GULF IN REVIEW
07 - 12 June 2020
Arnold Koka and Veronica Del Torre
Kingdom of Bahrain
Saturday, 6 June – Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Dr Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, and his Iraqi counterpart, Dr Fuad Hussain, discussed Bahrain-Iraq relations over the phone. During the call, Dr Al Zayani also congratulated Dr Hussain on his appointment as Iraq’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Wednesday, 10 June – Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) plans to launch #WeWillMeet digital campaign to promote Bahrain as a post-COVID-19 tourist destination. It seeks to attract more tourists from all around the world, but especially Saudi Arabia, which represent a significant part of the Kingdom’s tourism.
Thursday, 11 June – Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for International Affairs, Dr Abdullah bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, held a video conference with Chairman of the Defence Committee of the British House of Commons, Tobias Ellwood, and several other officials, including both countries’ Ambassadors and Military Attachés. During the meeting they discussed the Bahrain-UK defence cooperation, particularly in the fight against terrorism.
State of Kuwait
Sunday, 7 June – The Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, Fahad Al Afasi, announced the reopening of mosques in model residential areas and sparsely-populated areas from the noon prayer on Wednesday, 10 June, after almost three months of closured due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Monday, 8 June – Oman’s Chargé d’Affairs in Kuwait delivered a message from Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, addressed to Kuwait’s Emir Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, in the hands of Kuwait’s Foreign Minister, Dr Ahmad Nasser Al Mohammed Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah. The letter was related to the countries’ bilateral relations and mutual cooperation in several fields.
Wednesday, 10 June – Kuwait’s Minister of Oil and acting Minister of Electricity and Water, Khaled Al Fadil, has announced the Kuwait’s decision to no longer hire expatriate workers in state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) and its subsidiaries for the year 2020-21, in accordance with last week government’s decisions to cut public budget by the 20% and enhance Kuwaitisation efforts.
Sultanate of Oman
Sunday, 7 June—The Royal Oman Police (ROP) announced the removal of Oman’s No Objection Certificate (NOC), which provisioned a two year ban period for expats cancelling their employment contracts and changing their jobs. The new rule will be enforced by January 2021 and will allow expat workers in the Sultanate to move to a new employer without the need of a permission.
Tuesday, 9 June—Sultan Haitham bin Tarik Al-Said announced development projects worth 300 million riyals (about $780 million) to support the country’s economic growth and development.
Wednesday, 10 June—Bank Muscat, Oman’s leading financial services provider, was granted a $150 million unsecured loan by the China Development Bank (CDB), a development finance institution guided by the Chinese government. The loan, which has a 5-year tenure, will be utilised for the bank’s financing operations in the Sultanate.
Wednesday, 10 June—Sultan Haitham bin Tarik Al-Said issued a decree establishing Oman’s Cyber Defence Centre. The new institution will be placed under the Sultanate’s Internal Security Service and report to it.
State of Qatar
Wednesday, 10 June – Qatar’s Ministry of Finance instructed government Ministries, institutions and state-funded entities to reduce monthly costs for non-Qatari employees by 30% from 1 June by cutting their salaries or laying them off with a two-month notice, in an effort to cope with the economic impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Thursday, 11 June – The state-owned energy giant, Qatar Petroleum (QP), announced its decision to integrate Qatar Chemical and Petrochemical Marketing and Distribution Company (Muntajat) into QP as part of its efforts to strengthen its global competitive position in the downstream sector. The integration, that will be completed in the next few months, involve a combined set of human, technical, commercial and financial capabilities as well as customer relationships.
Thursday, 11 June — Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, received separate telephone calls from Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arancha Gonzalez Laya, and the French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian. During the calls, bilateral relations were reviewed in addition to issues related to the economic recovery post-COVID-19 and the situation in the Middle East and the Gulf.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Sunday, 7 June—Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Adel Al-Jubeir, held a meeting with the United States’ Ambassador to the Kingdom, John Abizaid. They discussed regional and international issues of common concern as well as bilateral relations, reviewing the countries’ efforts’ to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. On the same day, Minister Al-Jubeir held virtual meetings with EU countries’ Ambassadors to the Kingdom, reviewing recent regional developments and existing cooperation.
Tuesday, 9 June—Deputy Minister of Defence, Prince Khalid bin Salman Al-Saud, held a phone call with the United Kingdom’s (UK) Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace. They discussed defence and military cooperation between the two countries and ways to strengthen it. The Saudi Deputy Minister expressed his gratitude to the UK government for sending British military forces and defence systems to the Kingdom to support regional security.
Wednesday, 10 June—Saudi Arabia chaired an extraordinary virtual meeting of Foreign Ministers’ of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) members. During the meeting, held to discuss common responses to the Israeli plan of West Bank territories’ annexations, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, condemned the Israeli plan as a violation of international law and a threat to regional stability.
Wednesday, 10 June—Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, held a phone call with the United Nations’ (UN) Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, discussing the latest regional and international developments, particularly regarding the Yemen crisis, as well as the UN efforts to resolve it.
United Arab Emirates
Wednesday, 9 June—The Palestinian Authority (PA) rejected for the second time the UN-provided medical aid material to support the efforts against COVID-19 delivered by the UAE through an Etihad Airways cargo plane via Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport. The Palestinian Prime Minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, declared that he was unaware of the Emirati flight and rejected the planeload as it was not coordinated with the PA.
Wednesday, 9 June—UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, held a phone call with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, about the recent developments in Libya and risks to regional security and stability, condemning the endangering of civilians by armed groups supported by foreign powers, notably Turkey, and called for a political solution in line with the Berlin Conference outcomes. The phone call came after the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, expressed on Monday the country’s support for the Cairo Declaration, which called for the withdrawal of foreign mercenaries and the dismantling of all militias on Libyan territory.
Thursday, 10 June—UAE’s Minister of State for Defence Affairs, Mohammed Al-Bowardi, held a phone call with Canadian Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan. They discussed bilateral defence and military cooperation and highlighted the need to coordinate states’ efforts to face the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier that week, Minister Al-Bowardi also held a virtual meeting with Japanese Minister of Defence, Taro Kono, reviewing defence cooperation opportunities and the latest developments regarding the pandemic.
Friday, 11 June — The UAE Space Agency and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) signed an agreement to cooperate on promoting the use of space for sustainable development and ensuring sustainability of space activities, taking a step towards establishing a new UNOOSA office in the UAE to act as a global hub for space sustainability and utilising space for sustainable development.