The Euro-Gulf Monitor
15 – 21 October 2021
Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani
5 Top Points
The UAE and Israeli space agencies inked a cooperation deal on space exploration.
Qatar established the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.
The EU signed MoUs with all six GCC countries on culture, trade, climate change and energy.
British Foreign Minister, Elizabeth Truss, discussed cooperation with the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Oman launched its Digital Economy Programme (DEP).
‘Round and About the Gulf
Kingdom of Bahrain
Wednesday, 20 October–Bahrain commenced the construction of its 109 kilometers-long metro rail project. The country’s government approved the first phase of metro’s development, which will be fully automated and driverless. The project will be procured through a global public tender process.
State of Kuwait
Wednesday, 20 October–Kuwait began preliminary works to grant an amnesty to some convicts to end the months-long deadlock between the parliament and government that paralysed the system. The country’s Emir Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah instructed Prime Minister, Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah, the Head of the Supreme Judicial Council, Ahmad Al-Ajeel, and Parliament Speaker, Marzouq Ali Mohammed Al-Ghanim, to establish conditions and terms for the amnesty decree.
Sultanate of Oman
Wednesday, 20 October–Oman launched its national Digital Economy Programme (DEP). The project aims to enhance digital transformation in the country and boost public-private partnerships. The DEP will develop sectors of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) as well as cyber and cloud services.
State of Qatar
Tuesday, 19 October–Qatar established the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, which will be headed by former Finance Minister, Ahmad Al-Kuwari. The move comes as the country prepares for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), and is part of Doha’s plan to enhance its attention towards sustainable energy sources. Last week, the country changed the name of Qatar Petroleum into Qatar Energy to highlight its focus on green energy.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Monday, 18 October–Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced plans for a large tourism attraction inspired by offshore oil platforms, called “The RIG”. The project will cover around 150,000 square meters, hosting a number of connected platforms with attractions and activities. The project is part of the Kingdom’s strategy to enhance its tourism sector and diversify its economy.
United Arab Emirates
Wednesday, 20 October–The UAE and Israel signed a deal to cooperate on space exploration and research. The Emirati Minister of State for Advanced Technology, Sarah bint Yousif Al-Amiri, inked the agreement with Israeli Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology, Orit Farkash-Hacohen, during the Expo 2020 Dubai’s Space Week. The two countries will cooperate in sharing knowledge, research and collaborate in Israel’s Beresheet-2 mission, which aims to land a spacecraft on the Moon by 2024.
The EU Corner
Sunday, 17 October‒The Head of the EU Delegation to Kuwait, Cristian Tudor, and Kuwait’s Assistant Minister for GCC Affairs, Hamad Rashed Al-Marri, discussed the role of Kuwait in mediating and harmonising relations among the GCC member states.
Sunday, 17 October‒The EU signed bilateral cooperation agreements with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The accords are the result of the visit to the region by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, and concern several areas such as education, trade, climate change, energy, and culture.
Tuesday, 19 October‒The EU, Oman and South Korea undertook their first joint naval exercise. The exercise was conducted in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. It involved the EU Naval Force Somalia - Operation Atalanta, Oman Maritime Security Centre and the Republic of Korea’s destroyer Chungmugong Yi Sun-sin. Among the operations practiced there were counter-piracy practices, search and rescue activities, naval communication and information exchange.
Key Official Visits
Monday, 18 October–Iraq's Foreign Minister, Fuad Hussein, met with the UAE Minister of State, Khalifa Shaheen, in Dubai. They discussed trade and investment relations, as well as plans to host the Iraqi-Emirati Joint Committee in Baghdad. The two sides also inaugurated the Iraqi Pavillion at Expo 2020 Dubai.
Monday, 18 October–The UAE’s Foreign Minister, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, travelled to the United Kingdom (UK) to meet his British counterpart, Elizabeth Truss, and COP26 President, Alok Sharma. Talks with Minister Truss covered strategic partnership in economy and trade, as well as the UAE-UK “Partnership for the Future” programme. During his meeting with the COP26 President, the UAE Minister highlighted his country’s willingness to cooperate with the UK in green energy issues and addressing climate change.
Tuesday, 19 October—Kuwait and Russia held political consultations in Moscow, co-chaired by Deputy Foreign Minister, Majdi Al-Dhafiri, and Deputy Foreign Minister and Russian President’s Special Representative for the Middle East, Mikhail Bogdanov. They discussed boosting bilateral ties and cooperation, notably in investments and trade, developments regarding Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Palestine as well as a collective security system in the Gulf. Al-Dhafiri also delivered a message to Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, from his Kuwaiti counterpart, Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah.
Wednesday, 20 October–The British Foreign Minister, Elizabeth Truss, embarked on a tour to Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In Riyadh, she met with her Saudi counterpart, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, discussing Yemen, nuclear talks with Iran, human rights, counter-terrorism and economic ties. In Doha, Minister Truss will meet with Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and with Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani. Topics on the agenda will be Afghanistan, regional security, and the establishment of a UK-Qatar Strategic Dialogue.
Wednesday, 20 October–Greece’s Foreign Minister, Nikos Dendias, visited Muscat, meeting with Omani Minister of the Royal Office, Sultan bin Mohammed Al-Nu’amani. They discussed Yemen, Iran and Iraq, as well as Greece’s diplomatic role in the region. The two sides also signed an agreement to hold Omani-Greek political consultations.
Thursday, 21 October–The US Special Envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, toured Qatar, the UAE and Saudi Arabia. During his trip, Malley met with Qatar’s Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Emirati National Security Advisor, Tahnoun bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, and Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud. Talks focused on the Iranian nuclear deal, as well as on cooperation in ensuring regional security.