GULF IN REVIEW
24 - 29 May 2020
Arnold Koka and Nikola Zukalová
Kingdom of Bahrain
Tuesday, 25 May—Bahrain’s Oil Minister, Mohammed bin Khalifa Al-Khalifa, announced that the Kingdom will soon host a virtual event in a bid to attract international companies to work with national firms on the exploration of oil and gas resources in the Khalij Al Bahrain basin, the Kingdom’s largest field, discovered in 2018, which is estimated to hold around 80 billion barrels of tight oil.
Thursday, 28 May—Bahrain’s Ministry of Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments announced that Friday prayers will resume in Bahrain's mosques from 5 June 2020.
Friday, 29 May—King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa issued decree 32/2020, appointing Khalifa bin Rashid Al-Khalifa as Advisor to the Prime Minister at the rank of Minister, and decree 33/2020, appointing Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Khalifa as Undersecretary of the Prime Minister’s Court.
State of Kuwait
Monday, 25 May—On the occasion of the 39th anniversary of the establishment of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the GCC Secretary General, Dr Nayef Falah Mubarak Al-Hajraf, delivered a speech underlining the current unprecedented challenges faced by the GCC and stressed the need for joint action and cooperation, pointing to the Gulf dispute entering its 3rd year and Kuwait’s efforts to resolve it, as well as the importance of preparing for the repercussions of COVID-19 and implementing the economic agreement and accelerating the economic integration projects.
Wednesday, 27 May—Kuwait’s Foreign Minister, Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah, visited Riyadh to deliver a message from the Emir of Kuwait, Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, to Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, concerning bilateral relations, during a meeting with Prince Turki bin Mohamed bin Fahd Al-Saud, Saudi Minister of State and Member of the Cabinet, and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud.
Sultanate of Oman
Wednesday, 27 May—In a meeting chaired by Oman’s Minister of Interior, Sayyid Hamoud bin Faisal Al-Busaidi, the Supreme Committee tasked with tackling the spread of COVID-19 in the Sultanate ordered the end of the lockdown in the Muscat Governorate from 29 May 2020. The Supreme Committee also ordered government bodies to ensure 50% of the workforce in their offices with effect from 31 May 2020, urging public and private establishments to set precautionary policies and procedures to ensure the protection of their employees.
State of Qatar
Sunday, 24 May—Qatar, Germany, Indonesia, Norway, and Uzbekistan issued a joint statement welcoming the Eid cease-fire in Afghanistan, following the Afghan Taliban’s announcement they would refrain from attacks for three days and the Government’s announcement of ceasefire, releasing 2,000 Taliban prisoners, and called on the parties to use the opportunity for securing lasting peace.
Thursday, 28 May—Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, held a phone call, discussing bilateral cooperation in investments, the situation on the global energy markets, preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup as well as the Syrian peace settlement and the ‘importance of normalising the humanitarian situation in Syria.’ They also agreed to establish direct collaboration between their Health Ministries to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Sunday, 24 May—Iraq agreed with Saudi companies on investments in the Akkas gas field in Iraq’s western Anbar province and Riyadh announced the return of its Ambassador to Baghdad. The announcement came following the visit of Iraq’s Finance Minister and Acting Oil Minister, Ali Allawi, to the Kingdom, where he met with senior Saudi officials, including Energy Minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud and Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, to discuss enhancing bilateral ties and trade. Iraq’s Minister then continued to Kuwait.
Tuesday, 26 May—Saudi Arabia will gradually lift movement and travel restrictions, previously introduced to curb the spread of the COVID-19. The measures will be eased in three phases with the complete end of lockdown scheduled for 21 June, however Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages will remain suspended until further notice. Mosques will be open for Friday prayers and Minister of Human Resources, Ahmed Al-Rajhi, stated that Saudi public sector workers will start their regular activity from 14 June.
Wednesday, 27 May—The Saudi-led International Coalition in Yemen announced the downing of drones launched by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels against the Kingdom’s city of Najran. The previous day, three Saudi civilians were injured by a drone attack in the Jazan region. The strikes came after the end of the one-month ceasefire announced by the Coalition on 24 April. The Coalition’s Spokesman, Colonel Turki Al-Maliki, said that there were over 4000 ceasefire violations by the Houthis.
Wednesday, 27 May—Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, held a phone call with Russian President, Vladimir Putin. They discussed further coordination on oil production cuts, underlined the importance of their efforts to stabilise the global energy markets through the April OPEC+ agreement and agreed to improve cooperation between their Ministries of Energy. The two leaders also reviewed bilateral relations and opportunities for further development.
Friday, 29 May—Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Finance, Mohammed Al-Jadaan, represented the Kingdom’s G20 presidency at the United Nations (UN) high-level event on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19, co-chaired by the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and Jamaican Prime Minister, Andrew Holness. The meeting aimed to come up with collective proposals to overcome financial issues, such as global liquidity and financial stability, debt vulnerability and beter recovery for sustainability and growth, challenged by the pandemic’s economic impact.
United Arab Emirates
Monday, 25 May—Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, held a phone call with Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. The two leaders talked about a number of regional and international issues, reviewing the developments regarding the COVID-19 pandemic as well as opportunities to advance cooperation between the two countries.
Thursday, 28 May—The UAE delivered six metric tons of critical medical supplies to Iraqi Kurdistan as a support measure to combat the spread of COVID-19. The supplies will assist about 6,000 healthcare professionals. During the week, the UAE also dispatched medical aid to the Democratic Republic of Congo, reaching a total of over 646 metric tons of medical supplies delivered to 55 countries since the start of the new Coronavirus pandemic.