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The Euro-Gulf Monitor 12 – 18 November 2021

BY Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani

5 Top Points

  1. Bahrain, Israel, the UAE and the US held their first joint naval drill in the Red Sea.
  2. Oman launched a new touristic mega-project ‘Yiti’, Saudi Arabia unveiled a futuristic floating industrial net zero city called ‘Oxagon’ linked to Neom.
  3. Bahrain’s Foreign Minister met with his Turkish counterpart in Ankara.
  4. US Special Envoy for Iran, Rob Malley, toured Bahrain, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
  5. The EU and Qatar discussed energy cooperation

‘Round and About the Gulf

Al-Fateh Grand Mosque in Bahrain

Kingdom of Bahrain Kingdom of Bahrain-img

Sunday, 14 November–Bahrain, Israel, the UAE and the United States (US) held a five-day naval drill in the Red Sea. The exercise was the first of its kind between Israel, the US and the two Gulf countries, and it aimed to enhance interoperability among the countries’ naval forces in order to maintain freedom of navigation and free trade flow.

Tuesday, 16 November–Bahrain’s state-owned Oil and Gas Holding Company (nogaholding) announced it will transition into a green-energy oriented company, seeking alternative resources to fossil fuels. The transformation comes within the Kingdom’s wider aim to transition towards green energy, and was preceded by the abolition of the National Oil and Gas Authority (NOGA) in September 2021.


State of Kuwait Sultanate of Oman-img

Tuesday, 16 November–Kuwait’s Emir Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah temporarily transferred his constitutional powers of naming the prime minister, issuing laws and swearing in the Cabinet to Crown Prince Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah. In early November, Kuwait’s Cabinet resigned amid a months-long parliamentary standoff.


Sultanate of Oman Sultanate of Oman-img

Sunday, 14 November–The Oman Tourism Development Company (OMRAN) announced the launch of a new touristic mega-project, ‘Yiti’. The new complex will be located on the Sea of Oman and it will span 11 million square meters, with sustainability and urbanist innovation among its core establishing principles. The project aims to generate opportunities for domestic and foreign investments, as well as to expand the Sultanate’s tourism sector as part of the Oman Vision 2040.


State of Qatar State of Qatar-img

Wednesday, 17 November–Qatar pledged to provide fuel and building materials to the Gaza Strip in an agreement jointly inked with Egypt. The deals were signed on the sidelines of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) meeting in Oslo, which coordinates international assistance to the Palestinians. During the event, Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Sultan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi, also reviewed bilateral relations with Norwegian Foreign Minister, Anniken Huitfeldt.


Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Kingdom of Saudi Arabia-img

Wednesday, 10 November–Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, announced the construction of a new futuristic floating industrial complex called Oxagon. The new facility will be built on the sea and be fully powered by green energy sources, serving as an integrated supply chain ecosystem for NEOM. Oxagon’s development will seek to integrate automation, sustainability in food, water and energy as well as information technologies and robotics.

United Arab Emirates-img

United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates-img

Monday, 15 November–The UAE hosted the Dubai Airshow 2021. The four-day exhibit gathered about 1,200 civil and defence aviation companies, and saw the participation of about 84.000 attendees from 148 countries. Israel took part to the event for the first time, as well as Brazil, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Monday, 15 November–The UAE will host the next United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) on 6 November 2023. The decision was approved by a plenary meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The EU Corner

Friday, 12 November—The Council of the EU extended the sanctions imposed on Turkey in October 2019 for its unauthorised drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. The measures, which include asset freeze and travel ban to the EU for listed persons, will apply until 12 November 2022.

Friday, 12 November—Representatives of the EU, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and the League of Arab States attended the conference of Heads of State and Government on Libya in Paris. The event aimed at finding a political solution to the Libyan crisis and was organised by France, Germany, Italy, the United Nations and the interim government of Libya.

Monday, 15 November—The EU Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, held a meeting with Qatar’s Minister of State for Energy Affairs, Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, in Doha. Talks focused on EU-Qatar cooperation to pursue decarbonisation and methane emissions’ reduction, as well as on the role and potential of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Monday, 15 November—The EU Foreign and Defence Ministers reviewed the first proposal of the EU’s Strategic Compass, the common strategic vision for EU security and defence, aiming to address key threats and challenges to the Union. The final document should be adopted in March 2022.

Key Official Visits

Thursday, 11 November–The US Special Envoy for Iran, Rob Malley, kicked off a tour of Bahrain, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, to discuss aspects related to Iran’s activities in the region and the resumption of nuclear talks on 29 November. During his tour, Malley met with Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, Israeli Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, among others. The tour will conclude on 20 November in the UAE.

Friday, 12 November–Brazil’s President, Jair Bolsonaro, travelled to Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE. Discussions covered investment in defence, infrastructure, agriculture and technology. Talks also focused on the activities of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), in which Brazil and the UAE will take seats as non-permanent members in January 2022. In Bahrain, President Bolsonaro met with King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa and inaugurated the Brazilian Embassy in Manama. In Qatar, Bolsonaro was received by Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, while in the Emirates he met with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

Wednesday, 17 November–Riyadh hosted a meeting of the US-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Working Group on Iran. The Working Group reaffirmed the US-GCC strategic partnership and condemned Iran’s regional destabilising activities, including the support to armed militias and its ballistic missile programme. The GCC countries presented their efforts to develop effective diplomatic channels with Iran to deal with regional conflicts, backed by deterrence and defence cooperation with the US. Following the event, the US Defence Secretary, Lloyd Austin, announced he will travel to the UAE and Bahrain, where he will participate in the annual Manama Dialogue.

Wednesday, 17 November–Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, met with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, in Ankara. The two sides met on the sidelines of the Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), whose Presidency for the 2021-2022 term Turkey handed over to Bahrain. The two sides also discussed regional developments and Turkish-Bahraini relations.