GULF IN REVIEW
16 - 21 February 2020
Kingdom of Bahrain
Tuesday, 18 February—Bahrain’s National Security Advisor and Royal Guard Commander, Major-General Nasser bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, received the United Kingdom Maritime Component Commander and Deputy Commander Combined Maritime Forces, Commodore Dean Basset, to discuss bilateral military cooperation, exchange of expertise and ways to boost them.
Tuesday, 18 February—The Bahrain-based Islamic financial group, GFH Financial Group, acquired a 70% stake in the Dubai-based FinTech company, Marshal, enabling payment technology across the Middle East and North Africa.
Thursday, 20 February—Bahrain’s Interior Minister, General Rashid bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa, attended the concluding ceremony of the Arab Gulf Security 2 exercise, organised by the UAE’s Ministry of Interior in Dubai to enhance cooperation and coordination among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries’ police and security forces. The ceremony was also attended by: the UAE’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, Lieutenant General Saif bin Zayed Al-Nahyan; Oman's Minister of Interior, Sayyid Hamoud bin Faisal Al-Busaidi; Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Anas Al-Saleh; Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Interior, Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz; the GCC Secretary General, Nayef Al-Hajraf, as well as Dubai officials.
State of Kuwait
Sunday, 16 February—Kuwait’s Foreign Minister held talks with his counterparts from Saudi Arabia, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, Turkey, Mevlut Cavusoglu, Jordan, Ayman Al-Safadi, Canada, Francois-Philippe Champagne, India, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, and Algeria, Sabri Boukadoum, on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, focusing on the prospects of boosting bilateral relations and cooperation as well as regional issues of common concern.
Sunday, 16 February—The Amiri Decree 49/2020 partially reshuffled Kuwait’s Cabinet, appointing Khaled Mohammad Ali Al-Fadhel as Minister of Oil, Maryam Aqeel Al-Sayed Hashem Al-Aqeel as Minister of Social Affairs and Minister of State for Economic Affairs, Barrak Ali Barrak Al-Shitan as Minister of Finance, and Mohammad Hejji Ali Bushehri as Minister of Electricity and Waters.
Sunday, 16 February—Kuwait and Saudi Arabia began a trial phase of oil production from the Wafra and Khafji oilfields at the divided Neutral Zone. Kuwait’s Minister of Oil, Khaled Mohammad Ali Al-Fadhel, said that regular levels of oil production will be restored by the end of 2020.
Thursday, 20 February—Kuwait celebrated the 14th anniversary since Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah assumed the post of Crown Prince.
Sultanate of Oman
Wednesday, 19 February—Oman’s Ministry of Oil and Gas signed an exploration and production sharing agreement with the French oil and gas giant’s exploration and production company, Total E&P, and Thailand’s petroleum exploration and production company PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP), a subsidiary of the state owned PTT Public Company Limited, to explore and develop non-associated gas in Block 12 in the central part of the Sultanate.
Thursday, 20 February—Oman ended the 40-day mourning period for Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al-Said. Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said marked the end of the mourning period by releasing 282 prisoners. Later Sultan Haitham phoned Kuwait’s Emir, Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, to discuss bilateral relations, regional issues and wishing each other health and success.
Friday, 21 February—The United States’ Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, travelled from Saudi Arabia to Oman to meet Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said. Pompeo is the first high-ranking US official to meet the new Omani leader since he succeeded Sultan Qaboos. The talks focused on reaffirming the continuance of their partnership, reviewing bilateral ties and cooperation, along with regional developments, notably concerning Iran and Yemen.
State of Qatar
Tuesday, 18 February—Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, arrived in Brussels for an official visit. He met with his Belgian counterpart, Philippe Goffin, and several European Union (EU) officials, including EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, President of the European Parliament, David Maria Sassoli, Chair of the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee, David McAllister, European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, and for Energy, Kadri Simson, to discuss cooperation and regional situation.
Wednesday, 19 February—Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Sultan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi, held talks with Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister and Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and Africa, Mikhail Bogdanov. Bogdanov was in Doha to meet with senior delegation of Hamas, which included the Head of Hamas’ international office, Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook, the group’s former leader, Khaled Mashal, and member of its Political Bureau, Sami Khater.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Monday, 17 February—Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud held talks with Eritrea’s President, Isaias Afwerki, in Riyadh. The two leaders reviewed bilateral relations and cooperation in various fields and the developments in the Horn of Africa and the Gulf. They also discussed the role of the Council of Arab and African States bordering the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, established in January. The meeting was also attended by the Kingdom’s Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud and his Eritrean counterpart, Osman Saleh Mohammed.
Tuesday, 18 February—A delegation from France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, led by Christophe Farno, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Department, held talks with Awwad Al-Awwad, President of the Saudi Human Rights Commission, focusing on the human rights initiatives in the Kingdom and ways to boost cooperation in the human rights’ field.
Wednesday, 19 February—The United States’ Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, met separately with Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, Prince Khalid bin Salman Al-Saud, Deputy Minister of Defence, in Riyadh. The talks focused mainly on bilateral relations and security concerns regarding Iran, including the smuggling of advanced weapons to the Houthis in Yemen. Pompeo also visited the US troops at the Prince Sultan Air Base in the Kingdom.
Friday, 21 February—Saudi Arabia’s air defence forces intercepted several ballistic missiles launched by the Iran-backed Houthis from Yemen towards civilian areas in the Kingdom.
United Arab Emirates
Sunday, 16 February—Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, held talks with Hervé Guillou, Chairman and CEO of the Naval Group, a major French naval defence contractor, about the potential for cooperation between the UAE naval defence companies and the Naval Group.
Sunday, 16 February—UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, participated alongside Foreign Ministers of Algeria, China, Congo, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Turkey, Tunisia, the United Kingdom and the United States as well as representatives of the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union and the League of Arab States in the first meeting of the International Follow-up Committee on Libya in Munich. They discussed the situation in Libya and the arms embargo, among other issues. The Committee will meet regularly under the UN leadership with Italy as the next co-chair.
Wednesday, 19 February—A high-level delegation from the UAE, led by Minister of State, Dr Sultan bin Ahmad Sultan Al-Jaber, arrived in Greece, for talks with Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and other senior Greek officials, about ways to strengthen bilateral ties and expand cooperation, including in security and defence, energy, trade and investments, infrastructure and tourism. A joint working group is working on the establishment of a comprehensive strategic partnership agreement between the two countries.
Wednesday, 19 February—Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, received Im Jong-seok, Minister of State and Special Envoy of South Korea’s President to discuss their strategic partnership and cooperation on peaceful nuclear energy. The visit came after the first unit of the UAE’s Barakah Nuclear Power Plant was issued an operational licence.
Thursday, 20 February—Stef Blok, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, met with his UAE counterpart, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, in Abu Dhabi. They discussed ways to enhance bilateral relations and cooperation, along with the developments in Libya, Yemen and Iran. Both officials stressed their keenness to strengthen bilateral relations. The Dutch Minister will then also visit Saudi Arabia and Iran to discuss regional tensions, deescalation and freedom of maritime navigation in the Gulf.