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GULF IN REVIEW 08 – 13 March 2020

BY Arnold Koka and Veronica Del Torre

Al-Fateh Grand Mosque in Bahrain

Kingdom of Bahrain Kingdom of Bahrain-img

Sunday, 8 March — The Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, Kai Boeckmann, and the Ambassador of the French Republic, Jérôme Cauchard, were received by Bahrain’s Assistant Foreign Minister, Abdullah bin Faisal Al-Doseri. During the meeting, all parts hailed the friendly relations between their countries and expressed their willingness to further develop their relations at all levels.​

Wednesday, 11 March — Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sameh Shoukry, arrived in Bahrain as a part of his tour to several Arab countries, notably Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, to explain Egypt’s position on the developments in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam dispute. Mr Shoukry delivered a message from Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, to Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, who affirmed the Kingdom’s solidarity with Egypt in the dispute and appreciated the United States’ efforts to negotiate an agreement between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan on the issue.

Thursday, 12 March — Bahrain’s executive and legislative branches discussed the latest developments in the Kingdom’s fight to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). According to Minister of Interior, General Rashid bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa, one of the key issues was when Iran did not stamp the passports of Bahrainis entering and leaving its territory, while it was trying to hide the COVID-19 outbreak, which contributed to the spread of the coronavirus in the Kingdom. But he urged to avoid politicising the situation and fuelling sectarianism and called for national unity.


State of Kuwait Sultanate of Oman-img

Monday, 9 March — Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, delivered a message from his country’s President, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, to Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah on the latest developments of the negotiations on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. He later held separate talks with Kuwait’s Prime Minister, Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah, on ways to enhance cooperation.

Wednesday, 11 March — Kuwait’s Cabinet announced exceptional measures, including the temporary halt of all flights to and from Kuwait beginning on Friday, 13 March to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The country’s Health Ministry also imposed mandatory tests for all expatriates, who have returned to Kuwait after 27 February.


Sultanate of Oman Sultanate of Oman-img

Monday, 9 March — Oman Shipping Company (OSC), a member of the Asyad Group, Oman’s integrated logistic provider, announced the acquisition of two modern Ultramax dry bulk vessels, adding to the company’s cargo capacity and aiming to further assist the development of the Sultanate’s mining industry. The two new ships will join OSC’s fleet of over 50 vessels including LNG Carriers, LPG Carriers, VLCCs, Tankers, VLOCs, Dry Cargo, and Container ships.

Wednesday, 11 March — Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said ordered the establishment of a Supreme Committee to manage the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its effects. The Supreme Committee, led by the Sultanate’s Minister of Interior, Hamoud bin Faisal Al-Busaidi, will prepare emergency plans to deal with COVID-19 and introduce economic measures to curb its effects on the country’s businesses. At its first meeting on 12 March, the Committee decided to suspend all tourist visas for one month, starting from 15 March.

Thursday, 12 March — Oman’s Ministry of Health reported a new case of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in the Sultanate to 19, of which almost all are related to travel to Iran. In a statement, the Ministry called upon the population to follow the quarantine procedures and government instructions to contain the spread of the new Coronavirus, such as not to go to public places and worship places.


State of Qatar State of Qatar-img

Wednesday, 11 March — Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, met with a delegation of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, led by the President Anas Abdah, to discuss the situation in northwestern Syria, particularly in Idlib. The Head of the Syrian Interim Government, Abdurrahman Mustafa, met with the Director General of the Qatar Fund for Development, Khalifa Al-Kuwari, to discuss several projects in areas under its control.

Thursday, 12 March — Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health announced 238 new confirmed cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in one day, raising the number of infected people in the country to 262. The country announced exceptional measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, including the closing of cultural, educational and sports sites from Friday 13 March until further notice.


Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Kingdom of Saudi Arabia-img

Saturday, 7 March — Members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC members (OPEC+) failed to agree on oil production cuts. The measures, refused by Russia, were aimed to face low demand for oil following the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). As a result, Saudi Aramco shares fell by 10%. The company then announced on Tuesday that it plans to increase its crude oil production by 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 12.3 million bpd in April.

Saturday, 7 March — According to a number of information sources, several senior members of the Saudi royal family were arrested in the Kingdom for allegedly planning a coup. Among the detainees were notably, Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, King Salman’s last surviving full brother, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef Al-Saud, former Crown Prince and Interior Minister, and his half brother, Prince Nawaf bin Nayef Al-Saud.

Monday, 9 March — Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry announced that it will provide $10 million (USD) to the World Health Organisation (WHO) in order to support the measures combating the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Thursday, 12 March — Dr Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabeeah, Advisor at the Saudi Royal Court and Supervisor General of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief), met with the United Kingdom’s (UK) Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Neil Crompton. During the meeting, they focused on a number of humanitarian issues and tackled strategic relations binding the KSrelief and UK Department of Development.

United Arab Emirates-img

United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates-img

Monday, 9 March — UAE’s Minister of State for Defence Affairs, Mohammed bin Ahmed Al-Bowardi, received Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Uganda, Henry Oryem Okello. During the meeting they held talks on bilateral cooperation and exchanged views on a number of international and regional issues.

Tuesday, 10 March — The UAE and the United States’ military forces began joint military exercise ‘Native Fury 20’ in Abu Dhabi. The initiative is part of the of the UAE Armed Forces’ plans of joint training with their US counterparts to enhance military cooperation, experience and bilateral strategic relations and to strengthen their readiness to face regional security issues and challenges.

Wednesday, 11 March — The Abu Dhabi Government launched the ‘Digital Month’ initiative, aimed at informing about and emphasising the role of information technology (IT) in community and government services. During the ‘Digital Month’ many new technological initiatives will be completed and implemented, employing artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technologies in governmental services.

Thursday, 12 March — Dubai launched an AED1.5 billion (approximately $4 billion USD) economic stimulus package for the next three months to enhance liquidity and support companies and business sector in Dubai and limit the negative economic effects of the Coronavirus.