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The Euro-Gulf Monitor 28 April – 4 May 2023

BY Veronica Stigliani & Elen'Alba Vitiello

5 Top Points

  1. Qatar hosted a closed-door meeting of Special Envoys on Afghanistan, chaired by the UN Secretary-General.
  2. The Kuwaiti parliamentary elections are scheduled for 6 June 2023.
  3. EU High Representative reiterated support for the Arab Peace Initiative and the Abraham Accords during his meeting with Israel’s Foreign Minister.
  4. Manama hosted the 2nd Joint EU-Bahrain Conference on Freedom of Religion and Belief.
  5. UAE astronaut Sultan Al-Neyadi became the first Arab to perform a spacewalk.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Al-Fateh Grand Mosque in Bahrain

Kingdom of Bahrain ​ Kingdom of Bahrain-img

Monday, 1 May–Bahraini authorities have been in talks with Qatari authorities to resume direct flights between both countries, potentially starting from 15 May, as part of the efforts to resume diplomatic relations to decrease the intra-GCC tensions in line with the 2021 Al -Ula Declaration.

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State of Kuwait Sultanate of Oman-img

Wednesday, 3 May–The Kuwaiti Cabinet approved a draft decree calling for legislative elections on 6 June 2023. The move came during an extraordinary meeting, chaired by the Prime Minister, Ahmad Nawaf Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and two days after a royal decree dissolved the 2020 National Assembly, earlier reinstated by the Constitutional Court.

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Sultanate of Oman Sultanate of Oman-img

Monday, 1 May–Oman’s Environment Authority issued a regulation on the import and transit of hazardous and non-hazardous waste. The decision, which requires all companies and institutions importing waste to have specific licences, aims to prevent illegal movement and random dumping of waste, in order to reduce waste generation and to ensure that it is treated in a safe and secure manner.

qatar-img

State of Qatar State of Qatar-img

Tuesday, 2 May–Qatar hosted a closed-door meeting of Special Envoys on Afghanistan, chaired by Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres. The Envoys from the United States, China, Russia, major European aid donors, and Pakistan discussed ways to enhance stability and multilateral action in Afghanistan, as well as challenges facing humanitarian work and impeding aid from reaching the Afghan people.

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Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Kingdom of Saudi Arabia-img

Sunday, 30 April–Saudi Arabia will grant free visas for all nationals who have been evacuated from Sudan. The move is part of the country’s efforts to help the Sudanese people amid the ongoing crisis, with Riyadh having evacuated as many as 5,013 people belonging to 100 countries from Sudan since the beginning of the military operations.

United Arab Emirates-img

United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates-img

Friday, 28 April–UAE-based Monarch Airplane Manufacturing signed an agreement with Chinese drone technology company, EHang Holdings, to set up an aircraft manufacturing plant in Abu Dhabi. The plant will be the first facility in the Middle East to manufacture and operate sustainable electric-powered aircraft and drones for passengers and cargo transport. The companies will also set up a command-and-control centre to manage the urban air mobility autonomously and build the infrastructure to operate electric aircraft and drones.

Friday, 28 April–UAE astronaut, Sultan Al-Neyadi, became the first Arab to perform a spacewalk. He completed a six-and-a-half hour spacewalk, after exiting the International Space Station (ISS) with his US colleague, Stephen Bowen, to carry out two tasks during a maintenance assignment, including preparing a structure on the station’s exterior for a future solar array installation.

Tuesday, 2 May–Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, ordered the sending of humanitarian aid to Sudan to help displaced citizens affected by the recent crisis. The aid consisted of food and ration parcels, delivered through the Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI).

The EU Corner

Friday, 28 April–Deputy Director General of the EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO), Michael Koehler, met with Kuwait’s Ambassador to Belgium, and Head of the Mission to the European Union and NATO, Nawaf Alenezi, to discuss EU-Kuwaiti cooperation and coordination in responding to various international humanitarian crises.

Tuesday, 2 May–The 2nd Joint EU-Bahrain Conference on Freedom of Religion and Belief was hosted in Manama, within the framework of ‘political dialogue, cooperation and enhanced communication between the European Union and the GCC countries.’ The event gathered policy and decision makers from Bahrain, the European Union and civil society representatives.

Tuesday, 2 May–The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, met with Foreign Minister of Israel, Eli Cohen, in Brussels, to discuss bilateral relations, as well as regional issues. HRVP Borrell invited Minister Cohen to engage in the work the EU is doing together with Saudi Arabia and other Arab States on peace efforts through the Arab Peace Initiative. Moreover, the EU supports the Abraham Accords and is ready to further explore initiatives.

Tuesday, 2 May–Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS), Stefano Sannino, received Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador and Head of the Mission to the EU, Haifa Al-Jedea, to discuss topics of mutual interest, regional cooperation, and continued EU-Saudi partnership.

Key official visits

Thursday, 27 April–Belgium and the UAE discussed international judicial cooperation during a meeting between the visiting Belgian delegation of the Ministry of Justice and UAE’s Assistant Undersecretary of the Legal Affairs Sector, Abdul Rahman Murad Albaloushi.

Friday, 28 April–Bahrain’s Representative for Humanitarian Work and Youth Affairs, Nasser bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, met with former Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, to continue to strengthen relations between both countries across various fields and topics of common interest.

Saturday, 29 April–As part of the third Kuwait-China cooperation session, Kuwait’s Assistant Foreign Minister for Asian Affairs, Sameeh Hayat, held talks with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister, Deng Li, and the Minister’s Assistant for West Asia and North Africa, Wang Di in Beijing. They discussed cooperation in the commercial, economic, cultural, educational, renewable energy, and industry sector. The Kuwaiti representative delivered a written letter from Foreign Minister, Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, addressed to China’s Foreign Minister, Qin Gang, regarding the bolstering of strategic bilateral ties.

Sunday, 30 April–Oman’s Minister of Heritage and Tourism, Salim Mohammed Al-Mahrouqi, received Palestine’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Rula Maayah, in Muscat. The meeting reviewed areas of cooperation in heritage and tourism sectors, exploring ways to deepen collaboration in these fields.

Sunday, 30 April–Bahrain’s Supreme Council for Women (SCW) Secretary General, Hala Al-Ansari, received the President of the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Csaba Korosi, in Manama. The meeting focused on Bahrain’s progress in implementing gender balance and equality and on ways to promote Bahrain’s plans, initiatives and programmes through the SCW to ensure the active participation of women in achieving sustainable development.

Sunday, 30 April–Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, received the Special Envoy of Sudan’s Transitional Sovereign Council, Dafallah Al-Haj Ali, in Riyadh. The meeting, which was attended by the Assistant Minister of State for African Countries Affairs, Sami Al-Saleh, focused on the ongoing crisis in Sudan and on ways to stop all forms of military escalation.

Sunday, 30 April–Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, met with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, Abdoulaye Bathily. They discussed ways to advance the political process and reviewed the UN efforts to resolve the Libyan crisis.

Monday, 1 May–Qatar’s Minister of State for International Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lolwah bint Rashid Al-Khater, met with the visiting Director of the Asia Department at the Ministry for Europe and Foreign affairs of France, Benoit Guidee. They discussed bilateral cooperation between both countries, as well as the humanitarian, political and security situations in Afghanistan.

Monday, 1 May–Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources, Bandar Al-Khorayef, visited Switzerland to review opportunities in industry and mining and attract investments to Saudi Arabia. The visit aimed to develop new channels of communication for investors in the two countries and to diversify the economic base of exchanges.

Monday, 1 May–Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Mansour Al-Otaibi, received the Swiss Envoy to the Middle East and North Africa, Wolfgang Amadeus Bruelhart. They discussed bilateral relations and ways to bolster them, as well as the latest regional and international developments.

Monday, 1 May–Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, participated in the Foreign Ministerial Meeting on Syria in Amman, together with his counterparts from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Syria. They discussed efforts to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis. After the meeting, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister held a phone call with Kuwait’s Foreign Minister, Salem Abdullah Al-Sabah, to discuss the results of the Amman consultative meeting.

Tuesday, 2 May–The US Special Envoy for Yemen, Tim Lenderking, visited Oman and Saudi Arabia to discuss efforts to further ongoing peace talks on the Yemen conflict. During the regional tour, Lenderking met with Yemeni, Omani, Saudi and international partners to secure a new agreement for peace.

Tuesday, 2 May–Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani, held talks with the visiting UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, focused on the political developments in Afghanistan and the UN-Qatar cooperation.

Wednesday, 3 May–The UAE President, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, received Vietnam’s Vice President, Vo Thi Anh Xuan, in Abu Dhabi. The meeting aimed to review bilateral ties and future joint work in investment, sustainability, economic development and food security. The two sides also discussed the upcoming COP28 climate conference, which is to be held in the UAE later this year.