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The Euro-Gulf Monitor 3 – 9 February 2023

BY Veronica Stigliani & Elen'Alba Vitiello

5 Top Points

  1. France, India, and the UAE established a trilateral cooperation initiative.
  2. Bahrain and Qatar held talks in Riyadh to resolve issues and resume cooperation.
  3. The UAE President, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, received Belarus’ President, Alexander Lukashenko, in Abu Dhabi.
  4. Saudi Arabia will invest more than €8 billion in its technology sector as part of its ambition to boost digital transformation.
  5. Finland seeks to strengthen ties with Qatar amid Embassy opening in Doha.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Al-Fateh Grand Mosque in Bahrain

Kingdom of Bahrain ​ Kingdom of Bahrain-img

Wednesday, 8 February—Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa issued directives to provide urgent humanitarian relief aid to the earthquake-hit areas in Türkiye and Syria and launched a national donation campaign. Similarly, all other GCC countries offered condolences and dispatched urgent humanitarian aid and personnel to southeast Türkiye and northern Syria.

kuwait-img

State of Kuwait Sultanate of Oman-img

Wednesday, 8 February–The third edition of the Kuwait International Technology Expo, the country’s largest technology event of its kind, kicked off at the International Fairgrounds in Mishref, sponsored by Zain, Kuwait’s main provider of digital services, and BNK Automotive. The event gathered over 80 local and international companies from the technology and telecom sectors as well as government institutions.

oman-img

Sultanate of Oman Sultanate of Oman-img

Wednesday, 8 February–Oman LNG signed its first liquefied natural gas (LNG) term deal with a Chinese company. Under the terms of the agreement, Oman LNG agreed to supply the China International United Petroleum and Chemical Company (UNIPEC), the trading arm of Sinopec, with 1 million metric tonnes of LNG annually for four years starting from 2025.

qatar-img

State of Qatar State of Qatar-img

Monday, 6 February—Paris hosted a meeting of officials from Egypt, France, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the US to discus Lebanon’s political and economic crises. It was the first time Doha participated in this meeting. It comes a week after QatarEnergy replaced a Russian company in an international consortium, which includes the French TotalEnergies and Italy’s ENI, that will search for gas in Lebanon’s Mediterranean waters.

Saudi-arabia-img

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Kingdom of Saudi Arabia-img

Monday, 6 February–Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Abdullah Al-Sawaha, announced the signing of investment agreements in Saudi technology sector worth more than 8 billion EUR during the first day of the LEAP23 event. It includes Microsoft’s 2 billion EUR investment to develop a super-wide cloud, Oracle’s 1.5 billion EUR investment to establish a new cloud region, and Huawei’s 370 million EUR investment to offer cloud services in Saudi Arabia.

United Arab Emirates-img

United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates-img

Sunday, 5 February–The UAE, France, and India announced the establishment of a trilateral cooperation to implement projects in various fields, including energy and environmental protection. The three countries agreed to pursue alignment of their respective economic, technological, and social policies in order to comply with the objectives of the Paris Agreement, and to strengthen exchanges of views on emerging threats from infectious diseases. They will also increase exchanges between relevant academic and research institutions and efforts to promote innovation projects and technology transfers.

Tuesday, 7 February–The Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, announced a UAE Federal Cabinet reshuffle. Among the changes, the previous Minister of State for Youth, Shamma Al-Mazrui, was appointed as Minister of Community Development, the UAE’s UNESCO delegate, Salem Al-Qassimi, was named Minister of Culture and Youth, and Secretary General of the Council of Ministers, Maryam Al-Hammadi, was appointed as Minister of State. Omar bin Sultan Al-Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, became also Director-General of the Prime Minister’s Office.

The EU Corner

Saturday, 4 February–The EU and the international G7+ Price Cap Coalition adopted further price caps for seaborne Russian petroleum products. According to the EU, this decision will hit Russia’s revenues harder, reduce its ability to wage war in Ukraine, and it will help stabilise global energy markets.

Monday, 6 February–The European Union provided €10 millions EUR to the Palestinian Authority to help pay the January salaries of its civil servants, in particular in the health sector and pensions, as it continues to face a challenging fiscal situation.

Wednesday, 8 February—The second annual EU-Bahrain Conference on Freedom of Religion and Belief will be held between 2 and 4 May 2023. It was announced by Betsy Mathieson, Founder of This is Bahrain and Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees of the King Hamad Global Center for Peaceful Coexistence, during a session organised by the King Hamad Global Center for Peaceful Coexistence and This is Bahrain in the EU Parliament in Brussels, which also called for the establishment of a joint EU-Bahrain youth action committee.

Wednesday, 8 February–Following this week’s earthquake in Kahramanmaras, Türkiye, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the Prime Minister of Sweden, Ulf Kristersson, announced they will host a Donors’ Conference with the Turkish authorities in March, to mobilise funds from the international community in support for the people of Türkiye and Syria.

Key official visits

Friday, 3 February–The UAE President, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, received the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, in Abu Dhabi, to discuss bilateral relations and ways to strengthen cooperation. The meeting was attended by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Presidential Court, Mansour bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Deputy Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council, Hazza bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, Suhail Al-Mazrouei, and Secretary General of the Supreme Council for National Security, Ali Al-Shamsi.

Friday, 3 February–The UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, met with France’s Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna, and her accompanying delegation in Abu Dhabi. During the meeting, they discussed the regional and international situation as well as ways to enhance UAE-France cooperation, especially in the energy sector.

Friday, 3 February–Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, undertook a regional tour to Iraq, Kuwait and Oman. In Baghdad, he met with his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein to discuss efforts to enhance bilateral cooperation and regional stability. In Kuwait, he reviewed Saudi-Kuwaiti relations with Foreign Minister, Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. In Muscat, he discussed regional and international developments with his Omani counterpart, Badr bin Hamad Al-Busaidi. They agreed to coordinate on addressing regional crises and to hold the first Oman-Saudi Coordination Council meeting in 2023.

Friday, 3 February–UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, held a meeting with British Shadow Foreign Secretary and Member of Parliament, David Lammy, in Abu Dhabi. The meeting was attended by the UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation, Reem bint Ibrahim Al-Hashemy, among other officials, and focused on strengthening cooperation between the UAE and the United Kingdom.

Sunday, 5 February–Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Mansour Al-Otaibi, held talks with the visiting Chairman of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Vladimir Platonov, and his accompanying delegation, to discuss Russia-Kuwaiti ties.

Sunday, 5 February–Finland’s Minister of Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade, Ville Skinnari, travelled to Qatar to attend the official opening of Finland’s Embassy in Doha as the two countries seek boost cooperation in various fields, including trade, investment, tourism, education, technology and renewable energy. On the occasion, Skinnari announced the establishment of the Qatar-Finland Business Council, welcomed the planned opening of Qatar’s Embassy in Helsinki, and held talks with representatives of the Qatar Chamber, the Qatar Fund for Development and the Qatari Businessmen Association, among others.

Monday, 6 February–The Oman-Britain Strategic Consultative Group meeting took place in Muscat. The meeting, chaired by Oman’s Secretary General of the Ministry of Finance, Nasser Khamis Al-Jashmi, and by the UK Minister of State for Investment, Gerry Grimstone, aimed to enhance cooperation in the fields of finance, business and renewable energy sectors.

Monday, 6 February–The Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Jassem Mohamed Al-Budaiwi, met with United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, to discus the ongoing conflict in Yemen and ways to reach a political solution, stressing the importance of renewing truce and continuing humanitarian aid supply to the affected areas.

Wednesday, 8 February–The GCC General Secretariat in Riyadh hosted talks between Bahraini and Qatari officials aiming to resume bilateral discussions and resolve outstanding issues and, including direct flights between the two countries. The delegations were led by Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, and Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani.