GULF IN REVIEW
12 - 17 April 2020
Arnold Koka and Veronica Del Torre
Kingdom of Bahrain
Monday, 13 April – Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, held a telephone call with the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), António Guterres, discussing recent political, security and regional developments, notably the ceasefire in Yemen and efforts to combat Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Tuesday, 14 April – The Royal Medical Services Commander, Khalid bin Ali Al-Khalifa, inaugurated a car park near the capital, Manama, that has been converted into an intensive care unit with 130 beds for patients infected with Coronavirus (COVID-19).
State of Kuwait
Thursday, 16 April – The Director General of Kuwait’s Public Authority for Industry, Abdulkarim Taqi, announced the arrival of a second shipment of imported medical face-mask producing machines, which will be able to produce over 300,000 face-masks a day.
Thursday, 16 April – The Kuwaiti Minister of Trade and Industry, Khaled Al-Roudhan, participated in the second virtual extraordinary meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Trade Cooperation Committee, during which the GCC countries accepted Kuwait’s proposal to create a unified integrated Gulf food security network. The Ministers focused mainly on the effects of COVID-19 on their countries’ economy and food security, paying special attention to ensuring the flow of essential and necessary commodities within the GCC.
Sultanate of Oman
Sunday, 12 April—As part of the OPEC+ agreement to decrease oil production, Oman pledged to cut 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) of its crude production for May and June 2020. Following the two-month period, the Sultanate’s share of the cuts will drop to 161,000 bpd for the rest of 2020, and later be set to 121,000 bpd until April 2022.
Wednesday, 15 April — Oman's Ministry of Finance ordered all government agencies to cut their developmental budgets for 2020 by at least 10% as part of the Sultanate’s efforts to deal with the negative economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis.
Thursday, 16 April — Oman’s Minister of Technology and Communications, Azza bint Sulaiman Al-Ismaili, announced the formation of the Technological Innovation Committee to further curb the spread of COVID-19) in the Sultanate. The Committee will be headed by the Minister of Technology and Communications and will be composed of representatives from the Ministry of Health as well as other government agencies. Its tasks consist of finding specialised national capabilities to provide ICT solutions to combat the spread of COVID-19.
State of Qatar
Tuesday, 14 April – Several senior United States (US) officials met with representatives of the Afghan Taliban in Doha to discuss the implementation of the peace agreement signed in February 2020, the delay in the release of prisoners and the consequences of violations of the agreement by the Taliban.
Thursday, 16 April – On the occasion of the Italian Research Day in the World (15 April), the Italian Ambassador to Qatar, Alessandro Prunas, announced cooperation between some Italian and Qatari universities and medical institutions on a joint research project on the genomics of Coronavirus’ patients to understand the genetic patterns of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thursday, 16 April – Qatar Petroleum announced the beginning of drilling in the North Field East Project to expand its liquefied natural gas (LNG) production capacity. The North Field is Qatar’s largest natural gas deposit and is shared with Iran. The first phase of the project will increase Qatar’s LNG production capacity by 43%—from 77 million to 110 million tons a year.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Sunday, 12 April — After three days of negotiations, the OPEC+ (the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC oil producers) agreed to cut global crude oil production by around 10% to stabilise the energy markets. The OPEC+ deal sets the total output cuts at 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) between May–June 2020, 7.7 million bpd for July-December 2020, and 5.8 million bpd for January 2021-April 2022. Leaders of Saudi Arabia, the United States and Russia welcomed the OPEC+ agreement in a joint phone call.
Wednesday, 15 April — Countries of the Group of 20 major economies (G20), currently under the Presidency of Saudi Arabia, agreed on suspending service debt payments to 77 of the world’s poorest countries for the year 2020. Saudi Arabia’s Finance Minister, Mohammed Al-Jadaan, said that the measure will free over $20 billion USD ($12 billion owed to other countries and $8 billion from the debt to private creditors) for the 77 countries to face the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thursday, 16 April — Saudi Arabia pledged $500 million (USD) to various international organisations, including the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation (CEPI), The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI), among other international and regional health organisations and programmes, to support global efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The Kingdom has also called on the international community to contribute necessary finances to combat COVID-19, estimated at $8 billion (USD).
Thursday, 16 April — The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres held a phone call with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. The UN Secretary-General expressed gratitude to Riyadh for adhering to the two-week ceasefire in Yemen, the Kingdom’s efforts during the G20 Presidency and the measures to limit the impacts of COVID-19. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reaffirmed Saudi Arabia’s commitment to the ceasefire despite the Houthis’ violations.
Friday, 17 April — Saudi Arabia’s highest religious authority, Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah Al-Sheikh, announced that worshippers will have to perform this year’s Tarawih and Eid prayers during Ramadan at their homes due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
United Arab Emirates
Tuesday, 14 April — According to International Monetary Fund's World Economic Outlook, the UAE economy will see a 3.3% growth in 2021, while predicting a 3.5% contraction in 2020. The economic decline expected for 2020 is in line with the global economic contraction caused by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly affecting the global energy market and the oil sector.
Tuesday, 14 April — The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, held a phone call with Tunisia’s President, Kais Saied, discussing bilateral relations and reviewing mechanisms of joint coordination to curb the COVID-19’s impact on the economic and health sectors. The two leaders also addressed the need for cooperation among Arab countries calling for unity and solidarity.
Wednesday, 15 April — The United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) thanked the UAE for its efforts to provide medical and critical protective supplies to African countries amid the spread of COVID-19. On Sunday, the UAE in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) delivered 27 metric tonnes of medical supplies to Somalia. The UAE has dispatched medical aid to numerous countries around the world over the past weeks, including to Italy, Iran, Colombia and Pakistan.
Wednesday, 15 April — The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, held a phone call with Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, during which they discussed ways to intensify cooperation between the UAE and humanitarian institutions and the Foundation to support the international efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.