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The Euro-Gulf Monitor 27 January – 2 February 2023

BY Veronica Stigliani & Elen'Alba Vitiello

5 Top Points

  1. Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs travelled to Turkey and Iran.
  2. Oman LNG signed an agreement to supply LNG to the Turkish Botas Petroleum Pipeline Corporation (Botas) from 2025.
  3. The European Commission appointed Marion Lalisse as its new Coordinator on combating anti-Muslim hatred.
  4. France seeks to strengthen bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
  5. QatarEnergy joined Italy’s Eni and France’s TotalEnergies for natural gas exploration in Lebanon’s waters.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Al-Fateh Grand Mosque in Bahrain

Kingdom of Bahrain ​ Kingdom of Bahrain-img

Friday, 27 January‒The Bahrain Declaration in Europe promoting inter-religious dialogue and peaceful co-existence was inaugurated during a ceremony hosted by the King Hamad Global Centre for Peaceful Coexistence in Rome, Italy. It was unveiled in the presence of diplomats and officials, in addition to 100 students enrolled in the King Hamad Chair for Interfaith Dialogue and Peaceful Coexistence, which was launched at Sapienza University in 2018. Addressing the ceremony, Bahrain’s Ambassador to Italy, Nasser Mohammed Al-Balouchi, said that the launch of the Declaration from Italy represents a defining moment for promoting all forms of peaceful coexistence, as stated in the document.

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State of Kuwait Sultanate of Oman-img

Monday, 30 January‒Kuwait’s Ambassador to Washington and former Ambassador to the EU and NATO, Jassim Al-Budaiwi, was named as the new Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Al-Budaiwi, who will succeed Nayef Al-Hajraf, will be the third GCC Secretary General from Kuwait. Leaders of the GCC had agreed in December that Kuwait would retain the position of Secretary General of the Council for a second consecutive term.

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Sultanate of Oman Sultanate of Oman-img

Monday, 30 January‒Oman LNG signed an agreement with Turkish Botas Petroleum Pipeline Corporation (Botas) to supply Turkey with 1 million metric tonnes of LNG annually for ten years, starting from 2025. The accord will boost Oman’s position in the global LNG market, improving its reputation as a reliable and effective partner.

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State of Qatar State of Qatar-img

Sunday, 29 January‒The state-owned QatarEnergy signed an agreement with France’s TotalEnergies and Italy’s Eni to join the exploration for natural gas in Lebanon’s Mediterranean waters. Under the accord, 30% of the blocks 4 and 9 will be transferred to QatarEnergy. TotalEnergies and Eni will each retain a 35% interest in the blocks, and the consortium will start exploration as soon as possible in 2023.

Wednesday, 2 February‒Qatari Adviser to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Majed bin Mohamed Al-Ansari, announced that Qatar and Japan signed an official document to commence procedures for mutual exemption from entry visas for ordinary passport holders from the two countries, which will go into effect on 2 April 2023.

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Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Kingdom of Saudi Arabia-img

Monday, 30 January‒Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, spoke with Russian President, Vladimir Putin, to discuss the situation in Ukraine, and its repercussions for the energy global market. In particular, the two leaders discussed cooperation within the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries Plus (OPEC+) amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Tuesday, 31 January‒Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the launch of a new Stopover Visa that allows passengers to stay in the country for up to 96 hours. To make Saudi Arabia a more accessible destination, the visa is open to more countries than the tourist eVisa.

United Arab Emirates-img

United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates-img

Monday, 30 January‒Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, and Patrick Pouyanne, chairman and CEO of TotalEnergies, chaired in Abu Dhabi the first plenary meeting of the UAE-France High-Level Business Council. The meeting, which was attended by Bruno Le Maire, French Minister of Economy, Finance and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty, set the framework for a comprehensive approach to significantly broaden and deepen the UAE-France economic ties with an initial focus on Energy, Clean Energy and Climate Action, Transport & Logistics, Manufacturing, Technology, and bilateral Investments.

Monday, 30 January‒The United Arab Emirates successfully completed a demonstration flight powered by 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), as part of the global aviation industry’s decarbonisation efforts. The airline’s engineering team is also holding talks with European plane maker Airbus about plans for a similar SAF-powered test flight using its flagship A380 double-decker this year.

The EU Corner

Saturday, 27 January‒The EU-GCC Dialogue on Economic Diversification and the Delegation of the European Union to the UAE, released their summary report on Green Business in re-powering the European Union. EU Ambassador, Andrea Matteo Fontana, stated that the UAE and other GCC countries are important actors in securing energy supply, particularly in the transition period as well as in the longer-term sustainability context.

Monday, 30 January‒The EU and Oman hosted a joint conference on maritime security cooperation at the Omani Maritime Security Centre in Muscat, assessing the joint efforts to preserve freedom of navigation in the region. On the occasion, the Commander of Oman’s Royal Navy, Rear Admiral Saif bin Nasser Al-Rahbi, held talks with the Force Commander of the EU Naval Force – Operation ATALANTA, Commodore Nuno Cortes Lopes.

Tuesday, 31 January‒For the second consecutive year, the European Innovation Council (EIC) exhibited 20 EU-funded companies in advanced medical and healthcare technologies at the Dubai-hosted Arab Health and Conference (30 January-2 February), the largest gathering of healthcare and trade professionals in the Middle East and North Africa.

Wednesday, 1 February‒The European Commission appointed Marion Lalisse as its new Coordinator on combating anti-Muslim hatred. She previously served as Deputy EU Ambassador to Yemen, among others. In her new role, the Coordinator will be the main point of contact for organisations working in this field.

Key official visits

Monday, 30 January‒Sultan bin Ahmed Al-Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, and Patrick Pouyanne, Chairman and CEO of TotalEnergies, chaired the first meeting of the UAE-France High-Level Business Council in Abu Dhabi. The meeting, which was attended by Bruno Le Maire, French Minister of Economy, Finance and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty, established a framework to boost the UAE-France economic ties with an initial focus on energy and climate action, transport and logistics, manufacturing, technology, and bilateral investments. The two countries partnered on the decarbonisation industry, including clean hydrogen solutions for mobility, as part of the upcoming COP28 global climate summit.

Saturday, 28 January—Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, travelled to Turkey for a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The next day he flew to Tehran, where he met with with Iranian Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, to discuss developing Qatari-Iranian bilateral relations and the latest developments regarding the Nuclear Deal.

Wednesday, 1 February‒Bahrain Minister of Industry and Commerce, Abdulla bin Adel Fakhro, met with the President of Mouvement des Entreprises de France (MEDEF) and the Chairman of Fives Group, Frédéric Sanchez, in the presence of President of the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Jean Christophe Durand, as part of his official visit to the Kingdom of Bahrain. During the meeting, the minister praised the economic relations between Bahrain and France, crowned by joint economic agreements, praising the role of the French International Federation and the French Chamber.

Wednesday, 1 February‒Saudi Arabian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, member of the Council of Ministers, and Envoy for Climate Adel Al-Jubeir met with Swedish Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Petra Menander. They reviewed bilateral relations between the two countries, and topics of common interest

Wednesday, 2 February‒Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, received the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna, to discuss ways to enhance bilateral relations, as well as regional and international developments. Colonna noted that France seeks to strengthen relations with both Saudi Arabia and the UAE in light of growing instability in the wider region, pointing to Iran, Lebanon and Yemen among others.

Thursday, 2 February—Turkish Deputy Minister of National Defence, Mohsen Dara, held talks with the Chief of the Royal Saudi Staff, Lieutenant-General Fayyad Al-Ruwaili, in Riyadh. The talks focused on the strategic ties and cooperation between the two countries, notably in defence and military fields.