GULF IN REVIEW
10 - 15 May 2020
Arnold Koka and Veronica Del Torre
Kingdom of Bahrain
Tuesday, 12 May — Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa held a phone call with Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, discussing bilateral relations and cooperation, in addition to regional issues of common interest and the latest regional developments.
Wednesday, 13 May — Bahrain’s Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdulla bin Faisal Al-Doseri, held (virtually) the 5th meeting of the Human Rights Working Group with the European External Action Service (EEAS) within the framework of strengthening and developing EU-Bahrain relations in the field of human rights protection and promotion. The meeting was also attended by the Director General of the Middle East and North Africa at the Foreign Employment Authority, Gabriel Vinales, and the Head of the EU Delegation to Bahrain, Ambassador Michele Cervone D’Urso.
State of Kuwait
Thursday, 14 May — The United Nations (UN) in Kuwait and the Kuwait Foreign Ministry hosted a UN talk on the ongoing impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the global humanitarian response efforts. The UN Secretary General’s Representative and Resident Coordinator to Kuwait, Dr Tareq Al-Sheikh, Assistant Foreign Minister for International Organisation, Nasser Al-Hayyen, and the Chairman of Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRCS), Dr Hilal Al-Sayer, participated at the discussion with the experts about how the virus undermine stability in poor countries and the UN ‘Global Humanitarian Response Plan’ of USD 6.7 billion aimed to help the least developed countries.
Thursday, 14 May — Kuwait’s Emir, Sabah Al Ahmed Al Jabir Al-Sabah, received a message from Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said. Oman’s Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, Yousef bin Alawi bin Abdullah, personally delivered the message to Kuwait’s Prime Minister, Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah, in the presence of Kuwait’s Foreign Minister, Dr Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah. They also reviewed bilateral relations and cooperation and some other issue of common interest.
Sultanate of Oman
Wednesday, 13 May — Oman’s Ministry of Finance ordered a 5% cut in all government and armed forces budgets for 2020 as part of the efforts to offset the economic impact of falling oil prices and COVID-19. Earlier in April, Oman already ordered government agencies to cut their operational budgets by 5%.
Thursday, 14 May — Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tarik Al-Said and the United States’ Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, held a phone call in which they reviewed bilateral relations in various sectors and discussed the latest regional developments, notably in relation to Iran and Yemen.
State of Qatar
Sunday,10 May — Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani met with Kuwait’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah, in Doha. They reviewed bilateral relations and cooperation, and issues of common interest.
Thursday, 14 May — Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, held a telephone conversation with Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, where they discussed some key latest developments in the Middle East, in particular in Libya and Afghanistan, and efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Chancellor Merkel thanked the Emir for the Qatar Airways’ role in returning German nationals from around the world to Germany during the crisis.
Friday, 15 May – Qatar’s Minister of Transport and Communication, Jassim Saif Ahmed Al-Sulaiti, and the Deputy Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Ihor Zhovkva held a phone conversation on issues as trade, economic and investment cooperation between the two countries, in particular how to enhance the field of agriculture, transport and medical infrastructure.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Monday, 11 May — Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Finance announced an increase of the value-added tax (VAT) from 5% to 15% as of 1 July and a suspension of the cost of living allowance as of 1 June 2020 to shore up public finances and deal with economic consequences of COVID-19 and low oil prices.
Tuesday, 12 May — Saudi Arabia will host a virtual donor conference for support Yemen in cooperation with the United Nations on 2 June 2020 to aid the country deal with COVID-19.
Wednesday, 13 May — Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet called on the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other oil producing countries (OPEC+) to further reduce their crude oil output in addition to the previous OPEC+ cuts agreed in April. In this context, the Kingdom announced a further production cut of 1 million barrels per day for June 2020.
Wednesday, 13 May — The US company, Oshkosh Defense, and Saudi Arabia’s Al-Tadrea Manufacturing Company (TMC), specialised in the production of armed tactical vehicles (ATV), established a joint venture, Oshkosh Al-Tadrea Manufacturing (OTM), to manufacture armoured tactical vehicles in Saudi Arabia as the Kingdom seeks to localise military production. The Kingdom will hold the largest property share of the joint venture.
Thursday, 14 May — Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Adel Al-Jubeir, and the United Kingdom’s Minister for Middle East Affairs, James Cleverly, reviewed the relevance of regional stability and international cooperation to face current challenges. During the discussion, the UK’s Minister Cleverly expressed his gratitude towards Saudi Arabia for the almost €500 million contribution to research and development of a COVID-19 vaccine as part of the “Coronavirus Global Response” pledge initiative, which raised €7.4 billion in total.
United Arab Emirates
Sunday, 10 May — The UAE delivered about 13 tons of critical medical supplies to Sierra Leone, Niger and Mali to support them in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. Later that week, the UAE also sent medical aid to Montenegro, Albania and Romania. Since the start of the pandemic, the UAE dispatched more than 549 metric tons of medical supplies to 48 countries.
Monday, 11 May — Foreign Ministers of the UAE, Egypt, Greece, Cyprus and France discussed the latest developments in the Eastern Mediterranean. They issued a joint statement condemning the escalation of violence in Libya and rejecting Turkey’s agreements with the Government of National Accord (GNA) as violations of international law and the UN arms’ embargo on Libya, threatening regional stability. They also condemned Ankara’s drilling operations in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and violations of Greece’s airspace. The Ministers called for a truce in Libya during Ramadan and for adherence to the commitments of the 2020 Berlin Conference.
Thursday, 14 May — The UAE Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, granted a 10-year residency status to 212 doctors working for the Dubai Health Authority as an expression of gratitude for their efforts in combating the COVID-19. He also praised the work of medical, nursing, and administrative staff across the UAE during the pandemic, which identified a total of 21,084 COVID-19 positive cases as of 15 May 2020.