GULF IN REVIEW

26 - 31 July 2020

by

Arnold Koka

Kingdom of Bahrain

Tuesday, 28 July—Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company, the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, acquired a 20% stake in the French League 2 football club, Paris FC, for about €5 million (EUR). As part of the deal, the “Explore Bahrain” brand will also become the club’s main sponsor and the team’s overall budget will increase by 30%.

 

Wednesday, 29 July—Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, affirmed the Kingdom’s support for Egypt’s efforts to deal with national security threats in a phone call with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, amid escalation in Libya and Egypt’s potential military intervention there. Minister Al-Zayani praised Egypt’s efforts to safeguard Arab interests, highlighting its efforts to solve the Libyan crisis through the Cairo Declaration and the link between the security of the two countries.

 

Wednesday, 29 July—Bahrain’s Labour Market Regulatory Authority announced that starting from 9 August, private companies can begin hiring foreign workers following a four-month halt amid COVID-19 and prioritisation of local workforce.

State of Kuwait

Sunday, 26 July—Kuwait’s Minister of Health, Basel Al-Sabah, announced a deal with the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) to supply 1.6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Kuwait once it is available. The amount will be sufficient for about 800.000 people, 20% of Kuwait’s population. Kuwait secured also another vaccine dispatch from other manufacturers, which will be enough for about 50% of the country’s needs.

 

Monday, 27 July—Kuwait’s Prime Minister, Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, and Foreign Minister, Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah, held talks with the United States’ (US) Special Representative for Iran and Senior Advisor to the US Secretary of State, Brian Hook, who was on a tour to Kuwait, Tunisia and Qatar to promote the extension of the United Nations (UN) arms embargo on Iran, which expires on 18 October. During the meeting, Hook also praised Kuwait’s efforts to resolve the Gulf dispute and promotion of the GCC unity.


Sultanate of Oman

Tuesday, 28 July—Secretary General of Oman’s Foreign Ministry, Badr Al-Busaidi, and Italian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marina Sereni, held virtual meeting to discuss strengthening cooperation, especially in culture and economy, the COVID-19 pandemic, geopolitical situation in the Gulf and reforms in the Sultanate. They also agreed to prepare the next meeting of the Italy-Oman Bilateral Committee, which aims to strengthen cooperation notably, in economy, science, tourism and culture, and last met in 2017. Sereni raised Italy’s concerns about Iran’s approach to regional crises and support for regional armed groups, while highlighting the need to save the JCPOA. They also agreed on the need to resume oil production in Libya and support for UN efforts in Yemen.

 

Tuesday, 28 July—Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said held a phone call with Qatar’s Amir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, focused on bilateral relations and ways to further develop them as well as the recent regional and international developments of mutual interest.

State of Qatar

Thursday, 30 July—The Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani held a phone conversation with Iran’s President, Hassan Rouhani, focused on the ways to strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation, especially in the economic field through the Iran-Qatar Joint Economic Commission, and regional security. They also exchanged Eid Al-Adha congratulations and discussed a potential meeting in the near future.

 

Friday, 31 July—The state-owned Qatar Airways, which is the largest stakeholder (25.1%) in the major European airline group, International Consolidated Airlines (IAG), owning the British Airways, Vueling and Iberia, among other air carriers, confirmed its support for the IAG's plan to raise capital of €2.75 billion EUR ($3.6 billion USD) to balance the losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In exchange, Qatar Airways will propose two non-executive board members of IAG.


Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Monday, 27 July—Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud, held a phone call with Iraq’s Prime Minister, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, discussing bilateral relations and ways to strengthen them in various fields. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman underlined the importance of Iraq’s security and stability for the Kingdom. Last week, Khadimi’s first scheduled official visit abroad to Riyadh was postponed due to the hospitalisation of King Salman bin Abdulaziz. Saudi Arabia and Iraq plan to expand particularly energy cooperation, which would decrease the latter’s reliance on Iran’s electricity and gas.

 

Monday, 27 July—Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, toured Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, where he held talks with the countries’ leaders and senior officials with regional crises and the Libyan file on the top of the agenda, underlining the important role of Libya’s neighbours in settling the conflict and Saudi Arabia’s commitment to coordinate and cooperate with them to resolve the crisis.

 

Thursday, 30 July—French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, received Saudi Arabia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, in Paris following his North African tour. They discussed strengthening Saudi-French cooperation, the Kingdom’s G20 Presidency agenda and a number of issues of common interests.

 

Thursday, 30 July—Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister of Defence, Prince Khalid bin Salman Al-Saud, met with the Speaker of the Yemeni Parliament, Sultan Al-Barakani, members of the Parliament and advisers to the Yemeni President. The meeting came after both the Yemeni government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC) accepted Saudi Arabia’s proposal to speed up the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement earlier this week. The Kingdom’s proposal included an extension of the ceasefire in Yemen, the end of STC’s self-rule and the withdrawal of military forces from Aden and Abyan. The Yemeni government should now form a government, consisting of representatives from both the North and the South, within a month.


United Arab Emirates

Sunday, 26 July—The UAE and Greece held a virtual strategic forum, chaired by Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, and Adonis Georgiadis, Greece’s Minister of Development and Investments, to strengthen bilateral ties. Several agreements, including in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and innovation, culture and creative innovation or digital cooperation, were inked. They also agreed to launch the UAE-Greece Joint Action Plan for Tourism (2020-2022). Additionally, two Emirati and Greek property developers agreed to jointly develop 1.8 million square metres of land in Greece’s Messinia region.

 

Monday, 27 July—The UAE dispatched six metric tonnes of emergency medical aid supplies to Colombia to assist the country in combating the spread of COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, the UAE has dispatched medical supplies to about 90 countries worldwide.

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