Directorate-General for Energy, Cristina Lobillo Borrero. The discussion focused on the EU-Kuwait energy cooperation in energy and on the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (COP26).
Key Official Visits
Thursday, 2 September–The United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, discussed the crisis in Afghanistan with Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, in Doha. The discussion particularly focused on ways to secure safe passages for British citizens and Afghan refugees.
Saturday, 4 September–Saudi Arabia’s Interior Minister, Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif Al-Saud, visited Baghdad, where he met with Iraqi Prime Minister, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi. They discussed collaboration in security and counter-terrorism. On 6 September, the Saudi Minister visited the Doha National Command Center and held talks with Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani about bilateral security cooperation.
Sunday, 5 September—The Chairman of the Qatar Chamber, Khalifa bin Jassim bin Mohamed Al-Thani, and Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Qatar, Prince Mansour bin Khalid Al-Saud, discussed plans to re-activate the Qatari-Saudi Joint Business Council.
Tuesday, 7 September–The US Secretary of Defence, Lloyd Austin, toured Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain for talks on Afghanistan. In Qatar, Defence Secretary Austin and US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, met with Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to discuss cooperation in evacuating US citizens and Afghan refugees from the country. In Kuwait, Secretary Austin thanked Emir Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah for the support offered in the evacuation of US citizens from Afghanistan. In Bahrain, the Defence Secretary highlighted the Kingdom’s importance for strategic and security cooperation.
Wednesday, 8 September–Kuwait’s Foreign Minister, Ahmed Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah, visited Egypt, meeting with the country’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. They discussed developments in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen, as well as the importance of the Gulf’s stability for the wider region. Minister Al-Sabah also delivered a written message from Kuwait’s Emir Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to President Al-Sisi.
Wednesday, 8 September—The Foreign Ministers of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE participated in the virtual ministerial meeting on Afghanistan, co-hosted by the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, and Germany’s Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas. The meeting gathered officials from 22 countries, NATO, the EU and the UN to review the situation in Afghanistan a day after the Taliban named an interim government.