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The Euro-Gulf Monitor 25 February – 3 March 2022

BY Arnold Koka & Veronica Stigliani

5 Top Points

  1. All six GCC countries voted in favour of the UN General Assembly resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  2. Saudi Arabia and France agreed on a mechanism to provide humanitarian aid to Lebanon.
  3. Bahrain and the US held their Second Strategic Dialogue in Washington.
  4. The UN Security Council labelled the Houthis as a terrorist group and extended an arms embargo to the entire group.
  5. Saudi Arabia and Cyprus plan to strengthen economic and energy cooperation.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Kingdom of Bahrain
Monday, 28 February–Bahrain and the US held their Second Strategic Dialogue, focusing on regional security, economic cooperation, expanding the Abraham Accords and human rights. On the occasion, Bahrain’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, travelled to Washington DC, where he met with US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken.

Wednesday, 2 March–All six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries voted in favour of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) non-binding resolution, which condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The resolution got the necessary two-thirds majority to pass—141 states voted in favour of the motion, 5 against and 35 abstained.

State of Kuwait
Monday, 28 February–Kuwait and Qatar pledged to invest in several mega projects in Algeria, notably in railways, agriculture, urban planning and property market sectors, according to Algerian President, Abdelmadjid Tebboune. Details on the timetable or the financial volume of the plans were not disclosed.

Sultanate of Oman
Wednesday, 2 March–Oman’s Ministry of Energy and Minerals is in negotiations with two energy giants, the British Shell and the French TotalEnergies, over a commercial agreement for the development of the Block 11, adjacent to the gas-rich Block 10. Until the end of March, Oman is also collecting bids for three oil and gas blocks, which will be awarded this year as the country seeks to increase its energy exploration and production.

State of Qatar
Wednesday, 2 March–QatarEnergy signed a cooperation agreement with Namibia’s energy company, NAMCOR, for support and development of Namibia’s upstream oil and gas sector. As part of the deal, the two companies will also cooperate on finding investment opportunities in the African country’s oil and gas areas. The deal was signed during the visit of Namibia’s President, Hage Geingob, to Doha, where he was received by Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Sunday, 27 February–Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister, Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, announced that the Kingdom’s energy giant, Saudi Aramco, discovered five conventional and unconventional natural gas fields. The fields listed were Shadoon in the central region, Shehab and Shurfa in the south-east, Umm Khansar near the northern border with Iraq, and Samna in the east. The discovery comes as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has raised tensions in the global energy market over fears of gas supplies’ disruption.

United Arab Emirates
Monday, 28 February–The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) approved the resolution proposed by the UAE — currently a UNSC non-permanent member — to extend an arms embargo targeting several leaders of the Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen to the entire group. The UNSC resolution also labelled the Houthis as a ‘terrorist group’ for the first time, condemning the recent drone and ballistic missiles attacks on Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The EU Corner

Monday, 28 February—Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, sent a message to the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, regarding ways to advance bilateral relations.

Tuesday, 1 March‒The EU Delegation to Saudi Arabia organised an EU-GCC session to discuss the Ukrainian and the Yemeni crises. The meeting, chaired by the Head of the EU Delegation to Saudi Arabia, Patrick Simonnet, gathered Ambassadors from EU countries and Norway, and was attended by the Assistant Secretary-General for Political & Negotiation Affairs of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Abdel-Aziz Abu Hamad Aluwaisheg.

Key Official Visits

Monday, 28 February–Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, visited Paris, where he met with his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian. They reviewed Saudi-French relations and discussed the Russian invasion of Ukraine, developments in Yemen, the Iranian nuclear file as well as Lebanon’s economic crisis. The two ministers also agreed to establish a joint mechanism to provide financial support for humanitarian projects in Lebanon.

Monday, 28 February–Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defence Minister, Khalid bin Salman Al-Saud, met with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, in Abu Dhabi. They discussed Saudi-Emirati strategic cooperation, regional security and collaboration in military affairs.

Tuesday, 1 March–President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, in Riyadh. They discussed developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus-Turkish tensions, developments in Ukraine, and EU-Saudi relations. The talks also covered further Saudi-Cypriot cooperation in economy and energy. During the President’s visit, Cyprus’ Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Energy, Trade and Industry held talks with their Saudi counterparts.

Wednesday, 2 March–Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa flew to Riyadh for a meeting with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud. They discussed recent developments regarding international security, with Bahrain’s King highlighting Saudi Arabia’s importance for the Gulf stability.

Wednesday, 2 March– Oman’s Interior Minister, Hamoud Faisal Al-Busaidi, presided over the 39th session of the Council of the Arab Interior Ministers, held in Tunisia. During the meeting, Arab Interior Ministers discussed regional cooperation in combating illicit trafficking of narcotics, countering terrorism as well as boosting regional cybersecurity.

Wednesday, 2 March–Following calls with the French President Macron and British Prime Minister Johnson, Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, held a phone call with Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, in which they discussed the developments in Ukraine, the OPEC+ agreement and the need to maintain the energy market stability. Mohammed bin Zayed called for a peaceful solution that would ensure the interests and national security of all parties.

Thursday, 3 March—During the 2nd UAE-Latvia Joint Economic Committee session in Dubai, the UAE and Latvia agreed on economic cooperation programmes targeting six fields: trade and investment, innovation and advanced technology, transportation and logistics, agriculture, food, education, and science. The meeting was co-chaired by Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Trade, and Raymonds Lapins, Latvia’s Deputy Minister of State at the Ministry of Economy.