GULF IN REVIEW
05 - 10 April 2020
Arnold Koka and Veronica Del Torre
Kingdom of Bahrain
Tuesday, 7 April—Lieutenant General Sir John Lorimer, United Kingdom’s Senior Defence Advisor for the Middle East, and Nasser bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Bahrain’s National Security Adviser and Commander of the Royal Guard, discussed the existing strategic bilateral relation and its future following the eradication of Coronavirus. Sir Lorimer congratulated Bahrain on its efforts to combat the virus and appreciated its contribution to the global efforts.
Wednesday, 8 April—Bahrain’s Prime Minister, Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa, ordered the authorities to stop collecting rents and allowance from all tenants in municipal properties from April for a period of 3 months to help the private sector overcome the Coronavirus crisis. Additionally, King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa ratified and issued an amended law ensuring the payment of Bahraini workers’ wages for 3 months, starting from April.
State of Kuwait
Monday, 6 April—The Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) announced the completion of its Clean Fuel Project at Al-Ahmadi refinery, following the launch of the last two units, which will produce 37,000 barrels per day (bpd) of coal and 8,400 bpd of naphtha. The total production capacity of the Al-Ahmadi refinery will be 364,000 bpd. Together with the developments at the Mina Abdullah refinery, the biofuel project will cost around KD 4.6 billion (approximately $16 billion) and will have a capacity of 800,000 bpd.
Wednesday, 8 April—Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Anas Al-Saleh, participated in the virtual meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Ministers of Interior, focused on some key security issues related to the Coronavirus pandemic. The GCC Ministers agreed to hold similar meetings in the future to coordinate the countries’ security responses when needed.
Thursday, 9 April—The Kuwait Central Blood Bank (KCBB) started producing artificial plasma to help treat Coronavirus patients. The blood samples are collected from patients, who recovered from the disease, and are transfused into current patients’ blood to help boost their immunity.
Sultanate of Oman
Tuesday, 7 April—Oman’s Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik held separate phone calls with Emir of Kuwait, Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jabir Al-Sabah, Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa and Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, to discuss bilateral cooperation as well as measures to halt the spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Thursday, 9 April—Oman’s Minister of Health, Dr Ahmed Al-Saeedi, announced that following the provisions of Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said, tests and treatment for COVID-19 cases in the country will be for free, including for the expatriates.
State of Qatar
Wednesday, 8 April—Qatar delivered to Italy two field hospitals with a total capacity of 1000 beds, equipped with medical equipment and technology to treat the COVID-19 patients. Another three military cargo aircraft landed in Italy on Thursday and Friday, bringing medical tools and equipment. The Qatari military technical team was welcomed by the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Luigi Di Maio.
Friday, 10 April—The National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) launched a 24 hour hotline in five languages, to ensure continuous services, as a part of preventives measures to limit the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Wednesday, 8 April—The Saudi-led Coalition declared a two-week unilateral ceasefire from 9 April in the Yemen conflict amid concerns over a possible Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the country. The ceasefire was welcomed by the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, the Arab League and various countries. The Houthis are yet to confirm their agreement with the ceasefire. Saudi Arabia also pledged $500 million to the UN humanitarian response plan for Yemen and $25 million to help combat the spread of COVID-19.
Thursday, 9 April—Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, and his Russian counterpart, Alexander Novak, co-chaired the 9th extraordinary virtual meeting of the OPEC+ (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC oil producers), which aimed to secure an agreement on crude oil production cuts between Russia and Saudi Arabia, end the oil price war and stabilise the oil markets. The OPEC+ agreed on cuts by 10 million barrels per day (bpd) from May to June 2020, 8 million bpd cuts between July-December 2020, followed by 6 million bpd until April 2022. Saudi Arabia’s cut consists of 3.8 million bpd. The final, official agreement depends on Mexico, which refused the plan calling for lower production cuts.
Thursday, 9 April—King Salman held a joint phone call with the US President, Donald Trump, and Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin. The leaders reviewed the need of joint cooperation among oil producing countries to maintain stability in the energy market as well as the endeavors needed following the OPEC+ meeting and in light of Friday’s G20 Energy Ministers’ virtual summit.
Friday, 10 April—Saudi Arabia chairs the first extraordinary virtual meeting of Energy Ministers of the Group of 20 major economies (G20), following the OPEC+ meeting discussing oil production cuts on Thursday, to step up global efforts to ensure energy market’s stability amid the spread of the new Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its economic effects.
United Arab Emirates
Saturday, 4 April—The UAE government formally requested to reschedule the Expo 2020 Dubai by one year, to be held between 1 October 2021-31 March 2022, amid the Coronavirus pandemic. The Executive Committee of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), consisting of 12 elected member states, will meet on 21 April to vote on the postponement.
Sunday, 5 April—The UAE Central Bank announced new measures to grant liquidity to the banking system in the context of the negative economic effects of the new Coronavirus pandemic, increasing the stimulus package from the initially announced AED 100 billion ($27 billion) to a total of AED 256 billion ($70 billion).
Monday, 6 April—The UAE delivered about 10 tons of medical supplies to Italy, which will help about 10 thousand local healthcare professionals in combating the COVID-19. The plane carrying the aid was welcomed by Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Luigi Di Maio, who expressed gratitude for the support. The UAE also dispatched approximately 13 tonnes of medical supplies to Kazakhstan and 10 tons to Colombia.
Thursday, 9 April—The Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), a central government hub supporting businesses, announced a AED 367 million ($100 million) investment into four agtech companies, including Madar Farms, Aerofarms, RDI (Responsive Drip Irrigation) and RNZ, to develop indoor farming production facilities and research on the next-generation farming and find solutions to growing food in the local conditions.