GULF IN REVIEW
24 February- 1 March 2019
Kingdom of Bahrain
Sunday, 24 February—Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa attended the 1st Summit between the League of Arab States and the European Union, co-chaired by President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, and Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, held between 24-25 February in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. Leaders from both regions agreed to strengthen partnership to face common challenges and discussed multilateralism, migration, security, investments, trade, and regional situation, including Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Palestine and signed a joint declaration. On the sidelines of the Summit, King Hamad received Lebanon’s Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, the French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, and met with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, among others.
Tuesday, 26 February—Bahrain’s Minister of Electricity and Water Affairs, Dr Abdulhussain Mirza, received the visiting delegation from the Arab-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, led by the Chamber’s President, Dr Peter Ramsauer. They discussed investment opportunities for Arab and German companies and the latest progress in Bahrain’s electricity, water and renewable energy sectors. The German business delegation later also met with the Chairman of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI),
Tuesday, 26 February—Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa received Jared Kushner, the Senior White House Advisor and his accompanying delegation, visiting Bahrain as part of his regional tour. They reviewed Bahraini-US relations and cooperation and ways to bolster them. Kushner lauded Bahrain’s support for efforts to maintain regional peace and security. They also discussed the latest regional and international developments and issues of common concern.
Thursday, 28 February—The First Deputy Chairman of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), Khalid Mohammed Jajibi, received the newly appointed Russian Ambassador, Igor Krimenov. They reviewed economic cooperation and highlighted their keenness to bolster it by exploring investment opportunities and new joint projects. They also discussed ways to enhance trade volume and exchange of business expertise and business visits.
State of Kuwait
Monday, 25 February—On 25 and 26 February, Kuwait celebrated its 58th National Day and its 28th Liberation Day, marking the anniversary of Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah’s accession to the throne in 1950, the independence from the British protectorate in 1961 and liberation from Iraqi occupation in 1991.
Wednesday, 27 February—Kuwait’s Ambassador to Romania, Talal Mansour Al-Hajri, attended the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of the mechanism of bilateral consultations between the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Dr Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, and Romania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Teodor Melescanu.
Thursday, 28 February—The Chief of Staff of the Kuwaiti Army, Lieutenant General Mohammad Al-Khedher, received Italy’s Undersecretary of Defence, Raffaele Volpi, who was visiting the country on the occasion of the Italian frigate ‘Carlo Margottini’’s second visit to Kuwait with the aim of promoting cooperation with the Arabian Gulf. They discussed military and defence cooperation and ways to enhance it as well as issues of mutual concern. During the ceremony, Mr Volpi hailed defence and counterterrorism cooperation between Kuwait and Italy.
Sultanate of Oman
Sunday, 24 February—The UAE-Oman Economic Forum was held in Muscat to enhance cooperation and develop investment and business opportunities between the two Gulf countries. The Forum was attended from the UAE side by the Minister of Economy, Sultan bin Saeed Al-Mansouri, representatives of the UAE Chamber of Commerce and Industry and businesspersons from various sectors, while the Omani side was represented by the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry and numerous entrepreneurs. In 2017, Oman was UAE’s 2nd largest trading partner in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and 12th worldwide, while the UAE plays an important role as an investor in the Sultanate.
Thursday, 28 February—Oman’s Sultan Qaboos Bin Said issued a royal decree, effective from 1 January 2020, establishing the National Recruitment Centre, which will be affiliated to the Council of Ministers, and cancelled the Public Authority for Manpower Register and its system, whose powers, prerogatives, assets, specialisations and allocations will be transferred to the new Centre.
State of Qatar
Wednesday, 27 February—Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, met Somalia’s President, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, to discuss bilateral relations and ways to enhance them in various fields. The Qatari Emir pledged QR73 million (approximately $20 million) to the Somali government budget for 2019.
Thursday, 28 February—The state-owned energy giant, Qatar Petroleum (QP), and ExxonMobil announced that they made an important discovery of natural gas on the Glaucus-1 well in Block 10, jointly operated by the QP (40%) and Exxon Mobil (60%), in the Eastern Mediterranean, offshore Cyprus, which could contain roughly 5-8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Sunday, 24 February—Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud issued three Royal Orders, ordering the payment of a reward to the soldiers partaking in the front lines of military actions on the Kingdom’s southern border; and appointing Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud as Deputy Minister of Defence, and Princess Rima bint Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud as the Kingdom’s new Ambassador to the United States.
Tuesday, 26 February—The Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Dr Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, met the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), António Guterres, on the sidelines of the International Conference to support the UN Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan in Geneva, where humanitarian assistance to Yemen worth $2.6 billion was pledged by various donors. During the meeting, they discussed the latest regional developments and the UN-led efforts to achieve regional stability and security and reviewed ways to boost bilateral cooperation and coordination. The GCC Secretary General also held talks with Yemen’s Prime Minister, Dr Maeen Abdulmalik, about the latest political, military and economic developments in Yemen.
Wednesday, 27 February—Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman held talks with a senior White House adviser and the US President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt and special representative for Iran, Brian Hook, to secure support for the US peace deal in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and discuss economic investment plan to invest in the West Bank and Gaza, and perhaps some other Arab countries, as part of the US regional peace initiative. Earlier that week, Kushner met leaders in the UAE, Bahrain and Oman.
United Arab Emirates
Sunday, 24 February—The two private global investors in infrastructure, BlackRock Inc and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company, signed a landmark pipeline infrastructure investment agreement with the UAE state-owned oil giant, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), to lease ADNOC’s interest in 18 pipelines from the newly established entity, ADNOC Oil Pipelines – Sole Proprietorship LLC, from 60% owned by ADNOC and from 40% collectively by BlackRock and KKR, for 23 years. It is the first deal of its kind in the Middle East.
Monday, 25 February—The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre announced that the first UAE astronaut will travel to the International Space Station (ISS) on 25 September 2019 for an eight-day Russian space mission to the ISS.
Tuesday, 26 February—The UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, met with Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Matteo Salvini, during the latter’s official visit to Rome, Italy. They discussed ties between Italy and the UAE and ways to develop them in various fields, particularly in security and defence. They touched upon regional developments and both officials reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening bilateral ties. Earlier, the UAE’s Minister met Pope Francis during an audience in Vatican and discussed ways to strengthen ties between the UAE and Vatican.
Wednesday, 27 February—The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, who was on a two-day visit in Seoul with several Ministers and government officials, and South Korea’s President, Moon Jae-in, witnessed the signing of several agreements and Memoranda of Understanding between their countries, aimed at enhancing bilateral cooperation. The agreements covered notably: double taxation avoidance, special strategic dialogue, tourism, cooperation in smart agriculture, environment, industry and investment, and ‘Hydrogen Cities.’ During the visit, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and South Korea’s SK Engineering and Construction Co. Ltd (SKEC) to build the world's largest underground crude oil storage facility in Fujairah, UAE, with a capacity of 42 million barrels of crude oil, which should be completed in 2022 and cost around $1.21 billion, of which around $600 million is expected to return to the UAE’s economy.
Friday, 1 March—Abu Dhabi hosted the two-day 46th Session of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers, titled ‘50 Years of Islamic Cooperation: Road Map for Prosperity and Development.’ Prior to the meeting, UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, met the Secretary-General of the OIC, Dr Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen to discuss cooperation between the UAE and OIC and the agenda of the OIC’s Ministerial Meeting, which features the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, counterterrorism, trade among others.