GULF IN REVIEW
03 - 08 November 2019
Kingdom of Bahrain
Sunday, 3 November—The International Maritime Exercise 2019 (IMX 19), the largest multinational naval drill in the region, kickstarted from the US Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain. The exercises aim to strengthen cooperation and enhance inter-operability among the 56 participating countries and 7 international organisations in maritime security to ensure freedom of navigation and safety of international maritime trade. The IMX 19 training include operations in the regions’s three main choke points—Suez Canal, Bab Al-Mandeb and Strait of Hormuz.
Thursday, 7 November—A command centre of the multinational maritime security initiative, Coalition Task Force (CTF) Sentinel, composed of Australia, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, the UK, Albania and the United States, that aims to protect commercial vessels in the Arabian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman and Bab Al-Mandeb, under the International Maritime Security Construct, was launched at US 5th Fleet's base in Bahrain by the Commander of the US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT)/US 5th Fleet, Vice Admiral James Malloy. Rear Admiral Alvin Holsey was appointed as the CTF Sentinel’s Commander.
Thursday, 7 November—Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa met with Egypt’s President, Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi, in Cairo. The two leaders discussed ways to enhance bilateral cooperation along with the latest regional developments, affirming their countries’ support for efforts to reach political solution to the regional crises and praised the recently-signed Riyadh Agreement between Yemen’s government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC). During the meeting King Hamad also called for Arab solidarity to jointly face common challenges (re: terrorism, extremism and foreign interference).
State of Kuwait
Tuesday, 5 November—Estonia’s President, Kersti Kaljulaid, visited Kuwait with a business delegation. During the first presidential visit since 1993, President Kaljulaid held talks with senior Kuwaiti officials, including Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, notably on business opportunities, digitalisation and cybersecurity-related issues, regional security situation and Syria, future cooperation in the UN Security Council. They also touched upon opportunities to expand joint activities in IT and traditional industry into other nearby countries or Africa. The two countries agreed on full exemption of taxes for Kuwaiti private and public investments in Estonia.
Tuesday, 5 November—Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Khaled Al-Jarallah, said that Kuwait conveyed messages from Iran to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain regarding the regional situation and awaits their response.
Tuesday, 5 November—Kuwait announced the nomination of the former Finance and Education Minister, Nayef Al-Hajraf, for the post of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary General to succeed Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, whose term expires in 2020. Al-Hajraf’s nomination needs to be approved by the other countries at the upcoming GCC Summit, which expected to be hosted by the UAE in December.
Sultanate of Oman
Wednesday, 6 November—Oman and Ukraine held the 1st round of bilateral political consultations between their respective Foreign Ministries in Muscat. The meeting was co-chaired by the Ukraine’s Director-General for the Middle East and Africa, Myroslava Shcherbatiuk, and Oman’s Head of East Europe Department, Ahmad Al-Hinaie. They discussed advancing cooperation in various fields, including political, trade, economic and humanitarian ones, and exchanged views on recent political and security developments in the region.
Thursday, 7 Noveember—The GCC Heads of the Red Crescent Associations held the 15th meeting in Muscat; with the participation of the GCC Assistant Secretary General for Economic and Development Affairs, Khalifa Al-Abri. To discuss ways to enhance the Associations’ work in relief and humanitarian aid fields, unify the GCC states’ positions, discuss the Plan of Action of the GCC Red Crescent Associations (2020-2024) and endorse Kuwait Red Crescent Association nomination of Dr. Hilal bin Musaed Al-Sayer as a member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
State of Qatar
Monday, 4 November—The ministerial meeting of the Qatari-Turkish Higher Strategic Committee, co-chaired by Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, and Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, conveyed in Doha. The two sides expressed an interest in strengthening their ties and develop comprehensive strategic partnership and develop cooperation in new fields. On the occasion, Çavuşoğlu met with Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and thanked Qatar for supporting Turkey's military offensive, Operation Peace Spring, in northern Syria.
Thursday, 7 November—Qatar and Lithuania held the 1st round of political consultations between their Foreign Ministries in Vilnius, co-chaired by the Secretary-General of Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr Ahmad bin Hassan Al-Hammadi, and Lithuania’s Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Neris Germanas. They discussed ways to enhance bilateral ties and signed a Memorandum of Understanding for holding regular political consultations on issues of common concern.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Sunday, 3 November—Saudi Arabia announced the decision to float the initial public offering (IPO) of the state-owned energy giant, Saudi Aramco, at the local Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul).
Tuesday, 5 November—Yemen’s government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC) signed a power-sharing agreement to end the clashes between the two sides in southern Yemen. The Riyadh Agreement calls for equal number of ministries for the STC and President Hadi’s government as well as incorporation of the STC-affiliated militias to the country’s security forces under the government’s control. The signing ceremony in Riyadh was attended by Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, and Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, in addition to the representatives of STC and the Yemeni government.
Thursday, 7 November—The Saudi Minister of Finance, Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Jadaan, and Latvia’s Foreign Minister, Edgars Rinkevics, signed an agreement to avoid double taxation and prevent tax evasion on income taxes.
Thursday, 7 November—Saudi Arabia’s King, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, held talks with the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Gina Haspel, in Riyadh, on topics of mutual interest, without offering details. The meeting was attended by several Saudi officials, notably Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and Head of Intelligence, Khalid Al-Humaidan.
Sunday, 3 November—The UAE discovered significant oil and gas reserves, including 7 billion barrels of crude oil, 58 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 160 trillion cubic feet of unconventional natural gas. As a result, the UAE moved up one rank to the sixth place of countries with the largest oil and gas reserves in the world.
Tuesday, 5 November—Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, launched UAE’s largest defence company, Edge, a conglomerate of 25 local defence companies, which will be led by Faisal Al-Bannai and focus on combatting hybrid warfare.
Wednesday, 6 November—Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, UAE’s Vice President and Prime Minister and ruler of Dubai, received Belarusian President, Alexandr Lukashenko, to discuss enhancing cooperation between the UAE and Belarus, with focus on investments. Lukashenko also later met with Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to talk about advancing cooperation in investments, economic, trade and tourism, and review regional situation.
Thursday, 7 November—The UAE hosted the 19th meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), an intergovernmental organisation of 22 countries and several organisations, aiming to strengthen regional cooperation in the Indian Ocean Rim. Ministers and senior officials discussed notably maritime security, facilitating trade and investments, Blue Economy, womens’ empowerment, fisheries management and disaster risk management. The UAE assumed the chairmanship of the IORA for the 2019-2021 term under the theme of ‘Promoting a Shared Destiny and Path to Prosperity in the Indian Ocean’ and plans to develop a new IORA Development Fund.