GULF IN REVIEW
14 - 19 June 2020
Arnold Koka and Veronica Del Torre
Kingdom of Bahrain
Sunday, 14 June–The Undersecretary for International Affairs at Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr Abdulla bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, held an online meeting with the Ambassadors of the European Union (EU) countries to Bahrain. During the meeting the two sides discussed bilateral relations and issues of common concern, notably maritime security, combating terrorism and eliminating its sources of financing.
Sunday, 14 June–Bahrain became the first country in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA ) region to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts (2005).
Tuesday, 16 June–Bahrain’s Cabinet plans to allocate additional 177 million Bahraini dinars (about $468 million) emergency funds into the general state budget to cover the costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
State of Kuwait
Monday, 15 June–Kuwait’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ahmed Nasser Al-Sabah, met Iraqi Prime, Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, in Bagdad, and handed him a written message from Kuwait’s Emir, Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, concerning bilateral relations. During the meeting the two parties discussed various challenges, including water security, terrorism, the decline of global oil prices and economic crisis.
Wednesday, 17 June–Assistant Undersecretary of the Minister of Health, Dr Mohammad Al-Khashti, represented Kuwait in the 3rd extraordinary meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Health Ministers, focused on the measures to fight COVID-19 and the role of the health sector for a phased restoration of normal life in the GCC countries, national plans for gradual restoration of regular activities and business and reopening borders.
Sultanate of Oman
Sunday, 14 June—Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said ordered the establishment of the “Coronavirus Economic Impacts Rectification Committee,” tasked with tackling the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. The new committee, chaired by the Sultanate’s Minister of Interior, will stem from the Supreme Committee and will devise mechanisms to ensure the resumption of financial and commercial activities, as well as to accelerate the country’s economic growth.
Tuesday, 16 June—Oman Arab Bank (OAB) and Alizz Islamic Bank (AIB) signed an agreement for the overall structure of the merging between the two banks. It paves the way to the finalisation of the merger, which will create a major banking entity with an asset base of over 3.2 billion rials that will deliver both conventional and Islamic banking services.
State of Qatar
Monday, 15 June–Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, had a telephone conversation with Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani. They discussed ways to further develop Russia-Qatar ties, notably in business, culture and education. The talks came a day before Foreign Minister Lavrov received his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who arrived in Moscow from Turkey, to discuss the situation in Syria.
Tuesday, 16 June–Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Sultan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi, and Germany’s Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office, Niels Annen, reviewed Qatar-Germany cooperation, issues of common concern and the upcoming economic crisis, in a phone call.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Sunday, 14 June—Saudi Aramco, the world’s major oil exporter, purchased 70% of the Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) stakes for 259 billion riyals ($69.1 billion). The acquisition comes as the completion of a deal reached with the Public Investment Fund (PIF), Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, to acquire the majority shareholding in the world’s fourth-largest petrochemicals company in 2019.
Sunday, 14 June—Saudi Arabia, together with 13 Arab countries, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Iraq, Jordan and the UAE, signed the basic charter of the first Arab Group for Space Cooperation, which aims to promote and facilitate space cooperation between Arab countries, harmonise regulation among their national space authorities and coordinate positions on space-related issues.
Tuesday, 16 June—Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, held a phone call with the French President, Emmanuel Macron, pertaining to bilateral relations, recent regional and international developments as well as issues of common concern.
Tuesday, 16 June—The Saudi Industrial Development Fund launched a stimulus package worth 3.7 billion riyals ($986.40 million) to assist private sector industrial enterprises to deal with the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thursday, 18 June—Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, held a phone call with High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell Fontelles. They discussed EU-Saudi relations and several issues of mutual concern, such as regional security, situation in Libya and Yemen, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and Saudi Arabia’s G20 Presidency.
United Arab Emirates
Saturday, 13 June—Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, and French President, Emmanuel Macron, discussed numerous regional and international issues, with the Libyan crisis on the top of the agenda. They also discussed ways to expand the strategic UAE-France partnership along with recent developments in the region and the Mediterranean and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Monday, 15 June—Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, held a phone call with Jordan’s King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein, to review bilateral relations and coordination, rejecting Israel’s plan to annex territories in the West Bank. During the week, King Abdullah II also discussed the issue with Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa and senior members of the United States’ Congress.
Monday, 15 June—The UAE Space Agency signed an agreement with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) to establish an international UNOOSA project office in Abu Dhabi. The UAE seeks to become the new global hub to foster progress on space sustainability as it prepares for the Emirates’ Mars Mission H.O.P.E, scheduled to launch in July 2020.
Tuesday, 16 June—Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von Der Leyen, discussed the UAE’s cooperation with the European Union and efforts to combat COVID-19 over a phone.