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The Euro-Gulf Monitor 30 December 2022 – 5 January 2023

BY Veronica Stigliani & Elen'Alba Vitiello

5 Top Points

  1. Kuwait launched its first satellite, Kuwait Sat-1, into space.
  2. Dubai unveiled the Dubai Economic Agenda (D33) to make Dubai one of the world’s top economic hubs by 2033.
  3. The fifth meeting of the Bahrain-Jordan Joint Higher Committee took place in Manama.
  4. Saudi Arabia discussed boosting security and defence cooperation with Türkiye, Egypt, and Algeria.
  5. Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, met with Omani and Qatari officials.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Al-Fateh Grand Mosque in Bahrain

Kingdom of Bahrain ​ Kingdom of Bahrain-img

Tuesday, 3 January‒Bahrain investment bank GFH Financial Group acquired a stake in the US-based real estate asset manager Big Sky Asset Management, operating in the defensive healthcare segment. The acquisition is worth more than $800 million (USD) and will expand GFH presence in the US.

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State of Kuwait Sultanate of Oman-img

Tuesday, 3 January‒Kuwait launched its first satellite into space, marking a milestone in the development of the country’s space industry. The satellite “Kuwait Sat-1” was launched onboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 from the US State of Florida’s Cape Canaveral, in a mission led by the Kuwait University and funded by the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences.

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Sultanate of Oman Sultanate of Oman-img

​Saturday, 31 December‒Oman’s Capital Market Authority (CMA) made compulsory for private workers to have a health insurance. The authority explained that the insurance should include basic coverage and benefits, and issued an order for special supplement for domestic workers.

Sunday, 1 January‒Oman’s Sultan approved the national budget for 2023, estimating 10.05 billion Omani rials (24.6 billion EUR) in revenues, 5% less than in 2022, and 11.35 billion Omani rials in expenditures, a 6.4% decline compared to the previous year, resulting in a deficit of 1.3 billion Omani rials (3.18 billion EUR) or 3% of GDP.

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State of Qatar State of Qatar-img

Tuesday, 3 January‒The Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) announced that Qatar will host 14 major international sporting events in 2023. This will include the 2023 Asian Cup football tournament, 2023 Beach Volleyball World Pro tour-Elite16, the FIBA 3×3 World Tour-Doha, and the IJF World Judo Championship.

Saudi-arabia-img

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Kingdom of Saudi Arabia-img

Monday, 2 January‒Saudi Human Rights Commission (HRC) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in the GCC signed the second phase of an agreement on strengthening capabilities in preventing and punishing human trafficking. The accord aims to build a legal and institutional framework compliant with international standards, which guarantees the protection of all persons from crimes without discrimination.

Wednesday, 4 January—Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism, Ahmed Al-Khateeb, approved the new bylaw of private tourism hospitality, which allows Saudi citizens to rent out their residential units to tourists for a fee.

United Arab Emirates-img

United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates-img

Monday, 2 January—The UAE Council of Ministers approved five government priorities for 2023: national identity and its consolidation; the environment and enhancing its sustainability; the educational system and the development of its vision, indicators and outputs; the localisation process and its acceleration; international economic partnerships and their expansion.

Wednesday, 4 January‒The UAE Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, unveiled the Dubai Economic Agenda (D33), a plan to make Dubai one of the world’s top cities by economic strength in the next 10 years. The initiative aims to add 32 trillion AED (8.2 trillion EUR) to the economy across more than 100 projects, including by creating new trade corridors with 400 cities around the world, supporting the growth of private companies, and bolstering the higher education sector.

The EU Corner

Sunday, 1 January—Sweden took over the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union from the Czech Republic. The four priorities of the six-month Swedish Presidency (1 January-30 June 2023) are: security (including continued economic and military support for Ukraine); EU’s competitiveness; green and energy transitions (including reducing risks of volatile energy prices and energy market reform); democratic values and the rule of law. The Swedish Presidency will conclude the 18-month Trio Presidency jointly held with France and the Czech Republic, which will be succeeded by the Spain-Belgium-Hungary trio (July 2023-December 2024).

Tuesday, 3 January‒Saudi Arabia appointed Haifa Al-Jedea as Ambassador and Head of the Kingdom’s mission to the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC). Prior to her appointment, Al-Jedea was the managing director of SRMG Think, a study department of the Saudi Research and Media Group (SRMG), and previously served at the United Nations Center for Combating Terrorism and at the Saudi Ministry of Tourism.

Key official visits

Friday, 23 December—UAE’s Foreign Minister, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, met with his Greek counterpart, Nikos Dendias, in Athens. They discussed ways to strengthen the strategic relations between the UAE and Greece.

Saturday, 24 December—Saudi Arabia’s Assistant Minister of Defence, Talal bin Abdullah Al-Otaibi, led a delegation to Türkiye to discuss strengthening bilateral defence cooperation with the country’s officials, including Turkish Deputy Minister of National Defence, Yunus Emre Karaosmanoglu, Deputy Minister of National Defense, Mohsen Dara, Chief of Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Yaşar Güler, and the Head of the Presidency of Turkish Defense Industries, Ismail Demir. A few days later, Speaker of the Saudi Shura Council, Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Sheikh, arrived in Ankara and met with his counterpart, Mustafa Sentop, and Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Monday, 26 December—Qatar’s Assistant Foreign Minister for Regional Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Al-Khulaifi travelled to Tehran for a meeting with Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs, Ali Bagheri, and Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, to whom he conveyed a message from Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani.

Tuesday, 27 December—In Algiers, Algeria’s President, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, received Saudi Arabia’s Interior Minister, Abdulaziz bin Saud Al-Saud, to discuss bilateral security cooperation.

Tuesday, 27 December—Saudi Arabia’s Army Chief of Staff, Lieutenant-General Fayyad Al-Ruwaili, and his Egyptian counterpart, Lieutenant-General Osama Askar, discussed bilateral defence and military cooperation in Riyadh.

Wednesday, 28 December—Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, was received by his Omani counterpart, Badr Al-Busaidi, in Muscat. The talks focused on bilateral relations and cooperation.

Friday, 30 December—President of Bahrain’s National Institute for Human Rights, Ahmed Al-Darazi, and President of Saudi Arabia’s Human Rights Commission, Hala Al-Tuwaijri, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the protection of human rights.

Wednesday, 4 January—Jordan’s Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Bishr Khasawneh, led a delegation attending the 5th meeting of the Bahrain-Jordan Joint Higher Committee in Manama. On the sidelines, Bahrain’s Interior Minister, Rashid bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa, received his Jordanian counterpart, Mazin Abdellah Hilal Al-Farrayeh, Bahrain’s Education Minister, Mohammed bin Mubarak Jumaa, talked with Jordan’s Education Minister, Azmi Mahafzah, and Bahrain’s Minister of Industry and Commerce, Adel Abdulla Fakhro, met with Jordan’s Minister of Industry, Trade, and Supply, Yousef Shamal, among others.

Wednesday, 4 January—Syria’s President, Bashar Al-Assad, received UAE’s Foreign Minister, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, in Damascus. The talks focused on ways to strengthen bilateral relations and several regional and international issues of common concern.

Wednesday, 4 January—Jordan’s King Abdullah II arrived in Abu Dhabi, where he met with UAE’s President and Abu Dhabi’s Ruler, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.