GULF IN REVIEW

13 - 18 October 2019

by

Nikola Zukalová

Kingdom of Bahrain
 

Wednesday, 16 October—A delegation from Bahrain, led by the Kingdom’s Ambassador to the United States, Abdullah bin Rashid Al-Khalifa, participated in the first meeting of Warsaw Process Working Group on Human Rights, notably on Women, Peace, and Security, which aimed to support national and regional efforts to promote women’s participation in conflict prevention, resolution and recovery, held in Washington, DC as one of the seven working groups of the Warsaw Process. Ambassador Al-Khalifa presented some of the Kingdom’s initiatives to promote full participation of women in the society through their empowerment and provision of equal opportunities. Manama will host the next Working Group on Maritime and Aviation Security between 21-22 October. 

 

Thursday, 17 October—King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa appointed the current Commander of Bahrain's Royal Guard, Major General Nasser bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, as a National Security Advisor.

 

Thursday, 17 October—The 12th Joint UK-Bahrain Working Group, co-chaired by Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa, and Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa at the UK Foreign Office, Dr Andrew Murrison, took place in London. It focused on bilateral cooperation and issues of mutual interest, particularly in security, human rights, trade or healthcare. On the occasion, the Joint Security Work Team from both countries’ Ministries of Interior met to discuss security cooperation and projects in countering terrorism and cyber-crimes. They also reviewed situation in the Arab Gulf and the need to enhance security cooperation and coordination to protect commercial maritime navigation and energy resources.

State of Kuwait

Monday, 14 October—Kuwait hosted the 4th Kuwait Oil and Gas Show and Conference, attended by participants from around 30 countries. This year’s event paid special attention to securing oil facilities in light of recent attacks on oil industry in the Gulf.

 

Tuesday, 15 October—The Emir of Kuwait, Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, returned to Kuwait after a long stay in the United States due to health complications that impeded the Emir’s meeting with the US President, Donald Trump. As a result, their meeting was postponed indefinitely.

 

Tuesday, 15 October—The Head of Kuwait’s National Security Bureau, Thamer Al-Ali Al-Sabah, met with the Head of the NATO Middle East and North Africa Section, Giovanni Romani, at the NATO-Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (NATO-ICI) Regional Centre in Kuwait to discuss ways to enhance cooperation and regional situation. Particular attention was later paid to cooperation in cyber-defence between Kuwait and NATO.

Sultanate of Oman
 

Wednesday, 16 October—The 36th Meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries’ Interior Ministers with the participation of the GCC Secretary General, Dr Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, convened in Muscat. They discussed enhancing the Gulf cooperation in counter-terrorism, cyber-security and combatting crime. The meeting reviewed the preparations for the joint exercise of the Gulf security services (Arab Gulf Security 2), which will be held in the UAE, and the proposed GCC Security Network project along with the Gulf Academy for Security and Strategic Studies set up.

 

Wednesday, 16 October—Oman’s Sultan, Qaboos bin Said Al-Said, established two new ministries—the Ministry of Arts Affairs and the Ministry of Technology and Communications—and renamed the Ministry of Transport and Communications to the Ministry of Transport. Dr Suad bint Mohammed bin Ali Al-Lawatia, Eng Azza bint Sulaiman bin Said Al-Ismailiya and Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Salim Al Futaisi were appointed as heads of the respective Ministries. He also created the Tax Institution, replacing the Secretariat General of Taxes at the Ministry of Finance, to be headed by Sultan bin Salim bin Said Al-Habsi, who is currently Deputy Chair of the Board of Governors of the Central Bank of Oman. 

 

Friday, 18 October—The Chief of Staff of the Sultan's Armed Forces (SAF), Lieutenant General Ahmed bin Harith Al-Nabhani, met Pakistan's Prime Minister, Imran Khan, in Islamabad. They discussed military cooperation, enhancing trade and transportation ties and a number of issues of common concern, including the situation in Kashmir and Pakistan’s initiative to deescalate the tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Lt Gen Al-Nabhani also discussed enhancing bilateral maritime cooperation and defence ties with the Chief of Pakistan’s Naval Staff, Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi.

State of Qatar

Sunday, 13 October—The Qatari delegation, headed by Qatar’s Permanent Representative to the Arab League, Ambassador Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz Al-Sahlawi, participated in the extraordinary meeting of the Arab League Council at the level of Foreign Ministers in Cairo, called in response to Turkey’s military offensive in northeastern Syria. The Arab Foreign Ministers adopted a joint statement, condemning Ankara’s aggression in northern Syria, asserting that it threatens regional security, and rejecting any Turkish attempts to impose demographic changes in Syria. It also stated that Turkey will be held responsible for potential resurgence of Daesh in Syria. The Arab Foreign Ministers also agreed to consider severing diplomatic and economic ties as well as halting military cooperation with Turkey. Qatar and Somalia expressed reservations to the statement.

 

Thursday, 17 October—Qatar’s Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs Ministry announced that it adopted legislation to a draft law on a minimum wage, whose value remains undisclosed, and passed a draft law, which could lead to the end of mandatory exit visas for workers.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Sunday, 13 October—Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud issued directives allowing the Kingdom to receive additional reinforcement of troops and defence equipment from the United States amid rising regional tensions.

 

Monday, 14 October—Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, visited Saudi Arabia, the first time in 12 years. He held talks with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence. They discussed bilateral relations, advancing cooperation in various fields, notably in energy, military, technology and infrastructure, along with regional situation, including Yemen and Syria. The two countries signed 14 agreements, worth over $2 billion, and several Memoranda of Understanding, notably on OPEC+ oil output, space, tourism and agriculture. They also agreed to establish a Commercial Attaché between them.

 

Tuesday, 15 October—Saudi Arabia’s forces reportedly took control over Yemen's interim capital, Aden, as the Kingdom seeks to secure peace between the internationally recognised Yemeni government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and the UAE-backed seccessionist Southern Transitional Council (STC), which seized Aden earlier and clashed with Hadi’s forces in southern Yemen. 

 

Tuesday, 15 October—Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan, arrived to Riyadh for talks with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud.  In a bid to diffuse regional tensions, Imran Khan conveyed to the Saudi leadership Iran’s position, which he learned during his previous meeting with the Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran.

 

Thursday, 17 October—King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, held talks with Palestine’s President, Mahmoud Abbas. King Salman reiterated the Kingdom’s continuous support for the Palestinians and their right to establish an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital. President Abbas appreciated Riyadh’s support and condemned the 14 September attacks on Saudi oil industry. On the occasion, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority agreed to establish a Joint Economic Committee and Saudi-Palestinian Business Council as the Palestinian Authority faces a deep financial crisis.

United Arab Emirates

Tuesday, 15 October—Abu Dhabi announced the establishment of the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI), the first of its kind in the world. 

 

Wednesday, 16 October—Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, visited the UAE and met with Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. They discussed bilateral relations in a number of fields, notably energy, trade and investments. Putin affirmed that the UAE can count on Russia’s assistance in developing its nuclear power generation capabilities. The two countries signed a number of agreements worth $1.3 billion and Memoranda of Understanding in some key sectors, including trade and environment. The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and Russia's Gazprom Neft agreed on exploring Artificial Intelligence and other technology, and Lukoil was awarded a 5% stake in the Ghasha Sour Gas Concession by ADNOC, among others.

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