The Euro-Gulf Monitor

4 - 10 November 2022

by Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani

5 Top Points

  1. Pope Francis concluded his visit to Bahrain, defining it as a new step in Christian-Muslim dialogue.

  2. GCC leaders and representatives gathered at COP27 in Egypt.

  3. The EU-UAE strategic partnership was discussed at the Sir Bani Yas Forum in Abu Dhabi.

  4. Saudi Arabia pledged €2.5 billion (EUR) to the Middle East Green Initiative.

  5. Qatar invested €1 billion (EUR) in Egypt’s Central Bank.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Kingdom of Bahrain

Tuesday, 8 November—The Bahrain International Airshow (BIAS) 2022 kicked off at the Sakhir Air Base. The event gathered over 160 delegations from 30 countries, including the US, the UK, Germany and France, as well as senior representatives from leading global aerospace firms. Israel participated for the first time in the event with its state-run defence company, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

Tuesday, 8 November—Bahrain hosted the eighth meeting of the Arab Group for Space Cooperation, the first held outside of the UAE. The event included space sector representatives from 14 Arab countries, aiming to consolidate joint ventures, knowledge exchange, research projects and cooperation opportunities in the area.

State of Kuwait

Wednesday, 9 November—Kuwait officially committed to becoming carbon neutral in the energy sector by 2050. The measure is part of the country’s bid to tackle climate change and environmental challenges, as Kuwait has also pledged to reach carbon neutrality in other sectors by 2060.

Sultanate of Oman

Saturday, 5 November—The US State Department announced the approval of the potential €385 million worth sale of Joint Stand Off Weapons (JSOW) to Oman. The system consists of an air-launched medium-range precision strike standoff weapon manufactured by Raytheon Missiles, which is used on fighter aircraft.

State of Qatar

Wednesday, 9 November—Qatar’s Investment Authority (QIA) transferred €1 billion (EUR) into Egypt’s Central Bank, as part of Doha's plan to acquire Egypt-owned stakes in local companies. The plan includes the acquisition of a €2.5 billion (EUR) worth 20% stake in Vodafone Egypt. In March 2022 Doha pledged to invest up to €5 billion (EUR) in Egyptian investment markets to support the country, signalling expanding ties between the two countries.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Sunday, 6 November—Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, announced that the Kingdom will contribute €2.5 billion (EUR) to the Middle East Green Initiative, which seeks to reach net zero emissions through sustainable development by 2050. The initiative particularly seeks to enhance regional cooperation in addressing environmental issues by reducing emissions by over 670 million tonnes of carbon dioxide as well as by planting 50 billion trees in the Middle East.

Wednesday, 9 November—Saudi Arabia announced an extension of the single-entry visit visa from 30 to 90 days. The decision will apply to any kind of visa and is part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to boost international mobility and to become more accessible to foreign visitors.

United Arab Emirates

Tuesday, 8 November—The UAE and Egypt agreed to build one of the world's largest onshore wind farms in Egypt. The deal was inked by the Emirati renewable energy firm, Masdar, and Egypt's renewable energy companies, Infinity Power and Hassan Allam Utilities, and aims to develop a 10-gigawatt onshore wind plant that will offset about 9% of Egypt’s CO2 emissions.

 

Wednesday, 9 November—The UAE’s President, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, issued a decree on the regulation and development of the industrial sector, as the country seeks to become a global industrial hub. The new law will expand the role of the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology in promoting investment in the country and identifying technologies for enabling the Fourth Industrial Revolution and will establish a national industrial registry to assist investors in evaluating investment opportunities.

EU Corner

Sunday, 6 November—The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, travelled to the UAE to attend the Sir Bani Yas Forum in Abu Dhabi. During the event, Borrell met with the Emirati Foreign Minister, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, and Advisor to the UAE President, Anwar Gargash. They discussed the expansion of EU-UAE cooperation in energy and food security, as well as developments in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. The Forum also gathered Russian and Turkish Foreign Ministers, Sergei Lavrov and Mevlut Cavusoglu, in Abu Dhabi, to discuss the Ukrainian file.

 

Monday, 7 November—The EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Eamon Gilmore, and President of the Saudi Human Rights Commission, Hala bint Mazyad Al-Tuwaijri, co-chaired the second EU-Saudi Human Rights Dialogue, held in Riyadh. The event focused on EU-Saudi cooperation in human rights, women empowerment, prison sentences, labour rights and death penalty. The EU official also met with Saudi Justice Minister, Walid bin Mohammed Al-Samaani, and with Foreign Minister of State, Adel bin Ahmad Al-Jubeir, to discuss justice reform and bilateral collaboration.

 

Monday, 7 November—The EU Ambassador to Qatar, Cristian Tudor, met with Qatar’s National Security Advisor, Mohammed bin Ahmad Al-Misnad, in Doha. They reviewed EU-Qatar collaboration in geostrategic challenges as well as global security.

Key Official Visits

Sunday, 6 November—The 27th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) kicked off in Sharm El-Sheikh. Gulf attendees included Bahrain’s Crown Prince, Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Kuwait’s Crown Prince, Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Oman’s Energy Minister, Salim Nassir Al-Aufi, Qatar’s Environment and Climate Change Minister, Faleh bin Nasser Al-Thani, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, and the UAE’s President, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. The event focused on addressing climate change and increasing global cooperation in sustainable energy projects. The UAE, Jordan and Israel agreed to partner in advancing water desalination projects and sustainable energy.

 

Sunday, 6 November—Pope Francis concluded his four-day visit to Bahrain. During the trip, the Pontiff intervened at the ‘Bahrain Forum for Dialogue: East and West for Human Coexistence’, where he focused on the role of religions in promoting peace and disarmament, and called for a diplomatic solution to the ongoing Yemeni war. He led a public mass at the Bahrain National Stadium, with a sermon condemning violence and praising dialogue to solve conflicts. He also met the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Al-Tayeb, and visited the Sacred Heart Church. The Pope also underlined that the trip marked a new step in positive Christian-Muslim dialogue. 

 

Tuesday, 8 November—Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, participated in the meetings of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, meeting with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk. They reviewed Bahrain’s human rights objectives and exchange of experiences and best practices in the field, as well as joint cooperation with the Council. The visit came on the sidelines of the Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group, during which the Kingdom and other 13 states have their human rights file examined, which will be concluded on 18 November.

 

Wednesday, 9 November—The US and Oman announced the launch of the first US-Oman Strategic Dialogue, focused on focus on education and cultural exchange, trade and investment, and renewable energy, during the meeting between US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, and Oman’s Foreign Minister, Badr Hamad Al-Busaidi, in Washington. The two sides reviewed historical bilateral relations and explored ways to expand the Free Trade Agreement reached by the two countries in 2009 and to boost cooperation in the fields of science and technology. Oman’s Foreign Minister also met with the US National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan.