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The Euro-Gulf Monitor 10 – 16 November 2023

BY Elen'Alba Vitiello

5 Top Points

  1. The GCC Supreme Military Committee met in Muscat, Oman.
  2. Saudi Arabia’s NEOM inaugurated its first international office in London.
  3. Bahrain will host the 7th EU-GCC Business Forum on 21 November.
  4. The first Saudi-African Summit took place in Riyadh.
  5. The EU High Representative travelled to the Gulf.

‘Round and About the Gulf

Al-Fateh Grand Mosque in Bahrain

Kingdom of Bahrain ​ Kingdom of Bahrain-img

Thursday, 16 November–Bahrain’s national air carrier, Gulf Air, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Lufthansa Technik Middle East (LTME) during the Dubai Airshow 2023, aimed at strengthening their respective expertise in aircraft maintenance.

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State of Kuwait Sultanate of Oman-img

Wednesday, 15 November–Kuwait hosted the Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Cybersecurity GCC Forum. The forum aimed to further promote high-level dialogues, exchange of expertise and have an easy access to information to cope with rapid development of AI and cybersecurity, as well as to boost strategic planning. Government officials, technology experts and CEOs from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and the US participated in the event, among others.

Wednesday, 15 November–The Kuwait General Administration of Civil Aviation signed a bilateral agreement and a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Portuguese Civil Aviation Authority aimed at regulating air operations between the two parties and enhancing the movement of passengers, air cargo, and trade exchange.

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Sultanate of Oman Sultanate of Oman-img

Monday, 13 November–Oman hosted the Supreme Military Committee of the Excellencies Chiefs of Staff of Armed Forces of the GCC meeting, in Muscat, with the participation of all GCC top military officers. The meeting aimed at exploring means of consolidating joint military cooperation among the GCC countries.

Wednesday, 15 November–The Oman Investment Authority (OIA) announced the completion of 6 national projects with an investment value of more than 4 billion Omani Rial (about €9.5 billion) in line with the Oman Vision 2040. The projects are the Duqm Refinery and Petrochemical Industries (OQ8) Project, which transformed Duqm into one of the largest industrial and economic centre; the Ras Markaz Crude Oil Storage project, which stores crude oil and export Omani oil, among others; the Duqm Integrated Power and Water Project (DIPWP), which meets the electricity and water needs of the OQ8 Project; the Rabt project, which boosts the National Electricity Transmission Network; the Khuwayma Shrimp Farm Project, which contributes to food security; and the JW Marriott Muscat Hotel, which supports the tourism sector.

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State of Qatar State of Qatar-img

Friday, 10 November–Qatar’s Ministry of Health signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the areas of radiation medicine and food safety.

Saudi-arabia-img

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Kingdom of Saudi Arabia-img

Friday, 10 November–Saudi Arabia’s NEOM project, a pioneering sustainable regional development in the northwest of the country, inaugurated its first international office in London. The London office’s aim will be to foster new collaborations, fortify existing relationships, and serve as a hub for supporting business endeavours across Europe to establish partnerships with stakeholders and investors.

Friday, 10 November–The first Saudi-African Summit took place in Riyadh. The event resulted in the adoption of the Riyadh Declaration. During the event, Saudi Arabia launched the King Salman’s Development Initiative in Africa, which encompasses projects and programmes exceeding $1 billion (about €921 million) over the next decade, and committed to investing $50 billion (about €46 billion) in development projects to strengthen Saudi-African economic relations, including in the mining sector. The Kingdom also plans to increase its diplomatic presence in Africa with more than 40 Saudi embassies.

United Arab Emirates-img

United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates-img

Sunday, 12 November–Wasl Group, one of UAE’s largest real estate development and management companies, announced the successful completion of one of the largest on-grid solar projects in Dubai. The project saw over 200 photovoltaic panels installed across 44 buildings and companies, in support of UAE’s agenda to deliver clean energy and to fulfil its Net Zero goals and the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050.

Tuesday, 14 November–The UAE established a space academy in Dubai, part of the $820 million (about €755 million) national space fund announced last year, to boost the growing space sector. The academy is key to the UAE’s ambitions in the high-tech industry, as it will offer Emirati students an educational environment to learn and create new technologies.

The EU Corner

Sunday, 12 November–Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, and the European Union High Representative, Josep Borrell, held a phone call to discuss the developments in the Israel-Palestinian conflict and the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, as well as the need to establish a mechanism to stop military operations.

Monday, 13 November–The President Designate of COP28 and UAE’s Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, Sultan Al-Jaber, held separate meetings with European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, EU High Representative, Josep Borrell, and EU Climate Commissioner and Chief COP28 Negotiator, Wopke Hoekstra, in Brussels, ahead of COP28, which will take place in Dubai from 30 November to 12 December. They recalled the importance of the UAE-EU relations and of the Conference for global climate change action.

Tuesday, 14 November–Bahrain’s Ambassador to Belgium and the European Union, Abdullah bin Faisal Al-Dosari, met with the Director-General of the European Commission’s Trade Division, Michael Hager, in Brussels. They reviewed the topics to be discussed at the 7th EU-GCC Business Forum to be held on 21 November in Bahrain, including building a sustainable and diversified future, stimulating economic diversification, innovations, and strategies for logistics services.

Wednesday, 15 November–Qatar’s Ambassador to the EU and NATO, Abdulaziz bin Ahmed Al-Maliki, met with EU Special Representative for the Gulf Region, Luigi Di Maio, in Brussels, where they discussed Qatari-European relations and ways to enhance them, as well as issues of common interest.

Wednesday, 15 November–Saudi Arabia’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Waleed Abdulkarim El-Khereji, received the EU Special Representative for the Horn of Africa, Annette Weber, in Riyadh. During the meeting, the two sides discussed ways to develop joint cooperation, in addition to exchanging views on a number of regional and international issues.

Thursday, 16 November–EU High Representative, Josep Borrell, began his official travel visit to the Gulf and the Middle East. He will be travelling from 16 to 20 November to Bahrain, Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. The visit will take place in the context of the Gaza situation and the humanitarian crisis in the aftermath of the 7 October Hamas terrorist attacks against Israel, and as part of the EU’s regional outreach to help resolve the situation.

Key official visits

Friday, 10 November–France hosted the sixth Paris Peace Forum, which focused on redefining the main principles of international cooperation after the COVID-19 pandemic on climate change, conflicts, and instability. The Forum saw the participation of the GCC countries, as well as France’s President, Emmanuel Macron, and European Council’s President, Charles Michel, among others.

Friday, 10 November–Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, went on an official visit to Cairo, where he met with Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. They discussed bilateral relations and ways to strengthen and develop them in various sectors, as well as the Israel-Palestinian conflict. In this regard, the two sides affirmed their firm and continuous support for the Palestinian cause.

Friday, 10 November–Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, met with Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, in Riyadh, to discuss bilateral relations, the developments in Gaza, and means to support security and stability in the region.

Saturday, 11 November–The Joint Arab Islamic Extraordinary Summit, which took place in Riyadh, concluded. The Summit condemned Israel’s aggression on the Gaza Strip, called for an end to the siege on Gaza to allow humanitarian aid into the enclave, and demanded the United Nation Security Council to adopt ‘a decisive and binding resolution’. The Summit was attended by 22 members of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which included all GCC countries’ representatives, as well as Iranian President, Ebrahim Raisi, Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad, and Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, among others. On the sidelines of the Summit, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud, held the first in person meeting with Iran’s President, Ebrahim Raisi.

Sunday, 12 November–Saudi Arabia’s Commander of the Joint Forces, Lieutenant General Mutlaq bin Salem Al-Azima, met with Yemeni Minister of Defence, Lieutenant General Mohsen bin Muhammad Al-Daari, in Riyadh. During the meeting, both sides engaged in discussions regarding cooperation and support for the leadership of the joint forces within the coalition that supports the legitimacy in Yemen. Their primary objective is to achieve security and stability for the Yemeni people.

Monday, 13 November–The Omani-Saudi Coordination Council held its first meeting in Muscat, Oman. Jointly chaired by Oman’s Foreign Minister, Badr Hamad Al-Busaidi, and Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, the two sides reviewed bilateral relations and highlighted the importance of developing coordination and shaping joint positions towards regional and international issues of common interest.

Monday, 13 November–Türkiye’s General Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeal, Bekir Şahin, met with Bahrain’s Attorney General, Ali bin Fadl Al-Buainain, in Manama. The visit aimed to promote judicial cooperation between Türkiye’s and Bahrain’s Public Prosecution and to improve judicial performance by exchanging experiences. They also discussed capacity development through training, and reviewed the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which regulates cooperation and information exchange in different crime areas.

Tuesday, 14 November–Bahrain’s National Guard Staff Director, Lieutenant General Abdulaziz bin Saud Al-Khalifa, received Pakistan’s Director General of Joint Staff, Lieutenant General Ahsan Gulrez, in Manama, to discuss topics of common interest, such as their keenness in developing bilateral advanced military cooperation.

Wednesday, 15 November–Bahrain’s Minister of Defence Affairs, Lieutenant General Abdullah bin Hassan Al-Nuaimi, accompanied by his delegation, and UK’s Assistant Chief of Staff for Strategy at the Ministry of Defence, Major General Adrian Reilly, and his delegation, concluded the Bahraini-British Joint Military Committee meeting in London. They discussed ways to strengthen military cooperation between the two countries.

Wednesday, 15 November–Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs, Khalid bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah, met with the Commander of the United States Central Command, Lieutenant-General Michael Corella, in Doha. During the meeting they discussed the latest developments in the region and in particular the Gaza Strip crisis.

Wednesday, 15 November–Saudi Arabia’s Assistant Minister of Defence, Talal Al-Otaibi, met with UK’s Minister of Defence Procurement and Member of Parliament, James Cartlidge, and his accompanying delegation, in Riyadh. They discussed ways of increasing cooperation in the sector of research and development in defence, and the transfer and indigenisation of technology in accordance with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

Wednesday, 15 November–Saudi Arabia’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Waleed Abdulkarim El-Khereji, met with Norwegian Special Representative to the Middle East, Hilde Haraldstad, in Riyadh. During the meeting, they reviewed Saudi Arabia’s efforts in supporting international peace and security, in addition to discussing topics of mutual concern.

Wednesday, 15 November–Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Defence, Khalid bin Salman Al-Saud, met with French Minister of the Armed Forces, Sébastien Lecornu, in Riyadh. They reviewed bilateral relations and defence cooperation, and discussed the latest regional and international developments, in particular the Gaza situation.