The Euro-Gulf Monitor
7 - 13 April 2023
by Veronica Stigliani & Elen'Alba Vitiello
5 Top Points
Saudi and Omani delegations arrived in Sanaa for negotiations with the Houthis.
Bahrain and Qatar agreed to resume diplomatic relations.
Syria and Saudi Arabia agreed to initiate the necessary steps to achieve a political settlement of the Syrian crisis ahead of the Jeddah meeting of the six GCC countries, Egypt, Iraq and Jordan regarding Syria’s return to the Arab League.
Qatar’s and Egypt's power and energy companies will build a power plant in Libya.
The UAE and Malta plan to expand cooperation in maritime affairs, youth and sports.
‘Round and About the Gulf
Kingdom of Bahrain
Tuesday, 11 April–Bahrain’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, established the National Human Rights Committee, based on the proposal of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, and following the approval of the Cabinet. The Committee will be chaired by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and will be responsible for coordination on human rights issues with government agencies.
State of Kuwait
Monday, 10 April–Kuwait’s Prime Minister, Ahmad Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, presented the members of his newly-declared cabinet to the Crown Prince, Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, for the oath taking ceremony.
Sultanate of Oman
Monday, 10 April–Saudi Arabia and Oman signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish a liquid fertilisers factory in the Kingdom to increase agricultural production. The agreement was signed by Saudi Arabia's Investment Ministry and the Oman-based Al-Aflaj International Company. Investments in the organic fertilisers project are expected to contribute to accelerating agricultural production, while meeting the growing local and regional demand in a number of partner countries, including the GCC members and several African states.
State of Qatar
Thursday, 6 April–Qatar’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Mohammed bin Ali Al-Mannai, announced that Qatar will host the Web Summit, the largest technology conference, in March 2024. Taking place in Doha, it will gather international entrepreneurs and investors from the Middle East, Europe, Africa, North and South America, India, and Asia.
Tuesday, 11 April–UCC Holding Qatar and Al-Suwaidi Electric Egypt signed a contract to build a power plant to provide electricity in Libya, in collaboration with the Libyan General Electricity Company. The project, valued at nearly €1.2 billion (EUR) and set to be completed within 26 months, will be located on the North African country’s coast.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Friday, 7 April–The Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) signed a development agreement to fund a hydropower project in Pakistan, named Mohmand Hydropower Dam Project. The loan is worth more than $240 million (USD) (about €218 million), and aims to enhance the supply of energy and water for agricultural use and domestic consumption, as well as protection from flood risks.
Monday, 10 April–The fourth batch of the Saudi Oil Derivatives Grant for Yemen arrived at the oil port in Aden. The delivery consisted of 150,000 metric tons of diesel and 100,000 metric tons of mazut, and was part of Saudi Arabia's ongoing efforts to support the Yemeni people, in response to a request by the Yemeni government to help provide oil derivatives to operate over 70 power generation plants across Yemen.
United Arab Emirates
Sunday, 9 April–The Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation launched the "Iftar for the Fasting" campaign in six Yemeni governorates under the supervision of the UAE Embassy in Yemen. The campaign includes the governorates of Aden, Abyan, Lahij, Shabwah, Hadramaut and Taiz, and aims to distribute 32,000 meals to families and the displaced in those areas, as part of efforts to alleviate the humanitarian conditions facing the population.
Wednesday, 12 April–The Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA) launched a green finance framework for the issuance of green bonds, loans and other debt instruments to support its net-zero goal. Proceeds from such issuances will go to green projects, such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable water and wastewater management, clean transportation and biodiversity.
Friday, 7 April–The EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, condemned the Taliban’s decision to ban Afghan women from working for the UN and its agencies, funds and programmes. The EU called on the Taliban to deliver on their promises and prove their ability to respect and protect human rights and provide basic services for the entire population of Afghanistan.
Friday, 7 April–The Ambassador of the European Union to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the Sultanate of Oman, Patrick Simonnet, explained in an interview with Bahrain’s newspaper, Al-Ayyam, that the EU has established a programme to promote diplomatic exchange, courses for diplomats in the region, and cultural cooperation. He also stressed the importance of trade, highlighting last year’s trade increase between Bahrain and the EU to €3.7 billion.
Key Official Visits
Friday, 7 April–The UAE and Albania signed a cybersecurity agreement, in the presence of the UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abdulla bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, and the Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama, in Tirana. During their meeting, the two sides discussed economic and trade cooperation, as well as developments in the Balkans.
Friday, 7 April–The Arab League held an extraordinary meeting at the headquarters of the General Secretariat in Cairo at the level of permanent delegates, to take a unified Arab stance against Israeli police forces’ storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque. The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Egypt’s Permanent Representative to the Arab League, Mohamed Moustafa Orfy.
Friday, 7 April–The UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, met with Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Foreign Minister, Elmedin Konakovic, in Sarajevo. The meeting aimed to boost cooperation across all fronts, especially in the economic and trade fields.
Saturday, 8 April–A Saudi technical team went to Tehran to discuss the reopening of Saudi Arabia's diplomatic missions in Iran. The Saudi team, led by Nasser Al-Ghanoum, met with the Chief of Protocol at the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mehdi Honardost, to discuss the necessary measures to reopen the two countries’ embassies in Riyadh and Tehran, and their Consulates General in Jeddah and Mashhad. The visit is a follow-up of the tripartite agreement between Saudi Arabia, Iran and China and was followed by Iranian delegation’s visit to Saudi Arabia a few days later.
Sunday, 9 April–Qatar’s Minister of Finance, Ali bin Ahmed Al-Kuwari, received Jordan’s Prime Minister, Bisher Al-Khasawneh, in Doha, to discuss further expanding their bilateral trade ties. Jordanian Prime Minister is also scheduled to have a series of meetings with Qatari officials, to discuss economic development and investment opportunities.
Monday, 10 April–Saudi and Omani delegations arrived in Sanaa for negotiations with the Houthis regarding efforts to end the conflict in Yemen. The initiative followed the recent Saudi Arabia-Iran rapprochement. The envoys met with the head of the Houthi Supreme Political Council, Mahdi Al-Mashat, for talks on ending hostilities, the opening of Yemeni ports and the Sanaa airport.
Monday, 10 April–Saudi Arabia and Türkiye held the first round of political talks at the Foreign Ministry’s headquarters in Riyadh. The Saudi Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Waleed Al-Khereiji, received Türkiye’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Burak Akçapar, and his accompanying delegation. The two sides discussed ways to enhance joint cooperation in various fields, and reviewed the regional and international situation.
Monday, 10 April–Bahrain’s Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and Prime Minister, Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, received the Commander of the US Naval Forces Central Command, Commander of the United States Fifth Fleet, and Commander of Combined Maritime Forces, Charles Cooper, in Manama. Regional and international issues of common interest were reviewed. Cooper also met with Bahrain’s Defence Force Commander-in-Chief, Field Marshal Khalifa bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, Defence Affairs Minister, Lieutenant General Abdullah bin Hassan Al-Nuaimi, and Chief of Staff, Lieutenant-General Theyab bin Saqr Al-Nuaimi.
Tuesday, 11 April–Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Mansour Al-Otaibi, and Turkïye’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Burak Akcapar, held the eighth round of political talks. During the meeting, both sides discussed bilateral ties, strategic cooperation, as well as, ways to help Kuwaiti investors and Turkish real estate owners to overcome obstacles and start construction projects.
Tuesday, 11 April–The UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, received Malta’s Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade, Ian Borg, in Abu Dhabi. The two sides explored ways to expand cooperation in several fields, most notably in trade and investments, as well as on combating climate change. After the meeting, the two ministers signed three memoranda of understanding in areas of maritime affairs, youth, and sports.
Tuesday, 11 April–The UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, received South Sudan’s Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Deng Dau, in Abu Dhabi. The meeting aimed to review bilateral relations and ways to boost cooperation.
Wednesday, 12 April–Qatar and Bahrain agreed to resume diplomatic relations to enhance GCC integration and unity. The statement came during the 2nd Bahraini-Qatari Follow-up Committee meeting at the GCC General Secretariat headquarters in Riyadh. The Bahraini delegation was headed by the Undersecretary for Political Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abdullah bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, and the Qatari delegation was led by the Foreign Ministry’s Secretary General, Ahmed Hassan Al-Hammadi.
Wednesday, 12 April–Syria and Saudi Arabia agreed to initiate the necessary steps to achieve a comprehensive political settlement to the Syrian crisis, during a meeting between the Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, Faisal Mekdad, and Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, in Jeddah. The two sides affirmed the importance of resolving humanitarian difficulties and providing a suitable environment for aid to reach all areas in Syria. On Friday, 14 April, senior officials from the six GCC countries — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — and Egypt, Iraq and Jordan will meet in Jeddah to discuss Syria’s return to the Arab League in a bid to overcome differences over Syria.
Wednesday, 12 April–The UAE President, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, paid an official visit to Cairo, to meet with Egypt's President, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. The two leaders reviewed bilateral relations and discussed regional and international issues of common interest. They also explored ways to strengthen ties and to coordinate in addressing crises.
Wednesday, 12 April—Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, met separately with the visiting Foreign Minister of Oman, Badr bin Hamad Al-Busaidi, to discuss bilateral relations and regional developments.