The Euro-Gulf Monitor
30 June - 6 July 2023
by Elen'Alba Vitiello
5 Top Points
Kuwait’s Foreign Minister concluded his European tour.
The UAE concluded its second presidency of the UN Security Council with the adoption of seven resolutions.
Saudi Arabia’s NEOM green hydrogen project is formally under construction and is expected to be completed by the end of 2026.
Oman awarded 19 licences for integrated tourism complexes.
EU condemned the Qur’an burning in front of the Central Mosque in Stockholm.
‘Round and About the Gulf
Kingdom of Bahrain
Thursday, 6 July–Bahrain will officially flag off the 2024 Formula One season with the first night race at the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC), in Sakhir. It will take place from 9 February to 2 March 2024, followed by the second race of the season in Saudi Arabia on 9 March 2024.
State of Kuwait
Wednesday, 5 July–Kuwait asserted that it is together with Saudi Arabia the sole owner of the natural resources found in the Durra gas field, in reaction to Iran’s claims and its recently announced drilling plans. Last year, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait signed an agreement to develop the field, which was branded by Iran as illegal as it continues to dispute the ownership. Kuwait called on Iran to begin negotiations on the demarcation of their maritime border.
Sultanate of Oman
Thursday, 6 July–Oman’s Ministry of Heritage and Tourism granted 19 licences for integrated tourism complexes (ITC), including a number of projects across the governorates of Muscat, Dhofar, South Al Sharqiyah, South Al Batinah, and Musandam. The ITCs contribute to diversifying tourism products and destinations, with a total investment estimated at 4.38 billion Oman rials (about €10 billion) for projects that are under implementation, and 3.12 billion Oman rials (about €7.5 billion) for projects under the pre-implementation phase.
State of Qatar
Thursday, 6 July–Qatar Airways announced a record-breaking revenue for the 2022 fiscal year, earning QAR 76.3 billion (about €20 billion). During the fiscal year, the airline transported 31.7 million passengers, of which 1.4 million passengers flew to Qatar for the FIFA World Cup 2022.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Wednesday, 5 July—Saudi Arabia welcomed the move by Egypt and Türkiye to appoint Ambassadors to each other’s capitals for the first time in a decade as part of the efforts to restore their bilateral relations.
Thursday, 6 July–Saudi Arabia’s NEOM Green Hydrogen Complex, which is slated to become the world’s largest green hydrogen production facility, is formally under construction and is expected to be completed by the end of 2026. The developer, NEOM Green Hydrogen Company (NGHC), a joint venture between NEOM, Air Products and ACWA Power,issued a full award notice for the engineering procurement and construction contractor.
United Arab Emirates
Tuesday, 4 July–The Crown Prince of Dubai, Hamdan bin Mohammed Al-Maktoum, launched the first phase of the Waste to Energy Centre in Warsan, the world’s largest and most efficient waste-to-energy plant. Featuring advanced clean technologies, the construction cost 4 billion Dirhams (about €1 billion). The Waste to Energy Centre in Warsan is in line with the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050’s objectives to derive 75% of Dubai’s energy needs from clean sources by 2050 and transform the city into a global clean energy and green economy hub.
Wednesday, 5 July–The United Arab Emirates concluded its second presidency of the United Nations Security Council with the adoption of seven resolutions, including a landmark resolution on Tolerance and International Peace and Security. The Resolution 2686, co-penned by the UAE and the United Kingdom and unanimously adopted on 14 June, sought to address hate speech, racism and extremism and promote tolerance, recognising the role of women, youth and inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue.
Saturday, 1 July–Nabila Massrali, EU Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, affirmed the European Union’s position in joining the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ in rejecting the Qur’an burning by an Iraqi refugee in front of the Central Mosque in Stockholm during the Eid al-Adha holiday. Massrali stated that it was an act of provocation that is offensive and disrespectful, and highlighted that the EU continues to stand up for freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression, abroad and at home.
Saturday, 1 July–Spain took over the European Council presidency up until 31 December 2023. Madrid aims to re-industrialise the EU, promote green transition, equality and guarantee EU’s strategic autonomy, with a focus on health, electricity market reform, review of tax governance rules, responsible digitisation, and a greater deployment of renewable energies.
Tuesday, 4 July–GCC countries’ Ambassadors to the EU participated in the inauguration ceremony of the Spanish presidency of the European Council. Oman’s Ambassador to the EU, Rua Issa Ashraf Al-Zadjal, held discussions with Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, and Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hadja Lahbib.
Key Official Visits
Monday, 3 July–Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Waleed Abdulkarim Al-Khuraiji, travelled to the United Kingdom. During his visit, he met with the UK's Minister of State for the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, and UN at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Tariq Ahmad, to discuss ways of enhancing bilateral relations, as well as regional and international issues of common concern. He also met with UK’s Minister of State for Development and Africa, Andrew Mitchell, to review economic and development cooperation in light of the Saudi Vision 2030. During talks with UK’s Deputy National Security Adviser for International Affairs, Sarah MacIntosh, Al-Khuraiji reviewed security cooperation.
Tuesday, 4 July–During his European tour, Kuwait’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Salem Abdullah Al-Sabah, held talkswith officials in Hungary, Italy and Austria.
In Budapest, he met with his Hungarian counterpart, Peter Szijjarto, to discuss Hungary’s support for Kuwait’s Schengen visa-free travel, as well as the Middle East Peace Process, the Russia-Ukraine conflict and combating terrorism and extremism. The two sides signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on tourism. Kuwait’s Foreign Minister also held talks with Hungarian Minister for Economic Development, Marton Nagy, focusing on economic and investment cooperation.
In Rome, Kuwait’s Minister of Foreign Affairs met with his Italian counterpart, Antonio Tajani, to discuss the situations in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria and Ukraine, and Italy’s support for the Schengen visa exemption proposal. A number of MoUs were signed regarding their strategic dialogue and adopting the executive program for cultural cooperation from 2023 to 2025. An MoU was also signed between the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development and the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation. Kuwait’s Minister also met with Italy’s parliament speaker, Lorenzo Fontana, to discuss ways to enhance parliamentary ties.
Finally, Kuwait’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, met with Austria’s Foreign Minister, Alexander Schallenberg, in Vienna. They focused on strengthening economic cooperation and bilateral relations, by signing MoUs on regular political consultations, and cooperation between the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) and the Kuwaiti Fund for Economic Development. They also discussed the current developments in the Middle East and the global impact of Russia’s war.
Tuesday, 4 July–Oman’s Foreign Minister, Badr bin Hamad Al-Busaidi, held political talks with Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccan Expatriates, Nasser Bourita. They discussed ways to boost bilateral cooperation and investment opportunities in various economic sectors.
Tuesday, 4 July–Qatar’s Minister of State of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Al-Khulaifi, received Chinese Special Envoy on the Middle East Issue, Zhai Jun, in Doha.
Wednesday, 5 July–Bahrain’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, visited the United Kingdom. He met with the UK's Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, and UK’s Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace, among other officials. During the visit, Bahrain and the UK signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on biodiversity and marine pollution. A number of other MoUs were signed between the Bahrain’ Institute of Banking and Finance (BIBF) and the London Institute of Banking and Finance (LIBF); the Bahrain Institute of Pearls and Gemstones (Danat) and MALCA-AMIT; the Central Bank of Bahrain and Naisbitt Kig Group.
Wednesday, 5 July–On the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement ministerial meeting in Azerbaijan, Kuwait’s Foreign Minister, Salem Abdullah Al-Sabah, met with his Turkish, Iranian and Iraqi counterparts. With Turkey’s Hakan Fidan, hediscussed economic and investment cooperation and agreed to hold the Joint Committee by the end of 2023 in Kuwait. The talks with Iran’s Hossein Amir-Abdollahian followed up on his recent visit to Kuwait and stressed the importance of cooperation and dialogue to maintain regional security and stability. Finally, he also met with Iraq’s Fuad Mohammed Hussein to review ways to boost their close bilateral ties.
Wednesday, 5 July–On the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement ministerial meeting in Azerbaijan, Qatar’s Minister of State of Foreign Affairs, Soltan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi, and Saudi Arabia’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Waleed Abdulkarim Al-Khuraiji, held talks with Belarusian Foreign Minister, Sergei Aleinik.