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The Euro-Gulf Monitor 24 February – 2 March 2023

BY Veronica Stigliani & Elen'Alba Vitiello

5 Top Points

  1. Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister met with Ukraine’s President in Kyiv.
  2. Oman and the Vatican established full diplomatic relations.
  3. Tunisia’s President and Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Interior discussed developing joint cooperation.
  4. A Finnish-Abu Dhabi joint-venture, Baynouna Solar Energy Company, launched Jordan’s largest clean energy project.
  5. Saudi Arabia aims to strengthen its air defence through a comprehensive partnership with the UK.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Al-Fateh Grand Mosque in Bahrain

Kingdom of Bahrain ​ Kingdom of Bahrain-img

Tuesday, 28 February–Bahrain’s Royal Humanitarian Foundation (RHF) Secretary General and National Committee for Supporting Earthquake Victims in Syria and Türkiye Chief Executive, Mustafa Al-Sayed, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Syrian Doctors Syndicate Council’s head, Ghassan Fandi, in the presence Bahrain Medical Society Chairman, Amer Al-Derazi, through which Bahrain is sending doctors and necessary medical supplies to Syria in response to the devastating earthquake.

Tuesday, 28 February–The InterContinental Regency Hotel of Bahrain, will host the SANS Institute, a private US for-profit company and global leader in cybersecurity training and certifications, on 7 March 2023 for SANS’ employer networking event for local and international cybersecurity companies. The event is in preparation for the second cohort of SANS Cyber Reskilling Program. The SANS Cyber Reskilling Program Bahrain aims to educate new talent into the cybersecurity sector, and recruit Bahraini talent, supporting and elevating Bahrain Vision 2030 in line with the Bahrain National Cyber Security Strategy.

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State of Kuwait Sultanate of Oman-img

Thursday, 23 February–The Kuwait, US, and UK joint military drill named “Liberation 2023”, held at the military base of Adare’e, Kuwait, in preparation for Kuwait’s 62nd National Day and 32nd Liberation Day on 25 and 26 February, concluded in the presence of numerous Kuwaiti Army senior officers, UK Ambassador, Belinda Lewis, and US Chargé d’Affaires, Jim Holtsnider. According to Kuwait’s General Staff of the Armed Forces, the drill aimed to develop a joint planning, boost combat readiness and enhance joint military cooperation between the Kuwaiti, US and British armed forces.

Tuesday, 28 February–The Kuwait Air Force Air Bridge delivered 40 tons of tents, blankets, and medical supplies to southern Turkïye and Syria to help local communities face the repercussions of the earthquake disaster. Kuwait Red Crescent Society’s Deputy Chairman, Anwar Al-Hassawi, stated that Kuwait is keen to support countries that are exposed to disasters and tribulations.

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Sultanate of Oman Sultanate of Oman-img

Sunday, 26 February–Oman and the Vatican announced the establishment of full diplomatic relations, with an Embassy of the Holy See to be set up in Muscat. The move, announced in a joint statement, is part of the widening of relations between the Vatican and the Gulf states in a bid to strengthen bilateral cooperation and mutual understanding.

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State of Qatar State of Qatar-img

Saturday, 25 February–Qatar’s Chairperson of the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC), Maryam bint Abdullah Al-Attiyah, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Turkïye’s Chairperson of the Human Rights and Equality Institution, Muharrem Kilic. The MoU aims to enhance cooperation in spreading humanitarian ideas, as well as strengthening both sides’ national legislative frameworks in accordance with international agreements, participating in training programs, carrying out joint media and awareness activities of common interest, and enhancing coordination between the two parties to facilitate the implementation of international obligations in the field of human rights.

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Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Kingdom of Saudi Arabia-img

Wednesday, 1 March–Saudi Arabia’s Ports Authority, Mawani, announced the addition of King Abdulaziz Port to the newly launched India-Saudi-Iraq shipping service. The move aims to empower importers and exporters with best-in-class service and maritime connectivity to enable the Gulf country to establish itself as the world’s leading logistics destination.

Thursday, 2 March—Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud ordered 11 March of each year to be celebrated as the National Flag Day, marking an anniversary of the adoption of the flag’s design in 1937 by Saudi Arabia’s first King, Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al-Saud, and celebrating the flag’s role in shaping the Saudi national identity.

United Arab Emirates-img

United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates-img

Friday, 24 February–The Unit 3 of Abu Dhabi’s Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant started commercial operations, adding 1,400 megawatts of clean electricity capacity to the national grid. Once Barakah will be fully operational, it will supply about 25% of the UAE’s electricity needs.

Saturday, 25 February–Baynouna Solar Energy Company, a joint venture between Abu Dhabi’s clean energy company, Masdar, and the Finnish investment and asset management group, Taaleri, started operating Jordan’s largest clean energy project with a total capacity of 200 megawatts. The Baynouna Solar Park will produce over 560 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of power annually in a bid to support Jordan’s energy security and economic growth while promoting its climate targets.

The EU Corner

Saturday, 25 February—As part of its 10th package of sanctions against Russia, the EU listed seven Iranian entities and four individuals involved in producing and supplying drones used in the war in Ukraine to Russia. The list includes the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force and IRGC Research and Self-Sufficiency Jihad Organisation, among others.

Monday, 27 February—Brussels hosted the 31st session of the EU-GCC Joint Cooperation Committee, which focused on boosting cooperation between the two regions in line with the ‘Partnership for the Gulf,’ notably in trade and investment, energy, climate change, education and research, humanitarian aid, maritime and cyber security, counter-terrorism, combating violent extremism, and digital transformation. The event was attended by the GCC officials, GCC countries’ Ambassadors as well as some representatives from Foreign Ministries.

Monday, 27 February—The GCC Assistant Secretary for Political Affairs and Negotiations, Abdulaziz Hamad Aluwaisheg, met with Senior Coordinator for the EU’s Maritime Presence in the North-West Indian Ocean (NWIO), Ambassador Michael Pulch, to review ways to strengthen regional maritime security, on the sidelines of the 31st session of the EU-GCC Joint Cooperation Committee in Brussels.

Key official visits

Friday, 24 February–The UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, held a meeting with Algeria’s Minister of Industry, Ahmed Zeghdar, in Abu Dhabi. The meeting aimed to enhance bilateral cooperation in the economic, environmental, industrial and commercial fields. The two ministers also exchanged opinions on the international situation and on ways to address common challenges.

Sunday, 26 February–The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, met with Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, in Kyiv. It was the first visit of a Saudi Foreign Minister to Ukraine since the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations. During the talks, President Zelenskyy thanked Saudi Arabia for supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and both parties emphasised the importance of Riyadh’s support for the Ukrainian Peace Formula as well as its participation in Ukraine’s post-war recovery and in various investment, agricultural and energy projects.

Monday, 27 February–Qatar’s Minister of Justice, Masoud bin Mohammed Al-Amri, met with Italy’s First President of the Supreme Court of Cassation, Pietro Curzio and his accompanying delegation to discuss legal cooperation between the two countries and ways to enhance it in various fields.

Monday, 27 February–Oman and India held their 12th session of political consultations, in Muscat. The two sides, represented by Oman’s Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Diplomatic Affairs, Khalifa bin Ali Al-Harthy, and India’s Undersecretary of the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Consular Affairs, Awsaf Saeed, explored opportunities for trade and investment cooperation.

Monday, 27 February–Saudi Arabia and Croatia agreed to establish a joint business council, during a meeting between Croatia’s former President, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, and the President of the Saudi Chambers, Hasan Bin Mujeb Al-Huwaizi, in Riyadh. The council will enhance economic cooperation and facilitate interaction between the business sectors of the two countries. The meeting also explored ways to boost cooperation in the fields of renewable energy, transport, infrastructure, tourism and real estate.

Monday, 27 February—Qatar and Egypt agreed to boost relations and investments to establish trade partnerships during the visit of Egypt’s Prime Minister, Mostafa Madbouly, to Qatar, the first such visit in almost a decade. On the occasion, Madbouly held talks with Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and Qatari business representatives, among others. Three memoranda of understanding were signed with several Qatari companies to enhance cooperation with the private sector in healthcare service provision.

Tuesday, 28 February–Tunisia’s President, Kais Saied, received Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al-Thani, at the Presidential Palace of Carthage in Tunis. During the meeting, both sides affirmed their government’s aspiration to develop joint cooperation and enhance relations in economy, energy, health, labour field, sports, information technology and tourism, among other issues.

Tuesday, 28 February–The Minister of State and Chairman of Qatar Charity, Hamad bin Nasser bin Jassim Al-Thani, and the President and Principal of King’s College London Professor, Shitij Kapur, signed the Letter of Intent to strengthen health systems and improve the quality of healthcare in fragile settings.

Wednesday, 1 March–Oman’s Environment Authority and the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment held an official session of talks in Muscat. The meeting aimed to enhance joint cooperation in various environmental issues, particularly the fight against plastic pollution and increasing the use of renewable energy. Oman and the UAE were represented by Chairman of the Environment Authority Abdullah Ali Al-Amri and by Minister of Climate Change Maryam Mohammad Al-Mheiri, respectively.

Wednesday, 1 March—The UK Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace, arrived in Riyadh for talks with Saudi Arabia’s Defence Minister, Prince Khalid bin Salman Al-Saud, in which they discussed ways to strengthen bilateral military and defence cooperation. Saudi Arabia signed a declaration of intent to participate in the Future Combat Air System programme (FCAS) — a European combat system of systems under development by Dassault Aviation, Airbus and Indra Sistemas, which will include swarming drones and a New Generation Fighter jet — to boost the country’s defence capabilities through a comprehensive partnership that includes joint production and research and development projects for future air systems.