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Arabian Gulf Business Insight


Comment & Analysis

Focus on cryptocurrency

A shopkeeper shows off her bitcoin wallet. The digital currency gained 27 percent in July

The beginner’s guide to cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrencies are a new form of digital money that are not issued or maintained by central authorities. Instead, they usually operate through blockchain technology, a shared digital database that facilitates and records transactions between individuals.  The use of blockchain technology means crypto transactions tend to be cheaper and faster than those involving traditional fiat currencies. […]

Central Bank of the UAE

Central banks go digital, bit by bit

The turmoil in cryptocurrency markets this year has been a wake-up call to investors and regulators, prompting questions about how viable many digital currencies really are. According to CoinMarketCap, the total value of cryptocurrencies has slumped from almost $3 trillion in November 2021 to less than $1 trillion in September this year.  But not all […]

Man on laptop

DeFi could go mainstream, with a little help from Gulf regulators

For those who imagine a world without banks, decentralised finance – better known as DeFi – is an empowering development in the crypto universe. So, how does it put users in charge of their own finances?  DeFi is the provision of financial products and services without the need for intermediaries such as banks, exchanges or […]

The Bhukkad Cafe in Dubai began accepting cryptrocurrency as a means of creating awareness of the payment system

Should your business jump on the bandwagon?

From groceries to luxury properties, hotel stays to coffees, burgers to business licenses, consumers in the UAE can now buy it all using cryptocurrency. But, even as several bricks-and-mortar businesses jump on the crypto bandwagon and regulations evolve, experts say the uptake is modest and widespread adoption in the Gulf state is still about five […]

Latest from the Middle East

Venture capital firms back female business founders in MENA

Playfair Capital and Dubai-based Global Ventures have launched ‘Female Founder Office Hours’ across MENA – with 150 leading venture capital funds hosting virtual mentoring sessions for more than 400 women founders on November 10. The eighth edition of Female Founder Office Hours since it was launched in the UK 2019 is part of a long-term […]

Building, Bench, Furniture

Bahrain’s hospitality sector grows 18%, helping Q2 GDP up 6.9%

Bahrain’s gross domestic product rose 6.9 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2022, posting the biggest annual increase since 2011, Bahrain News Agency reported, citing the Ministry of Finance and National Economy. The positive economic growth was driven by the strong performance of the non-oil sectors targeted by the Economic Recovery Plan. The hotels […]

Tea vendor in Tunis

Tunisians protest against poverty, high prices and food shortages

Hundreds of Tunisians protested against poverty, high prices and food shortages in the capital on Sunday night, escalating pressure on the government of President Kais Saied. Tunisia is struggling to revive its public finances as discontent grows over inflation of nearly 9 percent and a shortage of many food items in stores because the country […]

A closed Credit Libanais branch in Sidon, southern Lebanon,

Lebanon’s banks to reopen after wave of holdups

Lebanon’s banks will reopen on Monday, the country’s banking association said, after five days of closures that followed a wave of holdups by savers seeking access to their frozen funds. The association said in a statement on Sunday that the decision to reopen “was taken after consideration of the current difficult security conditions and the […]

A Burjeel hospital

UAE health firm Burjeel to offer 11% stake in October IPO

Abu Dhabi-based hospital operator Burjeel Holdings plans to offer an 11 percent stake in an initial public offering on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, the company said in a statement on Monday. Burjeel will be the first private company to be listed on the Abu Dhabi exchange since 2011. The company intends to offer about […]

Fears mount over Iran’s inaction on climate change

In just over a year, Iran has endured deadly flash floods, crop-ruining drought, punishing dust storms and heatwaves that have pushed temperatures as high as 48 degrees Celsius – all crises likely fuelled by climate change. But for the people affected, finding help is proving very difficult. Iran is one of just four countries that have […]

TotalEnergies to invest $1.5bn in Qatar’s gas expansion project

France’s TotalEnergies will invest nearly $1.5 billion in Qatar’s North Field South (NFS) gas expansion project, Qatar News Agency reported. State-owned QatarEnergy has selected TotalEnergies as the first international partner in the North Field South (NFS) expansion project. TotalEnergies will hold a 9.375 percent stake in the project out of a total 25 percent interest […]

Kuwait issues runway tender as part of airport expansion drive

Kuwait’s civil aviation authority has issued a tender for building works at the country’s main airport as part of a multibillion-dollar refurbishment and expansion programme.  Kuwait International Airport will add a new passenger terminal and a third runway, which the government hopes will bolster the domestic aviation industry and help attract more transit passengers flying […]


Saudi Arabia latest

Saudi Arabia launches five renewable energy projects

The state-owned Saudi Power Procurement Company has launched five renewable energy projects to produce 3,300 MW of electricity, Saudi Press Agency has reported. The wind energy projects in Yanbu, Al-Ghat and Waad Al Shamal have a combined capacity of 1,800 MW, generating 700 MW, 600 MW and 500 MW respectively. With a total production capacity of […]

Gulf oil CEOs attack ‘unrealistic’ energy transition goals

Saudi Aramco’s CEO has lambasted the “unrealistic” energy transition scenarios that he claims have exacerbated a global energy crisis. His counterpart at Abu Dhabi National Co (ADNOC) also warned that efforts to tackle climate change could prove counterproductive if they slow economic growth.  In unusually fiery comments, Aramco CEO and president Amin Nasser warned that […]

Oman-Saudi trade doubles to $3.24bn in H1 2022

Bilateral trade between Oman and Saudi Arabia more than doubled to exceed OR 1.249 billion ($3.24 billion) during the first half of 2022, compared to OR 595 million in the year-earlier period, Oman Daily Observer reported. Saudi Arabia’s exports to Oman reached OR 831 million, with metals topping the chart with OR 538 million. On […]

Saudi Arabia to send first Saudi woman to space in 2023

Saudi Arabia will send the first Saudi woman to space in 2023 as part of the Saudi Space Commission’s (SSC) new astronaut program, state-owned Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. The kingdom’s first space program will send a Saudi crew to space as it plans to launch its National Space Strategy in the coming months, which […]

Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al-Arifi

New CEO named for Saudi’s $1.3trn private sector push

A new CEO has been appointed to the Private Sector Partnership Reinforcement Program which aims to facilitate investments of $1.33 trillion from Saudi private sector businesses by 2030. Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al-Arifi, advisor to the Secretariat General of the Cabinet and a former CEO of finance at Jadwa Investment, has been hired to lead the […]

UAE Latest

UAE reforms seen as magnet for further US investment

A series of new economic and social reforms, known as the Projects of the 50, will make the UAE an even more attractive environment for American businesses. According to Danny E Sebright, president of the US-UAE Business Council, the UAE is already widely recognised by American businesses for these strengths. “Another important strength of the […]

Abu Dhabi-owned firm offers $190m for Brazilian soccer club

City Football Group (CFG), the owner of Manchester City English Premier League soccer team, made an offer of 1 billion reais ($190 million) for 90 percent of Brazilian club Esporte Clube Bahia, CFG said on Friday. The purchase is part of a funding bonanza in Brazilian soccer, following the approval of a law that allowed […]

Abu Dhabi eyes $200m stake in India’s biggest REIT

Blackstone Inc. will sell a stake worth up to $400 million in Embassy Office Parks REIT, India’s biggest real estate investment trust, via Indian stock exchange block deals, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund, one of the world’s largest, is likely to pick up at least half of […]

More UAE banks must sign up for true benefits of instant payments

The Central Bank of the UAE needs to mandate more banks and financial institutions to sign up be ready for the roll out of its new instant payments system. The Emirates will soon join its neighbours Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Oman in offering the Instant Payments Platform (IPP), a new and more comprehensive real-time payments […]

Around the world

McDonald’s hikes prices in Japan on higher input costs, weaker yen

Japan’s McDonald’s fast food restaurants will raise prices on about 60 percent of its offerings to customers, fuelled by rising input costs and exchange-rate fluctuations, the company said on Monday. It marks the company’s second set of price increases this year as Japan grapples with inflationary pressures and a slide in the yen to a […]

Uzbekistan halts use of Russia’s Mir payment cards

Uzbekistan’s UZCARD system has suspended the processing of payments via Mir cards issued by Bank of Russia’s National Card Payment System (NSPK), the chief executive of which has been targeted by US sanctions. The move by UZCARD was warranted by the need “to carry out the necessary technical procedures”, it said in a statement on […]

Person, Human, Flagstone

Cyprus GDP forecast at 5.5%, inflation may hit 8.4% in 2022

Cyprus’s economy is forecast to grow by 5.5 percent in 2022 on better than expected tourism arrivals, although the outlook is tempered by energy market turbulence which will sap demand later in the year, the island’s Central Bank said on Thursday. Updated projections of economic output were 2.8 basis points higher than previous projections made […]

IATA warns demand may weaken if China stays shut next year

The strength of the overall recovery in global airline passenger demand will be impacted if China continues to enforce tight border restrictions next year, the head of airline body IATA said on Wednesday. International Air Transport Association Director General Willie Walsh told a conference in Doha that China’s zero-COVID policy had “devastated” Hong Kong, and […]

Australia’s central bank says hikes could slow at some point

Australia’s central bank is set on raising interest rates again as it battles to contain red-hot inflation, but sees a case for slowing the pace of hikes as policy settings approached more normal levels. Minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) September Board meeting out on Tuesday reiterated that policy was not on a […]

US expects more banks will cut off Russian payment system Mir

Steps that Turkish lenders Isbank and Denizbank took to suspend the use of Russian payment system Mir make a lot of sense, a senior US administration official said on Tuesday, and said the United States expects more banks will cut off Mir over sanctions risk. Isbank and Denizbank on Monday announced separately they had suspended […]

Nord Stream 1 pipeline

Berlin, Paris and Madrid unveil plans to cope with energy crunch

European governments have outlined new measures to cope with potential energy shortages this winter and improve networks so they can share power, as the war in Ukraine continues to affect gas flows from Russia. On Monday, Spain unveiled plans that could force energy-intensive industries to shut at peak demand times; France said it was preparing […]

European Central Bank to inflict pain as it mulls interest rate hikes

The European Central Bank (ECB) could raise interest rates into next year, causing pain for consumers as it tries to depress demand that is now increasingly adding to sky high inflation, chief economist Philip Lane said on Saturday. With inflation approaching double digit territory, the ECB delivered two oversized rate hikes in July and September, […]

Turkey Latest

Turkey mulls new regulations to prevent stock market manipulation

Turkish authorities are expected to make stock market regulatory changes within a few days to prevent market manipulation after sharp falls in prices due to margin calls on futures positions, market participants and analysts said. They said the issue was likely to be among those discussed at a meeting which President Tayyip Erdogan convened on […]

Tie, Accessories, Accessory

Turkey to hold meeting on Russia’s Mir, possible Western sanctions

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will convene a top tier economy-focused meeting on Friday at which Russian payment system Mir and possible Western sanctions will be discussed, two sources with information on the matter told Reuters. The meeting with government officials and others will also address agreements with Russia, recent heavy volatility on the Istanbul stock […]

Turkish president says inflation not ‘insurmountable threat’

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said inflation is not an “insurmountable economic threat,” adding it will begin to fall at the end of the year after it surged to more than 80 percent in August. Under Erdogan’s economic programme, Turkey gradually cut interest rates by 500 basis points at the end of last year, sparking a […]

Egypt Latest

Egypt eyes more green ‘Samurai’ bonds amid Japanese demand

Egypt is considering issuing more green Samurai bonds with Japan during the coming months, Egypt Today newspaper reported, citing finance minister Mohamed Maait.   The country’s first Samurai bonds, valued at 60 billion Japanese yen ($416.47 million), attracted many Japanese investors, he stated. The Samurai bond is a yen-denominated bond issued in Tokyo by non-Japanese firms […]

Egypt to bid for 2036 Olympic Games

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has approved the Egyptian sports authorities to make a bid to host the 2036 Olympic Games, the Daily News Egypt reported. He highlighted the country’s efforts to develop and modernise the sports infrastructure, as well as the construction of the Egyptian City for the Olympic Games in the New Administrative […]

The float is part of Oman Investment Authority’s plan to bolster state coffers by diversifying their economies

Egypt expects to double monthly income from natural gas to $1bn

Egypt is earning about $500 million monthly from natural gas exports and aims to raise that figure to $1 billion “in the coming period,” Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said in a statement on Thursday. The statement, based on comments by Maait at a Bloomberg forum, gave no comparative figures on what Egypt had been earning […]

Person, Human, Market

Egypt central bank bucks trends, keeps interest rates unchanged

The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), bucking analyst expectations, left its overnight interest rates unchanged on Thursday, saying it believed inflation was under control over the medium term. The bank also raised the reserve ratio to 18 percent from 14 percent, saying that this would help tighten liquidity. The bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) kept […]

Vodafone is among the leading tech companies opening offices in Egypt

Big-name tech businesses choose Egypt as place to outsource

The Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) has recorded a rise in the number of business services and IT jobs offshored to Egypt. At least 19 global services providers and leading tech companies have announced their expansion plans in the country and four new market entrants established their offices and research and development centres during […]


Person, Human, Man

Young Arabs want action on wasta, lack of jobs and rising costs

Nearly two thirds of young adults in the Levant are struggling financially and a sizeable minority have fallen into debt, according to this year’s Arab Youth Survey. The report also highlights spiralling living costs and scarce job opportunities for much of the Middle East and North Africa’s Generation Z.  The 14th Arab Youth Survey interviewed […]

Injections of Botox go directly into the face muscles and work for approximately six months

Injection of interest in beauty industry as men turn to ‘Brotox’

Botox injections are becoming increasingly commonplace among men in the business world, but could they really prove the difference in securing that big, career-defining deal? It may sound far fetched but businessmen in the Middle East are turning to botulinum toxin type A, as the pressure to look good in the “Zoom Boom” era continues […]

Medhat Karam, ArpuPlus

Medhat Karam, ArpuPlus

Medhat Karam is CEO and managing director of ArpuPlus, a telecommunications service which provides entertainment and communication solutions across the Middle East and North Africa. ArpuPlus was set up in 2003 and is a subsidiary of A15, a Cairo-based venture capital firm. What does your company do? Entertainment-wise, we specialise in affordable music, video, gaming, […]

John Barnes, former footballer and ambassador for Premier Inn

Qatar 2022 will change views of Arab world, says football legend

Former England and Liverpool footballer John Barnes believes the World Cup in Qatar will help change the perception of Middle Eastern countries and dismantle negative narratives in the West. The tournament, which is held every four years, is set to take place in Qatar between November 21 and December 18. It is the first World […]

Something old, something new: The Quran goes NFT

In a novel merging of yesterday and tomorrow, one million people have been invited to purchase a non-fungible token (NFT) version of a rare copy of the Quran. MetaDee, a London-based digital NFT marketplace offering artworks and rare collectibles from around the world, has tokenised an exclusive handwritten Holy Quran manuscript by the personal scribe […]

Lifestyle & People

Britain's Catherine, Princess of Wales, wears the Queen's Bahraini pearl earrings

Bahrain pearls given royal stamp of approval

The UK’s Princess of Wales put Bahraini pearls back in the spotlight this week when she wore a pair of earrings made from the precious stone for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. Her timing was perfect as Bahrain aims to re-establish itself as the global centre for sustainable pearls. Catherine, Prince William’s wife, sported […]

Marvel anti-heroes steal the show at Disney’s D23 fan convention

The anti-heroes stepped into the spotlight Saturday at Walt Disney Co’s D23 Expo fan convention, as Marvel Entertainment announced casting for “Thunderbolts.” Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige announced that actors Florence Pugh, Sebastian Stan, David Harbour and Julia Louis Dreyfus will join the cast of the new film, whose team of villains is akin to […]

Justin Bieber puts world tour on hold, including Dubai concerts

Pop singer Justin Bieber’s Dubai concerts next month look unlikely to go ahead after the Canadian performer announced he was taking a break from his rescheduled Justice World Tour due to mental and physical health issues. Although no official statement has been issued yet on the Dubai shows, the two concerts were scheduled on October […]

Gulf states demand Netflix pull content deemed offensive

Gulf Arab states have demanded that US streaming giant Netflix remove content deemed offensive to “Islamic and societal values” in the region, Saudi Arabia’s media regulator said on Tuesday. It did not specify the content, but mentioned that it included content aimed at children. Saudi state-run Al Ekhbariya TV, in a programme discussing the issue, […]

Person, Human, Crowd

Music, acting and activism: Life Lessons with Stevie Van Zandt

It is rare enough to have one career that becomes part of a pop-culture phenomenon. Stevie Van Zandt has two. As a musician, including as a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, and as an actor with “The Sopranos,” Van Zandt has bottled lightning twice. For the latest in Reuters’ Life Lessons series, Van […]

Shoe, Footwear, Clothing

Amazon says ‘Lord of the Rings’ prequel sets viewership record Inc said on Saturday that its pricey “Lord of the Rings” prequel series was watched by more than 25 million viewers around the world on its first day, a record debut for a Prime Video series. “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” premiered on Amazon’s streaming service on Friday in more […]

Banks battle back-to-office fatigue with ping pong, indoor gardens

Finance bosses are offering more incentives, including free meals, ping pong and “contemplative spaces” as they battle to get staff back to the office, while concerns about the cost and value of commuting to work weigh on attendance worldwide. Hybrid working policies were introduced across the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, but data seen by […]

Palestinian comedians strike a chord in occupied cities

Palestinian American Amer Zahr is on a mission to heal through humour. In 2015 he started bringing fellow Arab American comedians from the United States to perform stand-up across occupied Palestinian cities including Nablus, Bethlehem and Ramallah. Seven years later, Zahr’s now annual Palestine Comedy Festival is still going strong. “Laughter is therapy,” he told […]