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The Euro-Gulf Monitor

8 - 14 December 2023

by Elen'Alba Vitiello

5 Top Points

  1. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made a historic visit to Saudi Arabia.

  2. Qatar hosted the 12th Arab Energy Conference.

  3. Iran’s Foreign Minister met with his Kuwaiti and Saudi counterparts in Geneva.

  4. The EU-Oman Energy Forum took place in Muscat.

  5. The COP28 Parties agreed on a landmark text titled The UAE Consensus.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Kingdom of Bahrain 

Thursday, 7 December–Bahrain’s Electricity and Water Authority (EWA) and Bahrain Steel signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the largest rooftop solar energy project in the country. The project, alongside other solar energy initiatives, is in line with Bahrain’s Energy Transition Plan and will contribute to the government’s goal to generate 5% of the Kingdom’s electricity production from renewable energy sources by 2025, increasing to 20% by 2035.  

State of Kuwait

Sunday, 10 December–The Kuwaiti National Assembly's Legal and Legislative Committee approved a draft law to reform the country's election system by introducing, for the first time, party-like lists and abolishing the single-vote system. Under the new system, candidates would be allowed to contest the elections based on groups (lists) of four to six candidates. Nevertheless, candidates could still run on their own as individuals. The draft law will be discussed by the National Assembly on 19 December.

 

Sultanate of Oman

Wednesday, 13 December–Oman’s leading oil and gas service provider, Abraj Energy Services, signed a strategic partnership with the French energy major, TotalEnergies, to provide drilling services within Block 12’s concession area in Oman. This marks TotalEnergies’ first operational contract in Oman.

 

State of Qatar

Tuesday, 12 December–The 12th Arab Energy Conference was hosted by QatarEnergy in cooperation with the General Secretariat of the Organisation of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Doha. The conference, attended by ministers responsible for oil and energy of 17 Arab countries, concluded with the adoption of a final statement highlighting the importance of energy security for Arab countries, the need for a balanced and sustainable energy transition, and the importance of Arab cooperation in the energy sector. On the sidelines, Bahrain’s Minister of Oil and Environment and Special Envoy for Climate Affairs, Mohammed bin Mubarak bin Daina, met with Qatar’s Minister of State for Energy Affairs, Saad bin Sherida Al-Kaabi, to discuss energy and climate change cooperation. 

 

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Wednesday, 13 December–Saudi Arabia’s King, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, issued several royal decrees, appointing the Governor of Madinah Province, Faisal bin Salman Al-Saud, as Special Advisor to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques at the rank of minister, and former Assistant Secretary General of the Saudi National Security Council, Salman bin Sultan Al-Saud, as Governor of Madinah Province at the rank of minister, as well as new Deputy Governors of five provinces and several officials, including Hisham bin Abdulrahman Al-Falih as Assistant Minister of Interior.

Wednesday, 13 December–Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Finance, Mohammed Al-Jadaan, was appointed to chair the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC), the primary policy advisory body of the Board of Governors of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), for a three-year term. He already serves on the Ministerial Council of the OPEC Fund for International Development, and the Boards of Governors of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the Arab Monetary Fund, the Islamic Development Bank, and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

United Arab Emirates

Wednesday, 13 December–The Dubai-hosted COP28 concluded with the Parties agreeing on a landmark text, The UAE Consensus, that sets out a climate agenda to keep 1.5°C within reach; calls on Parties to transition away from fossil fuels to reach net zero; encourages Parties to submit economy-wide Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs); includes a new target to triple renewables and double energy efficiency by 2030; and builds momentum towards a new architecture for climate finance. 

 

 

EU Corner

Friday, 8 December–The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, held a phone call with Saudi Arabia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, to discuss developments in the Gaza Strip and its surroundings, the ongoing efforts to reach an immediate ceasefire, and the consequences of the current crisis.

 

Monday, 11 December–Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, received the EU Special Representative for the Gulf Region, Luigi Di Maio,  to discuss EU-Qatar cooperation on the sidelines of the Doha Forum 2023.

 

Monday, 11 December–The EU and Kuwait held their fourth expert level Senior Officials’ Meeting in Brussels. The Meeting was opened by the Managing Director for Middle East in the European External Action Service (EEAS), Hélène Le Gal, and Kuwait’s Assistant Foreign Minister for European Affairs, Sadiq Marafi. The discussions centred on cooperation on trade and investment, climate change, humanitarian assistance, development cooperation, counter-terrorism, cybersecurity, cooperation on mediation and conflict prevention, among other issues.

Wednesday, 13 December–The EU Special Representative for the Gulf Region, Luigi Di Maio, held a dialogue on EU-GCC cooperation with the Ambassadors of the six GCC countries in Brussels—Abdulla bin Faisal Al-Doseri of Bahrain, Nawaf Alenezi of Kuwait, Rua Al-Zadjali of Oman, Abdulaziz bin Ahmed Al-Malki of Qatar, Haifa Al-Jedea of Saudi Arabia, and Mohamed Al-Sahlawi of the UAE. The talks focused on security challenges and ways to enhance economic prosperity, among other issues.

Wednesday, 13 December– The two-day EU-Oman Energy Forum centred on renewable hydrogen cooperation as well as EU-Oman green hydrogen political engagement started in Muscat. The EU Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, and Oman’s Undersecretary for Energy and Minerals, Mohnsin Al-Hadhrami, opened the event. 

Key Official Visits

Friday, 8 December–Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani travelled to Washington and met with US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken. They discussed the latest developments in the Gaza Strip and the need to continue efforts to achieve a ceasefire.

Saturday, 9 December–Bahrain’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, met with his German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock, on the sidelines of the Sir Bani Yas Forum in Dubai. The two Ministers discussed the latest developments in the Gaza Strip and the humanitarian conditions, and the efforts to revive the peace process in the Middle East region.

Sunday, 10 December—Several European officials travelled to Qatar to speak at the annual Doha Forum, namely, Luigi Di Maio, EU Special Representative for the Gulf region, Niels Annen, Germany’s Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Alexander Radwan, Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Bundestag, Tobias Ellwood, Member of the British House of Commons, Jacek Siewiera, Secretary of State in Poland’s National Security Bureau, and Alfredo Conte, Deputy Director General for Political Affairs and Principal Director for the Mediterranean, Middle East and Gulf Countries at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

 

Tuesday, 12 December–Bahrain's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdullatif bin Rashed Al Zayani, met with Palestine’s Foreign Minister, Riyadh Al-Malki, on the sidelines of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights event in Geneva. The meeting discussed advancing cooperation and the humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip, as well as international efforts to end the war and provide humanitarian relief aid.

 

Tuesday, 12 December—During his visit to Muscat, the Governor of the Central Bank of Iran, Mohammad Reza Farzin, held talks with Oman’s Finance Minister, Sultan bin Salim Al-Habsi, to discuss bilateral cooperation and issues of mutual interest. 

 

Tuesday, 12 December–Qatar’s Special Envoy of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Faisal bin Abdullah Al-Hanzab, met with Somalia’s President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, on the sidelines of the Somalia Security Conference held in New York. During the meeting, they discussed bilateral relations and Qatar’s political and diplomatic support to the Somali government.

Tuesday, 12 December–Saudi Arabia's Commander of the Joint Forces of the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen, Lieutenant General Mutlaq bin Salem Al-Azima, met with Yemen’s Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Saghir Hammoud Aziz, in Riyadh. During the meeting, the two sides discussed military cooperation and continued support to the Yemeni National Army.

Wednesday, 13 December–Qatar’s Minister of State for International Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lolwah bint Rashid Al-Khater, met with Jordan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, on the sidelines of the Second Global Refugee Forum in Geneva. They discussed bilateral relations, the latest developments in the Gaza Strip. 

Wednesday, 13 December–Jens Stoltenberg became the first Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) to visit Saudi Arabia. During his visit, he held talks with the Saudi Defence Minister, Khalid bin Salman Al-Saud, who accepted his invitation to visit NATO headquarters in Brussels in early 2024. Stoltenberg also met with Deputy Foreign Minister, Waleed Abdulkarim El-Khereiji, Chairman of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, Air Chief Marshal Fayyadh bin Hamed Al-Ruwaili, and the GCC Secretary General, Jasem Mohamed Albudaiwi, and visited the Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) and engaged in public discussion at the Saudi Armed Forces and Staff College. 

 

Thursday, 14 December–Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, met separately with his Kuwaiti and Saudi counterparts, Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, in Geneva. The Ministers discussed the developments in the Gaza Strip, regional and international issues of common interest, and reviewed ways to enhance cooperation. 

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