GULF IN REVIEW
19 - 24 April 2020
Arnold Koka and Veronica Del Torre
Kingdom of Bahrain
Monday, 20 April — Bahrain’s Cabinet decided to cut operational expenses budgets of the Ministries and the Government by 30% and agreed to reschedule several construction and consulting projects to help meet the emergency costs of containing the spread of COVID-19.
Tuesday, 21 April — Bahrain Government, based on the recommendations made by the National Medical Taskforce to Combat COVID-19, implemented some restrained measured during the holy month of Ramadan until May 7, including limiting Iftar (an evening meal for breaking fasting) to small family gatherings and refraining from hosting public Iftar banquets.
Thursday, 23 April — Bahrain’s supply chain track-and-trace platforms for pharmaceuticals and medical devices provider, MCV Global, announced a partnership with COX Logistic Group, a Bahrain-based logistic provider, to launch ‘SmartHub’ logistic warehouse for pharmaceuticals and food. The Bahrain-headquartered warehouse will distribute food and medicine across the entire Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) market.
State of Kuwait
Tuesday, 21 April — The United Nations Secretary-General Representative and Resident Coordinator in Kuwait, Dr Tariq Al-Sheikh, discussed with Kuwait’s Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development, Dr Khaled Mahdi, cooperation, global developments and challenges posed by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). They reviewed plans to assist Kuwait in limiting the negative effects of COVID-19, its impact on achieving sustainable development goals as well as a draft cooperation agreement between the UN and Kuwait on risk management plan and rapid development response in various fields.
Thursday, 23 April – Kuwait’s Deputy Premier and Interior Minister, Anas Al-Saleh, formed a special team with senior officials from the Public Authority of Manpower, Interior Ministry, Ministry of Justice, Fatwa and Legal Advice department to eliminate human traffickers and their funds used to finance illegal activities.
Sultanate of Oman
Tuesday, 22 April — Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tarik Al-Said held a phone call with the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Dominic Raab, during which they joint efforts to find a solution to the conflict in Yemen together with their international partners and reviewed cooperation on the negative economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wednesday, 23 April — Oman’s Central Bank instructed local banks and financial companies to postpone all types of loan instalments for low-paid Omani workers for a period of 3 months.
Thursday, 23 April — On the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan, which begins on 25 April in the Sultanate, Oman’s Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq Al-Said exchanged greetings with a series of Arab, Islamic Leaders. The Supreme Committee, tasked with dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, reiterated the obligation of social distancing as well as prohibiting organising any gatherings.
State of Qatar
Wednesday, 22 April — The United States’ President, Donald Trump, held a telephone call with Qatari’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, during which he urged his Gulf counterpart to take steps towards ending the Gulf rift with neighbouring Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE to cooperate on containing COVID-19 and its economic consequences as well as resolving regional crises. They also discussed the situation with the Taliban, its continuing attacks and the need for continued talks about prisoner releases.
Thursday, 23 April – Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) announced its intention to candidate for hosting the 21st edition of the Asian Games in 2030 as it is looking to continue major sporting events.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Sunday, 19 April — Ministers of Health of the Group of Twenty major economies (G20), chaired by the Presidency of Saudi Arabia, held a virtual meeting during which they reviewed measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 and addressed additional necessary measures, such as the use of digital solutions and the need to improve capabilities and readiness of global health systems.
Tuesday, 21 April — Ministers of Agriculture of the Group of Twenty major economies (G20), currently chaired by Saudi Arabia, held an extraordinary virtual meeting to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on food security, nutrition and safety. During the meeting the Ministers discussed ways to secure continuity of the food supply chain and to reinforce the sustainability of agriculture and food systems.
Thursday, 23 April—The Saudi-led Coalition announced an extension of the two-week unilateral ceasefire in Yemen, which was announced on 8 April, for one month starting from 23 April 'to allow progress in the negotiations.'
Friday, 24 April — Saudi Arabia extended the suspension of prayers in the Two Holy Mosques during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, starting in the Kingdom on 24 April, as a precautionary measure to limit the spread of COVID-19. On the occasion, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud delivered a speech to the citizens and Muslims around the world and exchanged greetings with various Arab, Islamic leaders. During his speech, King Salman addressed the global critical situation caused by the pandemic and expressed hope for international peace and stability.
United Arab Emirates
Sunday, 19 April — The UAE has released a list of 122 sectors and economic activities, where companies are admissible for 100% foreign ownership. The list comprehends some key sectors, such as agriculture, construction, manufacturing, information and communications, science, technology and healthcare.
Tuesday, 21 April — The Executive Committee of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) unanimously recommended to postpone the beginning of Expo 2020 Dubai by one year, to 1 October 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the risks posed by large public gatherings. The BIE’s Member States will vote between 24-29 April on the date change. The six-month Expo was planned to start in October 2020 and it expected to attract about 25 million people.
Thursday, 23 April — President of the UAE, Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, pardoned 1,511 prisoners and settled their financial obligations on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan. The total number of prisoners pardoned by Emirates’ rulers reached the total of 2,878 this year.
Thursday, 23 April — In a phone call with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the United States’ President, Donald Trump, discussed the need to resolve the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) dispute as well as the latest developments in Libya and Syria.
Thursday, 23 April — The UAE sent 7 tons of critical medical supplies to Sudan to assist about 7,000 health professionals in the efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic.