GULF IN REVIEW
26 - 31 January 2020
Kingdom of Bahrain
Sunday, 26 January—Bahrain’s Central Bank will be the first to test a new policy-maker toolkit developed by the World Economic Forum, which will help it to evaluate the impact of the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) on the economy and determine whether the Kingdom should deploy it. The moves come as part of efforts to adapt to the 4th Industrial Revolution.
Wednesday, 29 January—The Saudi Development Fund (SDF) and the Arabian Gulf University (AGU) signed a 100 million BHD (240 million EUR) agreement to finance the construction of the King Abdullah Medical City in Bahrain. The construction will take about 30 months before the King Abdullah Medical City Hospital becomes operational in early 2022. The agreement was signed by the SDF Vice-Chair and Managing Director, Dr Khalid bin Sulaiman Al-Khudairi, and the AGU President, Dr Khalid bin Abdulrahman Al-Ohali.
Thursday, 30 January—The United Kingdom took over the command from the United States of the Bahrain-based International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC), the the seven-nation naval patrol mission, which was set up by the United States to protect security in the Gulf, and particularly the Strait of Hormuz. The new Commander of the IMSC is the UK’s Royal Navy Commodore James Parkin.
State of Kuwait
Tuesday, 28 January—Kuwait kicked off the celebrations of the 59th anniversary of independence, when it ceased to be a British protectorate, the 29th Liberation Day, marking the end of the Iraqi invasion, and the 14th anniversary of the reign of Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.
Tuesday, 28 January—Kuwait’s Prime Minister, Sabah Khalid Al-Sabah, received the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy of Luxembourg, Étienne Schneider, and his accompanying delegation, in the presence of Kuwait’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, Khaled Al-Roudhan. The two sides discussed strengthening of bilateral economic ties.
Thursday, 30 January—Kuwait’s Minister of Social Affairs, Dr Ghadeer Aseeri, resigned prior to the no-confidence vote on 4 February, which threatened to unseat her. The Municipality Minister, Waleed Al-Jassem, was appointed as Acting Minister of Social Affairs.
Sultanate of Oman
Sunday, 26 January—Oman’s Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, met with Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammed Javad Zarif. They discussed bilateral cooperation and regional maritime and energy security. This was their second meeting in one week.
Monday, 27 January—The first Oman Hydrogen Centre was opened at the German University of Technology in Oman. On the occasion, Germany’s Hydrogen Rise AG and Oman Educational Services LLC established a joint local venture, Hydrogen Rise Oman LLC, which will support Oman’s hydrogen energy industry and facilitate the development and commercialisation of ‘Green Hydrogen’ as an alternative to fossil fuels. The Sultanate’s annual export of hydrogen might reportedly amount to $20 billion (USD) (about 18.1 billion EUR) by 2050.
State of Qatar
Sunday, 26 January—Fincantieri, one of the world’s largest shipbuilding companies, and Qatar’s Ministry of Defence (MOD), acting through Barzan Holding, a company fully owned by the MOD and responsible for enhancing military capabilities of the Qatari Armed Forces, strengthened their strategic partnership by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in Doha. It includes cooperation on the evaluation and studies of new technologies and capabilities and might possibly lead to Qatar’s acquisition of new vessels already in 2020. The programmes in the MOU, include the design, establishment and management of the naval base, management of the warship fleet, use of new technologies and supply of naval vessels and submarines, among others.
Tuesday, 28 January—Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani accepted the resignation of Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani, who held the position since 2013. The Amiri Order 3/2020 reshuffled the Cabinet, appointing Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al-Thani, former Head of the Amiri Diwan, as the country’s new Prime Minister and Minister of Interior. The key portfolios, such as Foreign Affairs, Defence, Trade, or Energy, remained without changes.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Monday, 27 January—Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, met with the British Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, in London to discuss bilateral relations and cooperation. They focused mainly on the crises and conflict areas in the Middle East and efforts to deescalate regional tensions.
Monday, 27 January—The Women 20 (W20) held the first session in Riyadh, which included 28 delegates from 12 countries, discussing the priorities for the upcoming G20 Summit in Saudi Arabia, such as reducing gender inequality, and draw policy recommendations for the leaders.
Thursday, 30 January—Saudi Arabia and Egypt concluded joint naval drills in the northern part of the Red Sea.
Thursday, 30 January—Audrey Azoulay, Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), held talks with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, focused on the Kingdom’s cultural initiatives and programs and expanding Saudi-UNESCO cooperation.
Friday, 31 January—Yemen’s President, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, stressed the importance of continuing military operations against Houthis across Yemen during a meeting at the Joint Command headquarters at Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Defence in Riyadh. President Hadi and senior commanders at the Joint Command discussed the latest developments in Yemen, particularly in the Governorates of Al-Jawf, Ma’rib and Sanaa.
United Arab Emirates
Tuesday, 27 January—The UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, met with Algeria’s Foreign Minister, Sabri Boukadoum, and Prime Minister, Abdelaziz Jarad, among other officials. The two sides reviewed their relations and cooperation as well as the Libyan crisis. Abdullah bin Zayed said that the UAE opened a ‘new chapter of relations with Algeria,’ seeking to enhance bilateral ties and trade.
Tuesday, 27 January—The first reactor, Unit 1, of the UAE’s Barakah nuclear power plant is ready to begin operations and commence energy generation. Barakah is the country’s first nuclear power plant and should help the UAE to decrease its reliance on energy from hydrocarbons.
Tuesday, 27 January—The President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Kemeluly Tokayev, met with Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and ruler of Dubai, to discuss strengthening bilateral ties and cooperation, notably in petrochemicals, agriculture, logistics and investments. The two countries plan joint investment projects worth $11 billion (USD), which include construction of a $6.6 billion (USD) petrochemical complex in Kazakhstan’s Atyrau region.
Wednesday, 28 January— Tunisia’s President, Kais Saied, received the UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, to discuss the Libyan crisis, covering the results of the Berlin Conference on Libya, the announced ceasefire between General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army and Fayez Al-Sarraj’s Government of National Accord, and resolution of the crisis, which directly affects the regional countries, including Tunisia.