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The Euro-Gulf Monitor 20 – 26 May 2022

BY Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani

5 Top Points

  1. Qatar cemented investment and energy cooperation with the UK and Germany amid Emir’s European tour.
  2. Iranian and Syrian officials discussed enhancing cooperation with Oman.
  3. India joined the Bahrain-based multinational US-led Combined Military Forces.
  4. An extraordinary GCC meeting focused on the impact of the Ukraine war on food security and supply chains.
  5. The UAE and Saudi Arabia participated in the BRICS Plus Ministerial hosted by China to discuss BRICS expansion.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Al-Fateh Grand Mosque in Bahrain

Kingdom of Bahrain Kingdom of Bahrain-img

Tuesday, 24 May—India became an associate member of the multinational US-led Combined Military Forces, headquartered in Bahrain and tasked with ensuring maritime security in the international waters around the Arabian Peninsula. The move was announced after a meeting between the US President, Joe Biden, and India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, on the sidelines of the Quad Summit with Australia and Japan.


State of Kuwait Sultanate of Oman-img

Saturday, 21 May—Kuwait held the 13th Municipal Council elections, where 38 candidates competed for 10 seats on the 16-seat Municipal Council for a four-year term. The winners included Hasan Kamal, Abdullah Al-Mehri, Fahad Al-Abduljader, Saud Al-Kanderi, Nasser Al-Jadaan, Fuhaid Al-Muwaizri, Abdullah Al-Enezi and Nasser Al-Kafeef. The government will appoint the remaining six members of the Council within 15 days since the publication of the election results.

Tuesday, 24 May—The US Treasury Department sanctioned members of Hamas’ regional financing network and an international Iran-Hezbollah oil smuggling and money laundering network involving Russia. The targets included three Hamas financial facilitators, including a Kuwait-based Jordanian accountant and former employee of Hamas’ Finance Ministry, and six Hamas-affiliated companies based in Algeria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and the UAE. A day later, the US designated an oil smuggling and money laundering network led by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) officials facilitating the sale of Iranian oil worth hundreds of millions of dollars for the IRGC-QF and Hezbollah, involving Russia, China and Turkey.


Sultanate of Oman Sultanate of Oman-img

Tuesday, 24 May—Oman’s Salalah Mills Company, the largest facility of its kind in Oman, concluded contracts to purchase 180,000 tonnes of wheat from India and Australia, which are expected to arrive in the next three months, to meet local demand until the end of 2022 amid the looming food crisis linked to the Ukraine war. Salalah Mills will now be looking for partners to secure supply for the first half of 2023.


State of Qatar State of Qatar-img

Friday, 20 May—Germany and Qatar formed an energy partnership to help reduce Germany’s reliance on Russian energy supplies as German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, received Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, in Berlin. The two countries will expand cooperation particularly regarding liquefied natural gas (LNG) and hydrogen trade. Qatar plans to start supplying LNG to Germany from the Qatar-majority owned, Texas-based US Golden Pass LNG plant in 2024.


Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Kingdom of Saudi Arabia-img

Sunday, 22 May—The Chinese technology giant, Alibaba Group, partnered with the Saudi Telecom Company (stc Group), eWTP Arabia for Technical Innovation, the Saudi Company for Artificial Intelligence and the Saudi Information Technology Company, to launch establish the Alibaba Cloud in Riyadh to provide advanced cloud computing services to companies operating in Saudi Arabia.

Monday, 23 May—The Saudi General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) announced the foundation of the National Academy of Military Industries to help develop local personnel skills and boost local participation in the military and defence industries.

United Arab Emirates-img

United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates-img

Monday, 23 May—The UAE announced a major restructuring of the national education system to boost its quality and effectiveness. Ahmed Belhoul Al Falasi was appointed as Minister of Education and Sarah Al Amiri became Minister of State for Public Education and Future Technology, and Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Emirates Schools Establishment. The UAE will also set up the Federal Authority for Early Education to be led by Sarah Al Musallam, Minister of State for Early Education, as well as the Federal Authority for Quality of Education.

Tuesday, 24 May—The British oil and gas major, BP, and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and Masdar signed a strategic energy partnerships to develop clean hydrogen and technology hubs in the United Kingdom and the UAE. The partnerships include the H2Teesside low-carbon hydrogen project and the HyGreen Teesside green hydrogen project on the Eastern coast of the UK, a BP-ADNOC low-carbon hydrogen project in Abu Dhabi and the production of sustainable aviation fuels in the UAE.

The EU Corner

Tuesday, 24 May‒The Saudi Attorney General, Saud Bin Abdullah Al-Muajab, visited the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust), in The Hague. During the visit, he held talks with Chair of the Counter-Terrorism Office, Hilde Vandevoorde, and Chair of the Economic Crimes Team, Lilja Limingoja, to exchange experiences and discuss cooperation between Eurojust and the Saudi Public Prosecution in combating money laundering and terrorist financing.

Tuesday, 24 May—In Brussels, Bahrain’s Ambassador to Belgium, Abdulla bin Faisal Aldoseri, met with the Head of Visa Policy at the European Commission’s General Authority for Migration and Home Affairs, Dimitri Giotakos, to discuss the process of Schengen visa waivers for Bahraini citizens.

Tuesday, 24 May‒The European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with the Arab Peninsula (DARP), led by its Chairperson Hannah Neumann, paid an official visit to the UAE. The delegation met with several Emirati officials, including UAE Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, Nahyan bin Mubarak Al-Nahyan, Speaker of the Federal National Council, Saqr Ghobash, and Chairperson of the National Human Rights Institution (NHRI), Maqsoud Kruse.

Wednesday, 25 May‒The Acting Deputy Director General of the European Union Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), Ernesto Bianchi, attended the EMEA Security Conference and Exhibition in Riyadh. The event focused on illicit trade and counterfeiting, and ways to enhance EU-Saudi cooperation in fighting smuggling and tax evasion.

Wednesday, 25 May‒The Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Kuwait, Cristian Tudor, met with the Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Oil, and Minister for Cabinet Affairs, Mohammad Abdulatif Al-Fares, and with the CEO of the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC), Nawaf Saud Al-Sabah, to discuss EU-Kuwait energy cooperation.

Thursday, 26 May—Qatar’s Minister of Transport, Jassim Saif Ahmed Al Sulaiti, and the European Commissioner for Transport, Adina-Ioana Vălean, met in Brusselsto discuss ways to enhance EU-Qatar cooperation in transportation and civil aviation.

Key Official Visits

Sunday, 22 May—Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defence Minister, Prince Khalid bin Salman Al Saud, accompanied by the Saudi Ambassador to Yemen, Mohammad Al Jaber, travelled to the United States to discuss Yemen, Iran and US-Saudi defence coordination with US officials, including US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, US Special Envoy for Yemen, Timothy Lenderking, US National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, and the US Central Command Commander, General Michael Kurilla. The Saudi side stressed the need to pressure the Houthis to open the Taiz roads, deposit revenues of the Hodeidah port, and engage with the peace proposals. The visit came a few days before the Jordan-hosted, UN-led talks between Yemen’s warring parties as the UN seeks to extend the two month cease-fire ahead of its expiration on 2 June.

Sunday, 22 May—Ahmed Al Sayegh, UAE Minister of State, participated in a virtual ministerial meeting of the BRICS Plus, hosted by Wang Yi, China’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister, aiming to discuss the expansion of the five-member BRICS bloc (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) to include more developing countries. Participants and possible candidates included the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Argentina, Nigeria, Senegal and Thailand.

Monday, 23 May—Oman’s Sultan, Haitham bin Tarik Al Said, received the visiting Iranian President, Ebrahim Raisi, to discuss bolstering bilateral cooperation, notably in economy and trade. Raisi was accompanied by a delegation featuring Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian; Defence and Armed Forces Logistics Minister, Brigadier Mohammed Reza Gharaei; Industry, Minerals and Trade Minister, Reza Fatemi Amin; Transport and Urban Development Minister, Rostam Qasemi; Oil Minister, Javad Oji; and Iranian Central Bank Governor, Ali Salehabadi; among others. On the sidelines, Iran and Oman signed eight memoranda of understanding and four cooperation programmes to boost cooperation in investment, oil and gas, transport, sports, agriculture, fisheries and livestock, environment, among others.

Monday, 23 May—Riyadh hosted the extraordinary meeting of the Undersecretaries of the GCC countries’ Ministries concerned with agriculture and food and companies affiliated with GCC countries’ government sovereign funds to discuss the impact of the Ukraine war and food crisis on global food security and supply chains and the challenges to food security in the GCC countries, the key role of the private sector and the GCC integration to deal with the crisis.

Tuesday, 24 May—Qatar and the United Kingdom expanded investment and energy cooperation as Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani held talks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London. The two leaders also reviewed the situation regarding Russia and Ukraine, Afghanistan, Iran, Somalia and Ethiopia and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The UK Office for Investment and Qatar’s Government signed the Qatar-UK Strategic Investment Partnership, which will see Qatar invest 10 billion pounds in the UK over the next five years. The UK-Qatar Energy Dialogue was launched and QatarEnergy and the UK Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) agreed to deepen energy and climate change cooperation.

Wednesday, 25 May—Secretary-General of Bahrain’s Higher Education Council, Rana bint Isa Al Khalifa, met with the UK Minister for International Trade, Ranil Jayawardena, and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, Alex Burghart, to discuss enhancing British-Bahraini cooperation in the education sector.

Wednesday, 25 May—During his visit to Berlin, the UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, met with his German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock, to discuss the Ukraine crisis and ways to ensure food and energy security.

Wednesday, 25 May—Several Omani officials held talks with the visitng Syrian Minister of Culture, Lubana Mushawih, about the prospects of enhancing bilateral cooperation. The Syrian delegation held separate meetings with Oman’s Foreign Minister, Badr Al Busaidi, Minister of Education, Madiha Ahmed Al Shaibani, and Minister of Information, Abdullah bin Nassir Al Harrasi.