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The Euro-Gulf Monitor 18 – 24 June 2021

BY Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani

5 Top Points

  1. Saudi Arabia’s NEOM plans to build the world’s largest coral garden in the Red Sea.
  2. Bahrain will extend economic support for sectors most hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. Foreign Ministers of Qatar and Kuwait attended the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Turkey.
  4. Oman will grant 5- and 10-year long residency visas for foreign investors from September 2021.
  5. The UAE established a new company ‘Tourism 365’ to boost its tourism sector.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Al-Fateh Grand Mosque in Bahrain

Kingdom of Bahrain Kingdom of Bahrain-img

Wednesday, 23 June–Bahrain’s National Oil and Gas Authority (NOGA) announced the start of drilling of the first exploration well in Block 1, a 2,800 square kilometres offshore area in the Kingdom’s northern waters. The project comes as part of an exploration and production deal signed with the Italian energy major, ENI, in 2019.

Wednesday, 23 June–Bahrain announced a three-month extension of its economic support programme for local businesses most severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, Manama announced a 485 million Bahraini dinars (around $1.3 billion USD) economic stimulus package.


State of Kuwait Sultanate of Oman-img

Tuesday, 22 June–Kuwait’s Parliament approved the country’s 2021-2022 budget with 23.05 billion Kuwaiti dinars ($76.6 billion USD) in expenditures and a deficit of about 12.1 billion KD ($40 billion USD). The approval was preceded by quarrels between government members and the opposition, which caused an intervention of parliamentary guards to restore order.


Sultanate of Oman Sultanate of Oman-img

Wednesday, 23 June–Oman announced it will grant long-term (5- or 10-year) residence visas to foreign investors and retirees from September 2021.


State of Qatar State of Qatar-img

Monday, 21 June–The Qatar Economic Forum 2021, focused on global post-pandemic economic recovery, was inaugurated by Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. The three-day online event featured several world leaders, diplomats and professionals, including British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.


Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Kingdom of Saudi Arabia-img

Wednesday, 23 June–Saudi Arabia announced it will establish the world’s largest coral garden around Shushah Island in NEOM’s Red Sea area by 2025. The project aims to accelerate coral reef restoration, strengthen the Red Sea ecosystem’s resilience and protect the natural area around NEOM.

United Arab Emirates-img

United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates-img

Tuesday, 22 June–The UAE launched a new national company to promote its tourism sector, under the umbrella of the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC). The company, named Tourism 365, will cooperate with Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism to establish strategic partnerships with private firms, with the aim to boost tourism in the Emirates.

The EU Corner

Thursday, 18 June‒EU officials, namely High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, and the Acting Special Envoy of the European Union for Afghanistan, Tomas Niklasson, met with Afghan government and Taliban representatives in Doha. The negotiations on the Afghan Peace Process also gathered officials from other countries, such as Turkey and Pakistan.

Wednesday, 23 June‒The Head of the EU Delegation to Kuwait, Cristian Tudor, met with the Chief of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Abdullah Ali Abdullah Al-Sabah. The discussion focused on restoring international mobility and on the role of aviation in post-COVID-19 recovery. Ambassador Tudor also held a meeting with the Speaker of Kuwait’s National Assembly, Marzouq Al-Ghanim, to review EU-Kuwait relations ahead of Al-Ghanim’s upcoming visit to the European Parliament.

Wednesday, 23 June‒An EU Trade Delegation visited Qiddiya, the entertainment project in construction since 2019, in Riyadh. The EU praised the touristic megaproject, aimed at diversifying Saudi Arabia’s income resources in line with the Vision 2030.

Key Official Visits

Friday, 18 June–Foreign Ministers of Qatar and Kuwait, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani and Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah, attended the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Turkey. On the sidelines of the event, several bilateral meetings were held, including talks between Kuwaiti’s Foreign Minister and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Sunday, 20 June–Malta’s Foreign Minister, Evarist Batrolo, was on a three-day official visit in Oman. He met with his Omani counterpart, Badr Hamad Al-Busaidi, to discuss cooperation in economy, science and culture and tackling the social and economic impact of the pandemic.

Tuesday, 22 June–Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, and Austria’s Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, discussed economic and trade cooperation, human rights and developments in the Gulf during their talks in Vienna. The Saudi Foreign Minister also met with the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, to discuss implementing international atomic energy standards and the developments in the Iranian nuclear programme.

Tuesday, 22 June–Oman’s Undersecretary of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion, Asila Al-Samsamiya, and Saudi Arabia’s Secretary-General of the Economic Cities and Special Zones Authority (ECZA), Nabil Khoja, discussed the possibilities for establishing a Saudi industrial zone in the Sultanate during their talks in Riyadh.