GULF IN REVIEW
31 May - 05 June 2020
Arnold Koka and Veronica Del Torre
Kingdom of Bahrain
Wednesday, 3 June—Bahrain’s Ministry of Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments post-poned the resumption of Friday prayers scheduled for 5 June due to an increase in the number of Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.
Thursday, 4 June—Bahrain’s Undersecretary for International Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr Abdulla bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, participated in the virtual meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Small Group, alongside NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Bor-rell, Foreign Ministers of Germany, France, Kuwait, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, among others, to discuss the strengthening of efforts to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The event was co-chaired by the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and Italy’s Minister of For-eign Affairs, Luigi Di Maio.
State of Kuwait
Thursday, 4 June—Kuwait’s Cabinet agreed to cut the government entities’ budget for fis-cal year 2020-2021 by at least 20% and ordered the Ministry of Finance to coordinate with all the governmental entities to review public services and the value of government subsi-dies.
Friday, 5 June—The Prime Minister of Kuwait, Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah, announced the Government’s intention to decrease the share of the migrant population in Kuwait from 70% to 30% as part of Kuwaitisation efforts. Foreigners currently represent about 3.2 mil-lion of Kuwait’s 4.8 million population.
Thursday, 4 June—Kuwait’s Prime Minister, Sabah Khaled Hamad Al-Sabah, held a tele-phone call with his Yemeni counterpart, Dr Mueen Abdulmalik Saeed, discussing bilateral relations and regional developments, particularly the situation in Yemen, while reiterating Kuwait’s support to Yemen’s unity and stability. The same day, Kuwait participated in an online ‘Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen,’ organised by the United Na-tions (UN) and Saudi Arabia, expressing support for the UN call for truce in Yemen.
Sultanate of Oman
Thursday, 4 June—Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said issued a decree establishing the Oman Investment Authority, a new institution that will own and manage all public as-sets except the Petroleum Development Oman and the government shares in international institutions. The new entity combines the wealth of Oman’s sovereign funds, State Gen-eral Reserve Fund (SGRF) and the Oman Investment Fund (OIF), holding assets esti-mated at about $17 billion.
Thursday, 4 June—Badr Al-Busaidi, Secretary General of Oman’s Ministry of Foreign Af-fairs, held a virtual meeting with Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister and Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and Africa, Mikhail Bogdanov. They discussed bilateral ties and cooperation and exchanged views on a number of regional crises, notably the de-velopments in Libya, Syria, Yemen and the Middle East Peace Process.
Friday, 5 June—Oman formally commenced the programme to launch its first satellite, that will be managed by the state-owned Space Communications Technology LLC (SCT). The government invited international consultancy firms to bid for contracts to technically and financially advise the Muscat-headquartered SCT in the development of the national satellite infrastructure. Oman’s first satellite is expected to be launched by 2023/2024 and aims to serve telecommunications needs of the public and private sectors.
State of Qatar
Tuesday, 2 June—The state-owned energy giant, Qatar Petroleum (QP), made a $19 billion order for more than 100 liquefied natural gas (LNG) ships through 2027 from South Korea’s three main shipbuilding companies, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co Ltd, Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings Co Ltd and Samsung Heavy Industries Co Ltd. This was the largest single LNG vessel order in history.
Thursday, 4 June—Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, participated at the virtual Global Vaccine Summit 2020, hosted by British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and pledged $20 million to the efforts to combat COVID-19.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Tuesday, 2 June—The ‘Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen’, co-hosted by the United Nations and Saudi Arabia, raised $1.35 billion as an emergency aid fund for Yemen. Among the 31 donating countries, the major contributions came from Saudi Arabia ($500 million), the United States ($225 million), the United Kingdom ($200 million), Germany ($138 million) and the European Union ($78 million).
Thursday, 4 June—Saudi Arabia announced allocation of $150 million to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) during the virtual Global Vaccine Summit 2020, hosted by the United Kingdom, which gathered global leaders, notably from France, the United States, Japan, Jordan and Canada, to discuss the fight against COVID-19 and efforts to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.
Thursday, 4 June—Saudi Arabia reopened 90,000 mosques across the country after more than two months of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Worshippers will be subjected to a series of precautionary procedures. The decision came as part of the Kingdom’s gradual lifting of the restrictive measures introduced due to the pandemic. The complete end of the lockdown is scheduled for 21 June.
United Arab Emirates
Monday, 1 June—UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, expressed UAE’s rejection of Israel’s plan to annex several territories in the West Bank. In a statement, he denounced the Israeli plan as a violation of international law and a setback for the peace process, calling for the plan’s immediate halt.
Tuesday, 2 June—UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, and Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, issued a joint statement welcoming the UN announcement that the Libyan National Army (LNA) and the Government of National Accord (GNA) have agreed to resume ceasefire talks. They reiterated UAE's and Egypt’s commitment to bringing stability to Libya under the UN supervision and based on the provisions of the Berlin Conference on Libya held in January 2020.
Wednesday, 3 June—The UAE and France held their 12th Strategic Dialogue session, co-chaired by Head of the Abu Dhabi Executive Affairs Authority, Khaldoon Khalifa Al-Mubarak, and Secretary-General of the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Francois Delattre, and attended by senior officials from both countries. They discussed a strategic 2020-2030 UAE-France partnership roadmap, involving key sectors of bilateral cooperation, such as trade and investment, oil and gas, nuclear and renewable energy, culture and security. They also agreed to coordinate on preventing regional crises.
Friday, 5 June—Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, held a phone call with the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. They discussed the US-UAE partnership and issues concerning regional stability, particularly concerning Libya.