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The Euro-Gulf Monitor

9 - 15 February 2024

by Elen'Alba Vitiello

5 Top Points

  1. The CIA, Egypt, Israel’s Mossad and Qatar held talks in Cairo to advance a ceasefire and hostage deal between Hamas and Israel. 

  2. Iran’s Foreign Minister met with Qatari and Hamas officials in Doha.

  3. Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, discussed cooperation with Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh.

  4. Oman will host the first solar-powered LNG bunkering in the Middle East, a joint French-Omani project.

  5. The EU Special Representative for the Gulf met with the GCC Secretary-General in Dubai.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Kingdom of Bahrain 

Sunday, 11 February–Bahrain’s Finance and National Economy Minister, Salman bin Khalifa Al-Khalifa, and UAE’s Minister of State for Financial Affairs, Mohamed bin Hadi Al-Hussaini, signed an investment promotion and protection agreement, as well as a double taxation elimination agreement in Dubai. The two agreements aim to develop Bahrain-UAE economic and trade opportunities, enhance joint investment and competitiveness of the national economy. The UAE also signed the agreement to prevent double taxation and tax evasion with Kuwait.

State of Kuwait

Sunday, 11 February–Kuwait’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) signed a $25.9 million (about €24 million) multi-project contract with Germany’s company LEONARDO to enhance airline security at the Kuwait International Airport.

Sultanate of Oman

Monday, 12 February–Oman’s Port of Sohar is set to host the first Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) bunkering and export terminal entirely fuelled by solar energy in the Middle East. The 1-million-tonne-capacity LNG project worth around $1 billion (€930 million) is expected to be launched in 2027 and is being developed by Marsa LNG, a partnership of TotalEnergies, the French-based energy giant, and Almuzn LNG LLC, a subsidiary of Oman’s state-owned energy company, OQ.

 

State of Qatar

Wednesday, 14 February–Qatar’s Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) deliveries to Italy’s energy company, Edison, have been rescheduled and rerouted around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa until the end of April due to the escalation in the Red Sea. The new route has added more than 6,500 km to the journey and close to a half-month of sailing time to each trip.

 

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Tuesday, 13 February–Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet, chaired by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, stressed the need to end the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza. The consultative meeting in Riyadh called for the lifting of restrictions on the entry of humanitarian aid to Gaza, stressed the need for the implementation of the two-state solution and recognition of a Palestinian state, and briefed on the recent consultations talks held with Arab countries, including the message received from Spain’s King, Felipe VI. Moreover, the cabinet vowed to foster international cooperation, in line with the goals of the Saudi Vision 2030.

Thursday, 15 February–The fourth Saudi aid plane, operated by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief), arrived at the Polish Rzeszow Airport, located near the Ukrainian border. The aircraft, carrying a total of 72 tons of relief aid and essential supplies, will cross the border to deliver humanitarian assistance to the Ukrainian people.

United Arab Emirates

Sunday, 11 February—The UAE Ministry of Defence announced that three members of the UAE Armed Forces and an officer from the Bahrain Defence Force (BDF) were killed in a terrorist attack on a military base in Mogadishu, Somalia. Two days later, UAE Minister of State for Defence Affairs, Mubarak Fadhel Al-Mazrouei, travelled to Bahrain to meet with the BDF Commander-in-Chief, Field Marshal Khalifa bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa.

Monday, 12 February–Dubai hosted the World Governments Summit 2024 under the theme ‘Shaping Future Governments,’ which gathered governments, international organisations, and private sector leaders, including from the GCC countries and the European Union, to identify innovative solutions for future challenges. During the Summit, UAE’s Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, and India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, laid the foundation stone for Bharat Mart, a market and trading platform for Indian businesses in Dubai to enhance bilateral trade ties, set to open in 2026. Prior to the Summit, India’s Prime Minister met with UAE’s President, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, in Abu Dhabi, to discuss the UAE-India comprehensive strategic and economic partnership. The UAE President also held talks with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, among others.

EU Corner

Saturday, 10 February–Bahrain’s Ambassador to Belgium and Head of the Diplomatic Mission to the European Union, Abdulla bin Faisal Al-Dosari, met with the Managing Director for the Middle East and North Africa at the European External Action Services (EEAS), Hélène Le Gal, in Brussels. They discussed the Bahrain-EU cooperation, stressing the need to strengthen bilateral action and coordination, and reviewed regional and global issues of mutual interest.

Sunday, 11 February–Bahrain’s Minister of Industry and Commerce, Abdullah bin Adel Fakhro, held an online meeting with the Minister Plenipotentiary and Head of the Department of Trade and Economic Affairs at the European Delegation to Bahrain, Thomas Jorgensen, to discuss preparations of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) 13th Ministerial Conference, which will take place from 26 to 29 February in Abu Dhabi. The two sides also discussed ways to develop Bahrain-EU cooperation.

Monday, 12 February–A delegation from Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, led by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Sultan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi, and the European External Action Service (EEAS), represented by the Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs, Enrique Mora, held the third round of political consultations in Brussels. On the sidelines, Minister Al-Muraikhi met with EU High Representative, Josep Borrell. During both meetings, EU-Qatar cooperation and ways to enhance them was discussed.

Tuesday, 13 February–On the sidelines of the World Government Summit 2024 in Dubai, EU Special Representative for the Gulf region, Luigi Di Maio, met with the Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Jassim Mohammed Al-Budaiwi. The meeting reviewed several topics of common interest, as well as the current situation in the Gaza Strip and the Gulf-European efforts to resolve the crisis.

Key Official Visits

Monday, 12 February–Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, received Iranian Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, in Doha. During the meeting, they discussed bilateral cooperation and ways to develop them, as well as the latest developments in the Gaza Strip, the escalation of violence in the region, and the repercussions on regional and global security and stability. On the occasion, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian met with Hamas’ leader, Ismail Haniyeh, who is residing in Doha.

Monday, 12 February–The United Kingdom's Minister of State for the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, Commonwealth and United Nations at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Tariq Ahmad, went on an official visit to Oman, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia to discuss regional security, notably the war in Gaza and the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, and to mark UK’s easing of visa requirements allowing Gulf nationals. In Oman, Tariq Ahmad co-chaired with the Undersecretary for Political Affairs, Khalifa bin Ali Al-Harthy, the UK-Oman joint working group. In Kuwait, he met with Foreign Minister, Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya, and co-chaired the UK-Kuwait joint steering group alongside the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jarrah Jaber Al-Sabah. Finally, in Saudi Arabia, Tariq Ahmad, met with the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Waleed Abdulkarim El-Khereiji, and the Secretary General of the Muslim World League, Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa.

Monday, 12 February–Qatar’s Minister of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Al-Khulaifi, met with the French President’s Advisor on the Middle East and North Africa, Anna Claire Legendre, and Advisor to the French President, Paul Soler, in Doha. They discussed bilateral relations and ways to reinforce them, as well as the developments in the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Libya, and Iraq.

 

Tuesday, 13 February–Kuwait’s Emir, Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, met with Bahrain’s King, Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, in Manama, during his first visit to the Kingdom since assuming office. The two leaders discussed ways to strengthen bilateral ties and strategic partnership. They also focused on the preparations for the 33rd Arab Summit to be hosted by Bahrain in May, the latest developments in the Gaza Strip and the impact on regional and global security, the security situation in the Red Sea and the peace process in Yemen, as well as the situation regarding Kuwait’s dispute with Iraq and the Khor Abdullah waterway and with Iran regarding the Al-Durra field.

Tuesday, 13 February–Egypt’s General Intelligence Service Director, Abbas Kamel, Israel’s Head of Mossad, David Barnea, Qatari State Security Service Director, Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Al-Khulaif, and Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, and the CIA Director, William Burns, held talks in Cairo to advance a ceasefire and hostage release deal between Hamas and Israel. The talks came two weeks after a meeting in Paris that included the Egyptian, Israeli, Qatari and US intelligence officials. On the sidelines of the Cairo talks, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani met with Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

Tuesday, 13 February–Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, met with the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, in Riyadh. The two officials reviewed bilateral relations and ways to boost cooperation in various fields, notably in the green transition. Rutte highlighted that the Netherlands seeks to increase cooperation with Riyadh due to its key regional and global importance. They also discussed the Israel-Hamas war and Rutte hailed Saudi Arabia’s efforts to prevent regional escalation.

Wednesday, 14 February–India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, arrived in Doha, where he held talks with Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani. During the meetings, they discussed bilateral cooperation and ways to develop it, particularly in the energy, trade and investment sector.

Wednesday, 14 February–Qatar and Slovenia held the second round of political consultations in Doha. The two sides, headed by Qatar’s Foreign Affairs Ministry’s Secretary-General, Ahmed bin Hassan Al-Hammadi, and Slovenia’s Director-General of the Directorate for Political Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Mateja Norcic Stamcar, discussed bilateral cooperation and a number of topics of mutual interest.

Wednesday, 14 February–Saudi Arabia’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Waleed Abdulkarim El-Khereiji, went on an official visit to Bucharest, Romania, and met with the Minister of Economy, Entrepreneurship, and Tourism, Stefan-Radu Oprea, to discuss bilateral relations.

Thursday, 15 February–France’s Minister of Interior and Overseas Territories, Gérald Darmanin, met with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Islamic Affairs, Abdullatif Abdelaziz Al-Sheikh, in Riyadh. They discussed both countries’ goals to fight radicalism, extremism and terrorism.

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