GULF IN REVIEW
28 July - 02 August 2019
Kingdom of Bahrain
Sunday, 28 July—Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, and his Saudi Arabian counterpart, Dr Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz Al-Assaf, signed the establishment of the Bahraini-Saudi Coordination Council to strengthen coordination in various fields and deepen cooperation between the two countries. The Council represents a new framework for bilateral cooperation and it will focus on enhancing coordination in various fields, including political, security, military, economic, investment, development and media. During his visit, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister was also received by Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, and Prime Minister, Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa.
Wednesday, 31 July—Bahrain hosted a conference on Gulf maritime security, where representatives from the United States, United Kingdom, France, and other European countries met to discuss strengthening cooperation to protect maritime traffic in the Strait of Hormuz amid the mounting threats from Iran to commercial vessels and freedom of maritime navigation in the area. The United Kingdom announced earlier it would seek to form a European-led patrolling mission in the Gulf but would not join the US maximum pressure campaign against Iran. Germany also refused to join the US-proposed maritime surveillance mission in the Gulf and supported the European-led initiative instead.
Thursday, 1 August—Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa issued royal decrees and orders, restructuring the Ministry of Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism as well as the Supreme Council of Youth and Sports, and established the Mohammed Bin Mubarak Al Khalifa Diplomatic Academy, which will be affiliated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, replacing the Diplomatic Institute.
State of Kuwait
Wednesday, 31 July—A senior Iraqi delegation, led by the Interior Minister, Lieutenant General Yaseen Al-Yasri, was received by Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister, Lieutenant General, Khaled Al-Jarrah, to discuss ways to enhance bilateral security cooperation and coordination, including in relation to control of the shared borders. The same day Kuwait and Iraq agreed to jointly develop their shared border oil fields and to appoint the British energy advisory firm, ERC Equipoise, to do the research and preparations for the move. The moves came a day before the 29th anniversary of the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
Wednesday, 31 July—Kuwait donated $5 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to help Palestinian refugees in Syria.
Sultanate of Oman
Sunday, 28 July—Oman’s Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, Yusuf bin Alawi, was on a two-day official visit to Tehran, during which he held talks with several senior Iranian officials, notably the country’s President, Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister, Mohammed Javad Zarif, and Head of Iran's National Security Council, General Ali Shamkhani. During the meetings they discussed bilateral relations, regional security as well as the need to maintain security and safety of maritime navigation in the Gulf. Yusuf bin Alawi stated that Oman is not mediating but it is concerned with ensuring the stability of navigation via communication with all the involved parties.
Thursday, 1 August—Italy’s oil and gas major, Eni, and the British multinational oil and gas company, BP, signed an agreement with Oman’s government for gas exploration and production sharing in Block 77. Eni will act as an operator and both companies will have a 50% interest during the exploration phase.
State of Qatar
Wednesday, 31 July—Qatar’s Prime Minister and Interior Minister, Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani, received Iraq’s Minister of Interior, Dr Yassin Taher Al-Yasiri, and his accompanying delegation, to discuss ways to advance bilateral cooperation, particularly in the security field, along with several issues of common concern.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Tuesday, 30 July—During a session, chaired by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud in the mega-city NEOM, Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet authorised the Interior Ministry to discuss security cooperation agreement with Iraq’s government and to discuss a draft cooperation agreement with Kuwait to combat drug trafficking and smuggling. The Cabinet also approved a Memorandum of Understanding between Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry and China’s Public Security Ministry on combating cybercrime.
Thursday, 1 August—Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud approved several amendments to existing laws, allowing women over 21 years old to obtain passports and travel abroad without the permission of their male guardian, putting an end to the Kingdom’s long-standing guardianship system. In addition to travelling, women were also granted the right to officially register marriage, divorce and childbirth, and to be recognised as guardians to minors. The move came as part of the social reforms in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.
United Arab Emirates
Saturday, 27 July—Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, received Jordan's King Abdullah II to discuss the strengthening of bilateral relations and several regional and international issues of common concern, including the two-state solution and the United States’ peace initiative for the Israel-Palestine conflict, a few days before King Abdullah received US Senior White House Advisor, Jared Kushner, in Amman.
Tuesday, 30 July—The UAE’s and Iranian coastguard officials met in Tehran to participate in the 6th joint meeting to discuss maritime security affairs. The meeting was a continuation of previously held meetings of the UAE-Iran Committee with the last one being three moths ago. The meeting dealt with maritime borders between the two countries and the issue of fishermen trespassing into each other's territorial waters, notably the case of the UAE fishermen detained by Iran for the aforementioned, and according to the Director of the International Security Cooperation Department at UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Salem Mohammed Al Zaabi, it was successful.
Wednesday, 31 July—The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) closed the landmark strategic equity partnership with the Italian energy giant, Eni, and the Austrian energy company, OMV, which includes the existing ADNOC Refining and a new trading joint venture ADNOC Global Trading, which will directly sell products from the Ruwais refinery, the world’s 4th largest single-site refinery, mainly to Asia and emerging markets. Trading through ADNOC Global Trading is expected to begin in 2020. The agreement between the three energy majors, announced in January, includes one of the world’s largest refinery transactions. Eni will acquire 20% and OMV 15% share in ADNOC Refining, which refines oil mainly from Ruwais refinery, which should be according tot he agreement expanded to become the world’s largest single-site refining and petrochemicals complex.