The Euro-Gulf Monitor

4 - 10 February 2022

by

Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani

5 Top Points

  1. Leaders of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE met with Chinese President, Xi Jinping.

  2. The Vatican inaugurated its first Embassy in the UAE.

  3. Bahrain launched new permanent-residency visa.

  4. EU, Kuwait and Oman discussed cooperation in economy, energy and security.

  5. Qatar will host a summit of the world’s top natural gas exporters.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Kingdom of Bahrain

Tuesday, 8 February–Bahrain announced the introduction of a ‘Golden Residency Visa’, a new type of permanent residency visa. The new permit seeks to attract specialised workers and foreign investors in the Kingdom, and is part of the country’s Economic Recovery Plan’s aims to enhance its international economic competitiveness.

State of Kuwait

Wednesday, 9 February–Kuwait will reportedly conclude its ‘Kuwaitisation’ plan, launched in 2017 to replace expat workers in the government sector with Kuwaiti citizens, by August 2022. The completion of the plan will temporarily exclude the sectors of teaching, health and service, according to government sources cited by local media.

Sultanate of Oman

Wednesday, 9 February–Oman’s Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (Madayn) kicked off the development of five new industrial cities in Khasab, Ibri, Thumrait, Shinas and Al Mudhaibi. The projects are part of Oman’s Vision 2040 and efforts to reach a total of forty industrial cities across the country. The plan’s aim is to enhance social and economic development through investment in innovation and workforce localisation.

State of Qatar

Tuesday, 8 February–Qatar announced it will host the biennial summit of the world’s top natural gas exporters, the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), at the end of February. The group includes Russia, Iran, Libya and Egypt. The summit comes amid the recent tensions between the US, the EU and Russia due to fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, with the EU’s attempts to reduce its energy reliance on Moscow.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Wednesday, 9 February–Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, held a phone call with US President, Joe Biden, discussing strategic cooperation in security, developments in Yemen and the Iran nuclear file. The two leaders reaffirmed their willingness to coordinate in ending the crisis in Yemen, deescalating tensions and promoting peace, as well as countering Iran’s nuclear program and its hostile activities in the region. The talks came amid the recent escalation of attacks by the Iran-aligned Yemeni Houthi militia.

United Arab Emirates

Friday, 4 February–The Vatican inaugurated its first Embassy in the UAE. The event was marked by the visit of Substitute of the Vatican Secretariat of State, Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, to Abu Dhabi. The opening of the Vatican’s first Apostolic Nunciature to the Emirates was hailed as part of the two countries’ deepening of relations.

 

Wednesday, 9 February–Dubai’s International Chamber launched a three-year strategy which aims to attract fifty multinational companies to the emirate. The strategy will also support the international expansion of one hundred Dubai-based companies within two years in a bid to enhance the emirate’s competitiveness as a global business hub.

The EU Corner

Monday, 7 February–The Head of the EU Delegation to Oman, Patrick Simonnet, met with the Omani Undersecretary of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion for Commerce and Industry, Saleh Said Masan, and with the Omani Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Wealth and Water Resources, Saud bin Hammoud Al-Habsi, in Muscat. They discussed cooperation in trade and investment.

 

Tuesday, 8 February–Representatives of Oman and of the EU gathered for the 2nd Senior Officials’ Meeting between the Foreign Ministry of Oman and the European External Action Service (EEAS). The event, chaired by the Omani Undersecretary for Diplomatic Affairs, Khalifa bin Ali bin Issa Al-Harthy, and the EEAS Deputy Managing Director, Carl Hallergard, focused on EU-Oman economic relations, energy transition, technology and security.

 

Thursday, 10 February–The 3rd Senior Officials’ Meeting between Kuwait and the European External Action Service (EEAS) took place. The conference aimed to discuss EU-Kuwait coordination on several dossiers, including energy, security, education, food distribution, and the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key Official Visits

Friday, 4 February—Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Investment, Khalid Al-Falih, met with Finland’s Minister of Development Cooperation and Trade, Phil Skinari, and his accompanying delegation in Riyadh. They discussed boosting cooperation and investment between the two countries.

 

Saturday, 5 February–Chinese President, Xi Jinping, received Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, in Beijing. The meeting was on the sidelines of a lunch inaugurating the opening of Beijing’s Winter Olympics 2022. On the same day, Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and the Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, met for the first time since the end of the Gulf crisis in 2021.

 

Monday, 7 February–Morocco’s Prime Minister, Aziz Akhannouch, travelled to Doha, where he met with Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. The two leaders discussed enhancing trade relations and coordinating on security issues. The visit also coincided with the 8th session of the Qatari-Moroccan Joint Supreme Committee, during which six cooperation deals were signed in the areas of Islamic affairs, tourism, culture, and sports.

 

Tuesday, 8 February–British Minister of Culture, Nadine Dorries, visited Riyadh, meeting with her Saudi counterpart, Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud. The two ministers signed a memorandum of understanding on boosting cooperation in the areas of film, music, architecture, design, museums and heritage.

 

Wednesday, 9 February–The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, David Gressly, met with Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, in Riyadh. They discussed developments in Yemen, UN-Saudi coordination in countering humanitarian violations and possible political solutions to the crisis.

 

Wednesday, 9 February–Iran’s Minister of Industry, Mining and Trade, Seyyed Reza Fatemi Amin, visited Muscat, meeting with Oman’s Foreign Minister, Badr bin Hamad Al-Busaidi, and Minister of Commerce, Industry and Investment, Qais Mohammed Al-Yousef. They discussed cooperation in the sectors of mining, food and medical equipment, as well as opportunities for establishing Iranian companies in the Sultanate.

 

Thursday, 10 February–The UK’s Prince William visited Dubai in his first official trip to the UAE. During the visit, Prince William met with Chairman of the Emirate’s Executive Office, Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, discussing climate change, environment and wildlife preservation.