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GULF IN REVIEW 27 October-1 November 2019

BY Nikola Zukalová

Al-Fateh Grand Mosque in Bahrain

Kingdom of Bahrain Kingdom of Bahrain-img

Tuesday, 29 October—On the sidelines of the Future Investment Forum in Riyadh, the King Fahad Causeway Authority signed a consultancy agreement for almost $9 million USD with a consortium of KPMG, AECOM and CMS, to start working on the design, financing model, selecting the main developers for the $3.5 billion causeway project linking Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. The new 25km-causeway will be built to ease the traffic on the existing King Fahad Causeway.

Wednesday, 30 October—Manama hosted the 2nd Bahrain International Defence Exhibition and Conference (BIDEC) between 27-30 October. This year’s edition welcomed about 170 exhibitors from around the world. It provided an opportunity to senior government and military officials, and various experts to see some of the latest military and defence technologies and equipment, meet with leading defence industry companies and exchange experiences to deal with the current regional security challenges. Alongside BIDEC, Manama hosted also the Middle East Military Technology Conference (MEMTEC), where experts discussed how advancements in the defence sector reshape conflicts in the Middle East.

Thursday, 31 October—UNESCO added Bahrain’s Muharraq and UAE’s Sharjah to its Creative Cities Network, which groups urban settlements that contribute to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals through innovative thinking and action. Muharraq became member for design and Sharjah for crafts and folk art.

Thursday 31 October—The Czech Republic’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tomáš Petříček, accompanied by a high-level delegation of officials and businesspersons, visited Bahrain, where he was received by a number of senior officials, notably King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Deputy Prime Minister Khalid bin Abdulla Al-Khalifa, and Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa. They explored ways to strengthen bilateral cooperation, notably in trade and investments, youth, sports and expressed keenness to enhance inter-faith and cultural dialogue.


State of Kuwait Sultanate of Oman-img

Saturday, 26 October—The European Union and Kuwait agreed to launch an EU-Kuwait dialogue on human rights to exchange experiences and enhance cooperation in the field.

Tuesday, 29 October—Kuwait and Croatia held the first round of political talks, co-chaired by Kuwait’s Assistant Foreign Minister for European Affairs, Ambassador Walid Al-Khubaizi, and Croatia’s Assistant Foreign Minister for European Affairs, Ambassador Vice Skracic. The two sides discussed boosting cooperation in various fields, notably tourism, trade, health, education, research and military. they also discussed Kuwait’s non-permanent membership in UN Security Council and exchanged views on regional issues.

Thursday, 31 October—Kuwait and Luxembourg signed new civil aviation agreement as Kuwait aims to attract more international airlines to Kuwait International Airport and ease the transport of passengers and air cargo with as many airports as possible.

Thursday, 31 October—The Emir of Kuwait, Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah received Jordan’s King Abdullah II to discuss advancing bilateral relations and the latest developments in the region. King Abdullah II arrived to Kuwait from Saudi Arabia, where he held talks with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, on strengthening bilateral cooperation.


Sultanate of Oman Sultanate of Oman-img

Sunday, 27 October—Oman held the 9th elections to the Shura Council. Some 640 candidates competed for a seat in the Sultanate’s 86-member consultative body. 49% of the 713,000 registered voters participated in the polls and elected two women candidates in the Governorate of Muscat and North Al-Batinah.

Wednesday, 30 October—Muscat hosted the 16th Joint Defence Council of the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Ministers of Defence and the GCC Secretary-General, Dr Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, under the auspices of Sayyid Badr bin Saud Al-Busaidi, Oman’s Minister Responsible for Defence Affairs. The meeting focused on ways to enhance joint defence cooperation, stressing the need to protect regional maritime safety, the death of Daesh’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and increasing preparedness of the GCC countries’ armed forces.


State of Qatar State of Qatar-img

Sunday, 27 October—Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, received Oman’s Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, to discuss bilateral cooperation and issues of common concern.

Wednesday, 30 October—Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani established a higher committee, chaired by Prime Minister, Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani, to start preparations for the first elections to the Shura Council, where the voters will elect 30 members and the Emir will appoint the remaining 15. The country’s first legislative elections have been delayed since they were mandated by the country’s 2004 Constitution.


Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Kingdom of Saudi Arabia-img

Sunday, 28 October—Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Saudi Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, met with President of Switzerland, Ueli Maurer, to discuss opportunities for strengthening bilateral cooperation in various fields.

Monday, 28 October—Saudi Arabia hosted the Future Investment Initiative, also known as the Davos in the Desert, between 29-31 October. On the opening day, Saudi Arabia signed 23 deals worth $15 billion with international partners in manufacturing, technology, and other sectors, which included $1 billion deal between Saudi Aramco and Spanish company Tubacex or $230 million deal with Baker Hughes on investment and development of artificial intelligence and digital transformation, among others.

Tuesday, 29 October—India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, held talks with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his visit to the Kingdom. On the occasion, India and Saudi Arabia established the Strategic Partnership Council to coordinate on important issues, signed several agreements in some key sectors, notably oil and gas, defence or renewable energy, and agreed to strengthen security cooperation in maritime safety and fight against terrorism.

Thursday 31 October—Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, announced that the Kingdom seeks to develop its own system for carbon trading in a bid to develop a circular carbon economy before its hosting of the G20 Summit in 2020. The closed loop system will allow the Kingdom to reduce and re-use carbon emissions, which will also assist it in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

United Arab Emirates-img

United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates-img

Monday, 28 October—Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, met with France’s Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, in Abu Dhabi. They reviewed bilateral strategic relations and exchanged views on regional and international issues of common concern. Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Le Drian signed a letter of intent to establish the UAE-French Partnership on Sustainable Development.

Wednesday, 30 October—The Terrorist Financing Targeting Centre (TFTC) members (re: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia and the US) designated 21 entities, funnelling finances to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) domestic paramilitary, Basij, and 4 individuals responsible for leading and coordinating Hezbollah’s activities in Iraq. This is the largest number of targets jointly designated by the TFTC, so far.

Wednesday, 30 October—The UAE troops transferred control to Saudi Arabia as they withdrew from Yemen’s southern interim capital of Aden. Riyadh leads the efforts to end the hostilities between the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC) and the Yemeni government forces, so they can focus their full attention to fighting the Houthis.

Thursday, 31 October— Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, received the US Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin. The two officials held talks on bilateral ties and ways to advance them, notably in trade and investments. They also focused on the joint efforts to hinder the financing of terrorism, referring to the recent sanctions on Hezbollah and IRGC-associated targets by the Terrorist Financing Targeting Centre (TFTC).