GULF IN REVIEW
29 September - 04 October 2019
Kingdom of Bahrain
Tuesday, 1 October—The second round of political consultations between Bahrain and Finland, which currently holds the presidency at the Council of the European Union, was held in Helsinki. The meeting, co-chaired by the Undersecretary of International Affairs at Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr Shaikh Abdulla bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, and the Director General of the Department of Africa and the Middle East at Finland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Leena-Kaisa Mikkola, discussed enhancing cooperation, particularly in combating terrorism and extremism to ensure global security and stability.
Wednesday, 2 October—Bahrain’s Ambassador to Belgium and Representative to the European Union and NATO, Dr Bahia Jawad Al-Jishi, participated in a joint meeting between the North Atlantic Council and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative Member States at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels. She praised political and military cooperation between the two sides and stressed the need to continue joint efforts with NATO in various areas, notably counter-terrorism and cybersecurity, to enhance regional and international security.
Thursday, 3 October—Bahrain’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa, received the United Kingdom’s Former Chief of Staff, Lord David Richards, and Member of the UK House of Lords, Lord George Robertson, to discuss boosting cooperation in various fields. Lord George Robertson expressed support for Bahrain’s efforts to combat terrorism and rejection of external interference in Bahrain’s domestic affairs during talks with Speaker of Bahrain’s Council of Representatives, Fawzia bint Abdulla Zainal, on enhancing parliamentary cooperation.
State of Kuwait
Monday, 30 September—Kuwait plans to sell 26%-44% of its stakes in the Al-Zour and Khiran power projects within the next two years. The transaction details are being developed. Additionally, the Kuwait Authority for Partnership Projects announced plans to put 50% of its stake in the Shamal Azzour Al Oula, which operates the Az-Zour North Independent Water & Power Project, for an initial public offering (IPO), marking the first public offering of a public-private partnership project in Kuwait. The moves come as part of Kuwait’s efforts to disburden the state budget by attracting private investors.
Tuesday, 1 October—Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Khaled Al-Jarallah, said that Kuwait is considering joining the International Maritime Security Construct, the US-led maritime mission to protect the freedom of commercial navigation Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, Bab Al-Mandab and the Sea of Oman. The alliance currently consists of the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Wednesday, 2 October—Turkey’s Minister of Industry and Technology, Mustafa Varank, and Kuwait’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, Khaled Nasser Al-Roudan, agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in industry, technology, economy and investments, during their meeting in Ankara on the 55th anniversary of bilateral ties.
Sultanate of Oman
Tuesday, 1 October—Oman’s senior officials received Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, Khalid bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah, and his accompanying high-level military delegation, during their three-day visit to the Sultanate, which focused on discussing regional situation and enhancing military cooperation. Among the Omani officials, who held meetings with the Qatari delegation were notably Deputy Prime Minister of the Council of Ministers, Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmoud Al-Said; Minister Responsible for Defense Affairs, Badr bin Saud Al-Busaidi; Chief of Staff of the Sultan’s Armed Forces, Lieutenant Geneneral Ahmed bin Harith Al-Nabhani; or Commander of Royal Air Force of Oman, Matar bin Ali bin Matar Al-Obaidani, and Commander of Royal Navy of Oman, Rear Admiral Abdullah bin Khamis Al-Raisi, among others.
Friday, 4 October—Oman’s Sultan, Qaboos bin Said Al-Said, issued several Royal Decrees, ratifying the Comprehensive Agreement for Established Friendship and Bilateral Cooperation between Oman and the United Kingdom from May 2019 and the Agreement between Oman and Hungary on Mutual Waiving of Visas for Holders of Diplomatic, Special and Service Passports from April 2018, they will be enforced from the day of their publishing in the Official Gazette.
State of Qatar
Monday, 30 September—Qatar and Lebanon affirmed their commitment to strengthening bilateral ties and explored cooperation in the energy sector as Qatar’s Minister of State for Energy Affairs, Saad bin Sherida Al-Kaabi, visited Beirut and held talks with several Lebanese officials, notably Prime Minister, Saad Al-Hariri, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gebran Bassil, and Minister of Energy and Water, Nada Boustani.
Tuesday, 1 October—Qatar’s Minister of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs, Yousef bin Mohamed Al-Othman Fakhro, announced that more reforms of the country’s labour laws are currently being prepared to improve workers’ rights, which have continued to be violated by the employers particularly in relation to the construction of facilities for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Doha. He stressed the need for cooperation between the government and private sector for their successful implementation.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Sunday, 29 September—The Commander of the US Central Command, Vice Admiral Jim Malloy, met with the Commander of the Royal Saudi Naval Forces, Vice Admiral Fahad bin Abdullah Al-Ghofaily, in Riyadh to discuss the coordination of military efforts to maintain deterrence and strengthen Saudi Arabia’s maritime defence against Iranian provocations and attacks.
Tuesday, 1 October—Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Defence announced that Saudi women can now apply to become soldiers in the Royal Saudi Armed Forces and hold military positions within the ranks from a private to sergeant. Women were first allowed to join the Kingdom’s security services in February 2018.
Thursday, 3 October—Saudi Arabia hosted an extraordinary meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries’ Chiefs of Staff, which focused on joint military efforts to enhance defence and confront regional challenges. The military leaders condemned the attacks on freedom of commercial navigation in the Strait of Hormuz and the 14 September attacks on the Saudi oil industry, along with the violation of some GCC countries’ airspace to carry out the attacks, and affirmed that the GCC countries’ Armed Forces are prepared to deal with threats, affirming that attack on any GCC member is considered an attack on all of them.
United Arab Emirates
Sunday, 29 September—The British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero and its crew, held by Iran since 19 July in retaliation for the seizure of its Grace 1 tanker, by Gibraltar authorities, was released and docked at Port Rashid in Dubai.
Sunday, 29 September—The UAE’s Cabinet approved a plan to create 20,000 jobs in the aviation, banking, insurance, real estate and telecommunications sectors in the next three years, and reserved AED300 million for the training of 18,000 UAE citizens. The move is part of Emiratisation efforts and promises priority given to UAE nationals in 160 professions and availability of managerial positions in government institutions only for UAE citizens.
Sunday, 29 September—Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, received Antonio López-Istúriz White, Secretary-General of the European People's Party (EPP). They focused particularly on parliamentary relations between the UAE and the European Union and exchanged views on several regional and international issues of common interest.
Friday, 4 October—UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, concluded his visit to Washington, DC, during which he met with US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, the Senior White House Advisor, Jared Kushner, Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, Hugh Dugan, and members of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, among others. They highlighted the need for continued cooperation in the fight against terrorism and extremism and trade relations.