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The Euro-Gulf Monitor 3 – 9 March 2023

BY Veronica Stigliani & Elen'Alba Vitiello

5 Top Points

  1. Italy and the UAE seek closer cooperation during Italian Prime Minister’s visit to Abu Dhabi.
  2. Saudi Arabia expressed keenness to mediate in the Russia-Ukraine war.
  3. Ukraine and the UAE plan to intensify economic and investment cooperation.
  4. Polish Prime Minister visited Saudi Arabia to discuss energy and food security cooperation.
  5. Iran and Oman agreed to intensify oil production cooperation.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Al-Fateh Grand Mosque in Bahrain

Kingdom of Bahrain ​ Kingdom of Bahrain-img

Saturday, 4 March–Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) announced that the 2023 Formula 1 (F1) Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix will be its most sustainable race ever, reducing its impact on the planet and supporting F1’s 2030 net zero goal. BIC will build solar farms to use the renewable energy for the circuit and will upgrade its recycling facilities.

Saturday, 4 March–Bahrain is working on creating a web-based drone hub system to streamline the approval processes for drone services in the country. The system will be managed by the Aviation Safety and Security Directorate, and Aeronautical Licences Directorate.


State of Kuwait Sultanate of Oman-img

Sunday, 5 March—Ahmad Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah was reappointed as Kuwait’s Prime Minister and will be tasked with forming a new government. He was first appointed as Prime Minister in July 2022 after serving as Deputy Chief of the National Guards and First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior.


Sultanate of Oman Sultanate of Oman-img

Saturday, 4 March—Oman and Iran signed a Memorandum of Understanding on oil production cooperation, particularly regarding oil and gas fields, investment in petrochemical and refining sectors, and the export of oil products and petrochemicals. The move came during a meeting between Oman’s Minister of Energy and Minerals, Salim bin Nasser Al-Aufi, and Iran’s Minister of Oil, Javad Owji, in Tehran.


State of Qatar State of Qatar-img

Sunday, 5 March–Qatar hosted the 5th United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries.

Tuesday, 7 March—Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani appointed Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani as Qatar’s new Prime Minister, reshuffling the Cabinet and the Board of the Qatar Investment Authority. Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, who previously served as Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, replaced Khalid bin Khalifa Al-Thani, who held the position for nearly three years and remains the country’s Interior Minister.


Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Kingdom of Saudi Arabia-img

Friday, 3 March–Saudi Arabia and the Principality of Monaco agreed to establish full diplomatic relations.

Saturday, 4 March–Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power signed two agreements to build two solar plants in Uzbekistan with a generation capacity of 1.4 gigawatt (GW) and a 1 GW wind energy and battery storage project in Kazakhstan, worth arout $4 billion (USD)(about €3.7 million) in total.

Saturday, 4 March–Three Saudi Arabian planes delivered nearly 200 tonnes of relief aid to Ukraine via Poland, particularly shelter materials, electric generators, and medical supplies, as part of a $400 million humanitarian aid agreement with Kyiv.

Sunday, 5 March–King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud appointed Salman bin Youssef Al-Dossari as Saudi Arabia’s new Minister of Media and Ibrahim Mohammed Al-Sultan as Minister of State and a Member of the Cabinet. King Salman also appointed several officials, including Hammoud bin Badah Al-Muraikhi as Adviser at the Royal Court and Muhammad bin Amer Al-Harbi as Deputy Chief of General Intelligence.

United Arab Emirates-img

United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates-img

Monday, 6 March–The newly appointed UAE ministers were sworn in, including the Minister of Community Development, Shamma Al-Mazrui, the Minister of Culture and Youth, Salem bin Khalid Al-Qassimi, the Minister of State and Secretary-General of the UAE Cabinet, Maryam Al-Hammadi, and the Minister of State, Jabr Ghanem Al-Suwaidi.

The EU Corner

Sunday, 5 March—The Vice President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, and the EU Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, met with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy, Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, in Riyadh. The meeting reviewed EU-Saudi energy cooperation, notably in renewables, hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, and the Saudi Green Initiative and the Green Middle East Initiative.

Tuesday, 7 March–The European Commission is revising its policies on employee travel costs in response to the corruption allegations against Henrik Hololei, the director general of the Commission’s transport division, stating that he has accepted free flights from Qatar Airways while his team was negotiating an aviation agreement with Qatar. The agreement, which was signed in October 2021, is still being ratified by the EU members.

Wednesday, 8 March—Bahrain’s Ambassador to the European Union, Abdullah bin Faisal Al-Dosari, held talks with the EU’sSpecial Representative for Human Rights, Eamon Gilmore, in Brussels.

Key official visits

Friday, 3 March–The UAE and Türkiye signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) to boost bilateraltrade. The CEPA, which was signed by the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Thani Al-Zeyoudi, and Türkiye’s Minister of Trade, Mehmet Mus, in Abu Dhabi, should come into effect in mid-2023. The agreement is expected to create 25,000 highly skilled jobs in the UAE and 100,000 jobs in Türkiye in the next 10 years and increase bilateral non-oil trade to more than $40 billion (USD) in the next five years.

Saturday, 4 March–Italy’s Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, met with the UAE’s President, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, in Abu Dhabi. The meeting aimed to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the economic, investment and trade sectors, as well as to discuss ways to boost the use of renewable energy and clean technologies and to address common challenges such as climate change and food security.

Monday, 6 March—Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, held talks with the UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, James Cleverly, in London. They discussed bilateral cooperation and the Russia-Ukraine war, among other issues.

Tuesday, 7 March–Poland’s Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, paid an official visit to Saudi Arabia, where he met with the Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud. During the meeting, the two leaders discussed bilateral relations and ways to boost cooperation in several fields, notably energy and food security.

Tuesday, 7 March–South Korea’s President, Yoon Suk-Yeol, received Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Defence, Khalid bin Salman Al-Saud, in Seoul. The two sides reviewed bilateral relations and cooperation in the military and defence fields, and discussed international issues of common interest.

Tuesday, 7 March–The UAE President, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, met with Ukraine’s First Lady, Olena Zelenska, in Abu Dhabi. The UAE will send $4 million (USD) (about €3.7 million) to the Olena Zelenska Foundation, which will be used to contribute to the construction of 10 buildings that will house about 100 children in Ukraine. The meeting focused on developments in Ukraine and on ways to assist the Ukrainian people.

Wednesday, 8 March–Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister for Public Diplomacy, Sara Al-Sayed, received a delegation of senior officials from the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, including the Director of Influence Diplomacy, Matthieu Peyraud, the Deputy Director for North Africa and the Middle East, Emmanuel Suquet, and the Deputy Director for the Middle East, Bonnieu Jean-Noël. During the meeting, they reviewed diplomatic relations and issues of common interest.

Wednesday, 8 March—Ukraine’s Minister of Economy, Yulia Svyrydenko, and her accompanying delegation arrived in Abu Dhabi for talks with UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Thani Al-Zeyoudi, on expanding UAE-Ukraine trade, economic and investment cooperation, and ‘the introduction of sanctions against Russia.’

Thursday, 9 March–Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, met Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, in Moscow, two weeks after his visit to Kyiv, and announced Riyadh’s readiness to mediate in the Russia-Ukraine war. The two sides also discussed energy coordination with OPEC+ and the situation in Yemen, among other issues.