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Bahrain’s economic growth remains lackluster Bahrain’s economic growth remains lackluster(0)

Three years after Bahrain erupted in violence, the country’s economy remains in fragile condition. CONTINUE READING

Unlisted Sightings / Foter / CC BY
Sporadic unrest taunts Bahrain’s fiscal growth Sporadic unrest taunts Bahrain’s fiscal growth(0)

The Bahraini government and the International Monetary Fund seem to be at odds in their assessment of the country’s economic progress. CONTINUE READING

m_fahad / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND
Bahrain’s New Normal Bahrain’s New Normal(0)
Navin Shetty Brahmavar / Foter / CC BY-SA

Bahrain is looking at its GCC counterparts enviably as it battles its own domestic issues, while its neighbours rake in petrodollars and bask in relative stability. It seems like the Kingdom will have to live with internal political strife for some time to come. CONTINUE READING

9 key points from the GCC Summit 9 key points from the GCC Summit(0)

The timing could not have been more inconvenient.

In the week Gulf leaders met to discuss ways to create a more unified group, similar to an ‘EU model’, European Union leaders were struggling to keep their group united amid an unravelling economic and political crisis. READ MORE HERE

WEF: How Trade-Friendly Is The Middle East? WEF: How Trade-Friendly Is The Middle East?(0)

Gulf economies, led by the UAE, have fared quite well in a World Economic Forum focused on world’s trade-friendliness and access to global markets.

The UAE was ranked 19th among 132 countries in an in-depth survey conducted by the World Economic Forum. Oman, with a global ranking of 25, surprisingly emerged second among Arab countries, with Saudi Arabia close at its heel, at 27. READ MORE HERE

Risks Rising In Bahrain Risks Rising In Bahrain(0)
Ahmed Rabea / Foter

While Middle East oil exporters could see a 4.8% GDP growth this year, Bahrain would be lucky to eke out a 2%increase this year, according to the International Monetary Fund in its latest report published on April 17. READ MORE HERE

Note: The article was published before the Formula 1 race took place in Bahrain

Arcapita’s 50 New Creditors Arcapita’s 50 New Creditors(0)

A list of institutions the bankrupt firm owes shows the Central Bank of Bahrain is the biggest Arcapita creditor. Other major lenders include Riyad Bank and Mashreq. READ MORE HERE

What If Oil Prices Drop Suddenly?: The GCC Dilemma, As Imagined By Citibank What If Oil Prices Drop Suddenly?: The GCC Dilemma, As Imagined By Citibank(0)

Barclays Capital expects GCC economies to rise 5.4% this year, but Citibank worries that a sudden drop in oil prices could leave the states with a dilemma: whether to curtail spending or keep pumping funds into the economy. READ MORE HERE

MENA 2012 Outlook: Oil Exporting Countries MENA 2012 Outlook: Oil Exporting Countries(0)

In the first part of the 2012 regional economic prospects, a look at oil-rich countries’ efforts to manage their citizens’ expectations, economic slowdown and regional and domestic political upheavals in the New Year.

The year 2011 was probably the most unexpected for the Middle East in decades with  not just the magnitude of changes unravelling in the region, but also the sheer number of those cataclysmic changes. READ MORE HERE

SPECIAL COMMENT: The Arab Spring Could Turn Into A Long And Cruel Winter SPECIAL COMMENT: The Arab Spring Could Turn Into A Long And Cruel Winter(0)

By Alon Ben-Meir

Due to a host of common denominators in the Arab world including the lack of traditional liberalism, the tribes’ power, the elites’ control of business, the hold on power by ethnic minorities, the military that cling to power, and the religious divide and Islamic extremism, the Arab Spring could sadly turn into a long and cruel winter. These factors are making the transformation into a more reformist governance, slow, filled with hurdles and punctuated with intense bloodshed. At the same time, each Arab country differs characteristically from one another on other dimensions including: history and culture, demographic composition, the role of the military, resources, and geostrategic situations. This combination of commonality and uniqueness has had, and will continue to have, significant impacts on how the uprising in each Arab country evolves and what kind of political order might eventually emerge.

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$25Bn Gulf Debt Maturities In 2012 Pose Risk: S&P $25Bn Gulf Debt Maturities In 2012 Pose Risk: S&P(0)

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said today that issuers in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries face rising refinancing risks over the next three years because the amount of debt maturing in the region will increase significantly between 2012-2014.

Industry experts estimate bonds and sukuk of about $25 billion will mature in 2012, rising to about $35 billion in 2014. Standard & Poor’s believes the region is therefore entering a challenging loan and bond refinancing cycle, especially given the ongoing volatility in capital markets and fears that slowing global economic growth is already curbing corporate debt issuance and heightening refinancing risk in the region.
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Arab Spring: A New Era In A Transforming Globe Arab Spring: A New Era In A Transforming Globe(0)

By Alon Ben-Meir

November 8, 2011

The Arab uprising must be seen as an integral part of a world in transformation. The technological and informational revolutions that have spurred (and continue to spur) globalization and interconnectedness between cultures make it impossible for tyrants to rule for the entirety of their lifetimes while mercilessly subjugating their peoples to lives of servitude with no prospect of ever tasting the true meaning of freedom.
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The Middle East’s 10 Most Expensive Retail Locations The Middle East’s 10 Most Expensive Retail Locations(0)

Middle East retail rents staganted in the 2010/11 period which ended in June, according to research consultants Cushman & Wakefield (C&W).

This downward trend was in sharp contrast to the growth seen in other emerging markets. Not surprisngly, some of the countries most affected by the Arab revolt saw the most severe declines. Bahrain’s retail rents fell 26.7% during the period, while Syria saw a 16.7% decline.
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Outlook For UAE Darkens; Gulf Not Immune Either: Deutsche Bank Outlook For UAE Darkens; Gulf Not Immune Either: Deutsche Bank(0)

The UAE which is more aligned than other regional states to global economic  cycles, saw its PMI fall from 57.5 in April to 51.0 in July, suggesting that that any further deterioration in global economies will be felt more in the UAE compared to other Gulf states, says Deutsche Bank. READ MORE HERE

MENA Needs 3.5 Million New ‘Affordable’ Homes, says Jones Lang LaSalle MENA Needs 3.5 Million New ‘Affordable’ Homes, says Jones Lang LaSalle(0)

The MENA region has a shortage of 3.5 million affordable dwellings, with Egypt, Iraq, Morocco and Saudi Arabia suffering from the biggest shortfalls.

For all the boom (and subsequent busts) in the regional real estate markets, there remains a shortage of a little more than 3.5 million units of affordable housing in the MENA region, according to Jones Lang LaSalle, the real estate consultants.

The largest shortfalls are in the markets of Egypt (1,500,000), Iraq (1,000,000), Morocco (600,000) and Saudi Arabia (400,000), but other Gulf markets also face shortages, brought upon by a host of factors. READ MORE HERE

Predicting Black Swans Predicting Black Swans(0)

Could the Arab Spring have been predicted? More significant, could we have predicted that Saudi Arabia will remain stable throughout the turmoil? Or even where Bin Laden was hiding? New data mining techniques suggest we can. READ MORE HERE

A Lost Political Decade For Bahrain? A Lost Political Decade For Bahrain?(0)

In many ways, Bahrain is the odd one out in the GCC bloc. The smallest state in the Gulf with the smallest economy and geographic area, Bahrain is also weak on natural resources, unlike its other fellow GCC members. Its Sunni rulers also find themselves in the minority and in the tough position of running a Shia-dominated population – other Gulf states don’t have that acute problem.

And these issues appear to be undoing much of Bahrain’s economic progress of the past few decades. READ MORE HERE

Arab Spring Costs Gulf $150 Billion Arab Spring Costs Gulf $150 Billion(1)

Gulf states have pledged $150-billion in response to the regional unrest, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch estimates. But it may not be enough. READ MORE HERE

The world’s best and worst central bankers The world’s best and worst central bankers(0)

Lebanon’s Riad Salameh is ranked as one of the world’s best central bankers. But which Mideast bank governor fares worse than Ben Bernanke and Jean-Claude Trichet? Surprising answer! READ MORE HERE

How The S&P Downgrade Impacts the Gulf States How The S&P Downgrade Impacts the Gulf States(0)

The Standard & Poor’s  downgrade of the U.S. economy was the great unthinkable just a few months ago. They are now a stark reality. While the short-term impact may not be immediate – save for market gyrations, it is long-term implications are clear: the U.S. economy is no longer the safest, the most dynamic and the most enduring in the world, and U.S. Treasuries – may be not tomorrow but certainly over time – will no longer the safe havens everybody counted on.

The Gulf states which have aligned itself to the U.S. Dollar in more ways than one, also need to think radically outside their dollar-filled box. While, don’t expect Gulf states to publicly speak negatively about the U.S. economy or the dollar, one certainly hopes that behind closed doors, there is a concerted hope to realign the regional economies to the new realities. READ MORE HERE
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After Losing $33B in H1, Gulf Markets Hope For Better Second Half After Losing $33B in H1, Gulf Markets Hope For Better Second Half(1)

Gulf markets have lagged other global emerging and developed markets for years. Even as the S&P 500 and other emerging market indices rescaled their pre-Lehman levels, Gulf markets have stayed listless, drifting lower and lower until they have plumbed new depths. But have the markets finally bottomed out? With the Gulf economies seeing major improvement in their fortunes, thanks to government stimulus, will it rub off on the markets as well in the second half of the year? Gulf markets lost USD33.4-billion in market capitalization in the first half of the year due to a number of factors that conspired to negatively impact investor sentiment.

READ MORE HERE

30% drop in Bahrain real estate points to a larger problem 30% drop in Bahrain real estate points to a larger problem(0)

Like the rest of the economy, Bahrain real estate sector has suffered on account of the country’s political and social unrest. With the economy expected to grow at a snail’s pace – indeed some analysts expect Bahrain’s GDP to contract this year – growth in most sectors will be hard to find. As the country’s political dialogue in limbo, the economy appears to be in a depressed state.

Bahrain’s rent has seen a 30% drop in certain areas due to the unrest in the country. The tiny Kingdom had come to a standstill earlier this year after Shia protestors clashed with Bahraini and GCC forces, which led to the deaths and imprisonment of many protestors. A state of emergency was imposed immediately in the country and lifted in June, but by that time the damage to the economy was clear. READ MORE HERE

Dubai Among 10 Sovereigns Most Likely To Default Dubai Among 10 Sovereigns Most Likely To Default(0)

Gulf states saw their default risks subside considerably during the second quarter as investors shrugged off the Arab Spring and focused on the troubled EU states. Still, Dubai remained among the list of sovereigns most likely to default.

Dubai, which was ranked as the 7th most risky sovereign in the first quarter, is now at the edge of the list of 10 countries most likely to default, according to data from the second quarter of 2011. READ MORE HERE

No Arab Spring Dividends For The Middle East? No Arab Spring Dividends For The Middle East?(0)

The Arab World’s tryst with democracy and freedom is unlikely to bear economic fruits, according to a study. Instead, we could well see a gridlock political environment and economic growth that continues to lag global averages.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) insightful study on how the Arab Spring initiative is likely to play out, suggests a 60% probability of a gridlocked political environment that is unlikely to result in realizing the aspirations of the region’s citizens. READ MORE HERE

Cast Your Vote In Arab Spring Awards Cast Your Vote In Arab Spring Awards(0)

Spring is nearly six months old. It is time to take stock, remember those who lost their lives and continue to fight, and hand out some well-deserved awards to the key players.

The New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, asked the rhetorical question ‘What Country Handled Arab Spring The Best? His own answer: Morocco.

But he left the discussion at that. Given that the Arab Spring is just about six months old, alifarabia.com was inspired to take stock of how the various countries have handled a revolution that has smashed Middle East dogmas, broken the will of Arab strongmen and given hopes to millions not just in the Arab World but also around the world.

The Middle East has seen more public participation in politics in the past six months than it has done over the past 50 years. Much to the shock of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Hosni Mubarak and Moamer Qaddhafi, the people of the Arab World launched a unique coup that they could not have fathom and never saw coming. These strongmen were looking to suppress indigenous Islamic movements, the radicals, Al-Qaeda sympathisers, the socialists, the Shiaas and the sufis. They were looking for tangible forces they could fight, and suppress and imprison and maim – as they had done in the past.

READ MORE HERE

High-Spending Gulf In Dilemma As Opec Loses Relevance High-Spending Gulf In Dilemma As Opec Loses Relevance(0)

With Opec seemingly irrelevant, the GCC is trying to find a balance between responsible crude suppliers and their own domestic needs. But, as Deutsche Bank warns, their own high breakeven prices are making them even more vulnerable to oil price shocks than before. READ MORE HERE

Saudi-Led GCC Aims to Spread Regional Influence Saudi-Led GCC Aims to Spread Regional Influence(0)

The potential inclusion of Morocco and Jordan in the GCC fold should be taken for what it is – a political move by the Gulf states to widen their sphere of influence in the region.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with it. The United States has done it with NAFTA, the EU has been handing out membership forms to many countries within their vicinity; there is of course the ASEAN, and even BRIC nations have recruited South Africa in their club – they are now called BRICS. Read The Full Article On Economonitor

Middle East Countries Fall In Peace Index Middle East Countries Fall In Peace Index(0)

Qatar, which has been beating its regional rival on economic performance, has also won the title of the most peaceful country in the Middle East North Africa region.

The Institute of Economics & Peace, bestowed the number one regional ranking to Qatar in its annual Global Peace Index (GPI) 2011. READ MORE HERE
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$1.6T Middle East Projects Are Delayed Or Cancelled: Citibank $1.6T Middle East Projects Are Delayed Or Cancelled: Citibank(0)

Close to $1.6-trillion worth of projects are cancelled or are on hold in the Middle East and East North African market, with $800-billion in the UAE alone, according to Citibank. The statistics are a reflection of the hangover of the leveraged days in the region when billion dollar projects were announced virtually every other day. Read More Here

Gulf Plus: The GCC Looks To Expand Its Sphere Of Influence Gulf Plus: The GCC Looks To Expand Its Sphere Of Influence(0)

Jordan and Morocco’s possible inclusion in the Gulf is a political move rather than an economic one, but there might be other – unlikely – candidates in the region far suitable for the purpose.

The potential inclusion of Morocco and Jordan in the GCC fold should be taken for what it is – a political move by the Gulf states to widen their sphere of influence in the region. Read More Here

Survey: Revival & Reach of Islamic Finance Survey: Revival & Reach of Islamic Finance(1)

By Rushdi Siddiqui, Global Head, Islamic Finance & OIC Countries Thomson Reuters

It’s polling time once again in Islamic finance, but, today, we survey two major developments: Arab revolution and death of Osama Bin Laden (OBL), and examine the consequences, if any, on Islamic finance on the Maghreb and anti-Shariah countries.

Interestingly, the million-dollar mansion living OBL and his executive team camped in ‘cave gate-aways’ witnessed in real time the Al Qaeda ideology of hate, mayhem and murder discredited by a highly educated, but very poor Tunisian fruit-seller seeking dignity of work in providing for his family.
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Middle East States’ Foreign Assets To Hit $2.2 Trillion By Year End: IIF Middle East States’ Foreign Assets To Hit $2.2 Trillion By Year End: IIF(0)

The Arab World’s foreign assets will rise to a stunning $2.2-trillion this year, says the IIF. But the key to growth in the region will not be financial resources but structural reforms, otherwise tensions will remain. Read More Here

Japan quake and China hard landing to impact Gulf trade flow Japan quake and China hard landing to impact Gulf trade flow(0)

With Japan shaken by the quake and China looking at hard landing, the Gulf’s two largest partners are going through a tumultuous period, which could impact their trade flows with the GCC. Read More

S&P negative outlook on U.S. credit is a mixed bag for Middle East S&P negative outlook on U.S. credit is a mixed bag for Middle East(0)

Ratings agencies have an uncanny knack of turning up at morgues and pronouncing the death of the deceased, so it should have been no surprise that Standard & Poor’s did the ‘unthinkable’ and downgraded the United States’ long-term outlook to negative from stable. Read More Here

Gulf States Have World’s Lowest Corporate Tax Regimes Gulf States Have World’s Lowest Corporate Tax Regimes(0)

Most Gulf states offer some of the lowest tax rates to Forbes 2000 companies. But is there a link between the trouble in other Middle East states and their tax rates? Read More Here

Middle East Sovereign Debtors Seen As Among Riskiest By Global Investors Middle East Sovereign Debtors Seen As Among Riskiest By Global Investors(1)

Saudi Arabia is no longer in the list of the ten safest sovereign debtors in the world, meanwhile Lebanon, Iraq, Dubai and Egypt all find themselves in the list of ten riskiest sovereign debtors, according to new data. Read More

What Were The Middle East’s Best And Worst Performing Stocks In Q1? What Were The Middle East’s Best And Worst Performing Stocks In Q1?(2)

What were the MENA region’s best performing stocks in the first quarter – more importantly, which were the worst that burnt investors, including one that fell 99.02% in the quarter? Read More Here

Gold Reserves of Middle East & North Africa Governments Gold Reserves of Middle East & North Africa Governments(1)

Saudi Arabia’s gold reserves dwarf Libya’s hordings. Here is a selected list of countries with the biggest gold reserves, including almost every Middle East nation.

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Dubai Tourism Gets A Boost, But Egypt and Bahrain Will Struggle This Year: Citibank Dubai Tourism Gets A Boost, But Egypt and Bahrain Will Struggle This Year: Citibank(0)

The emirate’s economy may benefit as international visitors choose hotels in Dubai over other troubled regional tourist destinations, notes Citibank. But Egypt and Bahrain will suffer from poor growth.

The UAE may benefit from the unrest in other parts of the Middle East, according to Citibank, with Dubai set to grow 5% this year and at an even faster clip at 6% in 2012.

“Due to its relative political stability, we believe there is a possibility of a diversion of commercial, investor and tourist activity from less stable parts of the region. The external sector thus is the main driver of the recovery, with gains being posted both in export growth, and a reduction in imports,” notes Citibank. READ MORE

Standard Chartered’s Gulf Debt Outlook & Dubai Concerns Standard Chartered’s Gulf Debt Outlook & Dubai Concerns(2)

The GCC has around $40bn of debt coming due each year over the next five years, says Standard Chartered Bank (SCB). Plus a chart that neatly shows SCB’s forecasts returns on each country’s bonds. Read More Here

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Qatar Catching Up To Dubai As Middle East Financial Centre Rivalry Heats Up Qatar Catching Up To Dubai As Middle East Financial Centre Rivalry Heats Up(0)

Dubai retains its position as the regional financial centre, but Doha is fast catching up as an alternative centre, according to the latest survey of global financial service managers. But Both are losing to Asian rivals. Read More

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Brace for funds flowing out of Bahrain Brace for funds flowing out of Bahrain(1)

The Middle East crisis will see capital flowing out of the region, especially the vulnerable financial hub of Bahrain, according to a poll.

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Japan’s Nuclear Crisis Is Boon For Middle East Energy Japan’s Nuclear Crisis Is Boon For Middle East Energy(1)

As Japan’s nuclear meltdown puts the brakes on yet another power source, the world is looking at ME energy to fill the gap. Luckily, there is plenty coming on line, despite the region’s shot-term problems. Read More

EFG-Hermes’ Insightful Heat Map On Middle East’s Problems EFG-Hermes’ Insightful Heat Map On Middle East’s Problems(2)

Read why EFG-Hermes is worried about Omani and Bahraini growth. And the bank’s insightful regional heat map that neatly highlights problem areas. Read the full story here

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Gulf’s ‘Marshall Plan’ Blues Gulf’s ‘Marshall Plan’ Blues(2)

Just when analysts were giving up on a truly unified GCC, the six states have closed ranks with the unmistakable presence of Saudi tanks and soldiers on Bahraini soil. Read More
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Top 5 Middle East Oil Projects Top 5 Middle East Oil Projects(3)

Take a look at five of the largest oil projects in the Middle East, including one that could alleviate much of Bahrain’s economic problems… Read More

How Much Wealth Do Arab Rulers Control Directly? How Much Wealth Do Arab Rulers Control Directly?(0)

The rulers and royal families of the Arab World directly control more than $240-billion of investments in publicly-listed firms, surpassing SWF and government institutions, according to data. Read More

Reforms Are Need Of The Hour, Not Stimulus Packages Reforms Are Need Of The Hour, Not Stimulus Packages(0)

Quantitative easing and stimulus packages in the Gulf region are not enough if they are not backed by a healthy dose of social and political reforms. Read More Read More

Why Bahrain Matters Why Bahrain Matters(0)

In many ways, the Bahrain protests are even more worrisome than that of Egypt and Tunisia, as any significant changes to Bahrain’s political structure can upset the status quo in the Gulf. Read More

Growth Retraction Fears in Middle East Growth Retraction Fears in Middle East(0)

As events in Egypt change faster than you can update them on Twitter or Facebook, regional authorities are looking at the short-term and long-term impact of the crisis on their own economies. Read More

Where’s the next Tunisia? Where’s the next Tunisia?(0)

Which countries are ‘ripe for a revolution’ and is there a likelihood that the people of the Arab World will be able to shake the very foundations of the region’s autocracy, monarchy and dictatorships that rule their fates? Read More

Risky Sovereigns Risky Sovereigns(0)

Question: Which Middle East ‘country’ is most likely to default? Clue: It is not Iraq or Lebanon! Read More

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AlifArabia aims to provide analysis on Middle East and Africa business and political issues. It wants to see a thriving and dynamic Middle East that encourages corporate and government transparency, investments and policies that allow the economies to grow.

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