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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

Qatar wealth fund-backed Group One mulls US listing

Group One Holdings, backed by sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), is planning an initial public offering (IPO) in the US, Bloomberg reported. The company behind mixed martial arts brand One Championship is changing its legal domicile to the Cayman Islands from Singapore as a step towards the listing. Earlier, the company had explored […]

Flag, Symbol, Bird

Tunisia’s economy grew 2.8% in Q2 2022

Tunisia’s economy recorded a growth rate of 2.8 percent in Q2 of this year compared to the same period in 2021, the country’s statistics agency said on Monday. The National Institute of Statistics’ data also showed that Tunisia’s trade deficit widened to 13.7 billion dinars ($4.36 billion) in the first seven months of 2022 from 8.7 […]

Israel inflation rate jumps to new 14-year high of 5.2% in July

Israel’s annual consumer price index (CPI) rose to a higher than expected rate of 5.2 percent in July, the most since October 2008 and following a 4.4 percent rate in June, as more aggressive interest rate hikes loom and keep the soaring cost of living centre stage ahead of an election in November. A Reuters […]

Parliament, Indoors, Room

Kuwait names first ambassador to Iran in over six years

Kuwait has appointed an ambassador to Iran, both countries said on Sunday, more than six years after recalling its top envoy to Tehran in solidarity with Saudi Arabia after it severed ties with the Islamic Republic in 2016. Ambassador Bader Abdullah Al-Munaikh handed his credentials to Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian in Tehran on Saturday, […]

Nature, Outdoors, Oilfield

Oman’s total oil exports rise 16% in H1 2022 as output grows

Oman’s total oil exports increased 16.2 percent in the first six months of 2022, according to the latest statistics of the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI). China topped the list of oil importing countries, at 123.10 million barrels, Times of Oman newspaper reported. Average daily oil production amounted to 1.047 million barrels, registering […]

Qatar residential rents surge on higher World Cup demand

Residential rents in Qatar accelerated in April and May 2022 as landlords took advantage of a spike in demand ahead of the FIFA World Cup, Cushman and Wakefield said in its Q2 property market report. Apartment rents increased on average 30 percent year-on-year in June 2022. “The surge in rent is based on a short-term […]

The sky’s the limit for cloud kitchens in the Gulf

While many businesses suffered due to the coronavirus pandemic, cloud kitchens – companies that prepare food solely for home delivery without having sit-down restaurant space – were beneficiaries of the online ordering boom. The GCC has been a hotspot for this growth with companies including Sweetheart Kitchen, Kitopi, KLC Virtual Restaurants and kaykroo overseeing delivery […]

Saudi Arabia latest

PIF and Cain invest $900m in hotelier Aman Group

Saud Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and London-based real estate investment firm Cain International said on Monday they had invested $900 million in luxury hotel group Aman, which Cain said valued Aman at $3 billion. The PIF and Cain said, in separate announcements, the investment would support Aman Group’s “global expansion of ultra-luxury hotels and […]

Manufacturing and mining help Saudi industrial output rise 20.8%

Industrial production in Saudi Arabia increased by 20.8 percent year-on-year in June, with the mining and manufacturing sectors the main catalysts for growth. The Saudi General Authority for Statistics (GASTAT) found that in June the Industrial Production Index (IPI) rose 20.8 percent year-on-year. A dive into the figures of their report showed that manufacturing activity […]

Railing, Handrail, Banister

Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holding invests in Russian energy firms

Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holding invested in Russian energy groups Gazprom, Rosneft and Lukoil between February 22 and March 22, it said on Twitter on Sunday. Many Western nations have imposed sanctions on Russian energy firms and their executives following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24. The Kingdom Holding investments fall within the company’s 12.8 […]

  • Exclusive

Saudi allows worldwide Muslims to buy properties in holy cities

A new ruling allowing Muslims from around the world to buy property in Islam’s holiest cities could be a “game changer” for Saudi Arabia’s real estate market, according to insiders. Ziad El Chaar, vice chairman of Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Development, Saudi Arabia’s largest listed developer, told AGBI: “One of the main developments we’re […]

Saudi Arabia plans to renew $3bn deposit to Pakistan

Saudi Arabia is planning to renew its $3 billion (656 billion Pakistani rupee) deposit with the State Bank of Pakistan, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The kingdom also plans to provide $100 million a month for 10 months in petroleum products that will be granted as additional support, the news agency reported, expecting the […]

UAE Latest

UAE’s Agthia Group expands in Saudi and Egypt

Agthia Group, one of the region’s leading food and beverage companies, is expanding and making strategic acquisitions in Egypt and Saudi Arabia following strong H1 2022 growth to AED 2.3 billion ($106 million). The group, which has a consumer division – including protein, frozen goods, snacks, water and beverages – and an agri-business division, has […]

Person, Human, Office Building

Abu Dhabi’s non-oil foreign trade grows 12% in H1 2022

Abu Dhabi’s non-oil foreign trade rose 12 percent to about AED 124 billion ($33.76 billion) in the first half of 2022 from AED 110.33 billion in the same period of 2020, UAE state-owned news agency, WAM, reported. Exports during the first six months increased by 26 percent to AED 49.47 billion, compared to AED 39.19 […]

Dubai’s Nakheel plans to raise $4.6bn loan to refinance debt

Dubai state developer Nakheel plans to raise a loan of about AED 17 billion ($4.6 billion) to refinance existing debt, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The company is seeking financing from a group of lenders, including Dubai Islamic Bank, Emirates NBD and Mashreqbank.  The banks arranging the loan are also asking global […]

Sharjah unveils holiday home project to diversify revenue

Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) has launched “Holiday Homes Project,” which aims to offer a framework to allow residents to lease their apartments to tourists and visitors. The move is in cooperation with several government and private companies to diversify the sources of income for the hospitality sector, WAM, the UAE state-owned news […]

St Regis Residences in Dubai

Dubai developer Emaar’s Q2 profit doubles on higher revenue

Emaar Properties, Dubai’s largest developer, reported a net profit of AED 2.06 billion ($560 million) for the second quarter of 2022, up 128 percent year-on-year, as revenues rose amid new visa regulations and a growing economy. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (Ebitda) jumped 53 percent year-on-year to AED 2.93 billion in the three-month […]

Around the world

Face, Person, Human

Silicon Valley investors back Adam Neumann’s property firm

Venture capital giant Andreessen Horowitz said on Monday it would be investing in Adam Neumann’s residential real estate company Flow, backing the WeWork Inc co-founder who has often drawn criticism for his allegedly erratic management style. The investment was announced in a blog post by Marc Andreessen, co-founder and general partner at the venture capital […]

Bottle, Lotion, Shampoo

Johnson & Johnson to end global sales of talc-based baby powder

Johnson & Johnson will stop selling talc-based baby powder globally in 2023, the drugmaker said, more than two years after it ended US sales of a product that drew thousands of consumer safety lawsuits. “As part of a worldwide portfolio assessment, we have made the commercial decision to transition to an all cornstarch-based baby powder […]

Mammal, Animal, Canine

Cash-strapped Britons give up pets as living costs soar

Stood on her hind legs to greet any prospective owner who might approach her glass-doored kennel, Harriet is a black English cocker spaniel abandoned as a deepening cost-of-living crisis pushes growing numbers of Britons to part with their pets. She was found running along a busy road in London after witnesses saw her pushed out […]

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 […]

Turkey Latest

Moody’s cuts Turkey’s sovereign rating, but raises outlook to stable

Ratings agency Moody’s on Friday lowered Turkey’s sovereign credit rating by one notch to “B3” from “B2”, citing rising balance of payment pressures and risks of further declines in the country’s foreign-currency reserves. “(The) current account deficit will likely exceed earlier expectations by a wide margin, raising external financing needs at a time of tightening financial […]

Water, Waterfront, Pier

Turkish central bank to keep rates at 14% despite high inflation

Turkey’s central bank is expected to hold its policy rate unchanged at 14 percent for an eighth meeting next week, a Reuters poll showed on Friday, in the face of a global tightening cycle and rampant inflation at nearly 80 percent that shows no signs of falling. Most economists expect the key interest rate to […]

Turkish locals’ forex and gold holdings rise $3.77bn

Turkish locals’ forex and gold holdings rose $3.77 billion when adjusted for the parity effect to stand at $216.86 billion by August 5, data showed on Thursday, as corporates bought hard currencies. Turkish local corporates bought $4.27 billion last week, when adjusted for the parity effect, central bank data showed. Individuals sold $498 million in […]

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 […]

Egypt Latest

Coin, Money, Nickel

Egypt’s Central Bank says foreign treasury bills exodus continues

A foreign exodus from Egyptian treasury bills continued into May, Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) data showed on Monday, after the Ukraine crisis and concerns about US interest rate hikes prompted foreign investors to cash out their holdings. T-bills held by foreign customers dropped in the month by 30 billion Egyptian pounds, at the time […]

Egypt’s foreign currency gap narrows to $400m in July

Egypt’s foreign currency gap narrowed to $400 million last month from $3.9 billion in February, deputy governor of the Central Bank of Egypt Gamal Negm said on Saturday. Egypt has seen billions of dollars leave its markets since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February as investors have fled emerging markets for safer havens. But […]

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 […]


Abu-Dhabi based renewable energy company Masdar is buying a stake in HyGreen Teesside, which should produce up to 500MWe of hydrogen by 2030

Hello hydrogen: inside the GCC’s next mega-commodity

With annual revenues from green hydrogen in the GCC estimated to grow to about $200 billion by 2050, the region is investing heavily as a means to continue using its oil resources, while supporting international partners in reducing carbon emissions. Up to one million hydrogen-related jobs could be created in the Gulf within three decades, […]

Person, Human, Crowd

Aramco’s Nasser: a homegrown engineer who reached the top

At an industry event this year in Riyadh, the Saudi energy minister paused at about 9pm in front of some 1,000 people and told them it was bedtime for Amin Nasser, the chief executive of state-owned oil producer Saudi Aramco. He was not joking. Over a career of four decades, Nasser has earned a reputation […]

Sara Chemmaa, founder, Citron

Founded in 2018, Dubai-based Citron creates sustainable lifestyle products for toddlers, children and adults. What do you look for when hiring talent?   Having built Citron from the ground up, I know just how important it is to surround yourself with the right “village” to help things progress. My first priority when hiring is to find people […]

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 […]

Lifestyle & People

Healthy fast food startups aim to tackle growing GCC obesity

Following its success in Dubai and Saudi Arabia, health food eat-in and home delivery company Under500 is set to expand to Qatar.  The firm’s low-calorie meals – served in franchised venues across the UAE and Saudi Arabia and via online delivery services such as Talabat and Deliveroo – are to be ordered by customers in Doha through delivery […]

Tokyo diners can nosh on food at ‘Stranger Things’ cafe

Japanese fans of the sci-fi hit “Stranger Things” can chow down on demonic pasta and rock out to retro 1980s tunes at a pop-up cafe inspired by the Netflix Inc horror drama. The shop, a partnership with local restaurant chain Pronto Corp, recently extended its run in the fashionable Shibuya district of Tokyo several months […]

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 […]