GULF IN REVIEW

15 - 20 December  2019

by

Nikola Zukalová

Kingdom of Bahrain
 

Monday, 16 December—Bahrain celebrated its 48th National Day, commemorating the establishment of modern Bahrain as an Arab and Muslim country by Ahmed Al-Fateh in 1783, the Kingdom’s accession to the United Nations and King Hamad’s accession to the throne.

 

Monday, 16 December—Imran Khan, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, witnessed the signing of three Memoranda of Understanding—in education and research, medical sciences and youth affairs and sports—during his visit to Bahrain. In Manama, Khan met with King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, who praised the Pakistani community in the Kingdom, while Khan appreciated the construction of the King Hamad Nursing and Associated Medical Science University in Pakistan, which should start in January 2020. Khan also met with Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa to discuss combatting terrorism and organised crime and strengthening security cooperation, among others.

 

Tuesday, 17 December—Dr Abdulla bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, Bahrain’s Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for International Affairs, met with the NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, on the sidelines of the 15th Anniversary of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) in Kuwait. Dr Al-Khalifa affirmed the Kingdom’s desire to strengthen ties with NATO within the ICI framework. Additionally, they discussed some key developments in the Arab Gulf, fight against terrorism and extremism and enhancing cooperation. Stoltenberg  also appreciated Bahrain’s role in maintaining regional security.

 

State of Kuwait

 

Monday, 16 December—Representatives of the North Atlantic Council met with the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) partners (re: Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE) in Kuwait on the occasion of ICI’s 15th anniversary. Officials from Oman, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) were also present. NATO’s Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, appreciated the Gulf partners’ support in some NATO-led operations and the close cooperation against Daesh. On the margins, the Kuwait Armed Forces’ Chief of General Staff, Lieutenant General Mohammad Al-Khader, discussed boosting military cooperation with the NATO Military Committee’s Deputy Chairman, Lieutenant General Scott Kindsvater.

 

Tuesday, 17 December—Emir of Kuwait, Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah approved the new government, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah. The 14-member-cabinet includes: Ahmad Mansour Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence; Anas Khaled Nasser Al-Saleh, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs; Dr Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Dr Khaled Ali Al-Fadhel, Minister of Oil and Minister of Electricity and Water; Khaled Nasser Al-Roudhan, Minister of Commerce and Industry;  and Mariam Al-Qeel, Minister of Finance and Acting Minister of State for Economic Affairs, among others.


Sultanate of Oman

Sunday, 15 December—The Omani-Saudi Forum, organised by the Public Authority for Investment Promotion and Export Development (Ithraa), the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) and the State General Reserve Fund (SGRF) as part of the ‘Invest in Oman’ campaign, was hosted by the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) in Riyadh. The Forum focused on enhancing trade and investment cooperation and exploring opportunities for investments in the Sultanate, particularly in health, logistics and tourism.

Sunday, 15 December—The State Grid Corporation of China, the world's largest electricity utility company, acquired a 49% of the state-owned Oman’s Electricity Transmission Company, the Sultanate’s main transmission network operator, from Oman Electricity Holding Company (Nama). The move, which came as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and part of the Sultanate’s first major privatisation, valued close to $1 billion (USD), will be the Beijing’s largest single investment in the Sultanate. The agreement was signed by State Grid’s President, Xin Baoan, and Oman’s Minister Responsible for Financial Affairs, Darwish bin Ismail Al-Balushi, in Muscat.


State of Qatar

Wednesday, 18 December— Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, attended he three-day Kuala Lumpur Summit 2019 in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, which aimed to address issues facing the Muslim world. It was attended notably by Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Iran’s President, Hassan Rouhani, among others. On the sidelines, Qatar’s Emir held talks with Iran’s President in which he expressed the desire to enhance bilateral relations, while Rouhani said Tehran is ready to develop cooperation in joint investments with Doha.

 

Wednesday, 18 December—Qatar celebrated national day, marking the country’s unification and creation of the modern state in 1878 by the Al-Thani ruling family.


Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Sunday, 15 December—Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, received Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan, in Riyadh. Their talks focused on bilateral cooperation and recent regional and international developments. The meeting was attended by Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, National Security Advisor, Dr Musaed bin Mohammed Al-Aiban, and Chief of General Intelligence, Khalid Al-Humaidan.

 

Tuesday, 17 December—The energy major, Saudi Aramco, completed a deal to buy 17% of South Korea’s Hyundai Oilbank from Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings for approximately $1.2 billion through its subsidiary, Aramco Overseas Company.

 

Tuesday, 17 December—Following Monday’s meeting with the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, Greece’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Dendias, travelled to Saudi Arabia, UAE and Jordan. In Riyadh, Dendias was received by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, among other officials. They discussed developing bilateral cooperation in addition to some regional developments, related to the developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Ankara-Tripoli maritime border deal and the Cyprus issue.

 

Wednesday, 18 December—Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, received South Korea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kang Kyung-wha, in Riyadh. They reviewed bilateral relations and discussed regional developments as well as the Saudi-Korean Committee’s activities and initiatives in various fields, notably industry, technology, infrastructure and health, with an emphasis on research and development, knowledge transfer and development of human capital.

 

Thursday, 19 December—Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), launched Jada, a 4 billion Saudi riyal ($1.07 billion USD) fund of funds, which will invest in venture capital and private equity funds to support local small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

United Arab Emirates

Monday, 16 December—The first ministerial meeting of the Joint UAE-Latvia Economic Committee, chaired by Sultan bin Saeed Al-Mansouri, UAE’s Minister of Economy, and Ralphs Nemiro, Latvia’s Minister of Economic Affairs, conveyed in Abu Dhabi. The two sides agreed to adopt a Joint Economic Programme for the next 2 years, which  will include 11 key economic sectors, notably trade and investments, tourism, innovation and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), energy, renewables and industry, agriculture, civil aviation, ICT, health, education and culture.

 

Monday, 16 December—Mohammed bin Ahmed Al-Bowardi, UAE’s Minister of State for Defence Affairs, discussed bilateral defence cooperation and the need to strengthen it with Jeong Kyeong-doo, South Korea’s Minister of National Defence, during the UAE-Korean Supreme Military Joint Committee meeting in Seoul. The officials also touched upon some key regional and international issues of common concern. Al-Bowardi also affirmed UAE’s interest in strengthening its strategic partnership with South Korea.

 

Monday, 16 December—Demetris Syllouris, President of the Cyprus’ Parliament, met with several UAE officials, notably Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, and Saqr Ghobash, Speaker of the Federal National Council (FNC). They discussed bolstering bilateral relations, particularly in the political, economic and parliamentary fields. Syllouris also discussed collaboration in digital economy and artificial intelligence with UAE’s Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Omar Sultan Al-Olama.

 

Wednesday, 18 December—UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, received his Greek counterpart, Nikos Dendias, who toured also Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The two Ministers reviewed bilateral relations and cooperation, along with shared concerns over Turkey’s actions, the recent Ankara-Tripoli agreement and the Cyprus issue. On the occasion, the two officials inked a Memorandum of Understanding between the two Foreign Ministries on cooperation in diplomatic training.

 

Thursday, 19 December—Abu Dhabi hosted a regional conference titled ‘Empowering Youth and Promoting Tolerance,’ co-organised by the UAE’s Foreign Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) and the Hedayah Center. Hundreds of representatives, mainly from the Arab League countries, bu also Europe, Africa, the Americas, think tanks, civil society organisations, religious figures and others, discussed preventing violent extremism and strengthening regional counter-terrorism cooperation. On the margins, Hedayah and the UNOCT signed a Memorandum of Understanding on preventing radicalisation.

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