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Issue 1175 - 01 September 2023

Saudi economy falls into recession

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The Saudi economy fell into a recession in Q2, with initial estimates pointing to a quarter-on-quarter decline of 0.1% in GDP during the period, following a 1.4% fall in Q1. While non-oil activity grew, the limits the government has imposed on oil output meant the oil sector contracted by 1.4%.

Saudi Arabia
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Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani has entered into his second decade as ruler in a strong position, having dealt with the regional blockade, the Covid pandemic and the Fifa World Cup. This leaves Qatar now in search of a new direction: while positioning itself as a regional mediator provides a focus for its multi-polar foreign policy, Doha has yet to identify a new national purpose on the domestic stage. 

Qatar
Issue 1175 - 01 September 2023

UAE: Dubai tourism surpasses pre-Covid highs

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Dubai economic recovery gives emirate upgrade: The number of visitors to Dubai surpassed pre-Covid levels in H1 2023, marking the vital tourism sector’s full recovery and prompting a change in GSN’s economic risk grade for the emirate, with the previous downward economic indicator removed. Data from the Department of Economy and Tourism in early August showed a record 8.55m international overnight visitors in H1 23, compared to 8.36m in H1 19.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Kuwait's National Assembly (parliament) agreed to set up a High Election Commission to supervise future elections, a role until now held by the Ministry of Interior. The commission will be run by a panel of five senior judges and be overseen by the Ministry of Justice.

Kuwait
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Slowing growth: The UAE economy grew by 3.8% in Q1 2023, compared to Q1 22, according to Federal Centre for Competitiveness and Statistics data issued in early August. GDP was AED418.3bn ($113.9bn) in the January-March period, when non-oil GDP expanded by 4.5%.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)
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Kuwait's Crown Prince Sheikh Mishaal Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah was in London in late August to mark the 70th anniversary of the opening of the Kuwait Investment Office in London. The KIO was set up in February 1953, eight years before Kuwait gained independence from the United Kingdom, and is generally seen as the world's first sovereign wealth fund. It is now part of the Kuwait Investment Authority.

Kuwait
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Gulf royal families have generally been closely associated with only a narrow range of traditional preferred sports – including camel racing, horse racing and falconry – but younger Saudi princes and princesses now occupy senior positions in bodies overseeing a far wider range of pursuits, from motorsport and esports to triathlons and diving. Their efforts to promote sports and attract international events feed into Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman's economic and social diversification drive.

Saudi Arabia
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Saudi officials have been lobbying for international support for Riyadh's bid to host Expo 2030, in the wake of the formal bid launch in June by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, during his visit to Paris.

Saudi Arabia
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Securing workable energy, economic and security relations with Turkey has even greater urgency for Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government as the KRG says it can no longer afford to pay its employees’ salaries due to the closure since late March of the vital crude oil export pipeline.

Iraq | Turkey
Issue 1174 - 28 July 2023

Saudi-Chinese petrochemicals deal

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Saudi Aramco underlined the kingdom's deepening relationships with China when the national champion announced the acquisition of a 10% stake in Rongsheng Petrochemical Company.

Saudi Arabia
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Political upgrade: It may seem not the most opportune moment to remove the downwards negative trend arrow from Saudi Arabia’s ‘B’ political risk rating – coming amid more speculation that King Salman Bin Abdelaziz’s health is fading and with the International Monetary Fund giving the kingdom its “steepest growth downgrade among major economies”, as Bloomberg put it on 25 July, and longer-term investment plans in question.

Saudi Arabia
Free

The high-profile campaign to make Saudi Arabia a global power in football, golf and other sports has, in many ways, eclipsed the state's domestic spending – which conventional policy wonks might say should be of greater importance to the 22m population – but the activities of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS)'s prized Public Investment Fund (PIF) over the past few months tells an equally important story.

Saudi Arabia
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Oman has introduced a unified national pension scheme, merging the assets and liabilities of 11 existing pension systems into a single Social Protection Fund. The reform is based on a unified regulatory regime for contributions, payments and retirement ages. It will reflect both need and its members' history of payment contributions.

Oman
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Sheikh Nasser Bin Abdulrahman Bin Nasser Al-Thani's real estate company Daruna for Real Estate Brokerage Company has been granted permission by the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) Civil and Commercial Court to seek higher damages from Lesha Bank (previously known as Qatar First Bank) in a dispute over a failed plan to build workers’ accommodation north of Doha.

Qatar
Free

The UAE and India agreed to do more trade in their own currencies, rather than the US dollar, in a memorandum of understanding signed mid-July during an official visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Abu Dhabi – the Indian leader's fifth trip to the country in the past eight years.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)