GULF IN REVIEW

12 - 17 July 2020

by

Arnold Koka

Kingdom of Bahrain

Monday, 13 July—Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa issued a royal decree provisioning the addition of a BD177 million ($470 million USD) emergency expenditure to the 2020 state budget for the fight with COVID-19. On the same day, the King decreed a reallocation of $450 million USD from the Future Generations Reserve Fund (FGRF) to the state budget. The measures aim to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Kingdom.

 

Thursday, 16 July—Crown Prince and First Deputy Prime Minister, Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, held a virtual meeting with Italian Ambassador to Bahrain, Paola Amadei. They reviewed bilateral ties, highlighting the need for reinforcing the strategic partnership between the two countries, and discussed regional and international issues of common interest.

State of Kuwait

Monday, 13 July—Foreign Minister of Kuwait, Ahmad Nasser Mohammad Al-Sabah, held a video conference call with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, during which they discussed bilateral cooperation and the latest regional and international developments. Zarif expressed interest in developing relations with Kuwait in various fields.

 

Wednesday, 15 July—Kuwait’s Cabinet cancelled the plan to build the Al-Dabdaba solar plant due to the economic difficulties related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 1.5 GW solar project in the Al-Shagaya Renewable Energy Park would have provided 15% of the Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) electrical energy needs. The plan was part of the country’s project to generate 15% of its overall energy via renewable sources by 2030.

 

Thursday, 16 July—Foreign Minister of Kuwait, Ahmad Nasser Mohammad Al-Sabah, held a phone call with British Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab. They discussed bilateral cooperation at all levels, mentioning the 120th anniversary of the establishment of the British-Kuwaiti relationship and reviewed their current strategic partnership.

 

Thursday, 16 July—France’s Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, was on an official visit to Kuwait, where he held talks with Kuwait’s Foreign Minister, Ahmad Nasser Mohammad Al-Sabah, concerning bilateral counterterrorism cooperation, Iraq’s stability, crisis in Lebanon, Iran’s nuclear programme and the need for its compliance with the Vienna agreement and Israel’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank.


Sultanate of Oman

Monday, 13 July—Oman’s Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers, Fahd bin Mahmoud Al-Said, held a meeting with Iraq’s Ambassador to the Sultanate, Ali Mehdi Jawad. They discussed aspects of bilateral cooperation and ways to strengthen them as well as regional and international developments.

 

Wednesday, 15 July—The Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC), which includes Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the United States, designated six individuals and entities for facilitating the transfer of funds to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its affiliates. It included three money services companies and one individual in Turkey and Syria — Al-Haram Exchange, Tawasul Company and Al-Khalidi Exchange, and a senior ISIS financial facilitator, Abd-al-Rahman Ali Husayn al-Ahmad al-Rawi — and an Afghanistan-based charity, Nejaat Social Welfare Organization, and its Director, Sayed Habib Ahmad Khan, which funded ISIS’s Afghanistan branch, ISIS-Khorasan.

State of Qatar

Thursday, 16 July—The Head of Qatar’s Mission to the European Union (EU), Abdulrahman bin Mohamed Al-Khulaifi, held a meeting with the EU Counterterrorism Coordinator, Gilles de Kerchove, to discuss EU-Qatar cooperation in combatting terrorism and extremism.

 

Thursday, 16 July—Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, held a phone call with the United States’ Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. They reviewed bilateral relations and international issues of mutual interest, with focus on countering regional threats and maintaining Gulf unity and regional stability as well as Qatar’s role in supporting intra-Afghan talks.

 

Thursday, 16 July—Qatar’s Amir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, held a meeting with Commander of the US Central Command in the Middle East, General Kenneth McKenzie, who was on a regional tour to Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. They reviewed bilateral strategic cooperation and ways to strengthen it, particularly in the military and defence sectors, along with  enhancing regional security and stability.


Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Monday, 13 July—Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, held a phone call with Iraq’s Minister of Oil, Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismail. They reiterated their commitment to implementing the OPEC+ deal agreed in April aiming to reduce oil production by 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) starting from May 2020. Saudi Arabia commended Iraq for improvement in compliance with its pledged output cuts in June, which reached 90% and should climb to 100% in August. Iraq pledged additional production cuts between July and September to compensate for its non-compliance in May.

 

Monday, 13 July—Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance, Abdullatif Al-Asheikh, announced that the country will allow worshippers to perform Eid Al-Adha prayers at specific mosques, following precautionary measures due to the pandemic.

 

Wednesday, 16 July—Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, during a UN Security Council virtual meeting, called for international action to deal with the threat posed by the FSO Safer oil tanker moored off Yemen’s Red Sea coast. The tanker, which has 1.4 million barrels of oil on board, has been stranded since the start of Yemen’s conflict, posing a great environmental and security risk to the Southern Red Sea and the wider area. The Houthis have been delaying the UN access for the past five years, demanding assurance that they would get the oil revenues.

 

Wednesday, 16 July—The Saudi Human Rights Commission (HRC) launched three international initiatives to emphasise the reforms implemented in the country and develop cooperation with other organisations. The initiatives consist of an International Communication Programme, aimed at engaging with civil society institutions active in the field; an English-language information platform on human rights developments; and an English-language newsletter on the Kingdom’s human rights reforms.

 

Wednesday, 16 July—Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) announced the launch of the World Defense Show, scheduled to be held for the first time in March 2022, as the Kingdom seeks to develop its local defence manufacturing sector. The international show will display and demonstrate interoperable defence solutions and technologies and act as a global stage for integrated defence.


United Arab Emirates

Tuesday, 15 July—The UAE’s Ministry of Economy and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) started the first edition of the China-UAE Economic and Trade Digital Expo, organised between 15 and 21 July 2020. The initiative aims to strengthen trade connections and explore new enterprise and economic cooperation opportunities, through a range of virtual panels with industry leaders.

 

Wednesday, 16 July—Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, held a phone call with Russian President, Vladimir Putin. The two leaders discussed strategic partnership between the two countries as well as the need to coordinate international efforts to resume an inter-Libyan dialogue and find a political solution to the Libyan crisis.

 

Thursday, 16 July—The UAE Space Agency (UAESA) announced the postponement of its Mars mission, Hope, scheduled to be launched on 17 July 2020, to 20 July due to unstable weather conditions. The Emirates Mars Mission will be the first Arab space exploration mission and will be launched from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan to the Martian orbit in order to analyse the planet’s atmosphere.

 

Thursday, 16 July—Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, held a phone call with German Chancellor, Angela Merkel. They discussed the UAE-Germany strategic partnership and a number of regional and international issues, with the main focus on Libya. They emphasised the need to avoid further military escalation and the desire to find a diplomatic and political solution to the conflict.

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