The Euro-Gulf Monitor
7 - 12 February 2021
Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani
‘Round and About the Gulf
Kingdom of Bahrain
Wednesday, 10 February–Bahrain approved the emergency use of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine for COVID-19. Sputnik V is the fourth vaccine approved in the Kingdom, along with Pfizer/BionTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Sinopharm.
State of Kuwait
Wednesday, 10 February–The Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company (KUFPEC), announced the largest gas discovery in history, made through its fully owned subsidiary, KUFPEC Malaysia. The discovery was made in the Lang Lebah-2 Offshore in Malaysia, in which KUFPEC owns a 42.5% stake of the working interests.
Sultanate of Oman
Monday, 8 February–Oman’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Badr bin Hamad Al-Busaidi, expressed the country’s satisfaction with the current status of its relationship with Israel, notwithstanding recent regional developments and the Abraham Accords. The Minister also confirmed Oman’s promptness to assist in mediating discussions between the US and Iran on reinstating the Nuclear Deal.
State of Qatar
WeWednesday, 10 February–Qatar Petroleum (QP) kicked off the largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in history. QP will invest $28.7 billion (USD) into the North Field East Project, which aims to increase Qatar’s LNG production by 40% a year by 2026, from 77 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) to 110 million mtpa.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Monday,Monday, 8 February–Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, announced judicial reforms of four major and fundamental laws in a step towards an entirely codified law system. The Crown Prince stated that the personal status law, the civil transactions law, the penal code of discretionary sanctions and the law of evidence are currently being codified.
United Arab Emirates
SaturdaWednesday, 10 February–The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) granted Japanese oil company, Cosmo, exploration rights for its Offshore Block 4. The Japanese company will invest $145 million (USD) into the exploration, holding the entirety of the stakes. Following a discovery, ADNOC will maintain the option of holding a 60% stake in the production phase, which is termed by 35 years from the beginning of the exploration.
The EU Corner
Tuesday, 9 February‒The European Parliament held a debate on the Yemeni situation, discussing the humanitarian and economic crisis and its impact on regional stability. The High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, declared that the EU should continue its effort to promote dialogue among the factions involved, while supporting the initiatives of the UN and the US to bring the war to an end.
Wednesday, 10 February‒The EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, and the Foreign Minister of Bahrain, Abdellatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, signed a Cooperation Agreement outlining the institutional framework for political dialogue and cooperation various fields, including trade, research and innovation, and renewables. The meeting also focused on the recent developments of the Gulf region, welcoming the renewed cooperation among the GCC countries and the improvement of relations with Israel.
Wednesday, 10 February‒The Head of the EU Delegation to Saudi Arabia, Patrick Simonnet, met with the Saudi Ambassador to Yemen, Mohammed bin Saeed Al-Jaber. The Ambassadors discussed the critical status of Yemen and agreed to continue cooperation and mutual support in enhancing the political stabilisation of the country.
Key Official Visits
Sunday, 7 February–Malta’s Foreign Minister, Evarist Bartolo, visited the UAE, holding a meeting with his Emirati counterpart, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. They discussed cooperation in combating the pandemic and signed three Memoranda of Understanding. The deals cover cooperation in scientific and academic research and the establishment of a joint bilateral committee.
Monday, 8 February–Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Arancha Gonzalez Laya, visited the UAE and Qatar. In Dubai, the Spanish Minister met with her Emirati counterpart, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, discussing bilateral cooperation in health, science, artificial intelligence and economy, as well as regional developments. During the visit, the UAE and Spain also signed a cooperation agreement in the security field. In Qatar, Minister Laya was received by the country’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. They discussed the Afghan peace talks, GCC unity and developments in Palestine.
Wednesday, 10 February–Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, toured Kuwait, Qatar and Oman. In Kuwait, he met with the country’s Emir Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, discussing bilateral cooperation in economy, defence and health, as well as developments in Iraq, Syria and Libya. In Oman, Cavusoglu met with his Omani counterpart, Badr bin Hamad Al-Busaidi, discussing cooperation in defence and the developments regarding Palestine, Yemen, Libya and Syria. In Qatar, Minister Cavusoglu met with Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, reviewing the Turkish-Qatari strategic relations.
Thursday, 11 February–UK’s Trade Commissioner for the Middle East, Simon Penney, visited Manama, meeting with Bahrain’s Minister of Finance and National Economy, Salman bin Khalifa Al-Khalifa. They discussion UK-Bahraini cooperation in the economic, financial, investment and trade sectors.
Thursday, 11 February–Foreign Ministers of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE discussed regional security challenges, the Cyprus file, energy issues and COVID-19 impact, with counterparts from France, Greece, Cyprus and Egypt, during the first “Philia Forum” held in Athens. Taking part to the event, Saudi Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, Bahraini Foreign Minister, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, and the UAE Foreign Minister, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. The officials also held talks with Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis.