GULF IN REVIEW

30 August - 4 September 2020

by

Arnold Koka

Kingdom of Bahrain

Tuesday, 1 September—Senior Advisor to the United States (US) President, Jared Kushner, held talks with several Bahraini officials, notably Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, National Security Advisor, Nasser bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, and the Minister of Finance and National Economy, Salman bin Khalifa Al-Khalifa. Kushner was touring the Gulf following the US-brokered UAE-Israel normalisation agreement in a bid to encourage other countries to follow suit.

 

Thursday, 3 September—Bahrain’s Ministry of Transportation announced that it would allow all flights from and to the UAE to cross its airspace, therefore allowing Israeli flights to fly over its territory, a day after a similar announcement by Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation.

State of Kuwait

Monday, 31 August—Several Kuwaiti officials, including Foreign Minister and Acting Defence Minister, Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah, held talks with the US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, David Schenker, touring Qatar, Lebanon and Kuwait. The meeting covered Gulf unity, regional security, economic cooperation, the upcoming US-Kuwait strategic dialogue in Washington and normalisation between Israel and the Gulf countries. Following a statement in which the majority of the Kuwaiti National Assembly rejected the normalisation, Schenker affirmed that the US would not exert any pressure on the country towards a deal with Israel.

 

Thursday, 3 September—Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Khaled Al-Jarallah, held a phone call with British Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, James Cleverly. They reviewed bilateral relations and preparatory meetings for the next session of the Joint Steering Group, as well as regional and international developments.

 

Thursday, 3 September—Kuwait swore in the country’s first eight female judges. The eight women,  Fatima Al-Farhan, Lulwa Al-Ghanim, Sanabel Al-Houti, Fatima Al-Kandari, Bashaer Al-Rakdan, Fatima Al-Sagheer, Bashair Shah, and Rawaat Al-Tabtabae, were promoted from prosecutors to judges following an approval from Kuwait’s Attorney General, Dirar Al Asousi, in early July and waited for the Supreme Judicial Council’s approval.


Sultanate of Oman

Thursday, 3 September—Oman’s Minister of Economy, Said bin Mohammed Al-Saqri, chaired a virtual conference of the Arab League Economic and Social Council, during which its members reviewed ways to assist Lebanon in curbing the economic effects of the Beirut explosion, the socio-economic impact of COVID-19, the unified Arab Economic Report and a cohesive Arab speech during the upcoming joint IMF-World Bank Meeting 2020, which will be held in October 2020.

 

Thursday, 3 September—Oman’s State Council submitted the draft of value-added tax (VAT) law to Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said with opinions of the Council of Ministers and the State Council. The introduction of VAT should reportedly bring additional revenues of OMR400 million a year.

State of Qatar

Sunday, 30 August—Qatar adopted two laws regarding migrant workers, replacing the requirement of employers’ permission to change jobs before the end of their contract period with a one or two month notice period, and introducing a QAR1,000 (approximately $274) monthly minimum wage, which will be effective six months following the publication in the Official Gazette.

 

Wednesday, 2 September—Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani held talks with Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor to the US President, following the Israeli-Emirates normalisation deal and the US drive to extend it to the other Gulf countries. Qatar’s ruler stated that a two-state solution with East Jerusalem as a Palestinian capital will remain the condition for peace with Israel. They also discussed the US-Qatar relations and means to enhance them.


Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Tuesday, 1 September—Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, met with the Senior Advisor to the United States (US) President, Jared Kushner. During the meeting, they stressed the importance of bolstering the Saudi-American partnership, particularly to enhance regional stability and security, and the need to resume Israeli-Palestinian peace talks amid the recent UAE-Israel normalisation deal.

 

Tuesday, 1 September—Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, held a phone call with his Japanese counterpart, Motegi Toshimitsu. They discussed cooperation within the G20 group, led by Riyadh’s presidency and the development of the “Saudi-Japan Vision 2030” framework, as well as bilateral cooperation.

 

Wednesday, 2 September—Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, held a phone call with British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. During the call, they discussed the Yemen crisis, Saudi Arabia’s G20 Presidency and its efforts regarding a global response to COVID-19, as well as the importance of the British-Saudi relationship, with a focus on ways to enhance trade and investments.

 

Wednesday, 2 September—Kuwait’s Prime Minister, Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, received Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, who delivered a letter from King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud to Kuwait’s Deputy Emir and Crown Prince, Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. The Saudi Foreign Minister also held talks with his Kuwaiti counterpart, Ahmed Nasser Mohammad Al-Sabah. They discussed ways to strengthen bilateral ties and collaboration along with some recent regional and international developments.

 

Wednesday, 2 September—Deputy Chief of the Saudi General Staff, Lieutenant General Mutlaq bin Salem Al-Azaima, was appointed as Acting Commander of the Joint Forces Command of the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen, following the removal of Lieutenant General Fahd bin Turki bin Abdulaziz.


United Arab Emirates

Monday, 31 August—The first direct commercial flight from Israel to the UAE, carrying an Israeli delegation, led by Meir Ben-Shabbat, Director of Israel's National Security Council, and accompanied by Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor to the US President, landed in Abu Dhabi, two weeks after the UAE-Israel normalisation agreement. The Israeli delegation held talks with the UAE officials, covering cooperation in various fields, including economy, finance, health, space exploration, foreign policy and tourism. The two sides exchanged numerous draft documents for review before their signing in Washington later this month.

 

Monday, 31 August—Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, held a phone call with Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis. They focused on the developments in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Israel-UAE normalisation deal. They underlined the need to find peaceful solutions to the crises in the Mediterranean and the Gulf region to enhance international prosperity and security.

 

Wednesday, 2 September—The UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, held a meeting with National Security Adviser and Head of the Israeli National Security Council, Meir Ben-Shabbat. They discussed ways to consolidate bilateral relations in a number of fields, notably economy, technology, science, culture and tourism, and underlining the importance of the normalisation deal for regional peace and stability and reaching an agreement on the Palestinian issue.

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