Press release

Middle East Minister embarks on Gulf visit

Middle East Minister embarks on Gulf tour to build momentum towards lasting peace and security in the region

  • Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon returns to the region to meet with key partners to seek long-term solutions to the situation in Israel and Gaza
  • Minister to discuss joint efforts to counter illegal Houthi attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea
  • He will also celebrate strengthened bilateral ties with Gulf allies, following announcement Gulf Nationals are now eligible to apply for the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme

The UK Minister for the Middle East will embark on a tour of the Middle East as the UK seeks to build momentum towards a sustainable, permanent ceasefire in Gaza and lasting stability and security in the region.

Lord Ahmad will arrive in Oman today (Monday) for the first leg of the visit before travelling to Kuwait and then concluding the visit in Saudi Arabia.

The Minister is expected to meet with key figures, including Saudi Arabia’s Vice Foreign Minister, the Secretary General of the Muslim World League as well as Kuwait’s Foreign Minister Ambassador Abdullah Al-Yahya and Oman’s Undersecretary for Political Affairs Sheikh Khalifa Al Harthy.

The Minister will discuss how to ease the desperate humanitarian situation in Gaza, including through an immediate humanitarian pause in fighting leading to a sustainable, permanent ceasefire.

He will also outline the UK’s efforts to counter Houthi attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea and make clear that illegal attacks by the Houthis are completely unacceptable.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for Middle East, said:

We want to see an end to the fighting in Gaza as soon as possible, and it is clear that wider escalation and instability in the region is in nobody’s interests.

Our engagement with partners in the Middle East, including Oman, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, is absolutely central to efforts towards achieving a sustainable, permanent ceasefire in Gaza and building wider regional security.

The 16th session of the UK-Oman Joint Working Group will be co-chaired by Lord Ahmad alongside Oman’s Undersecretary for Political Affairs Sheikh Khalifa Al Harthy.

Meanwhile, in Kuwait, Lord Ahmad will co-chair the twentieth UK-Kuwait Joint Steering Group alongside His Excellency Sheikh Jarrah Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. Lord Ahmad is also due to meet with the Palestinian Ambassador.

In Saudi Arabia, Lord Ahmad will meet with the Vice Foreign Minister and the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah. 

This visit is the latest in a series of visits to the region by the Minister, including Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the UAE over the last fortnight. The Foreign Secretary has recently visited the region multiple times, including Oman and Saudi Arabia to build on the UK’s call for an immediate pause to get aid in and hostages out, then progress towards a sustainable, permanent ceasefire, without a return to destruction, fighting and loss of life.

The Minister will also welcome the UK’s Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme which has opened for Gulf Cooperation Council and Jordanian nationals, making travel to the UK smoother and cheaper. The scheme will allow unlimited visits to the UK over two years.

Published 12 February 2024