The Euro-Gulf Monitor

6 - 12 May 2022

by

Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani

5 Top Points

  1. Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani travelled to Iran.

  2. Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, travelled to Oman.

  3. Bahrain’s Speaker of Parliament, Fawzia Abdulla Yusuf Zainal, met with European Parliament President, Roberta Metsola.

  4. Saudi Arabia plans to invest €95 billion in aviation and launch a new national airline by 2030.

  5. Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince and Greek Prime Minister inked a €4 billion investment partnership.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Kingdom of Bahrain

Sunday, 8 May–Bahrain kicked off the ‘Neon Defender 22’ maritime exercise, jointly conducted by the Bahrain Defence Forces and the US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT). The drill seeks to increase interoperability among forces and boost competencies in naval operations, tactical manoeuvres and protection of water passages in the region.

 

Wednesday, 11 May–The British Government will grant Bahrain and Saudi Arabia the UK electronic visa waiver status from 1 June in a bid to enhance British-Gulf relations and boost visitors exchange. Nationals of the two Gulf countries will be able to travel to the UK without obtaining a visa, under the condition that they provide notification of travel via the electronic visa waiver.

State of Kuwait

Tuesday, 10 May–Kuwait’s Crown Prince, Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, issued a decree accepting the Cabinet’s resignation, a month after its submission. The Crown Prince also requested the resigning government to remain in a caretaker role, while the country is undergoing a protracted parliamentary rift over a fiscal reform and corruption allegations.

Sultanate of Oman

Friday, 6 May–Oman officially assumed the presidency of the Asia-Pacific Group at the United Nations (UN). The Permanent Representative of Oman to the UN, Mohammed bin Awad Al-Hassan, highlighted Muscat’s willingness to defend the interests of Asian and Pacific countries within the group’s framework and in other international forums.

State of Qatar

Monday, 9 May–Qatar and Germany reportedly failed to ink a long-term deal on liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies. The failure was caused by differences over the duration of the contract — Doha demands at least twenty years, which would clash with Berlin’s 2040 goal to cut carbon emissions by 88%. The talks over the expansion of gas supplies from Qatar come amid Europe’s efforts to wean itself off Russian energy.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Wednesday, 11 May–Saudi Arabia hosted the first ‘Future Aviation Forum’ between 9 and 11 May. The forum gathered over 2,000 public officials and industry representatives, with discussions covering aspects of innovation and sustainability. During the event, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Transport, Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser, announced that the Kingdom will invest up to €95 billion (EUR) in the aviation sector, while also launching a new national airline by the end of 2030.

United Arab Emirates

Tuesday, 10 May–Abu Dhabi-based investment and holding firm, ADQ, signed a €4 billion (EUR) worth investment partnership deal with Greece’s national development bank, the Hellenic Development Bank (HDB). The deal was signed in the UAE by Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, and Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis. The agreement provisions joint and individual investments in the areas of renewable energy, infrastructure, agriculture, technology and healthcare.

 

Tuesday, 10 May–The UAE’s Cabinet announced it will introduce an unemployment insurance for workers that will allow them to receive temporary financial compensation in case of unemployment. The move is part of the Emirates’ efforts to enhance the competitiveness of their labor sector and introduce social assistance to workers in the country.

The EU Corner

Tuesday, 10 May‒Qatar’s Assistant Foreign Minister for Regional Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Al-Khulaifi, and Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Majdi Ahmad Ebrahim Al-Dhafiri, travelled to Brussels to attend, alongside the other four GCC countries’ representatives to the EU, the sixth International Conference on ‘Supporting the future of Syria and the region,’ organised by the European Union. The event focused on humanitarian support to the country and the role of regional actors in the social and economic areas. The conference concluded with a total pledge of €6.3 billion (EUR) in assistance to Syria. On the sidelines of the event, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Kuwait was received by Commissioner Vice-President for Promoting the European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas.

 

Tuesday, 11 May—During his visit to Brussels, Ali bin Samikh Al-Marri, Qatar’s Minister of Labour, met with several EU officials, notably Ylva Johansson, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Margaritis Schinas, Commissioner Vice-President for Promoting the European Way of Life, Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament (EP), and Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, Chair of the EP’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, as well as Pierre-Yves Dermagne, Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Economy and Employment.

 

Wednesday, 11 May‒The Head of the EU Delegation to Saudi Arabia, Patrick Simonnet, together with other EU Ambassadors to Riyadh, met with important travel bloggers to discuss EU-Saudi cooperation in the field of tourism, as well as international mobility between Europe and Saudi Arabia.

 

Thursday, 12 May‒Bahrain’s Speaker of the Council of Representatives, Fawzia Abdulla Yusuf Zainal, met with the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, in Brussels. She also addressed the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET), outlining the Kingdom’s progress in enhancing women’s role in politics and EU-Bahrain cooperation opportunities in trade, industry and health.

Key Official Visits

Monday, 9 May–India’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vellamvelly Muraleedharan, began his three-day visit to Doha. He met with Qatar’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Soltan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi, discussing Indian-Qatari relations in energy, trade and investment, as well as welfare policies dedicated to the Indian community in Qatar.

 

Monday, 9 May–Morocco and Saudi Arabia signed cooperation agreements on green energy and on the peaceful use of nuclear energy during a meeting between Morocco’s Energy Minister, Laila Benali, and her Saudi counterpart, Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, in Riyadh. The deals include information transfer in the renewable energy sector as well as collaboration in engineering, constructing and operating nuclear plants.

 

Tuesday, 10 May–Foreign Ministers of the six GCC countries travelled to Marrakesh to attend the Ministerial Meeting of the Global Coalition Against Daesh, co-chaired by Morocco and the US. The Gulf ministers re-committed to their efforts to combat terrorism and extremism across the region. A number of bilateral meetings were held on the sidelines of the event, which included talks with Foreign Ministers of Cyprus, Morocco, Norway, the Czech Republic, Portugal and Spain. 

 

Wednesday, 11 May–Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister, Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, travelled to Abu Dhabi to attend the World Utilities Congress, which focused on innovation in the energy and utilities industries. On the sidelines of the event, the Saudi Minister met with his Emirati counterpart, Suhail Al-Mazrouei, to discuss the global energy market’s crisis and investments in the oil sector.

 

Wednesday, 11 May–Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, met with his Omani counterpart, Badr Al-Busaidi, and Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said during an official visit to Muscat. They discussed bilateral cooperation on energy, tourism and IT as well as the Iranian nuclear file, Ukraine, Syria and the Palestinian-Israeli issue. Al-Busaidi stressed Oman’s support for the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal (JCPOA), and urged ‘all parties’ in Ukraine to reach a diplomatic solution, while Lavrov appreciated Muscat’s role in rehabilitating Syria. The two countries should sign agreements on avoidance of double taxation and visa waivers for citizens.

 

Thursday, 12 May–Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani travelled to Tehran, where he is scheduled to meet with Iranian President, Ebrahim Raisi. The talks will cover Qatari-Iranian relations in economy, trade and investment, as well as the resumption of the 2015 Nuclear Deal. During the visit, a number of cooperation deals in the sectors of energy, water, education and tourism are expected to be signed.