The Euro-Gulf Monitor
9 - 15 December 2022
by Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani
5 Top Points
The first Arab-Chinese Summit was held in Riyadh.
The European Parliament suspended all work related to Qatar.
The UAE announced a new family law for non-Muslim expats.
French President, Emmanuel Macron, travelled to Doha.
Bahrain launched the largest communications and IT firm in the Kingdom.
‘Round and About the Gulf
Kingdom of Bahrain
Tuesday, 13 December—Bahrain launched the largest communications and information technology company in the Kingdom, Beyon. The firm will support Manama’s development of its digital infrastructure, innovative technologies and economic diversification strategy in line with Bahrain’s Economic Vision 2030. The company was unveiled by the Kingdom’s Finance and National Economy Minister, Salman bin Khalifa Al-Khalifa.
Tuesday, 13 December—Bahrain and Belgium agreed to develop cooperation in financial technology (FinTech). The Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Bader Sater, CEO of Fintech Bahrain, and Sandra Qayon, Director General of Fintech Belgium, at Bahrain’s Embassy in Brussels.
State of Kuwait
Sunday, 11 December—The state-owned Kuwait Gulf Oil Company (KGOC) and Saudi Aramco Gulf Operations Company agreed to implement the joint development of the Durra gas field, aiming to produce 84,000 barrels of liquefied natural gas (LNG) per day. The deal was signed by Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister, Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, and Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Oil, Badr Hamed Al-Mulla, in Kuwait.
Sultanate of Oman
Monday, 12 December—Oman’s Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology signed a partnership deal with US investment firm Celesta Capital, to fund Omani startups in the fields of drone technologies, blockchain, digital currencies and data mining. Two days later, the Sultanate also signed a deal with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to establish the first AWS data centre with local area technology in the Middle East, aiming to enhance IT and cloud services in the country. The agreements are part of Oman’s bid to accelerate the digitalisation of its economy and boost its private sector.
State of Qatar
Tuesday, 13 December—The Arab Ministerial Council for Tourism named Doha as Arab Tourism Capital for 2023. The selection was based on criteria focusing on tourism management, infrastructure and environmental preservation. The initiative aimed to enhance inter-Arab tourism and bolster urban investment in the Middle East.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Friday, 9 December—Saudi Arabia and Chinese firms signed 34 investment agreements worth over €28 billion (EUR) during the visit of Chinese President, Xi Jinping, to Riyadh. The deals cover a wide range of sectors, including green energy, technology, transportation, logistics, construction, petrochemicals, housing developments, as well as the teaching of the Chinese language. The deals pursue the goals envisioned in Saudi Vision 2030 and China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
United Arab Emirates
Friday, 9 December—The UAE announced a new legislation for non-Muslim expatriates, reforming family matters including marriage, divorce, inheritance and child custody. According to the reform, women will be granted equal rights in all family procedures. The new legislation was announced by the UAE Government Media Office and will come into effect in February 2023. The legal reforms are part of the UAE's efforts to develop its legislative system and adapt it to international standards in a bid to enhance its attractiveness for foreign workers.
Sunday, 11 December—The UAE’s Rashid Rover spacecraft, built by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), lifted off on board of a Space X Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 in Florida and is expected to land on the Moon in April 2023. If the mission is successful, the UAE would become the first Arab country and the fourth country in the world to land on the lunar surface after the US, the USSR, and China.
Sunday, 10 December—Kuwaiti NGO, Kuwait Aid Network (KAN), was awarded the Chaillot Prize for Human Rights 2022, presented by the EU’s Delegations to the GCC countries in recognition of its activities to support migrant workers and vulnerable communities in the country.
Monday, 11 December—The GCC Assistant Secretary-General for Political and Negotiation Affairs, Abdel Aziz Hamad Aluwaisheg, met with EU Member States’ Ambassadors to Saudi Arabia in Riyadh. They discussed the developing EU-GCC relations as well as strategic regional security issues.
Wednesday, 14 December—The European Parliament cancelled their Strasbourg vote on Schengen visa waivers for Qatari and Kuwaiti citizens amid a major investigation by Belgian prosecutors into an alleged influence campaign in the European Parliament by Qatar. The file, which also recommended visa waivers for Oman and Ecuador, will now go back to the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) committee.
Key Official Visits
Friday, 9 December—The GCC-Chinese Summit for Cooperation and Development took place in Riyadh, on the occasion of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Saudi Arabia. The event focused on boosting trade between the GCC and China, and cooperation in politics, food security and supply chains. The leaders also agreed on a four-year joint plan for collaboration and expressed their support for the one-China policy. The Chinese President also took part in the first China-Arab States Summit, which gathered leaders from 21 Arab League countries, discussing cooperation in developing Beijing’s Silk Road Initiative as well as in climate, energy and security fields.
Saturday, 10 December—The UAE’s Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, Sultan Al-Jaber, travelled to Turkmenistan, meeting with the country's President, Serdar Berdimuhamedov. They discussed partnerships in oil, gas, green energy and infrastructure and the Emirates’ preparations to host the COP28 in 2023.
Sunday, 11 December—Oman’s Foreign Minister, Badr Hamad Al-Busaidi, received the Minister of State for South Asia, the Middle East and the United Nations at the United Kingdom’s (UK) Office of Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, Tariq Mahmood Ahmad, in Muscat. The meeting focused on developing joint Omani-British business, investment and culture programmes and addressing international challenges, including the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Monday, 12 December—The UAE President, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, met with South Korean President’s Special Envoy, Kim Daeki, in Abu Dhabi. They discussed cooperation in the fields of economy, trade, investment, renewable energy, and technology.
Wednesday, 14 December—Saudi Arabia and the UK signed a military cooperation deal during a meeting between Saudi Minister of Defence, Khalid bin Salman Al-Saud, and his British counterpart, Ben Wallace, in London. The accord aims to boost cooperation in the defence sector and localise the military-industrial production in Saudi Arabia as part of Riyadh’s efforts to diversify the economy away from oil, with the military sector expected to contribute €23 billion to the country’s GDP by 2030.
Wednesday, 14 December—The French President, Emmanuel Macron, met with the Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, in Doha. The two leaders discussed Qatari-French strategic relations on the sidelines of the FIFA World Cup matches. The same day, Croatian and Hungarian Foreign Ministers, Gordan Grlic-Radman and Peter Szijjarto, travelled to Doha, holding separate meetings with Qatar’s Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, and Minister of State for Energy Affairs, Saad bin Sherida Al-Kaabi. They discussed bilateral collaboration and ways to enhance energy partnerships.