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Arabian Gulf Business Insight


Comment & Analysis

Bahrain in focus

Bahrain’s non-oil economy has wind in its sails

With Bahrain’s finances looking better than many expected, inflation broadly contained, and moves under way to boost private sector projects, the mood in the capital, Manama, is more upbeat in 2022 than seemed plausible 12 months ago. Darkening economic skies – largely coronavirus-related but also due to weaker hydrocarbons proceeds – had forced the government […]

Doubling oil output may prove a challenge too far

Four years after announcing a giant discovery of 80 billion barrels of oil shale and 20 trillion cubic feet of gas off the coast of Bahrain, Manama has yet to make a final decision on whether to push ahead with what would be an expensive and challenging project. The offshore basin, which wraps around the […]

Crown prince keen to catch up after slow start on green energy

At a time of heightened global pressure to cut carbon emissions, many Gulf countries are racing to develop their renewable energy credentials. Bahrain, however, has been one of the slower-moving actors, and still relies on conventional fuels for almost all of its electricity.  The country had a mere 12mw of renewable capacity in 2021, just […]

The Bahrain World Trade Center

The Gulf island state’s vision for recovery and growth

From building new cities to upskilling nationals for digital transformation, Ali Murtaza, executive director, business development for tourism and real estate on the Bahrain Economic Development Board, answers a Q&A with AGBI on the state’s all-encompassing recovery strategy. Bahrain’s economic recovery plan was revised during the coronavirus pandemic. What are the details? The economic recovery […]

Manama goes all out to woo international holidaymakers

If the number of people that poured into Bahrain in March for the Formula 1 Grand Prix is any guide, the country’s tourism prospects look bright. One observer reported seeing more private jets at the airport than ever before, and the race-day attendance of 35,000 fans was a record. Those signs of revival from the […]


Latest from the Middle East

Kuwait central bank raises discount rate by 25 bps

The Central Bank of Kuwait raised its discount rate by 25 basis points to 2.75 percent effective from Thursday, it said in a statement on Wednesday. The decision was in response to inflationary pressures, bank Governor Basel Al-Haroon said in the statement. The bank had also increased the rate by 25 bps on July 27, […]

Oman’s hotel revenues surge 121.4% in H1 2022

Revenues of hotels in Oman surged 121.4 percent year-on-year to reach 83.36 million rials ($217 million) by the end of June 2022 year-on-year (YoY), state-owned Oman News Agency reported, citing the National Centre for Statistics and Information. The number of guests in the three and five-star hotel categories increased 44.6 percent YoY in the first […]

Snap eyes Qatar office to support local creators

US social media firm Snap Inc. has signed a memorandum of understanding with Qatar’s Government Communications Office (GCO) to open a new office in Doha, expanding its footprint across the Middle East. This move is part of Snap’s efforts to work closely with local partners and businesses to grow the country’s digital landscape, GCO said […]

Crushed by war, Syrian tourism eyes expat uptick

Somar Hazim had high hopes when he opened a hotel in Damascus in 2009, adding to a growing number of boutique guest houses in the Old City that were proving to be a hit with tourists, before war broke out and forced him to close down. Although security returned to Damascus years ago, big-spending foreign […]

Text, Word, Number

Iran makes first import order using cryptocurrency

Iran made its first official import order using cryptocurrency this week, the semi-official Tasnim agency reported on Tuesday, a move that could enable the Islamic Republic to circumvent US sanctions that have crippled the economy. The order, worth $10 million, was a first step towards allowing the country to trade through digital assets that bypass […]

London finance firm sees GCC as Europe-Asia bridge

London-based DKK Partners, an emerging markets foreign exchange liquidity provider, has announced a major expansion into the Middle East. Four new offices will open in the MENA region as it sees the GCC developing into a “financial hub that bridges Europe with Asia”. The company, which has its headquarters in Mayfair, has seen its revenues […]

Flag, Symbol, Outdoors

Oman budget swings into surplus on oil price rise

Oman’s budget recorded a surplus of 357 million rials ($929.7 million) by the end of the first quarter, boosted by a more than 70 percent rise in oil revenue as output and prices surged, finance ministry data showed. That compared with a deficit of 751 million rials in the same period a year earlier, the […]

Kuwait’s Agility signs $1.4bn credit facility with banks

Kuwait’s Agility, one of the largest Gulf logistics companies, said on Sunday it had signed a new credit facility of 1.4 billion euros ($1.06 billion). The transaction is part of a financing round that is expected to total about $3.2 billion, it said. The company said the money will pay for the company’s growth plans, […]

Saudi Arabia latest

Advertisement, Billboard, Bird

Former Twitter employee is convicted in Saudi spy case

A former Twitter Inc manager accused of spying for Saudi Arabia was convicted on Tuesday on six criminal counts, including acting as an agent for the country and trying to disguise a payment from an official tied to Saudi’s royal family. Ahmad Abouammo, a dual US-Lebanese citizen who at Twitter helped oversee relationships with journalists […]

Saudi PIF joins France’s Ardian to bid for Heathrow stake

French private equity firm Ardian is looking at a possible joint proposal with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) to buy Spainish firm Ferrovial’s 25 percent stake in London’s Heathrow, Reuters reported, citing informed sources. The sources said that Ardian has talked with its own advisers on a possible joint proposal with the Saudi sovereign […]

Clothing, Apparel, Bonnet

How the new Saudi Companies Law could affect your business

Saudi Arabia’s Council of Ministers recently approved a new Companies Law, which aims to enhance the growth of the kingdom’s commercial ecosystem.  According to the Ministry of Commerce, the law aims to increase business sustainability and encourage investment in SMEs by facilitating procedures and regulatory requirements.  It introduces new corporate entities, increasing the level of […]

German insurer Allianz weighs stake sale in Saudi subsidiary

German insurer Allianz SE is weighing a sale of its Saudi Arabian unit, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The German insurer is working with an adviser on the potential disposal of its controlling stake in Allianz Saudi Fransi Cooperative Insurance Co. Other insurers have expressed preliminary interest in acquiring the business. Deliberations […]

Saudi reforms aim to attract $3.79 trillion in investment by 2030

Saudi Arabia has passed over 600 economic reforms designed to attract SAR 12.4 trillion ($3.3 trillion) of cumulative investment and SAR 1.8 trillion in foreign direct investment inflows between 2021 and 2030, Saad Al-Shahrani, acting deputy minister for investment promotion in the Ministry of Investment, told Arab News. The reforms are part of Saudi Vision […]

UAE Latest

Dubai utility DEWA’s Q2 profit up 37% on growing energy demand

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) reported a net profit of AED 2.61 billion ($707.9 million), up 37 percent year-on-year, in the second quarter of 2022 on higher energy demand. Revenue rose 14 percent year-on-year to AED 7.01 billion during the three month period ended June 30, 2022. The utility provider’s first half of 2022 […]

Mubadala in bid to buy world’s third-largest sugarcane processor

UAE state investor Mubadala Investment Co and energy company Raizen SA are in the final round to acquire Brazilian ethanol joint venture BP Bunge Bioenergia, the world’s third-largest sugarcane processor, one source with knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday. There are no other bidders in the second round and former proposals from other companies […]

Person, Human, Building

UAE lifts prison term for American convicted of money laundering

A United Arab Emirates court has lifted a prison sentence but upheld a conviction on money laundering charges for US citizen and civil rights attorney Asim Ghafoor, who was detained while transiting through Dubai last month, the Judicial Department and a lawyer for Ghafoor said on Wednesday. The court ordered Ghafoor to pay AED 5 […]

Abu Dhabi’s IHC eyes more takeovers in India and Turkey

Abu Dhabi conglomerate International Holding Co (IHC) expects to increase its takeover activity, including in India and Turkey, as global market turbulence has created “a buyers’ market,” its chief executive told Reuters on Wednesday. IHC, the most valuable company on the Abu Dhabi bourse with a market capitalisation of around $167 billion, is aiming for […]

Person, Human, Airport

Dubai’s biggest bank gives staff a pay rise to combat inflation

Dubai’s biggest bank Emirates NBD has given most employees a pay rise of up to 8 percent to help cushion against rising costs of living driven by inflation, two sources familiar with the matter said. The increases varied according to seniority and were part of a mid-cycle salary adjustment for inflation, with top executives receiving […]

Around the world

Lloyd's of London headquarters

Lloyd’s insurers preparing to cover Ukraine grain

Lloyd’s of London insurers and brokers are preparing to provide cover for grain shipments from Ukraine and are likely to announce their plans shortly, the commercial insurance market’s chairman said on Wednesday. Russia and Ukraine signed a deal on Friday, brokered by Turkey and the United Nations, to reopen grain and fertiliser exports that have […]

Word, Symbol, Wall

IMF cuts global growth forecast, warns of recession from inflation

The International Monetary Fund have cut global growth forecasts again, warning that downside risks from high inflation and the Ukraine war were materializing and could push the world economy to the brink of recession if left unchecked. Global real GDP growth will slow to 3.2 percent in 2022 from a forecast of 3.6 percent issued […]

Metropolis, City, Urban

China plans to set up real estate fund worth up to $44bn

China is planning to set up a real estate fund that could be worth up to 300 billion yuan ($44.39 billion) to support more than a dozen property developers, including embattled China Evergrande Group, financial information provider REDD reported on Monday, citing sources. The fund has secured 50 billion yuan from China Construction Bank and […]

Sports Car, Car, Transportation

Porsche faces uphill drive in race to public listing

Porsche may have to go public at a steep discount if it insists on going ahead as economic obstacles mount, two people involved in the landmark multi-billion-euro listing said. The prospect of a larger than customary discount would be a setback to the controlling families pushing the initial public offering to fund a costly makeover […]

Djibouti explores geothermal energy to power country

Icelandic engineering firm Verkis is conducting a feasibility study for the direct use of geothermal energy at Assal Lake in Djibouti, one of the 22 countries of the MENA region. The study will provide guidance for international best practices regarding the sustainable use of geothermal resources. The project will be carried out for the Djiboutian […]

Symbol, Logo, Trademark

Factfile: Companies that have sold their businesses in Russia

Some Western companies have agreed to sell their Russian assets or hand them over to local managers as they scramble to comply with sanctions over the Ukraine conflict and deal with threats from the Kremlin that foreign-owned assets may be seized. The moves, part of a broader corporate exodus from the country, are likely to […]

Audience, Person, Crowd

India to invest more in Sri Lanka on top of $3.8bn already given

India is willing to make more investments in neighbouring Sri Lanka after supporting it with $3.8 billion this year, New Delhi’s envoy in Colombo told the Indian Express newspaper. “The idea is to respond to Sri Lanka’s requests for enabling them to meet their foreign exchange crisis,” said Gopal Baglay, India’s high commissioner in Sri […]

Electronics, Computer, Electronic Chip

How China became ground zero for the auto chip shortage

From his small office in Singapore, Kelvin Pang is ready to wager a $23 million payday that the worst of the chip shortage is not over for automakers – at least in China. Pang has bought 62,000 microcontrollers, chips that help control a range of functions from car engines and transmissions to electric vehicle power […]

Turkey Latest

Turkey offers ‘a warehouse and bridge’ for metals trade to Russia

Western sanctions have given the Turkish metals sector a chance to serve as “warehouse and bridge”, the head of an industry group said, citing increased interest from Russian companies and also from European Union (EU) companies seeking to sell to Russia via Turkey. The West, including Britain and European Union countries, have imposed sanctions on […]

Turkey’s June current account deficit set for $3.4bn, says poll

Turkey’s current account is expected to record a deficit of $3.4 billion in June and end the year with a deficit of more than $40 billion, a Reuters poll showed on Friday, as soaring energy prices widen the shortfall. The trade deficit, a major component of the current account balance, soared 184.5 percent in June […]

Person, Human, Soil

Exporters cut year-end targets in blow to government plans

Turkish exporters are revising down year-end targets in a move that could derail the government’s economic plans as new orders drop amid signs of a global slowdown and inflationary pressure. Turkey’s exports rose by 19 percent year-on-year in the first seven months of 2022 to $144.4 billion, but deteriorating global conditions, exacerbated by the war […]

Person, Human, Crowd

Turkish central bank’s net forex reserves rise to $9.12bn

The Turkish central bank’s net international reserves rose around $2.4 billion to $9.12 billion in the week to July 29, rising to their highest level in two months, data from the central bank showed on Thursday. The exchange rate used by Reuters on Thursday was 17.9044. The net forex reserves dropped to $6.07 billion on […]

Turkey’s inflation surges to 70%, putting Erdogan in bind

Turkey’s annual inflation jumped to a two-decade high of 69.97 percent in April, according to data on Thursday, fuelled by the Russia-Ukraine conflict and rising energy and commodity prices after last year’s lira crash. The surge in prices has badly strained households just over a year before presidential and parliamentary elections that could bring the […]

Egypt Latest

Egypt’s annual urban consumer inflation rises to 13.6% in July

Egypt’s annual urban consumer inflation accelerated to a higher-than expected 13.6 percent year-on-year in July from 13.2 percent in June, data from the country’s statistics agency CAPMAS showed on Wednesday. Month-on-month, headline inflation increased by 1.3 percent, compared with a 0.1 percent decrease in June. A Reuters poll of 14 economists had predicted a median […]

Boat, Transportation, Vehicle

Saudi Arabia invests $1.3bn in four Egyptian firms

The Saudi Egyptian Investment Co (SEIC), owned by Saudi Arabia’s state-owned Public Investment Fund (PIF), has bought minority stakes in four Egyptian companies for $1.3 billion, Egypt’s planning ministry said on Wednesday. The companies are Abu Qir Fertizilers and Chemical Industries, Misr Fertilizers Production Company , Alexandria Container and Cargo Handling, and payments firm E-Finance […]

High Rise, City, Urban

Abu Dhabi’s Chimera buys 55.9% stake in Egyptian financial firm

Abu Dhabi investment firm Chimera Investment LLC said on Tuesday it has acquired a controlling stake in Egypt’s Beltone Financial Holding, part of a strategy to expand in the Middle East and North Africa region. Chimera bought 55.9 percent of Beltone at 1.485 Egyptian pounds a share, valuing the company at 661.8 million pounds ($34.6 […]

Person, Human, Archaeology

Saudi’s PIF sets up company to invest in Egyptian sectors

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) has set up a company to invest in promising Egyptian sectors, extending a policy of pumping money into the Egyptian economy. The $620 billion sovereign wealth fund said on Friday sectors in Egypt it would target through its new Saudi Egyptian Investment Co (SEIC) included infrastructure, real estate, health […]

Egyptian developer launches $26m mixed-use project

Egypt’s Golden Town Real Estate Development has launched the first phase of its EGP500 million ($26.14 million) mixed-used project, Cascada, in the New Administrative Capital. The expected total sales value is more than EGP750 million, the company said in a statement. The developer intends to invest within and outside the administrative capital, chairman Raafat Maher […]


Meet the Irishman selling ice in the desert

In the ever-competitive Dubai bar and restaurant market, a new supplier has launched this week, aiming to offer venues another unique selling point: high quality, hand-cut ice. Since he officially launched on August 1, John Gillespie, founder of Artisan Ice Co., has been targeting the top 30 venues in the city and he said the […]

Nisreen Kayyali, founder and lead architect

What does your company do? Nisreen Kayyali Consulting Engineers is a group of architects, engineers, and interior designers that specialises in the design and supervision of residential projects in the UAE. What inspired you to develop your idea? Ever since I graduated from university as an architect in 1997, I’ve dreamed about establishing a firm […]

Nidhima Kohli, the founder of Beauty Tribe

Nidhima Kohli, CEO, Beauty Tribe

What does your company do?  Beauty Tribe is the first regional beauty pure play e-commerce site offering customers a curated shopping experience provided by beauty professionals – with a unique three-hour delivery time.  It improves on the experiences shoppers are having elsewhere online: struggling with many counterfeit products, long delivery times, or lacking information on […]

Ziad Bushnaq and Faisal Al Majali, Delektia founders

What does your company do? We are a UAE-based food product development company that produces frozen, fully-cooked, and ready-to-heat-and-eat meals that are healthy and free of preservatives. We like to think our product line gives consumers a taste of home.  How I got to the top: Erika Blazeviciute Doyle, Drink Dry How I got to […]

Lifestyle & People

Water, Outdoors, Sea

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef coral at record level in some parts

Two-thirds of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef showed the largest amount of coral cover in 36 years, but the reef remains vulnerable to increasingly frequent mass bleaching, an official long term monitoring programme reported on Thursday. The recovery in the central and northern stretches of the UNESCO world heritage-listed reef contrasted with the southern region, where […]

How Ounass got the Gulf hooked on online luxury

Luxury fashion website Ounass is among the e-tail platforms credited with developing the momentum of online shopping in the Gulf region. A report by consultancy Bain and Company claims 70 percent of  GCC shoppers are now comfortable with digital retail, having always been better known for their love of malls, operated by the likes of Emaar […]

Arabic club music takes off in New York

A music venue and nightclub in Brooklyn, New York, is putting the spotlight on music from the Middle East and North Africa. Laylit, or “the night of” in Arabic, is a party night at Elsewhere with Syrian resident DJ Saphe Shamoun. Launched last October, the event had become popular, attracting over 800 people. On the […]

Ex FIFA duo Blatter, Platini cleared of fraud in Swiss trial

Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter and France footballing legend Michel Platini were both cleared of corruption charges by a Swiss court on Friday after a seven-year investigation during which they were booted out of the sport. A judge said the pair’s account of a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ for FIFA to pay Platini 2 million Swiss francs […]

Text, Credit Card

Twitter says it removes over 1 million spam accounts each day

Twitter removes more than 1 million spam accounts each day, executives told reporters in a briefing on Thursday, providing new insight into efforts to reduce harmful automated bots as billionaire Elon Musk has demanded more details from the social media company. The briefing comes after Musk threatened to halt a $44 billion deal to purchase […]

$500-an-hour sobriety coach helps Dubai’s big drinkers

Dubai’s work-hard, play-hard expat party lifestyle, and its famous all-you-can-drink weekend brunches can be the perfect breeding ground for potential alcoholics, according to the founder of a new $500-an-hour sober coaching service. British sober and recovery coach, David Golding, relocated to Dubai nearly four months ago and has launched Sober Lifestyle Coaching, a 13-week recovery […]

Reviving the ancient tradition of wine-making in Egypt

Egypt’s revival of its tourism sector following the coronavirus pandemic impacts on its wine industry as well as its expanding hotel sector. Today, popular wine brands in the country include Omar Khayyam, Ayyam, Shahrazade, and Beausoleil, which are served in many of Egypt’s hotels, resorts and the bars in some of the more upmarket neighbourhoods. They’re […]

Mobile Phone, Phone, Cell Phone

Life after the smartphone? BlackBerry revenue tops estimates

Canada’s BlackBerry Ltd topped Wall Street estimates for first-quarter revenue on Thursday, powered by growth in its auto products and cybersecurity services segments. Soaring demand for electric vehicles and connected-car technologies boosted sales of BlackBerry’s auto software, used in cars made by General Motors, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota, among others. BlackBerry said that revenue from its […]