The Euro-Gulf Monitor
9 - 15 January 2021
Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani
‘Round and About the Gulf
Kingdom of Bahrain
Tuesday, 12 January–Bahrain and United States signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to establish an American trade zone in the Kingdom. Bahrain’s Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Zayed Bin Rashid Al-Zayani, and the US Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, inked the agreement, which seeks to develop the zone as a regional hub for commerce and increase US-Bahrain economic cooperation.
Thursday, 14 January–Bahrain’s Bank ABC acquired the Egyptian subsidiary of Lebanon’s Blom Bank for $480 million (USD).
State of Kuwait
Tuesday, 12 January–Kuwait’s Cabinet ministers submitted their resignations to the Prime Minister, Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah, after parliamentary members motioned to question the Premier over his ministerial appointments. The Prime Minister passed the submission to Kuwait’s Emir Nawaf Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah for his approval.
Sultanate of Oman
Monday, 11 January–Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said issued a decree provisioning the appointment of the Sultan’s eldest son as an heir apparent for the first time in the country’s modern history, clarifying the country’s succession system. He also issued a decree adjusting the some rules regarding the Sultanate’s bicameral Parliament, the Council of Oman.
State of Qatar
Tuesday, 12 January–Flights between Qatar and Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE were being resumed over the week, following the resolution of the Gulf Crisis at the 41st Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit. The previous week Saudi Arabia was the first GCC country to reopen its borders with Qatar.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Tuesday, 12 January–Saudi Arabia plans to build a zero-carbon emissions city, called “The Line”, in NEOM. The 170 kilometres car, road- and emissions-free belt of communities, integrated in the natural environment, will be able to host around one million residents. The investment should cost between $100 billion-$200 billion (USD) and it will be provided by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and international investors involved in the $500 billion NEOM project.
United Arab Emirates
Tuesday, 12 December–The UAE and Cyprus signed their first bilateral military and defence cooperation agreement. The deal provides for the holding of joint military manoeuvres, training programs and operational cooperation. The move comes within the wider context of heightened tensions with Turkey, particularly in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The EU Corner
Monday, 11 January–The EU urged Iran to comply with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), referring to the process of uranium enrichment to up to 20% undertook by the country, which was confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The EU recognised the challenge posed by the US’ withdrawal from the JCPoA and expressed its willingness to cooperate with the incoming Biden Administration and all the involved actors to preserve the agreement.
Tuesday, 12 January–The EU expressed its concern that the designation of the Houthis as a terrorist group by the United States may complicate diplomatic efforts and worsen the situation in Yemen. Particularly, it highlighted the possible increased difficulty in delivering humanitarian aid to the Yemeni people and deterioration of the country’s economic crisis.
Wednesday, 13 January–The Head of the EU Delegation to Saudi Arabia, Patrick Simonnet, met with Saudi Arabia’s Undersecretary for Multilateral International Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abdulrahman bin Ibrahim Al-Rassi, in Riyadh. They discussed EU-Saudi relations and issues of common concern.
Key Official Visits
Sunday, 10 December–Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, met with the leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, in Doha. They discussed developments regarding the Palestinian issue and the country’s national unity, as well as the ending of the GCC Crisis reached during the latest GCC Summit, which was welcomed by the Hamas official.
Monday, 11 December–Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, and Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, held separate meetings with Italy’s Foreign Minister, Luigi Di Maio, in Al-Ula. The two foreign ministers signed a deal to establish a Saudi-Italian strategic dialogue. The Saudi Crown Prince and Italian Minister discussed Italy’s upcoming G20 Summit presidency that it took over from Saudi Arabia and the resolution of the Gulf crisis, which was welcomed by Minister Di Maio as a step towards regional stability.
Thursday, 14 December–Oman’s Minister of Social Development, Laila Ahmed Al-Najjar, met with Iraq’s Minister of Migration and Displaced, Ivan Faeq Jabro, in Muscat. They discussed cooperation in social programs and research activities.
Thursday, 14 December–Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, visited Moscow, where he met with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov. During a joint conference, Minister Farhan accused Iran of undermining regional stability and peace through its proxy militias in Syria and Yemen. Minister Lavrov reaffirmed Russia’s goal to create dialogue between Gulf states and Iran. The two parts also discussed international developments and chances of using the Russian coronavirus vaccine ‘Sputnik’ in the Kingdom, among other issues.