GULF IN REVIEW
17 - 20 September
Kingdom of Bahrain
Monday, 17 September—Construction of the Bahrain Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Import Terminal offshore at the Muharraq Island in Bahrain was completed after 14 months of works by the Belgian construction company, Besix. The Terminal is a vital part of the country’s energy infrastructure as it secures supply of LNG to the Kingdom amid the rising demand.
Tuesday, 18 September—Minister of Electricity and Water Affairs, Dr Abdulhussain Mirza, delivered a keynote speech at the Bahrain-British Business Forum held in Manama. The Forum focused on renewable energy plans and projects in Bahrain as well as investment opportunities for local and international businesses and it attracted over 200 business leaders from Bahrain and the United Kingdom. Bahrain progressively shifts its focus on clean energy investments as it tries to achieve sustainable development.
State of Kuwait
Tuesday, 18 September—Kuwait’s delegation, headed by Khaled Al-Fadhel, Undersecretary of Ministry of Commerce and Industry, met with their Tunisian counterparts within the Trade Technical Committee for the first time in six years. They held the meeting in Tunis to discuss boosting and developing economic and trade ties between the two countries and increasing investments.
Sultanate of Oman
Wednesday, 19 September—Muscat hosted the 9th Fertiliser Convention under the patronage of Oman’s Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr Fuad Bin Jaafar Bin Mohammed Al-Sajwani, organised by the Gulf Petrochemical and Chemical Association (GPCA). The Convention, titled ‘New Boundaries and Opportunities’, discussed the crucial role of fertilisers in food security among others and focused on the trends and innovations in agriculture striving to meet the increasing demand for nourishment as the world’s population is growing. The fertiliser industry became important for the Gulf countries’ economic visions as it contributes to creation of jobs and economic growth.
State of Qatar
Tuesday, 18 September—The £5 billion contract on purchasing 24 Typhoon jets and 9 Hawk trainers by Doha became effective as the UK BAE Systems received the first payment on Tuesday. The British Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, praised the deal for its positive impact on British defence industry. The first Typhoons are expected to be delivered in 2022.
Wednesday, 19 September—Mansoor bin Ebrahim al-Mahmoud became new CEO of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), replacing Abdullah bin Mohammed al-Thani, who was, in turn, appointed Minister of State. The Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund has been focusing on acquiring global acquisitions, holding stakes in major companies, notably Credit Suisse and Barclays.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Monday, 17 September—The city of Jeddah played host to a two-day summit of Horn of Africa’s leaders under the auspices of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud aimed at securing regional peace and stability. Eritrea’s President, Isaias Afwerki, and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, signed the Jeddah Peace Accord, the second deal since July ending the two-decade hostility. The summit also brought together the leaders of Djibouti and Eritrea to resolve their 2008 border dispute. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been emerging as key diplomatic actors in the Horn of Africa.
Tuesday, 18 September—Saudi Arabia became the latest signatory to the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS). The document is the outcome of the OECD/G20 BEPS Project and was signed by 83 jurisdictions, striving to combat tax avoidance by multinational companies. However, only 11 such jurisdictions have ratified it so far.
Wednesday, 19 September—Germany’s Federal Security Council (Bundessicherheitsrat), chaired by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, approved a weapons delivery to Saudi Arabia and the UAE despite its earlier pledge to ban arms sales to countries fighting in the Yemen war. It is the first official arms delivery from Berlin to Riyadh since March, when the ban came into power. Germany is among world’s five top arms exporters. This may indicate a shift from Berlin, which has taken a pro-Qatar stance in the Gulf Crisis.
Tuesday, 18 September—The newly appointed Minister of State, Ahmed bin Ali Al-Sayegh, and two newly appointed judges, Sabri Shamseddine Mahmoud and Tayeb Abdul Ghafour Al-Qadi, were sworn in to power. The prominent businessman from Abu Dhabi, Al-Sayegh, was appointed to the position earlier this month by President of the UAE, Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. The UAE’s Cabinet was reshuffled in late 2017, when new posts, including Minister for Artificial Intelligence, were introduced.
Wednesday, 19 September—Eritrea’s President, Isaias Afwerki, arrived in Abu Dhabi for a three-day working visit where he discussed economic cooperation, investments, and regional issues with Mohammed bin Zayed and other officials. The UAE emerged as an important trans-regional actor as it allegedly played key role in negotiating the historical peace agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia, signed in July 2018.
Wednesday, 19 September—Pakistan’s new Prime Minister, Imran Khan, accompanied by the country’s Minister of Finance and other senior officials, arrived in Abu Dhabi on his first round of foreign engagements as he seeks to shore up financial support from Arab Gulf allies. Despite austerity measures, the country needs financial support to pay off the foreign debt and finance development and infrastructure projects. Before Khan headed to the UAE for a meeting with Mohammed bin Zayed, he was received by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and held talks on enhancing bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman.