Gulf Economic Barometer

The Gulf Economic Barometer monitors initiatives taken by Gulf states as they seek fiscal, monetary, and labor policy changes to meet the challenge of reduced state revenue from natural resources. The key trend is a major shift in the way the GCC countries have been spending on public sector wages, infrastructure, and social services over the last decade. The GEB documents the policy changes as they are announced and/or implemented by country and by sector and is updated regularly as data becomes available. The information here is neither official nor exhaustive.

Present
Umm Al Quwain, one of the UAE's 7 emirates, issues royal decree increasing government salaries by 100 percent.

Market Watch: Trade Wars and Bond-Offs: Side Effects of Tariffs and Tactical Borrowing Hit the Gulf

Donald Trump
by Karen E. Young There are simultaneous efforts by Qatar and Saudi Arabia to attract investors for new bond issues this week. The “bond-off,” or race to sale, is yet a new example of the use of economic means to achieve political ends.

Market Watch: New Year, New Economic Pain

The new year is likely to bring some serious economic pain to parts of the Gulf, especially Saudi Arabia.

Market Watch: Saudi Arabia’s Neom — State-Led Growth Meets New Global Capitalism

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman envisions a new kind of Saudi Arabia, or at least the opening of a space complete with yoga studios, beach resorts, and robots in place of migrant laborers. This is the image of Neom, the $500 billion master project to develop an over 10,000 square mile swath of land in the northwest corner of Saudi Arabia on the shores of the Red Sea, adjacent to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and southern Jordan.  

Issue Paper: Private Financing, Ownership, and Management of Gulf Infrastructure

Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Medina, Saudi Arabia.

by Justin Alexander
In response to fiscal pressures and concerns about the efficiency of project and service implementation, Gulf Arab states are increasingly looking to the private sector to finance and manage infrastructure projects.  

Issue Paper: Prioritizing Renewable Energy in a Time of Fiscal Austerity

Surging population growth, large-scale infrastructure investment, and economic development progress have led to increased energy demand in the Gulf Cooperation Council states. Since late 2014, the new normal of low oil prices has necessitated fiscal constraints and at the same time prompted greater interest in renewable energy sources.

The Bridge: Restructuring of Saudi Arabia’s Energy Industry Gathers Pace

by Diane Munro Saudi Arabia is powering ahead with ambitious plans to reorganize its massive energy sector. The restructuring is part of its strategic plan to reduce domestic oil dependence and adopt a more commercial approach to its business operations at state oil company Aramco as part of Vision 2030 and ahead of the historic initial public offering set for 2018.

The Bridge: Abu Dhabi Share-Swap Deal with BP Forges New Contract Model

by Diane Munro Abu Dhabi capped a year of unprecedented change at state oil company Abu Dhabi National Oil Com­pany (ADNOC) with a landmark $2.2 billion share-swap with legacy partner BP. The unique model for a joint venture gives Abu Dhabi a 2 percent stake in BP in exchange for a 10 percent share in the country’s main onshore oil concession.

Market Watch: Reformers are Holding Ground: Saudi Arabia’s New Fiscal Policy

by Karen E. Young The Saudi budget for 2017 demonstrates that fiscal reform works; at least, it shows that with a reduction in spending will come a decline in deficit.

Market Watch: The Irony of Kuwait’s Economic Reform Agenda

Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah attends the closing session of the 36th Gulf Cooperation Council Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Dec. 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed) by Karen E. Young

There are a number of ironies in this latest political development in Kuwait.

Issue Paper: Water at the Nexus of Gulf Security and Growth Challenges

by Mai Mahmoud Gulf Arab states face some of the most severe water shortages in the world. The situation emerges from limited availability of renewable water resources and escalating demands that result from the quick pace of economic development, rapid population growth, changing consumption patterns, and management inefficiencies.  

Market Watch: Failing Gulf Megafirms Leave Workers Broke and Stranded

Migrant laborers walk during a protest in the United Arab Emirates on November 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili) by Karen E. Young

The wind down of large construction projects in the GCC states has resulted in foreign laborers being laid off their jobs without pay, access to food, or a way home.

Market Watch: The Perfect Storm: Labor Markets and Economic Downturn in the Gulf

Amid fiscal deficits, bloated public sectors, and accelerated efforts to create jobs and diversify economies, there is a perfect storm on the horizon for GCC states.

Market Watch: Gulf States’ Fiscal Situation Accelerates Consensus for Economic Reform

The current fiscal climate, in which all of the GCC states face deficits due to declining oil and gas revenues, is enabling a new consensus for economic reform.