GULF IN REVIEW

28 June - 03 July 2020

by

Nikola Zukalová

Kingdom of Bahrain

Monday, 29 June—Bahrain’s government announced that it will pay 50% of salaries for private company workers in sectors that were the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and citizens’ electricity and water bills in their primary residence, starting from July. Between April and June the Kingdom spent $570 million on salaries for all 100,000 private sector citizens to assist them in dealing with the pandemic’s economic repercussions.

 

Tuesday, 30 June—The United States’ Special Representative for Iran and Senior Advisor to Secretary of State, Brian Hook, held talks with Bahrain’s Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister, Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani. They discussed strengthening bilateral cooperation and coordination, Iran’s weapons smuggling to arm militias in Bahrain, protection of regional maritime shipping and the importance of extending the arms embargo on Iran, set to expire in October 2020. Hook also visited the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Austria.

State of Kuwait

Tuesday, 30 June—Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Khaled Al-Jarallah, and the European Union’s Ambassador, Cristian Tudor, discussed the EU-Kuwait ties and cooperation and ways to advance them in various fields. Tudor praised Kuwait's balanced foreign policy, while Al-Jarallah appreciated EU’s positive role in resolving regional crises.

 

Tuesday, 30 June—Kuwait’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Ahmed Nasser Al-Muhammad Al-Sabah, led Kuwait’s delegation to the 4th Virtual International Brussels Conference on supporting the future of Syria and the region, co-hosted by the European Union and the United Nations, which saw 60 actors pledge about $7.7 billion for humanitarian aid.

 

Wednesday, 1 July—The Al-Khafji joint oil field in the Neutral Zone between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia resumed production after a month-long suspension due the cuts aimed at stabilising the global energy market.


Sultanate of Oman

Thursday, 2 July—Oman’s Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, Yusuf bin Allawi bin Abdullah, received the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths. They discussed the continued UN peace-efforts to find a political solution to the conflict in Yemen and the Sultanate’s support for peace in Yemen.

 

Thursday, 2 July—Oman’s Sultan, Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said, issued three royal decrees, appointing several officials, including Saud bin Hamoud bin Ahmed Al-Habsi as Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Yaqoub bin Khalfan bin Khamis Al-Busaidi as Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries for Fisheries and Ibrahim bin Said bin Khalaf Al-Kharousi as Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Heritage and Culture for Heritage Affairs.

 

Friday, 3 July—Oman seeks a $2 billion bridge loan with a one-year maturity from international and regional banks and is currently waiting for their proposals, according to Reuters.

State of Qatar

Monday, 29 June—Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, held virtual talks with Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, on bilateral relations and cooperation and ways to develop them in various fields.

 

Thursday, 2 July—Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, held discussions with Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, in Doha. President Erdogan was accompanied by Turkey’s Minister of Treasury and Finance, Berat Albayrak, Minister of Defence, Hulusi Akar, Director of the National Intelligence Organisation, Hakan Fidan, and Communications Director, Fahrettin Altun, among others. The closed-door meeting focused on bilateral relations along with regional and international issues of common concern, with Libya and Syria on the top of the agenda.

 

Thursday, 2 July—Chief of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, and his accompanying delegation travelled from the Gaza Strip to Doha, for a meeting with Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani. The talks mainly centred around the Palestinian issue, particularly the Israeli plan to annex parts of the West Bank, and some other issues.


Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Monday, 29 June—The United States Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, met with several senior Saudi officials in Riyadh, notably Deputy Defence Minister, Prince Khalid bin Salman Al-Saud, Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, and Investment Minister, Khalid Al-Falih. They discussed regional developments related to Iran, notably the recent attacks by the Iran-backed Houthis on Saudi civilian areas, the Kingdom’s efforts to find a political solution in Yemen and extending the UN arms embargo on Iran.

 

Wednesday, 1 July—The Saudi-led Arab Coalition launched a military operation against the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen following the recent spike in the group’s cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia.

 

Wednesday, 1 July—The Kingdom’s 11 May decision to triple the value added tax (VAT) on goods and services to 15% came into effect.

 

Thursday, 2 July—Saudi Arabia will extend several government initiatives to help the private sector cope with the economic impact of COVID-19. The stimulus measures include for example the postponement of some tax payments, suspending penalties and supporting private sector employees, notably through unemployment insurance programme, SANED, which could cover up to 60% of some employees’ salaries.

 

Friday, 3 July—Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz issued a Royal Decree ordering the appointment of 13 women to the Kingdom’s 26-member Human Rights Commission’s Council for the next four years in a bid to strengthen the role of women in the Kingdom’s leadership positions.


United Arab Emirates

Sunday, 28 June—The UAE sent the fourth delivery of medical supplies to Iran, carrying 16 tonnes of material to support Iran’s efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19. In total, the UAE sent over 1,000 tonnes of medical equipment to 70 countries during the pandemic.

 

Monday, 29 June—Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, held a phone call with Pope Francis, discussing global cooperation in response to COVID-19, along with the shared vision for peace outlined in the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, signed in Abu Dhabi in 2019.

 

Monday, 29 June—The UAE launched a National System for Sustainable Agriculture to enhance local farms’ quality and production and consequently the UAE’s food security. The System aims to increase workforce in the sector by 5% each year, in addition to increasing self-sufficiency from targeted agricultural crops to 5% and average farm income to 10% annually.

 

Wednesday, 1 July—Mosques across the UAE opened for the first time after a three-month closure due to COVID-19.

 

Friday, 3 July—Bahrain and Saudi Arabia expressed full support for the United Arab Emirates’  candidature for a non-permanent member’s seat in the United Nations Security Council for the 2022-2023 term.

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