GULF IN REVIEW
21 - 26 June 2020
Arnold Koka and Veronica Del Torre
Kingdom of Bahrain
Sunday, 21 June—Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were ranked among the world’s top 100 destinations for start-ups in the Startup Ecosystem Rankings Report by StartupBlink, a global startup ecosystem map and research center. The report noted that Bahrain has a collaborative start-up community and developed a proper framework for legal and related support systems that is ideal for start-ups and early-stage firms.
Monday, 22 June—Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, received a phone call from his Saudi Arabian counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud. During the call the two Ministers discussed the relations between their two countries and the latest regional and international developments.
State of Kuwait
Thursday, 25 June—Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, Ahmad Mansour Al Ahmad Al Sabah, and the United States’ Ambassador to Kuwait, Alina Romanowski, held a virtual meeting to discuss the latest regional and international developments and issues of common interest.
Friday, 26 June—The Kuwaiti Government Spokesman, Tareq Al Mezrem, announced that the second phase of the country’s gradual reopening will commence on 30 June and will last for three weeks. During this phase, public and private sectors will resume work with less than 30%, in addition to the resumption of work in shopping malls, retail shops as well as financial and construction sectors, among others.
Sultanate of Oman
Monday, 22 June—Oman’s Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, Yousef bin Alawi bin Abdullah, held a video conference with Foreign Minister of Iran, Mohammad Javad Zarif. They focused on recent regional and international developments, issues of mutual concern and ways to enhance bilateral relations and cooperation. Later that week, Iran announced plans to export 1 million barrels per day of oil from its Bandar-e Jask port in the Gulf of Oman by March 2021 to avoid the Strait of Hormuz.
Tuesday, 23 June—Oman’s Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, Yousef bin Alawi bin Abdullah, chaired the extraordinary Ministerial session of the Arab League Council, which gathered the member states’ Foreign Ministers to discuss the crisis in Libya and issues related to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The Council approved two draft decisions to refer the GERD issue to the United Nations Security Council and to seek cooperation on the Libyan issue.
Tuesday, 23 June—Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said issued an emergency interest-free loan programme to assist businesses and entrepreneurs affected by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The programme will support particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and self-employed entrepreneurs.
State of Qatar
Wednesday, 24 June—Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defense Affairs, Dr Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah, met the Special Envoy of the Russian President to the Middle East and African Countries and Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Mikhail Bogdanov. During the meeting, the two parties discussed bilateral relations and reaffirmed the mutual will to enhance regular political dialogue and cooperation.
Thursday, 25 June—The Special Envoy of Minister of Foreign Affairs for Counterterrorism and Mediation in Conflict Resolution, Dr Mutlaq bin Majid Al Qahtani, represented Qatar in the Sudan partners’ conference organised by Germany in partnership with Sudan, the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU). During the conference, the parties highlighted their support for the transitional government in Sudan as well as political and economic reforms, peace and stabilisation process in Sudan.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Sunday, 21 June—Saudi Arabia and the UAE expressed support for Egypt’s right to protect its borders with Libya. Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah El Sisi, denounced the threats of terrorists and mercenaries supported by foreign countries against Egypt and declared that the country had the right to defend itself. Saudi Arabia defined Egypt’s security as an integral part of the security of the Kingdom and the entire Arab nation. The same day, President El Sisi warned that Egypt might intervene militarily in Libya if Turkey-backed forces continue to advance in Libya.
Sunday, 21 June—Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism, Ahmed Al Khateeb, announced the launching of the Kingdom’s Tourism Development Fund with an initial capital of $4 billion as part of the National Tourism Strategy. The fund will introduce a range of equity and debt investment vehicles and has $45 billion in Memoranda of Understanding signed with private banks. The move is part of the country’s plan to develop its tourism sector and to diversify its economy.
Monday, 22 June—Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that the Kingdom will limit the number of Hajj pilgrims to about 1,000 this year due to COVID-19. All pilgrims have to be Saudi citizens or residents under 65 years old, they will be tested for COVID-19 prior to the pilgrimage and subjected to compulsory 14 day quarantine after they complete it.
Thursday, 25 June—Representatives of the Yemeni government of Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the UAE-backed secessionist movement, the Southern Transitional Council (STC), met in Riyadh to discuss the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement. This comes after the STC and the Yemeni government approved the Saudi proposal for a ceasefire in the Abyan province and de-escalation in the Socotra island and other parts of Yemen after several months of infighting. The Saudi-led Coalition deployed observers to monitor the implementation.
United Arab Emirates
Monday, 15 June—The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) signed a $10.1 billion gas infrastructure investment deal with a consortium of Global Infrastructure Partners, Brookfield Asset Management, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC, Italy’s Snam and other private-equity firms. The companies will acquire 49% stake in ADNOC Gas Pipeline Assets LLC, a new subsidiary of ADNOC, which will hold the remaining 51%, with lease rights to 38 pipelines for 20 years.
Tuesday, 23 June—UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, held a phone call with the United Nations (UN) Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, about recent developments in the Yemen and the UN-led peace efforts. State Minister Gargash praised Saudi Arabia’s stabilisation efforts in Yemen, pointing to the de-escalation agreement reached between the Southern Transitional Council and the Yemeni government.
Wednesday, 24 June—Injazat, the Abu Dhabi-based provider of digital transformation, innovation and managed services, launched the Gulf Cooperation Council’s first Cyber Fusion Center. The new cybersecurity operations center will provide Mubadala, Abu Dhabi’s state-owned investment company, and its group of companies, a proactive and unified protection against data breaches and cyberattacks. Injazat plans to expand its services across the UAE in the second half of 2020.
Thursday, 25 June—The UAE government announced the lifting of all curfews in the country, previously provisioned in order to halt the spread of the COVID-19. Mobility of all citizens will now be unrestricted across the country.