The Euro-Gulf Monitor
7 - 12 March 2021
Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani
‘Round and About the Gulf
Kingdom of Bahrain
Wednesday, 10 March–Bahrain and the UAE held the 9th Ministerial Meeting, co-chaired by Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, and his UAE counterpart, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. They reviewed cooperation in politics, economy, trade and investment and signed a number of Memoranda of Understanding in the fields of media, energy and water as well environmental protection and climate affairs.
State of Kuwait
Wednesday, 10 March—Kuwait's Minister of Finance, Khalifa Hamada, called for radical economic and financial reforms that go beyond temporary fixes to increase non-oil revenues and decrease expenditure. According to his statement, even the current higher oil prices ($67 per barrel) are not enough to solve Kuwait’s budgetary issues, which would require the oil prices to reach at least $90 per barrel.
Sultanate of Oman
Tuesday, 9 March–Oman’s Cabinet announced it will lower the income tax for small and medium businesses for 2020 and 2021, offer long-term residency visas for foreign investors, and reduce rent at the Duqm Special Economic Zone until the end of 2022 in a bid to attract foreign investments and boost economic diversification.
State of Qatar
Sunday, 7 March–Qatar resumed exports of condensate, a hydrocarbon liquid similar to crude oil, to the UAE, delivering about 712,000 barrels to the Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC) refinery in Dubai, for the first time since the beginning of the 2017 Gulf crisis.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Wednesday, 10 March–Saudi Arabia and Germany partnered on the generation, processing, use and transportation of “green” hydrogen, a clean energy source alternative to fossil fuels. The Memorandum of Understanding was inked by the Kingdom’s Minister of Energy, Abdul Aziz bin Salman Al-Saud, and German Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, Peter Altmaier, in Riyadh.
United Arab Emirates
Thursday, 11 March–The UAE announced the establishment of a $10 billion (USD) fund for investments in Israel, planning to invest notably in energy, water, space, healthcare, agri-tech and manufacturing sectors. Additionally, the Israel Aerospace Industries, Israel’s largest aerospace and defence company, and the UAE’s state-owned defence industry conglomerate, EDGE, announced they will jointly develop an advanced defence system against Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).
Sunday, 7 March–The UAE Air Force hosts the two-week multi-national Exercise Desert Flag-VI at the UAE’s Al-Dhafra Air Base, featuring air forces of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, France, the United States, South Korea, and, for the first time, also India.
The EU Corner
Sunday, 7 March–Bahrain’s Assistant Foreign Minister, Abdullah bin Faisal Al-Doseri, received the German Ambassador to Bahrain, Kai Boeckmann, to discuss EU-Bahrain relations as part of the ongoing dialogue, led by Germany, Italy and France, to strengthen cooperation with Manama. The European Ambassadors also met with the Ombudsman of Bahrain to discuss human rights-related issues.
Sunday, 7 March–The Head of the EU Delegation to Oman, Patrick Simonnet, held talks with Oman’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Faisal bin Turki Al-Said, reviewing the EU-Oman cooperation and matters of common interest.
Sunday, 7 March—The EU’s Ambassador to Kuwait, Cristian Tudor, and Kuwait’s Assistant Foreign Minister for European Affairs, Walid Al-Khubaizi, discussed opportunities to strengthen EU-Kuwait cooperation in the nearest future.
Monday, 8 March–The EU condemned the latest missile and drone attacks launched by the Yemeni Houthis against Saudi Arabia, and expressed concern for the population’s safety. Confirming its commitment to cooperate with the UN to provide humanitarian and economic assistance to the Yemeni people, the EU urged the parts to agree on a ceasefire.
Thursday, 11 March—Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States released a joint statement condemning the Iran-backed Houthis’ offensive on Marib in Yemen and the sharp increase in attacks on Saudi Arabia.
Key Official Visits
Monday, 8 March–Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, held separate meetings with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, discussing cooperation and security issues, and Bahrain’s Crown Prince, Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, in the presence of Bahrain’s Minister of Finance and National Economy, Salman bin Khalifa Al-Khalifa, in Riyadh.
Monday, 8 March–Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, toured the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. During the trip, he met with his Emirati counterpart, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, and Qatari and Turkish Foreign Ministers, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani and Mevlut Cavusoglu.
Monday, 8 March–Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, travelled to Doha for a meeting with Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and his Qatari counterpart, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, discussing ways to boost cooperation.
Wednesday, 10 March–Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, visited Saudi Arabia and the UAE, to strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation. Malaysia signed three cooperation agreements with Riyadh — one establishing a Saudi-Malaysian Coordination Council and two on Islamic Affairs — and Memoranda of Understanding on cooperation in food security and diplomatic training with Abu Dhabi.
Thursday, 11 March–Doha hosted a trilateral meeting on the Syrian crisis between Qatar’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, and Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov. The next trilateral will be held in Ankara.
Friday, 12 March—The Foreign Minister of Armenia, Ara Aivazian, held talks with his UAE counterpart, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, in Abu Dhabi.
Friday, 12 March—Serbia’s President, Aleksandar Vučić, and his accompanying delegation arrived in Bahrain for a meeting with King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa.