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The Euro-Gulf Monitor 20 – 26 October 2023

BY Elen'Alba Vitiello

5 Top Points

  1. GCC and EU leaders attended the Cairo Peace Summit to discuss the Israel-Hamas conflict.
  2. British Prime Minister met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia.
  3. Qatar and Italy’s Eni signed a 27-year gas supply deal.
  4. The first Saudi-European Investment Forum was hosted in Riyadh.
  5. Kuwait’s Crown Prince met with UK’s King in London.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Al-Fateh Grand Mosque in Bahrain

Kingdom of Bahrain ​ Kingdom of Bahrain-img

Thursday, 26 October–Bahrain’s national carrier, Gulf Air, will extend its operations into China in January 2024, in line with the country’s strategy to strengthen its global network and connecting it with key global destinations under Bahrain’s national Economic Recovery Plan.

kuwait-img

State of Kuwait Sultanate of Oman-img

Wednesday, 25 October–Kuwait Air Force received four Eurofighter Typhoon Tranche 3 aircrafts, the world’s most advanced swing-role combat aircraft, from the Italian Air Force, as part of the Eurofighter Kuwait programme, a collaboration between the two countries’ Air Forces, bringing the total number of received aircraft to 13.

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Sultanate of Oman Sultanate of Oman-img

Sunday, 22 October–Oman’s Chairman of the Environment Authority, Abdullah Ali Al-Amri, and Saudi Arabia’s Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Commission (NRRC) CEO, Khalid Abdulaziz Al-Issa, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for nuclear and radiation safety. The MoU aims at enhancing joint cooperation between Oman and Saudi Arabia in the use of nuclear technologies for peaceful purposes and related activities in accordance with the regulations of the respective countries.

qatar-img

State of Qatar State of Qatar-img

Monday, 23 October–QatarEnergy and Italian energy company, Eni, signed a 27-year Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) sale and purchase agreement, providing Italy with 1 million tonnes of gas a year. The deliveries are expected to start in 2026 and will be sourced from the joint venture between QatarEnergy and Eni that holds an interest in Qatar’s North Field East expansion project.

Saudi-arabia-img

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Kingdom of Saudi Arabia-img

Monday, 23 October–Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, announced the launch of the E-sport World Cup, which will be held annually in Riyadh starting in the summer of 2024. The competition will provide a platform that supports the gaming and e-sport sector and enhances the country’s position as a hub for international e-sports and sports competitions.

Tuesday, 24 October–Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the Republic of Iran, Abdullah bin Saud Al-Enezi, presented his credentials to the President of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, in Tehran.

Tuesday, 24 October–Riyadh hosted the 7th Future Investment Initiative (FII7) forum under the theme “The New Compass”, gathering world leaders, industrial companies, investors, innovators, and policy makers. During the event, several deals were announced such as the Saudi Aramco agreement with NEOM’s Energy and Water company ENOWA to construct a synthetic electro fuel (e-fuel) plant; the Film Al-Ula and Hollywood production $350 million (about €331 million) three-year deal to bring 10 projects to Al-Ula; and Saudi Arabia’s Royal Commission for Al-UlA (RCU) partnership with a French cybersecurity company, Thales, to integrate advanced security measures into the RCU’s digital platforms, among others.

United Arab Emirates-img

United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates-img

Wednesday, 25 October–The UAE hosted the 10th session of the Symposium on China-Arab Relations and China-Arab Civilisation Dialogue under “Dialogue of Civilisations for Sustainable Development”, aiming to strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation. The agenda of the symposium included a number of topics that focused on four axes: civilisational rapprochement as a gateway to communication and peaceful coexistence; respect for cultures, consolidation of human fraternity and respect for national identity; civilisational dialogue as a force for the progress and prosperity of human society; and the call for peace and dialogue as a basis for consolidating peace and stability. It was attended by UAE’s Minister of State, Ahmed bin Ali Al-Sayegh, and Chinese government’s Special Envoy to the Middle East, Zhai Jun.

The EU Corner

Monday, 23 October–The European Council adopted a decision prolonging existing restrictive measures against ISIL/Daesh, Al-Qaeda and natural and legal persons, groups, undertakings and entities associated with them for a further year. The sanctions consist of an assets freeze, a travel ban to the EU and an EU-wide prohibition on providing them with funds.

Monday, 23 October–A group of Arab Ambassadors to the EU, including from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, and the Arab League, held meetings with officials from the European Council, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European External and Action Service (EEAS), as well as officials from Belgium, Luxembourg, and NATO, in Brussels, to discuss the escalation in Gaza. The Ambassadors expressed that some European statements and positions send ‘wrong messages to Israeli forces’ and conveyed the Arab position as reflected in the resolution issued by the Extraordinary Session of the Council of the Arab League in Cairo on 11 October 2023, condemning the targeting of civilians, and highlighting the urgent need to stop the conflict.

Tuesday, 24 October–Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment and the European Union co-hosted the first Saudi-European Investment Forum in Riyadh. The event was attended by Saudi Arabia’s Saudi Investment Minister, Khaled Al-Falih, Minister of Energy, Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, European Commission’s Vice-President, Maros Sefcovic, EU Special Representative to the Gulf Region, Luigi Di Maio, as well as CEOs of Saudi and European companies, among others. During the Forum, several Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) were signed, notably in the fields of culture, energy, water, and food technology. It was also agreed to accelerate the establishment of the first European Chamber of Commerce in the Gulf in Saudi Arabia.

Wednesday, 25 October–Qatar’s Ambassador to the European Union and NATO, Abdulaziz bin Ahmed Al-Malki, met with the Foreign Policy Advisor to the President of the European Council, Simon Mordue, in Brussels, to discuss recent developments in the Middle East, as well as Qatari-EU relations.

Thursday, 26 October–EU’s newly appointed Ambassador to the UAE, Lucie Berger, hosted a meeting with members of the UAE’s media institutions to discuss EU-UAE bilateral relations ahead of COP28. According to Berger, the EU’s intricate policies and systems can be challenging to communicate to the public, making the role of journalists paramount.

Key official visits

Thursday, 19 October–Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, held talks with the visiting United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak. During the meeting, they discussed the military escalation in Gaza and agreed to send humanitarian aid, while underscoring he need to avoid any further escalation in the region.

Friday, 20 October–The first GCC-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Summit took place in Riyadh. During the meeting, they agreed on boosting cooperation, recognising the importance of the oceans as key factor in driving growth and prosperity in the region, welcoming the GCC-ASEAN Cooperation Framework for 2024-2028, exploring ways to strengthen cooperation in trade and investment, political and security dialogue, education, tourism, media, and sports, building on cultural diversity and openness, and on supporting both regions’ efforts toward a digitally-enabled economy. They also agreed to hold the GCC-ASEAN summit every two years.

Saturday, 21 October–EU and GCC leaders and top officials attended the Cairo Peace Summit, to discuss ways to de-escalate the Israel-Hamas war amid growing fears of a wider Middle East Conflict. The summit was attended by Bahrain’s King, Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa; China’s Envoy for the Middle East Issues, Zhai Jun; Egypt’s President, Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi; European Council President, Charles Michel; European Union Foreign Policy Chief, Josep Borrell; Iraq’s Prime Minister, Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani; Italy’s Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni; Jordan’s King, Abdullah; Kuwait’s Crown Prince, Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah; Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas; Oman’s Deputy Prime Minister for Defence Affairs, Shihab bin Tarik Al-Said; Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani; Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Mikhail Bogdanov; Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud; UAE’s President, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan; United Nations’ Secretary-General, António Guterres; amongst others. Representatives from Israel and the US were not present.

Tuesday, 24 October–Bahrain’s King, Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, met with UAE’s Prime Minister and Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, in Abu Dhabi. They discussed bilateral relations and high-level cooperation and expressed their keenness to further strengthen them.

Tuesday, 24 October–Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Jarrah Jaber Al-Sabah, received the Head of the German Parliament’s Committee on Relations with Arab Countries, Christoph Bloss, in Kuwait, to discuss bilateral ties and the current issues around the world.

Tuesday, 24 October–Türkiye’s Foreign Minister, Hakan Fidan, travelled to Qatar and the UAE to meet with the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, and UAE’s President, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, and discuss the latest developments in the Israel-Hamas war, as well as ways to de-escalate the situation and enhance humanitarian response for civilians.

Tuesday, 24 October–The United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Defence, Grant Shapps, travelled on an official visit to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Shapps separately met with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Defence, Khalid bin Salman Al-Saud, and the UAE’s President, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, among others. Both meetings focussed on the aspects of cooperation in the military and defence fields, as well as the latest developments in the Gaza Strip and the measures to deescalate the situation.

Wednesday, 25 October–Kuwait’s Crown Prince, Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, met with the United Kingdom’s King Charles III in London. Their meeting aimed at enhancing bilateral relations and boosting cooperation.

Wednesday, 25 October–UAE’s Ministry of Interior hosted in Abu Dhabi the 5th Ministerial Meeting of the International Security Alliance, as well as the 7th session of Interpol’s Strategic Dialogue. On the sidelines, France’s Minister of Interior, Gérald Darmanin, met with UAE’s Vice-Minister and Minister of Interior, Saif bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, to address the geopolitical context in the Middle East which impacts the two countries, as well as the fight against international drug trafficking.

Wednesday, 25 October–UAE’s Minister of Justice, Abdullah bin Sultan Al-Nuaimi, met with Dutch Minister of Justice and Security, Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius and her accompanying delegation, in Abu Dhabi, as part of joint efforts to advance judicial and legal cooperation and partnership. They discussed issues related to extradition requests, assistance in criminal matters, efforts made to combat organised crime, money laundering and drug grimes, as well as other topics of common interest.

Thursday, 26 October–Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Fair Work and Energy, Neil Gray, went on an official visit to the UAE, to lead a programme of business engagements ahead of Scotland’s participation in COP28, and to further enhance the Scotland-UAE ties. During his visit, Gray signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Thani bin Ahmed Al-Zeyoudi, to foster clean energy collaboration and to boost bilateral trade, and private-sector and academic partnerships in the technology, innovation, education and research sector.