The Euro-Gulf Monitor

8 - 14 April 2022

by

Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani

5 Top Points

  1. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Yemen returned their Ambassadors to Lebanon.

  2. The UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, visited the Houthi-controlled Sanaa for the first time.

  3. The UAE and France discussed strategic partnership, Ukraine and Yemen.

  4. Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, travelled to Moscow.

  5. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait plan to develop the offshore Durra gas field despite Iran’s objections and invited Tehran for border negotiations.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Kingdom of Bahrain

Thursday, 14 April–The Bahrain-based international investment manager, Investcorp, launched a new private infrastructure investment platform in North America. The new business will seek to expand the company’s investments into critical infrastructure and real estate firms in North America. The move follows the promulgation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in November 2021 in the US, which provisioned investments for over €500 billion (EUR) in critical infrastructure across the country.

State of Kuwait

Friday, 8 April–Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Yemen returned their Ambassadors to Lebanon after a six-month diplomatic rift between Beirut and the Gulf countries. The decision followed Kuwait’s initiative to restore ties among the countries and the announcement by Lebanon’s Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, that Beirut will take the necessary measures to boost its collaboration with the Gulf states.

Sultanate of Oman

Monday, 11 April–Oman became the 100th country and the first GCC country to ratify the 2006 Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), issued by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The treaty upholds seafarers’ employment rights as well as their working conditions, and now covers over ninety-six percent of the world’s gross shipping tonnage.

Monday, 11 April–The Oman Investment Authority (OIA) announced that it will privatise over thirty public companies by 2025. The move aims to boost foreign investment in the Sultanate and expand its private sector in a wider effort to support the country’s economic growth.

State of Qatar

Wednesday, 13 April–Doha’s state-owned energy giant, QatarEnergy, awarded the first batch of long-term charter deals for four liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers to Japanese shipping company, Mitsui O.S.K (MOL). The agreements mark the beginning of the construction phase of QatarEnergy’s fleet expansion programme, through which the company plans to build over one hundred new LNG carriers as part of Doha’s wider efforts to increase its LNG output from 77 million tonnes per annum to 110 million by 2026.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Sunday, 10 April–Riyadh launched a new plan for industrial innovation and manufacturing, named the Saudi Advanced Manufacturing Hub (Saudi AMHUB) strategy. The plan will address challenges to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) through digital transformation and technology transfer processes, while it will also expand research and development programmes in the Kingdom. The new strategy is part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to expand its industrial sector within the Fourth Industrial Revolution framework.

Wednesday, 13 April—Saudi Arabia and Kuwait reaffirmed their right to develop the offshore Durra gas field despite Iran’s objections and invited Tehran to negotiate the long-standing maritime boundary dispute in the resource rich area. Iran claims that Arash/Al-Durra is a joint field between the three countries. The field could produce 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day and 84,000 barrels of condensates per day.

United Arab Emirates

Monday, 11 April–The UAE’s Cabinet approved a national strategy for digital economy and the formation of a Digital Economy Council. The plan seeks to increase the sectors’ contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) from nine to twenty percent in the next ten years.

 

Tuesday, 12 April–Abu Dhabi’s state-owned holding company, ADQ, purchased stakes in five Egyptian companies for over €1.6 billion (EUR). The companies operate in the sectors of banking, chemicals, transports, and e-commerce. ADQ’s investment follows a pledge by the Emirates to support Egypt as it tackles the economic impact of the Ukrainian conflict.

The EU Corner

Saturday, 9 April‒The Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Nayef Al-Ajraf, organised an Iftar, the meal eaten by Muslims after sunset during Ramadan, for the international diplomatic community in Riyadh. The Head of the EU Delegation to Saudi Arabia, Patrick Simonnet, attended the event, meant to be an occasion to deepen knowledge about the Islamic culture and traditions, as well as to praise the Gulf initiative for Yemen. 

 

Sunday, 10 April‒The Greek Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Alexis Konstantopoulos, hosted a meeting between EU representatives and Saudi Ambassadors to Yemen. They discussed the situation in the country as well as the recent two-month truce agreed among the warring parties, and welcomed the creation of a Presidential Leadership Council to lead peace efforts.

Key Official Visits

Thursday, 7 April–Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, travelled to Moscow, where he met with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov. The talks focused on the conflict in Ukraine, with the Bahraini Minister stressing the importance of de-escalation and using all diplomatic means to reach a ceasefire. The two sides also reviewed developments in Libya, Palestine and Yemen, as well as Iran’s impact on Middle Eastern security.

 

Friday, 8 April–The UAE’s Foreign Minister, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, visited France, where he met with his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian. They discussed Gulf security and the drone attacks launched against the Emirates by the Iran-aligned Houthis in January 2022, with the Minister Le Drian highlighting France’s support for regional stability. They also discussed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the unfolding humanitarian crisis in the country, as well as the French-Emirati strategic partnership on global security and peace.

 

Monday, 11 April–The United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, toured Oman and Yemen and visited the Houthi-controlled Sanaa for the first time since taking office. In Muscat, Grundberg met with Omani Foreign Minister, Badr Al-Busaidi, and the Houthis’ chief negotiator, Mohammed Abdul-Salam, discussing developments in the Yemeni peace process and the two-month truce agreed between the warring parties. In Sanaa, the UN Special Envoy met with the Head of the Chairman of the Houthi Supreme Political Council, Mahdi Al-Mashat, discussing ways to reopen Sanaa’s airport for commercial and humanitarian flights.

 

Monday, 11 April–Qatar’s Transport Minister, Jassim bin Saif Al-Sulaiti, met with Iranian Minister of Roads and Urban Development, Rostam Ghasemi, on the Iranian island of Kish. They signed a deal to increase the number of flights between the two countries, and they discussed opportunities to expand investment in the transports sector.

 

Wednesday, 13 April–The US Special Envoy for Yemen, Tim Lenderking, travelled to Kuwait, where he met with Kuwaiti Foreign Minister, Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah, and the new Yemeni Presidential Leadership Council. They reviewed the recent developments in Yemen, with the US Envoy lauding the two-month ceasefire and the establishment of the new Council, as well as praising Kuwait’s efforts for reaching peace in the country. The talks also covered ways to provide humanitarian aid to Yemen as well as to achieve stability in the country.