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The Euro-Gulf Monitor 20 – 26 January 2023

BY Veronica Stigliani & Elen'Alba Vitiello

5 Top Points

  1. The 24th EU-GCC Political Committee meeting took place in Riyadh.
  2. The Middle East Energy & Sustainability Forum (ESF 2023) kicked off in Manama.
  3. Oman’s Duqm plans to establish the world’s first renewable water project.
  4. Kuwait’s Cabinet resigned amid deadlock with the Parliament.
  5. The EU sanctioned 37 Iran-government and IRGC-linked individuals and entities for violent repression of protests.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Al-Fateh Grand Mosque in Bahrain

Kingdom of Bahrain ​ Kingdom of Bahrain-img

Tuesday, 24 January‒The Middle East Energy & Sustainability Forum (ESF 2023) kicked off in Manama. The forum, inaugurated by Bahrain’s Minister of Oil and Environment and Climate Affairs Special Envoy, Mohammed bin Mubarak Bin Daina, discussed issues related to carbon removal reviewing efforts to achieve the energy transition through recycling and conversion of plastic waste, and projects of green and blue hydrogen. The summit stressed the importance of strengthening cooperation across the Gulf region to pursue environmental protection.

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State of Kuwait Sultanate of Oman-img

Monday, 23 January‒Kuwait’s cabinet presented its letter of resignation to Crown Prince Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet Affaires declared that the resignation came due to the deadlock on various issues with the National Assembly.The Crown Prince accepted the resignation letter 3 days later.

Monday, 23 January‒Kuwait’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, held a phone call to discuss the importance of supporting international efforts to resolve the Ukrainian crisis and the mechanism for delivering humanitarian and relief aid provided by the Kuwaiti Red Crescent.

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Sultanate of Oman Sultanate of Oman-img

Monday, 23 January‒The world’s first renewable water project will be established in Oman’s Special Economic Zone at Duqm (SEZAD). Renaissance Services Oman’s leading company will partner with the US company, SOURCE Global, to generate sustainably sourced drinking water for Renaissance Village Duqm (RSVD) with plans to expand to additional sites.

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State of Qatar State of Qatar-img

Tuesday, 24 January‒The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) became Credit Suisse’s second-largest shareholder after doubling its stakes, reaching just below 7% as the Swiss entity seeks to garner more investors. Middle Eastern investors now dominate more than a fifth of the investment banking company’s stock.

Tuesday, 24 January‒The German Business Council Qatar (GBCQ) Chairman, Henning Zimmermann, said Qatar-German trade and investment relations would be further strengthened in the coming year, particularly in automotive industry, energy, construction, logistics and manufacturing. Qatar has stakes in various German commercial and banking groups, the automotive giant, Volkswagen Group, as well as in Siemens.

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Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Kingdom of Saudi Arabia-img

Monday, 23 January‒Saudi Arabia’s Communications, Space & Technology Commission (CST) announced the formation of a space entrepreneurship alliance to achieve growth and sustainability as well as to develop a solid foundation in the space sector. The alliance, launched by Acting Deputy Governor​ of the Space sector at CST, Frank Salzgeber, aims to create a strong foundation for innovation and entrepreneurs in the Saudi space sector, by providing access to resources and services like shared workspaces and technical labs.

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United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates-img

Friday, 20 January‒The UAE President, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, held a phone call with Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, to address the Ukrainian crisis. The two leaders stressed the importance of continuing communication and talks to find a political solution to the conflict. President Zelensky expressed his gratitude for Abu Dhabi’s humanitarian support to the Ukrainian people.

Saturday, 21 January‒The UAE Foreign Minister, Abdulla bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, held a phone call with his Italian counterpart, Antonio Tajani, to discuss bilateral relations and economic cooperation. The call also focused on the regional and international situation, and on issues of common concern.

The EU Corner

Thursday, 19 January‒The European Union Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process, Sven Koopmans, met with Saudi Arabia’s Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Waleed El-Khereiji. During the meeting, they reviewed ways to enhance and develop aspects of joint bilateral cooperation, as well as peace efforts in the Middle East region.

Sunday, 22 January‒The Qatar Chamber First Vice-Chairman, Mohamed bin Twar Al-Kuwari, met with Minister Counsellor and the new Head of Trade and Economic Affairs Section at the EU Delegation in Riyadh, Thomas Jurgensen, to discuss ways to boost trade and economic relations between Qatar and the EU countries, notably in the private sector.

Monday, 23 January‒The European Union Council added 18 Iranian individuals and 19 entities to the sanctions list in the context of the existing Iran human rights sanctions regime. Among the persons enlisted are representatives of the Iranian government, parliamentarians, political and media figures, as well as members of the Iranian security forces, notably the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The measures also target governmental bodies and private companies providing security services and engaging in activities which prohibit, limit, or penalise the exercise of freedom of expression. Restrictive measures now apply to a total of 164 individuals and 31 entities.

Wednesday, 25 January‒The 24th EU-GCC Political Committee meeting, co-chaired by Hélène Le Gal, the Managing Director for Middle East and North Africa at the European External Action Service, and Ahmed bin Hashil Al-Maskari, Oman’s Head of the GCC Department at the Foreign Ministry, took place in Riyadh to discuss the EU-GCC strategic partnership and ways to strengthen it.

Key official visits

Friday, 20 January‒Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Communications and IT, Abdullah Al-Swaha, held two separate meetings with British Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Grant Shapps, and with the Indian Federal Minister for Railways, Ashwini Vaishnaw, on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum 2023 in Davos, Switzerland. The meetings aimed to expand cooperation in the fields of science, technology, digital entrepreneurship, and space, and were attended also by Saudi Arabia’s Governor of Communications, Space & Technology Commission (CST), Mohammed Al-Tamimi.

Tuesday, 24 January‒The UAE President, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, held two separate meetings with the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Felix Tshisekedi, and with the Special Envoy of Algeria’s President, Salah Boucha, in Abu Dhabi. The meetings aimed to review bilateral relations and to enhance cooperation on several fields, and were attended by various UAE ministers and officers, including the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, Saif bin Zayed, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

Wednesday, 25 January‒The UAE President, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, and his accompanying delegation visited Islamabad, where they were received by Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif. The visit came two weeks after Prime Minister Sharif’s trip to the Gulf, and aimed to strengthen bilateral relations.

Wednesday, 25 January‒Palermo hosted Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs, Khalid bin Mohamed Al-Attiyah, and Italian Defence Minister, Guido Crosetto, for the launch of the Landing Platform Dock (LDP) vessel “Al Fulk,” ordered by Qatar’s Defence Ministry from the Italian shipbuilding company Fincantieri.

Thursday, 26 January‒Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccan Expatriates, Nasser Bourita, arrived in Bahrain to participate at the 5th session of the Bahrain-Morocco Joint Higher Committee. He was welcomed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani and senior Foreign Ministry officials.