The Euro-Gulf Monitor
6 - 12 October 2023
by Elen'Alba Vitiello
5 Top Points
The 27th EU-GCC Joint Council and Ministerial Meeting took place in Muscat, Oman.
GCC countries’ leaders discussed ways to diffuse the escalating situation in Israel and Gaza with their regional and international counterparts.
Qatar’s Emir travelled to Germany.
Kuwait unveiled a new strategy to boost hydrocarbon production.
Qatar and France signed a 27-year LNG supply deal.
‘Round and About the Gulf
Kingdom of Bahrain
Monday, 9 October–Bahrain hosted the two-day eGovernment Forum 2023, under the patronage of the Minister of Interior and Chairman of the Ministerial Committee for Information and Communication Technology (MCICT), Rashi bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa. The forum focused on the “Artificial Intelligence (AI): Reshaping Industries”. The discussion aimed at creating a roadmap for deploying AI in Bahrain by integrating it into critical sectors such as education, healthcare, and government domains.
State of Kuwait
Tuesday, 10 October–Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Oil, Minister of State for Economic Affairs and Investment, Saad Al-Barrak, unveiled a new strategy to boost hydrocarbon production and said his country would develop the infrastructure for the Durra gas field, which it shares with Saudi Arabia. The strategy for the state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corporation aims to raise the oil production capacity to 4 million barrels per day by 2035 and achieve the company’s carbon neutrality by 2050.
Sultanate of Oman
Wednesday, 11 October–Oman’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) signed a joint Memorandum of Cooperation with OQ Group, Oman’s Oil Company, and with Jordanian Sky Energy Company, specialised in energy solution and renewable energy, to manufacture sustainable aviation fuel for Oman. The strategic cooperation reflects Oman’s goal at achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
State of Qatar
Wednesday, 11 October–QatarEnergy and France’s TotalEnergies signed two long-term sales and purchase supply agreements, providing France with up to 3.5 million metric tons of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) a year for 27 years. The LNG volumes will be sourced from two joint ventures between QatarEnergy and TotalEnergies that hold interests in Qatar’s North Field East (NFE) and North Field South (NFS) projects.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Monday, 9 October–Saudi Arabia hosted the Middle East and North Africa Climate Week in Riyadh, during which the country unveiled the Greenhouse Gas Crediting and Offsetting Mechanism (GCOM) to be launched early next year, allowing companies to offset their emissions by buying credits from projects that voluntarily cut or remove greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, it also unveiled a roadmap to realise its commitment to plant 10 billion trees as part of the Saudi Green Initiative.
Wednesday, 11 October—The project platform for interconnecting the GCC Electricity Market with Iraq was inaugurated by the Governor of the Eastern Region, Saud bin Naif Al-Saud, at the Gulf Cooperation Council Interconnection Authority (GCCIA) headquarters in Dammam.
United Arab Emirates
Wednesday, 11 October–UAE’s state-owned advanced technology and defence conglomerate, EDGE, signed a strategic cooperation agreement with SAHA Istanbul, an association representing more than 1000 Turkish defence companies, in Ankara, paving the way for a deeper UAE-Türkiye defence cooperation. The agreement provides a framework for both sides to identify collaborative opportunities for joint development, and will enable EDGE to leverage Türkiye’s supply chains.
Friday, 6 October–European Union High Representative, Josep Borrell, issued a statement regarding the concern expressed by French, German, and UK Foreign Ministers on the violations of Iran’s commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), known as the Iran Nuclear Deal. Josep Borrell remains fully committed to continuing all possible efforts towards the resumption of the full implementation of the JCPoA, after the Foreign Ministers expressed their intention to not take the steps regarding the lifting of further sanctions on the JCPoA Transition Day on 18 October 2023.
Monday, 9 October–The two-day 27th EU-GCC Joint Council and Ministerial Meeting, the first one in eight years, took place in Muscat, Oman, to further consolidate the EU-GCC strategic partnership. The meeting, which gathered EU and GCC members’ Foreign Ministers as well as GCC Secretary-General, Jassem Al-Budaiwi, the EU Commissioner on Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, and the EU Special Representative for the Gulf, Luigi Di Maio, was headed by Oman’s Foreign Minister, Badr Albusaidi, and EU’s High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Josep Borrell. During the talks they discussed the Joint Action Programme (2022-2027), trade and economic cooperation, climate change, regional security and other issues, notably Ukraine, Iran, Yemen, Syria, Sudan and the Horn of Africa. They agreed to explore the potential for GCC-EU coordination on the EU initiative for a Coordinated Maritime Presence in the North West Indian Ocean, and to hold a high-level forum on regional security and cooperation in Brussels soon.
The escalation in Israel and Gaza topped the meeting’s agenda. The joint EU-GCC statement condemned all attacks against civilians and called for restraint, the release of all hostages and adherence to international humanitarian law, and praised the joint efforts to revive the Arab Peace Plan. Josep Borrell invited the Foreign Ministers of Israel, Eli Cohen, and Palestine, Riyad Al-Malki, to an informal meeting of the EU Foreign Ministers but they did not participate. The EU vowed to review its development aid to the Palestinians, while continuing to deliver humanitarian aid.
Key Official Visits
Sunday, 8 October–Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, held a meeting with the Chair of the United Kingdom Abraham Accords Group and Member of the British Parliament, Liam Fox, in Manama.
Sunday, 8 October—Swedish Foreign Minister, Tobias Billstrom, met with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Defence, Khalid bin Salman Al-Saud, in Riyadh.
Monday, 9 October–Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Economy and Planning, Faisal bin Fadhil Al-Ibrahim, met with the Estonian Minister of Economic Affairs, Tiit Riisalo, in Riyadh. During the meeting, they discussed ways in which economic ties might be strengthened, as well as opportunities for trade, investment and technical cooperation.
Monday, 9 October–Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, met with Iraqi Prime Minister, Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani, in Baghdad. They discussed their bilateral relations and ways to bolster them, as well as regional and international developments of mutual interest.
Monday, 9 October–Oman’s Foreign Minister, Badr Al-Busaidi, and his Lithuanian counterpart, Gabrielius Landsbergis, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the tourism field to promote cooperation and potentially operate a direct airline connecting the two countries.
Wednesday, 11 October–Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, accompanied by the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, travelled to Berlin. During their visit, they met with Germany's President, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Foreign Minister of Foreign Affairs, Annalena Baerbock, to discuss bilateral relations and ways to enhance them, as well as the latest developments in Israel and Gaza.
Wednesday, 11 October–UAE’s Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and COP28 President-Designate, Sultan Al-Jaber, met with Pope Francis, in the Vatican. They discussed the crucial role of faith leaders in advancing the climate agenda of COP28.
Wednesday, 11 October–The Council of the League of Arab States held an extraordinary session on the military escalation in Gaza and Israel and its impact on regional security and stability. Held under the chairmanship of Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccan Expatriates, Nasser Bourita, with the presence of Arab League Secretary-General, Ahmed Gheit, the meeting adopted a resolution calling for the immediate cessation of the conflict, condemning the killing and targeting of civilians on both sides and stressing the importance of their protection in line with international law and humanitarian principles.
Thursday, 12 October–Since Hamas’ incursion into Israel on 7 October, the GCC countries’ leaders and high-level officials have been in contact with their regional and international counterparts regarding the Israel-Hamas war and efforts to contain and diffuse the escalating situation and save civilians. For example, Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud spoke with French President Macron, Palestinian President Abbas, Turkish President Erdogan, and, notably, also with Iranian President Raisi, marking their first official call. The UAE President, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, held talks with Egyptian President El-Sisi, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Syrian President Al-Assad, Israeli President Herzog, US President Biden, Brazilian President Lula da Silva and Dutch Prime Minister Rutte. Qatar’s Emir spoke with French President, King of Jordan, Egyptian President, Iraq’s Prime Minister Al-Sudani and Italian Prime Minister Meloni, among others.