Finance

Saudi Arabia: As IMF warns over budget target, Vision 2030 faces deep challenges

Riyadh has been gently criticised by the International Monetary Fund over its plan to deliver a balanced budget in the next few years, which the IMF believes could harm the economy’s growth prospects. The idea of a balanced budget by 2019 or 2020...

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Region: SWFs lined up for Russian investments

Gulf sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) are expected to play an active role in up to RUB100bn ($1.8bn) worth of investments that are due to be announced by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) at the St Petersburg Economic Forum from 1-3 June. The...

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Saudi Arabia: Uber doubts about tech investments

Elements of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS)’s economic policy have been viewed as visionary by boosters in the kingdom and abroad. These include a huge investment in ‘disruptive’ technology companies based on the US west coast....

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Iran: Aircraft financing deals on the cards

Deputy transport minister Asghar Fakhrieh Kashan has told local media that nine financial institutions from Europe and Asia have expressed interest in providing finance for Iran Air’s previously announced purchases of Airbus and Boeing aircraft. He...

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UAE: Growth rate forecast to fall by IMF

The International Monetary Fund has forecast growth of just 1.3% this year as the UAE economy’s expected 3.3% expansion of non-oil GDP is offset by a 2.9% decline in oil GDP as a result of production cuts. The IMF expects the federal budget deficit...

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Kuwait: Somali charcoal seized

A consignment of illicit Somali charcoal destined for Kuwait was seized in Gulf waters by the Kuwait Coastguard working with other regional naval forces on 17 May. Charcoal exports from Somalia have been banned by the United Nations Security Council...

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Perspectives

A selection of free articles from GSN's extensive database

Gulf stock exchanges seek traction from Saudi opening

Rather than gaining a bounce from the opening up of the Saudi stock exchange (Tadawul), regional equities markets have been hit hard in the past month by the global turmoil related in part to collapsing Chinese markets. In a 24 August note, Capital Economics said the worst Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region stock market performers were largely concentrated in ...

Issue 999 - 4 September 2015

Morocco refinery problems for Al-Amoudi/Al-Sultan empire

Despite moves to mobilise new finance, concern is growing in Morocco about the financial health of the North African kingdom’s only refinery, operated by Société Marocaine d’Industrie de Raffinage (Samir) at Mohammedia, and its ability to remain the dominant player in the national products market. This follows the announcement of losses in 2014 and questions about the ability ...

Issue 993 - 21 May 2015

Financial and political agenda underpins Gulf commitments

The massive support from Gulf-based institutions for a new and hugely ambitious programme of power sector investments in Egypt may not be as quixotic as it first appears. The intention to back multi-gigawatt coal and renewable generation projects – announced at a conference in Sharm El-Sheikh in mid-March by seven large developers from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait – is underpinned ...

Issue 990 - 2 April 2015

Tension builds beneath the silence in Kuwait

Kuwait’s press has rightfully earned itself a reputation as one of the most vibrant and free in the Arab world. It is not uncommon to see Kuwaiti papers splash on political and economic scandals and controversies, or even report on infighting within the ruling Al-Sabah, something which would scarcely be imaginable in the other Gulf monarchies. But over the ...

Issue 989 - 19 March 2015

Iraq: Baghdad and KRG finally agree on oil revenues

The Iraqi federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) announced a draft agreement on sharing oil revenues on 2 December, following two days of negotiations between federal Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi and KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani. The deal, which builds on a temporary agreement signed in November, still needs to be approved by parliament and written into the 2015 budget. ...

Issue 983 - 11 December 2014

Qatar looking to invest more in China

Qatar cemented its growing relationship with Beijing with a two-day visit to China by Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani on 3-4 November, during which numerous agreements were signed (see Royals). While there, Sheikh Tamim met at least four of the seven members of the Communist Party’s Politburo standing committee, the centre of power in China, including the president, ...

Issue 981 - 13 November 2014

Politics cast shadow on Bahrain economy

As elections scheduled for 22 November approach, the kingdom of Bahrain remains bitterly divided. The main opposition parties confirmed on 11 October that they would boycott the polls, a decision that was not unexpected but which scuppers any hopes that the election might reinforce the government narrative that Bahrain is stable and on a path of economic recovery.While the boycott will ...

Issue 979 - 16 October 2014

Qatar: QNB takes African stake

Qatar National Bank (QNB) has entered sub-Saharan Africa with the acquisition of a 23.5% stake in Togo-based Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI). QNB took a 12.5% stake through the purchase of ordinary and convertible preference shares from Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (Amcon) on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Amcon is a Nigerian state ‘bad bank’, which took over the asset following Ecobank’s ...

Issue 977 - 18 September 2014

Saudi Arabia: Tadawul to open to foreigners

The Saudi cabinet approved the opening of the stock market to foreign financial institutions on 21 July, at a session headed in Jeddah by Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdelaziz. The move is expected; as GSN reported in its last issue, the idea of opening the Tadawul to foreigners has been mooted for years, and has been edging closer, though the cabinet’...

Issue 975 - 31 July 2014

Risk management report: GCC

The Co-operation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) was officially set up on 25 May 1981 in Abu Dhabi, when the leaders of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates agreed to establish a council whose aims were to ‘achieve unity’, formulate ‘similar regulations’ in fields including economics, customs, commerce, communications, education and culture, and ...

Issue 974 - 21 July 2014

GCC Risk Management Report: GCC tensions erupt as Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain challenge Qatar

On 5 March, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain announced they were withdrawing their ambassadors from Qatar, because Qatar had refused to abide by the terms of an agreement signed on 23 November, which said states should not interfere in other GCC members’ internal affairs, support ‘hostile media’, or support any group that threatened the security of member states. At the heart ...

Issue 968 - 17 April 2014

Oman: More corruption convictions

Muscat’s criminal court has sentenced 23 people, including former government officials, to between one and three years for their part in a scandal involving the misappropriation of land in Duqm. According to Omani press reports, on 16 February, a former undersecretary at the housing ministry and the former secretary-general at the Supreme Committee for Town Planning were each given three-year terms ...

Issue 964 - 20 February 2014

Bahrain: $1bn criminal conspiracy

The UK-based law firm Addleshaw Goddard is to represent Saudi property developer Dar Al-Arkan and Bahrain’s Bank Alkhair (previously known as Unicorn Investment Bank) in a $1bn conspiracy case against several defendants: the bank’s former chief executive, the US-born Majid Bader Al-Refai, global risk consulting firm Kroll Associates, Bahrain-based chartered accountant Alex Richardson and business consultancy FTI Consulting. ...

Issue 962 - 23 January 2014

Qatar: Sheikh Saud Bin Mohammed payment ordered

It emerged in September that Qatari art dealer Sheikh Saud Bin Mohammed must pay London-based SJ Berwin £261,279 in unpaid fees for advice given when his assets were frozen following a 2012 court case. Sheikh Saud was sued in the UK High Court in November 2012 by a group of dealers who said he had dishonoured a pledge to pay $19.7m for a ...

Issue 957 - 1 November 2013

Iraqi Kurdistan: Dana Gas takes KRG to court

The largest energy investor in Iraqi Kurdistan, Sharjah-based Dana Gas, has begun arbitration proceedings against the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) at the London Court of International Arbitration. Dana and its partners in Iraq say they want to “clarify certain contractual rights”, and recoup more than $1bn in unpaid receivables. The KRG says there are no outstanding receivables and that, in ...

Issue 957 - 31 October 2013

Bahrain: King Hamad visits China


King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa returned to Bahrain on 18 September after an official visit to China at the invitation of President Xi Jinping. It was King Hamad’s first visit to China at the invitation of the president, timed to coincide with the first China-Arab States Expo, whose opening ceremony in Yinchuan he attended. During his visit, on which he ...

Issue 955 - 3 October 2013

UAE Federation Risk Management Report: UAE at the heart of regional diplomacy following Brotherhood overthrow in Egypt

The UAE is working hard to shape its profile as an emerging regional and global power. It pulled out of the Gulf Monetary Union in 2009, angry that Riyadh had been chosen over Abu Dhabi as the headquarters for the monetary council, and has reservations about a more integrated Gulf Union. The federation is becoming an increasingly important part of US ...

Issue 954 - 19 September 2013

Dubai: Al-Futtaim groups looking to expand


Majid Al Futtaim Properties (MAF) has said it will spend Dh1bn ($0.3bn) expanding one of Dubai’s largest malls – the Mall of the Emirates. In a statement on 10 September, MAF said the mall would be redeveloped to include a new fashion district, luxury retail, and sports and leisure precinct. The mall is a major attraction because it houses the ...

Issue 954 - 20 September 2013

Masraf Al Rayan, Qatar’s largest Islamic lender

Islamic bank Masraf Al Rayan (MAR) was incorporated as a Qatari shareholding company on 4 January 2006, and licensed by Qatar Central Bank (QCB). It grew rapidly after its launch that October to become the largest Islamic lender and fourth largest bank by market value. It continued to grow in 2011, when it picked up business as a result of the central ...

Issue 951 - 18 July 2013

Moving on from Iraq: Where are key players now?

GSN has been looking at the fortunes of some of the protagonists in the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Many have remained connected to Iraq, setting up or investing in Iraq-linked businesses, working as consultants or taking positions on boards of companies requiring Iraq expertise. Those profiled include Lewis Paul (‘Jerry’) Bremer III, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, Lieutenant General Jay ...

Issue 950 - 4 July 2013

UAE - RAK: Saud Bin Saqr’s Zimbabwe interest

An interesting snippet on Ras Al-Khaimah (RAK) appeared in South Africa’s Mail & Guardian on 15 March, in an article on how foreign interests are hoping to get commercial deals in Zimbabwe in return for helping the cash-strapped government fund elections (an estimated $132m is needed). RAK ruler Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al-Qasimi visited Zimbabwe in late February, and was pictured ...

Issue 943 - 21 March 2013

Yemen Risk Management Report: Thousands protest in the south as National Dialogue begins

Yemen is in a very fragile state. After 33 years of rule, president Ali Abdullah Saleh let go of power in February 2012, and the nation entered a two-year transitional period intended to steer it towards democracy and stability. His successor,Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, has inherited a nation beset by violence and competing factions. A smouldering insurgency in the north, secessionism in ...

Issue 943 - 21 March 2013

Iran, Iraq and Baghdad’s troubled finances

Iraq’s financial situation is far from satisfactory. The Gulf states and Saudi Arabia have provided the country with something like $30bn but there are some signs of a growing reluctance to lend any more.

Issue 200 - 28 November 1982

Growing tensions with Baghdad over oil law, Hashemi

long- standing political tensions between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Baghdad have escalated in recent months, putting the Kurds at the centre of Iraqi politics: issues at stake include the presence on Kurdish soil of fugitive vice president Tariq Al-Hashemi, wanted by Baghdad, and a dispute over oil contracts which shows no signs of resolution.

Issue 919 - 8 March 2012

Saleh accepts UN resolution, but escalating unrest continues to claim lives

Embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh has accepted the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution 2014 of 24 October condemning the country’s violence on all sides and demanded a political transition.

Issue 911 - 28 October 2011

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Bahrain's Economic Performance

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Gulf boundaries and hydrocarbons infrastructure

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The Gulf region: economy and society

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Iraqi Kurdistan hydrocarbons infrastructure map

Revised in January 2015, this map provides a detailed overview of hydrocarbons infrastructure in the Kurdistan area of Iraq.

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Saudi Arabia: Saudis deliver for new friend Trump

Riyadh spent a reported $65m to welcome Donald Trump to the kingdom, on the first leg of his first foreign trip as president....

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Saudi Arabia: Dynastic manoeuvres

The appointments made via dozens of decrees late last month sent Saudi-watchers of varying degrees of sophistication into...

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Rouhani prepares to take on hardliners to retain power in Iran

Shifting global political arithmetic seems to have fed into a shift in Iranian political calculations – as had been...

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