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The Euro-Gulf Monitor 29 September – 5 October 2023

BY Elen'Alba Vitiello

5 Top Points

  1. Saudi Arabia bids to host FIFA World Cup 2034.
  2. Qatar began work on the North Field Expansion that will significantly boost its LNG production capacity.
  3. The 27th EU-GCC Joint Council and Ministerial Meeting will be held in Oman.
  4. The GCC and Pakistan signed a preliminary Free Trade Agreement.
  5. The UAE hosted the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Al-Fateh Grand Mosque in Bahrain

Kingdom of Bahrain ​ Kingdom of Bahrain-img

Tuesday, 3 October–According to Bahrain’s Ministry of Finance and National Economy, the country recorded a 2% growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the second quarter of 2023, compared to last year. The ministry disclosed that the growth was fuelled by a rise in the non-oil sector, with transportation and communication activities topping the ranking, followed by real estate and business activities.

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State of Kuwait Sultanate of Oman-img

Wednesday, 4 October–In line with the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA) agreement, Kuwait affirmed its intention to achieve a full Arab economic and industrial integration by activating the provision of cumulation, which allows the members to capitalise on crude materials available among GAFTA members instead of importing commodities from non-Arab countries.

Wednesday, 4 October–After the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court ruled the agreement regulating navigation in the Khor Abdullah waterway between Iraq and Kuwait as unconstitutional, 32 members of the Kuwaiti Parliament issued a statement criticising the ruling and insisting that the ruling defies international law and puts other Iraq-Kuwait agreements at risk.

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Sultanate of Oman Sultanate of Oman-img

Tuesday, 3 October–The Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) hosted the Omani-German Business Forum in Muscat. The forum, attended by a wide range of industries from the renewable energy, transportation and logistics, tourism, real estate, healthcare, petrochemicals sector, as well as the legal sector, aimed at fostering trade relations and expanding investment opportunities between Oman and Germany.

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State of Qatar State of Qatar-img

Wednesday, 4 October–Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, inaugurated the construction work on the North Field Expansion project, which will raise the country’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) production capacity from the current 77 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) to 126 MTPA by 2026.

Wednesday, 4 October–Turkiye’s Minister of Trade, Omer Bolat, announced that Qatar and Turkiye will enter into a Comprehensive Trade and Economic Agreement by the end of 2023. According to Qatar’s Chamber, the two countries’ bilateral trade volume reached QR8.1 billion (about €2 billion) in 2022, showing an 18% annual increase, making Turkiye one of Qatar’s most significant trading partners.

Saudi-arabia-img

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Kingdom of Saudi Arabia-img

Wednesday, 4 October–Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, announced the country’s intention to bid to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup. This comes after the Saudi national football team participated in six previous World Cup tournaments and as the country has successfully hosted over 50 international sporting events since 2018.

Wednesday, 4 October–As part of the Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia is expected to spend more than $175 billion (about €165 billion) annually on mega projects between 2025 and 2028, according to a report by McKinsey & Co, a global management consulting firm. The report further affirmed that, with about $1.3 trillion (about €1.2 trillion) of projects in the works, such as NEOM and the Red Sea resorts, Saudi Arabia is expected to spend $180 billion (about €171 billion) in 2026 and 2027. To help achieve its targets, the Kingdom has awarded $250 billion (about €237 billion) worth of construction contracts since 2016, and is launching a new airline and airport.

United Arab Emirates-img

United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates-img

Wednesday, 4 October–UAE’s Executive Director of the Sports Development Sector at the General Authority of Sports, Suhail Bin Butti Suhail Al-Maktoum, presented the country’s National Sports Strategy 2031, which seeks to create an influential, globally competitive sports sector, at the opening session of the Sport Industry Forum 2023 in Abu Dhabi.

Thursday, 5 October–The Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (ADIPEC) 2023, the world’s largest energy exhibition and conference, brought together over 40 ministers and hundreds of energy, finance, and technology experts. ADIPEC facilitates dialogue, critical cross-sector partnerships and game-changing solutions needed to advance decarbonisation and future-proof energy systems.

The EU Corner

Tuesday, 3 October–The European Union Special Representative for the Gulf Region, Luigi Di Maio, arrived in Kuwait on his first official visit in this capacity. He is planned to meet Kuwait’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jarrah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, National Assembly Speaker, Ahmed Abdulaziz Al-Sadoun, as well as the Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development, Khaled A Mahdi, and the Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, Nawaf Saud Al-Sabah. The discussions will focus on issues such as regional security, energy, climate change, green and digital transition, trade and investment.

Tuesday, 3 October–The European Union Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman, Christophe Farnaud, met with the Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary-General, Jassem Albudaiwi, in Riyadh, to discuss the agenda of the 27th EU-GCC Joint Ministerial Meeting, scheduled to take place from 9 to 10 October 2023 in Muscat, Oman. Both sides expressed their determination to deepen EU-GCC cooperation in all fields. The EU Ambassador also met with Saudi Arabian Minister of Investment, Khalid Al-Falih, to expand EU-Saudi Arabia investment opportunities and economic cooperation.

Wednesday, 4 October–The new European Union Ambassador to the UAE, Lucie Berger, presented her credentials to UAE’s President, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

Thursday, 5 October–The European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, will travel to Oman from 8 to 11 October, to co-chair the 27th EU-GCC Joint Council. The joint meeting aims to strengthen the EU-GCC partnership and will take stock of the implementation of the EU-GCC Joint Action Plan, adopted in February 2022. On the sidelines of the meeting, Josep Borrell will have bilateral meetings with the Foreign Ministers from the individual GCC countries.

Key official visits

Friday, 29 September–President of Kuwait’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Mohammad Jassem Al-Sagre, flew to Paris, to attend the Kuwaiti-French Friendship Committee joint meeting. The committee aims to boost bilateral relations and cooperation in the political, economic, cultural and technology fields.

Friday, 29 September–The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary-General, Jassem Mohamed Albudaiwi, and Pakistan’s Trade Minister, Gohar Ejaz, met in Riyadh, to sign a preliminary GCC-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement (FTA), in recognition of the importance of strengthening trade relations and economic cooperation.

Sunday, 1 October–On the sidelines of the joint Bahrain-Jordan Security Committee meeting in Manama, Bahrain’s Minister of Interior, Rashid bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa, met with Jordanian Director of Public Security, Obeidallah Maaitah. The two sides discussed security cooperation and ways to exchange expertise in facing security challenges.

Sunday, 1 October–Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, met with Yemen’s Prime Minister, Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed, in Doha. During the meeting, they reaffirmed that the only way to solve the Yemeni crisis, is the negotiation among Yemeni people based on the outcomes of the national dialogue, the GCC Initiative and the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Tuesday, 3 October–Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, met with French President Advisor on North Africa and the Middle East, Patrick Durel, who is visiting the country. They discussed cooperation relations and ways to support and enhance them, as well as the latest developments in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Palestinian cause, and the current crisis in Lebanon.

Wednesday, 4 October–Italian Deputy Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Maria Tripodi, visited Kuwait and Qatar. In Kuwait, she met with Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Jarrah Jaber Al-Sabah, in Kuwait. During the meeting, they discussed Italian-Kuwaiti relations. In Doha, she met with Qatar’s Minister of State for International Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lolwah bint Rashid Al-Khater. They discussed cooperation relations, as well as the results of the International Conference on Development and Migration that took place in Rome in July, to address irregular migration flows.

Wednesday, 4 October–Kuwait’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jarrah Jaber Al-Sabah, and the Czech Republic’s State Secretary at the Foreign Ministry, Radek Rubes, chaired the 4th round of bilateral political consultations in Kuwait, aiming to discuss bilateral ties, as well as regional and international developments.

Wednesday, 4 October–Oman’s Foreign Minister, Badr bin Hamad Albusaidi, met with the United Nations’ Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg. During the meeting, they discussed developments in Yemen, and the efforts made to reach a comprehensive and peaceful solution to achieve security and stability in the region.

Thursday, 5 October–Austria’s Minister of Labour and Economy, Martin Kocher, held a meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Economy and Planning, Faisal bin Fadhil Alibrahim, who is on an official visit in Vienna, to discuss ways to enhance economic cooperation. The Saudi Minister also participated in a roundtable discussion with the Federation of Austrian Industries.

Thursday, 5 October–Qatar’s Minister of State and Chairman of Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZ), Ahmad bin Mohammed Al-Sayed, met with the Advisor of the Iranian President and the Secretary of the Supreme Council of Free Commercial-Industrial and Special Economic Zones of Iran, Hojatullah Abdul Maliki, and his accompanying delegation. During the meeting, they discussed means of cooperation and exchanged expertise in the investment and free zones sector.