GULF IN REVIEW
26 April - 01 May 2020
Arnold Koka and Veronica Del Torre
Kingdom of Bahrain
Tuesday, 28 April – Bahrain’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), Ambassador, Jamal Fares Alrowaiei, chairing the UN Asia and Pacific Group in April, hosted a video conference with the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres. The meeting discussed the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly on landlocked developing countries and small island developing states in Asia and the Pacific, as well as the importance to accelerate the development of COVID-19 vaccine and the preservation of human rights while responding to the pandemic.
Wednesday, 29 April – Bahrain’s government converted several public buses into mobile Coronavirus testing units equipped with medical standards to complete random testing across the Kingdom. The government has also closed all restaurants until 7 May and launched a new app that sends out notifications to people, who may have come into contact with an active Coronavirus case, warning them to get tested.
Wednesday, 29 April – The Shura Council’s Financial and Economic Affairs Committee of Bahrain, increased the number of beneficiaries from the Kingdom’s economic and financial stimulus package to support additional segments of the population that have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis, including drivers, kindergarten staff and nurseries.
State of Kuwait
Tuesday, 28 April – Kuwait’s Council of Ministers expressed concerns over growing anti-Muslim sentiments in India and called on the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to take necessary measures to protect Muslims’ rights in the country. Muslims in India have been, for example, the subject of a number of conspiracy theories linked to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Friday, 1 May — Kuwait's state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) reportedly informed its crude customers that it will cut their contractual volumes by 22% for the second half 2020 due to the country’s commitments under the new OPEC+ production cuts agreement effective from 1 May. Kuwait committed to lower its crude production to 2.16 million barrels per day (bpd) in May and June and then to 2.29 million bpd in the second half of the year.
Sultanate of Oman
Wednesday, 29 April — The Ministry of Finance of Oman demanded the state-owned companies to accelerate the process of replacement of foreign staff members by qualified Omani citizens, particularly in leadership and senior positions in government firms. The demand comes as part of the Sultanate’s Omanisation policy that includes the appointment of Omani nationals instead of expatriates in public sector companies by July 2021.
Wednesday, 29 April — Oman’s Minister of Transport, Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Futaisi, announced the launching of Oman Logistics Platform, that will offer services to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the logistics community, companies and individuals. The launch comes as part of a wider plan that aims to digitalise the Sultanate’s logistics sector in accordance to the Oman National Logistic Strategy 2040 included in the Oman Vision 2040.
State of Qatar
Saturday, 25 April — Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and Iran’s President, Hassan Rouhani, discussed the recent escalation between Iran and the United States in the Gulf and discussed strengthening bilateral relations and cooperation in a phone call. Later that day, Qatar’s Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, reviewed the latest developments in Afghanistan in addition to the US-Iran escalation and bilateral ties.
Friday, 1 May – Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Sultan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi, participated in the emergency meeting of the Arab League Council of Foreign Ministers, held at Palestine’s request, to discuss Israel’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank. The Arab Ministers strongly denounced Israel’s plans and called on the International Quartet, the United Nations as well as European Union countries to prevent those plans and salvage the two-state solution. They also discussed provision of financial assistance to the Palestinian government to confront the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Sunday, 26 April — Saudi Arabia and China signed a $265 million (USD) deal to fight COVID-19. The agreement includes provision for which China will supply the Kingdom with 9 million COVID-19 test kits, 500 specialist technicians who will provide training to Saudi health professionals, six regional laboratories and a mobile modular air dome laboratory that will support screening and detection capabilities.
Tuesday, 28 April — Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court announced the abolition death penalty for prisoners convicted of crimes committed when they were minors. The decision came days after the Kingdom’s Supreme Court abolished flogging as a form of judicial punishment in the Kingdom, as part of the reforms supervised by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud.
Tuesday, 28 April — Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet called for the recovery of the previous status in Yemen following the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council’s (STC) declaration of state of emergency and self-administration rule in the capital of Aden and the southern governorates under its control on Sunday. The Saudi-led International Coalition condemned the move and called for returning to the terms of the Riyadh Agreement signed between the STC and President Hadi’s government in late 2019. This call was supported by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary General, Dr Nayef Al-Hajraf.
Thursday, 30 April — Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, appreciated Germany’s decision to designate the Iran-backed Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation and ban all its activities in the country. He defined the measure as a necessary step in the international fight against terrorism and called on the international community to follow Germany’s decision. Hezbollah is currently fully designated as a terrorist organisation by several countries such the United States, Canada or the United Kingdom, while the European Union designated only its ‘military wing.’
United Arab Emirates
Thursday, 30 April — The UAE received the first of three contracted GlobalEye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft, manufactured by the Swedish aerospace and defence company, Saab. The aircraft will provide the Emirates with the capability to simultaneously perform surveillance of airborne, land and maritime threats.
Thursday, 30 April — Dubai’s Ruler Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum ordered the donation 60 tons of personal protective equipment (PPE) to the United Kingdom, including face masks, protective suits and other essential medical supplies to face the new Coronavirus pandemic.
Thursday, 30 April — The United Kingdom’s Minister of State for Middle East and North Africa, James Cleverly, and UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, discussed the latest developments in Yemen regarding the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council’s (STC) declaration of self-administration rule and agreed on the need to fully implement the Riyadh Agreement. They also discussed cooperation in combating the COVID-19 and ensuring sufficient financing of the efforts to develop a vaccine.
Thursday, 30 April — The UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation called on all Libyan parties to commit to the UN-supervised political peace process, rejecting the Turkish military intervention of the Government of National Accord based in Tripoli and welcoming the anti-terror activities conducted by the Libyan National Army, led by General Khalifa Haftar. The UAE reiterated its support for a political solution based on the Berlin conference and the UN supervision.