GULF IN REVIEW
29 December 2019
03 January 2020
Kingdom of Bahrain
Monday, 30 December—President of Bahrain’s Customs, Ahmed bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, and Governor of the Saudi Arabia’s General Customs Authority, Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al-Haqbani, signed the Agreement of Mutual Recognition of Authorised Economic Operator Programme, aiming to enhance the security of the supply chain and facilitate trade between the two countries.
Thursday, 2 January—Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa named the outgoing Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Abdullatif Al-Zayani, as the Kingdom’s next Foreign Minister. Starting from 1 April 2020, Al-Zayani will replace Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, who held the position since 2005 and will become King’s Adviser for Diplomatic Affairs.
Sunday, 30 December—Bahrain’s Cabinet decided to exempt additional 200 government services from 11 government agencies from fees.
State of Kuwait
Sunday, 29 December—Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned Kuwait’s Ambassador to Tehran in protest to the meeting of Speaker of Kuwait’s National Assembly, Marzouq Al-Ghanim, and several Members of Kuwait’s Parliament with a member of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz, Hakim Al-Kaabi, considered as terrorist group by the Iranian regime. The concerned Kuwaiti officials claimed they were not aware of this detail and only discussed Al-Kaabi’s research on democracy in Kuwait. Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Khaled Al-Jarallah, met with Iran’s Ambassador, Mohammad Irani, to reassure him about Kuwait’s respect for Iran’s territorial integrity.
Tuesday, 31 December—The importance of security and stability of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries for Kuwait’s security and stability was stressed by Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Ahmad Mansour Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, during his address to the Kuwaiti forces participating in a training exercise in Saudi Arabia.
Wednesday, 1 January—Kuwait ended its tenure of a non-permanent seat in the United Nation Security Council after 2 years of representing the Arab countries.
Sultanate of Oman
Thursday, 2 January—Oman increased the total public spending by 300 million Omani Riyals (approximately 698 million EUR) to 13.2 billion OMR (30.7 billion EUR) in the planned 2020 budget, a 2% increase compared to the previous year. Oman’s 2020 budget also counts with 13% higher non-hydrocarbon revenues compared to the 2019 budget—to 3 billion OMR (almost 7 billion EUR).
Thursday, 2 January—Oman implemented the Foreign Investment Law, which aims to attract foreign investments by simplifying the necessary procedures and permits for registration of foreign investors and providing incentives and privileges to non-Omani natural or legal persons that seek to establish an investment project in the Sultanate.
State of Qatar
Saturday, 28 December—Qatar and Russia signed a Memorandum of Understanding on mutual visa exemption for ordinary passport holders in Moscow. The instrument was signed by Secretary General of Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr Ahmed bin Hassan Al-Hammadi, and Deputy Foreign Minister and Russian President’s Special Envoy to Middle East and North Africa, Mikhail Bogdanov.
Tuesday, 31 December—Qatar’s Permanent Representative to the Arab League, Ambassador Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz Al-Sahlawi, participated alongside other Arab Gulf countries in the Emergency Meeting of the Arab League Council at the level of Permanent Delegates in Cairo to discuss Turkey’s plan to send troops to Libya. The meeting considered the impact of Ankara’s military intervention on local and regional security, due to its potential facilitation of terrorists’ movement. The common Arab position stressed the need to prevent foreign interference in Libya. On Friday, Qatar’s Foreign Ministry, along with Turkey and Libya, expressed reservations to the statement of the Arab League Secretary-General, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, on the issue.
Wednesday, 1 December—Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, and the United States’ Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, discussed bilateral cooperation and regional issues in a phone call amid the retaliatory US air strikes on Iraqi Iran-backed militia, Kata’ib Hezbollah.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Sunday, 29 December—Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) signed an Industrial Participation Agreement (IPA) with Raytheon Saudi Arabia to localise the maintenance of the Kingdom’s Patriot missile defence system as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goal to develop local military industry, technological research and capabilities, create thousands of jobs and localise 50% of the Kingdom’s military spending on equipment and services.
Sunday, 29 December—The US Navy awarded the Wisconsin-based naval construction company, Fincantieri Marinette Marine, member of the team led by Lockheed Martin, a $1.3 billion contract to construct four Multi-Mission Surface Combatants ships for Saudi Arabia as part of the US Foreign Military Sales programme. The new ships capable to operate in the littoral and open ocean will assist Saudi Arabia’s efforts to protect maritime security in the Arabian Gulf.
Monday, 30 December—Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, received a phone call from the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. They discussed regional developments and efforts to achieve security and stability, including the US air strikes on the facilities of Kata’ib Hezbollah in retaliation for the Iran-sponsored militia’s rocket attack on a US military personnel in Iraq and regional maritime security.
Tuesday, 31 December—The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) signed two agreements to deliver humanitarian aid to Yemen, particularly providing hygiene and environmental sanitation in the Aden Governorate benefiting over 860,000 people and distributing food aid in the Hadramawt Governorate for about 90,000 people, worth approximately 14 million SAR (about 3.35 million EUR).
Wednesday, 1 January—Shops in Saudi Arabia have newly an opportunity to remain open 24/7 after meeting certain conditions. They need to obtain licence for 100,000 SAR (approximately 24,000 EUR) and install cameras inside. Several entities, such as pharmacies, are exempted from the fee. The Saudi Authorities will now come up with new regulations to prevent forcing employees to work additional hours.
United Arab Emirates
Monday, 30 December—The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) updated governmeent stakeholders on the progress of the construction and readiness preparations of the four units at the UAE’s first nuclear power plant, Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, which is from more than 93% completed. Construction works on three units are close to finishing, while the first unit was completed and is currently undergoing commissioning and testing before it can obtain operating license from the UAE’s Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR).
Friday, 3 January—Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan, held talks in Islamabad. The talks were centred around the regional situation, Kashmir and India. The two leaders also discussed developing bilateral relations, especially in economic and cultural fields. It was agreed that the UAE’s Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development will allocate 734.5 million AED (179.2 million EUR) to support economic projects and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Pakistan. They mentioned the importance of maintaining unity within the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as a reaction to the Kuala Lumpur Summit 2019.
Friday, 3 January—The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) pledged 55 million AED (13.4 million EUR) for Sudan’s education sector, which includes classroom equipment and school supplies, and provision of food and medicine, as part of the 11 billion AED (2.68 billion EUR) Saudi-UAE joint financial aid package to support Sudan’s economic and financial stability.