GULF IN REVIEW
03- 08 May 2020
Arnold Koka and Veronica Del Torre
Kingdom of Bahrain
Monday, 4 May — Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, and the United Kingdom’s Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa at Foreign Commonwealth Office, James Cleverly, discussed cooperation, notably in health sector, and enhancing bilateral relations as well as the plans to hold the Joint Cooperation Committee in the near future.
Tuesday, 5 May — Bahrain set up a second field Intensive Care Unit hospital with 154 critical care beds for Coronavirus (COVID-19) patients in the man-made island of Sitra, after recorded more than 3,300 COVID-19 cases. The first field hospital was opened last month in a converted car park outside the Bahrain Defence Force Hospital near the capital, Manama.
Thursday, 7 May — Bahrain sold $2 billion in a dual-tranche bond issuance — 4.5 years sukuk (Islamic bonds) at 6.25% for $1 billion and 10 years conventional bonds at 7.375% for $1 billion. It received over $11 billion in total orders for the first debt issuance since the crash in oil prices and the spread of COVID-19.
State of Kuwait
Tuesday, 5 May — Kuwait’s Health Ministry Assistant Undersecretary for Drug and Food Control Affairs, Dr Abdullah Al-Bader, announced Kuwait’s participation in the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) initiative ‘Solidarity,’ which aims to compare four possible treatment options to treat the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Thursday, 7 May — Kuwait’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hamad Nasser Mohammed Al-Sabah, held a video-call with the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Dendias. The talks focused on the countries’ bilateral relations and cooperation, notably in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the latest regional developments, including the tensions with Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Sultanate of Oman
Tuesday, 5 May — The Ministry of Technology and Communications (MTC) of Oman signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Huawei, the Chinese telecommunication provider, on cooperation in innovation and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) development through the introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cloud and 5G technology solutions to assist the Sultanate’s Digital Government Transformation and enhance its ICT capabilities through training and certification.
Wednesday, 6 May — The Arab Troika Group, under the chairmanship of Oman’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Dr Mohammed bin Awadh Al-Hassan, held a meeting with the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres. They addressed the possible consequences of the Israeli plans to annex large areas of the West Bank and necessary procedures to undertake. The meeting comes as part of the Sultanate’s efforts to lead the resolution of the issue through its chairmanship roles, including its heading of the Arab League’s Ministerial Council.
State of Qatar
Wednesday, 6 May — The state-owned energy major, Qatar Petroleum (QP), inked three farm-in agreements to acquire about 30% of the participating interest of Total, the French oil and gas giant, in exploration blocks 15, 33 and 34 in the Campeche basin, offshore Mexico, as it seeks to expand its footprint in Latin America. The blocks cover and area of about 2,300 square kilometers.
Wednesday, 6 May — Major General Engineer Abdul Aziz Abdullah Al-Ansari, Director of Qatar’s Department of International Cooperation and Chairman of the National Counter-Terrorism Committee, participated together with the other five Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) Heads of the INTERPOL’s National Offices in the extraordinary meeting, held by the GCC Police (GCCPOL), to discuss the threats and crimes in the region during the Coronavirus crisis and ways to enhance coordination among the GCC countries’ police.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Sunday, 4 May — Saudi Arabia together with the European Union and other global partners headed the pledging effort initiative “Coronavirus Global Response” aimed at raising €7.5 billion for the COVID-19 response. The Kingdom donated over €450 million, which come within of the country’s wider efforts to join cooperation with the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the development and production of new COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.
Wednesday, 6 May — Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Interior announced the formation of a new police unit tasked with enforcing COVID-19 precautionary measures and the ban of all gatherings with more than five people to curb the spread of Coronavirus in the country. The Kingdom has registered a total of 33,731 positive cases as of 8 May 2020.
Thursday, 7 May — The United States announced that they will remove some military assets from Saudi Arabia, including two Patriot missile batteries and some fighter aircrafts, that were deployed to the Kingdom following the drone attack on Saudi Aramco’s oil facilities in September 2019. Another two US Patriot batteries remain in the Kingdom at the Prince Sultan Air Base.
Thursday, 7 May — Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud congratulated to the new Prime Minister of Iraq, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, in a phone call. Also Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud called Al-Kadhimi to congratulate him and expressed his support for Iraq’s development and security, highlighting the Kingdom’s interest in strengthening bilateral cooperation.
United Arab Emirates
Sunday, 4 May — Expo 2020 Dubai’s governing body announced that the event will be officially postponed for one year. The event will now begin on 1 October 2021. The decision came as two-thirds of the Bureau International des Expositions member states voted in favour of the delay amid COVID-19.
Tuesday, 5 May — Crown Prince of Dubai, Hamdan bin Mohammed Al-Maktoum, reviewed the preparations for the upcoming Emirates Mars Mission in a virtual summit with the “Hope Probe” team at the Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan. The Arab world’s first Mars probe mission — funded by the UAE and called “Hope” (Al Amal) — is expected to be launched from Japan in July 2020.
Thursday, 7 May — UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, held a phone call with his Cypriot counterpart, Nikos Christodoulides. They discussed the latest developments related to the Eastern Mediterranean region, Turkey and Libya, as well as relations between the two countries.