Robert Mogielnicki

Senior Resident Scholar, AGSIW

Robert Mogielnicki is a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. He created and leads the Next Gen Gulf series examining technology trends in Gulf Arab states and Looking East: The China-Gulf Initiative. A specialist in the political economy of the Middle East and North Africa, he is a term member at the Council on Foreign Relations. The Middle East Policy Council listed Mogielnicki in their inaugural 40 Under 40 awards for influential Middle East experts.

Mogielnicki teaches a graduate-level seminar on China-Middle East and North Africa relations as an adjunct assistant professor at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service and the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs. He is a research mentor for undergraduate students through the Georgetown University Research Opportunities Program and the Laidlaw Undergraduate Leadership and Research Scholarship Programme.

Mogielnicki is also a regional and methodology advisor with Freedom House for a multiyear research project on global media and technology influence. Mogielnicki authors the Middle East and North Africa section of the quarterly “Global Mobility Report” published by Henley & Partners, a global citizenship and residence advisory firm, and he is a member of the firm’s board of advisors. Mogielnicki previously served as a human resource development consultant for an Oxford-based research consultancy that operated across the Gulf region. Prior to his consulting career, he worked in journalism, covering political and economic developments in post-revolutionary Egypt and Tunisia.

His book, A Political Economy of Free Zones in Gulf Arab States, was published by Palgrave Macmillan’s international political economy series in April 2021, and he is currently working on an edited volume examining the political economy of sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East and Asia. Mogielnicki has authored several book chapters on the politics and economics of Gulf Arab states and the political economy of the broader Middle East. His work and commentary on the region have appeared in Foreign Policy, Bloomberg, Axios, Forbes, Reuters, Nature, Financial Times, The Banker, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Vox, Los Angeles Times, S&P Global, and Nikkei Asia, among other prominent outlets.

Mogielnicki received his DPhil from the University of Oxford’s Magdalen College, where he conducted research in conjunction with the Oriental Institute and Middle East Centre. Drawing on extensive fieldwork in the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait, his dissertation examines the political economy of free zones in Gulf Arab countries. He earned his MPhil in modern Middle Eastern studies from St Antony’s College, University of Oxford, and completed a master’s thesis on labor policy formulation and implementation in the emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. He received his BA from Georgetown University as a double major in Arabic and government, graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa.

Mogielnicki specializes in the intersection of politics and economics across Gulf Arab states. He is particularly interested in how these geostrategic states engage in processes of economic transformation through trade and investment policies, labor market interventions, economic diversification, and technological innovation.

Mogielnicki speaks Modern Standard Arabic and the Egyptian dialect, and he possesses a working knowledge of the Tunisian dialect. He is a former recipient of the Sultan Qaboos Arabic Language Scholarship (2007-11) and served as a Critical Language Scholar in Tunisia in 2011. Mogielnicki has lived in the UAE, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Turkey, and Jerusalem.

Petro Diplomacy 2024: The Countdown to Net Zero

On June 11, AGSIW convened its 10th annual Petro Diplomacy conference.

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The Emergent Gulf Sovereign Wealth Fund-Global Tech Nexus

While Gulf sovereign wealth funds have long invested in promising technology-focused firms, these investment vehicles are increasingly underpinning ambitious plans to reposition Gulf countries as global hubs for advanced technologies.

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Oman Capitalizes on Domestic, Regional Economic Momentum

Following progress addressing economic vulnerabilities, Oman is poised to enter a new phase of economic policymaking, armed with new policy tools and development initiatives.

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Neom Is Becoming a Destination of Destinations

The longer-term desirability of Neom’s destinations depends largely on the fast-changing domestic environment within Saudi Arabia, yet a tough regional neighborhood will keep Saudi planners on their toes.

The Future of Hydrogen Development in the Gulf

On January 25, AGSIW hosted a discussion on hydrogen in the Gulf.

Where Are China-Gulf Relations Headed in 2024?

On January 23, AGSIW hosted a discussion on China-Gulf relations.

2024 Outlook

On January 9, AGSIW hosted a virtual roundtable with its leadership and scholars as they looked ahead and assessed trends likely to shape the Gulf region and U.S. foreign policy during the coming year.

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Saudi Regional Headquarters Program Deadline Looms

Beneath Saudi officials’ tough talk on the Regional Headquarters Program lies a strong desire for constructive engagement with top global firms and attracting greater inflows of foreign investment.

Follow the Money: The Evolving Roles of Gulf Sovereign Wealth Funds

On October 19, AGSIW hosted a discussion on sovereign wealth funds.

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Strong China-Gulf Energy Ties Spill Into Key Regional Issues

Energy cooperation is a central factor in not only China-Gulf economic relations but also the triangular – and often fraught – relationship among the United States, Gulf states, and China.

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Grow Forth and Prosper Competitively

The combination of slowing growth trends and persistently ambitious development plans is likely to increase regional economic competition.

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Oman Gets Economic Policymaking Right – For Now

The Omani government deserves credit for sound economic policymaking and reform progress, but the longer-term outlook for the economy remains uncertain.

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Major Initiatives Fuel Riyadh’s Development Ambitions

Riyadh has charged back into the development limelight in recent months, highlighting the capital’s central role in Saudi Arabia’s ambitious economic transformation agenda.

China-GCC FTA Negotiations and Prospects for Broader Economic Collaboration

On April 5, AGSIW hosted a discussion on the potential free trade agreement between China and the Gulf Cooperation Council.

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Omani and Saudi Economic Zones Create Avenues for Cooperation

Given Saudi Arabia’s economic might and Oman’s specialized knowledge, cooperation – rather than competition – in the economic zone space may serve both countries’ interests.

Book Talk – Asian Perceptions of Gulf Security

On February 9, AGSIW hosted a discussion on Asia's role and interests in the Gulf's evolving regional framework.

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China-Gulf Ties: Tougher Acts to Follow Successful Show

Inconsistent policymaking, slowing growth figures, and a shrinking population may put to question China’s collective strength as an economic partner for the Gulf Arab states.

2023 Outlook

AGSIW hosted a virtual private roundtable with its leadership and scholars as they looked ahead and assessed trends likely to shape the Gulf region and U.S. foreign policy during the coming year.

IMF Policy Paper Launch: Economic Prospects and Policy Challenges for the GCC Countries

On December 15, AGSIW co-hosted a discussion on a new IMF policy paper examining the key prospects and challenges facing the region as 2023 approaches.

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2022 FIFA World Cup: Tourism Springboard or Critical Spotlight?

Despite subjecting the small Gulf state to criticism, over the long term, hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup enhances Qatar’s brand recognition and can help accelerate the country’s tourism agenda.

UAE Security Forum 2022: Expanding Regional Partnerships for Security and Prosperity

AGSIW convened the 2022 UAE Security Forum on November 17, where U.S., UAE, and regional partners gathered to find creative solutions to some of the region’s most pressing challenges.

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Neom’s Ambition Goes Into Hyperdrive

The development strategy behind Neom is coming into focus: Planners want the megaproject to reflect something greater than the sum of its parts while trying to tether lofty ambitions to reality with major global event commitments.

Petro Diplomacy 2022: Gulf Countries on the Front Line of Energy Security

On October 20 and 21, AGSIW convened its eighth annual Petro Diplomacy conference. 

China-Gulf Initiative: Evolving Chinese Demand for Gulf Energy and Geopolitical Implications

On September 15, as part of the China-Gulf Initiative, AGSIW hosted a discussion examining energy relations between China and the Gulf states.

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Expats Central to Gulf’s Post-Pandemic, Oil-Fueled Growth Plans

Regional governments are balancing a desire to attract high net worth individuals and skilled expatriates against the need to ensure the economic welfare of their citizenry.

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Evolving Chinese Demand for Gulf Oil and Gas

China’s willingness to boost imports of discounted Russian crude oil reinforces why Gulf oil- and gas-producing states should strive for diversified energy partnerships.

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Improved Fiscal Outlooks Renew Focus on Gulf Economic Diversification Efforts

The financial windfall from oil and gas exports may boost regional officials’ ambitious economic diversification plans but doesn’t make them foolproof.

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UAE Advances Tax Reform, But Not Too Quickly

With the announcement of a new corporate tax, Emirati officials aim to demonstrate fiscal strength without disrupting the country’s image as an investment hub.

China and the GCC: A Discussion of the "Routledge Handbook on China–Middle East Relations"

On March 8, AGSIW hosted a panel discussion on the China-Gulf relationship, based on the "Routledge Handbook on China–Middle East Relations."

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Growing China-Gulf Economic Relations Have Limits

Economic ties between China and the Gulf states are indeed growing but not necessarily in every direction nor at an infinitely accelerating pace.

IMF Report Launch: Economic Prospects and Policy Challenges for the GCC Countries

On Tuesday February 8, AGSIW co-hosted the launch of an International Monetary Fund report on the economic recovery outlook for Gulf countries.

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Public Investment Fund Grows, Bets Big on Tech

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund continues to enjoy steady growth aided by technology-focused investments, but the sovereign wealth fund’s 2030 growth target remains distant.

2022 Outlook

AGSIW's leadership and scholars assessed trends likely to shape the Gulf region and U.S. foreign policy in 2022.

UAE Security Forum 2021: U.S.-Gulf Relations in a Changing Region

From December 7-9, UAESF 2021 assessed geopolitical trends in the region.

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Saudi Arabia’s Ever More Ambitious Investment Strategy

There is still time for Saudi Arabia to accomplish many of Vision 2030’s foreign investment objectives, but the window of opportunity is closing quickly.

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The Politics of Leverage: Bond Issuances, Debt Dynamics, and State Finances in the Gulf

The underlying economic factors driving debt issuances, issues related to how raised funds are redeployed within local economies, and the implications of looming debt maturities help to paint a comprehensive picture of the state of Gulf Arab economies.

A New Era for Gulf Sovereign Wealth Funds?

On October 14, AGSIW, in partnership with ABANA, hosted a discussion examining the role of Gulf sovereign wealth funds in the world economy.

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For UAE Economic Planning, Timing is Everything

The UAE’s push to reinvigorate its economy, in this manner and at this time, is linked to Expo 2020 Dubai, regional competition, and a broader realignment of Emirati foreign policy to better serve economic interests.

Transitioning to Non-Oil Economies in the Gulf: Successes, Failures, and the Path Forward

On July 27, AGSIW and the National University of Singapore's Middle East Institute hosted a discussion on economic diversification efforts in the Gulf Arab states.

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Saudi-Emirati Competition Lays Bare State-Led Pursuit of Economic Interests

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are pushing to advance their economic interests, but it does not necessarily have to be a zero-sum game.

Book Launch: A Political Economy of Free Zones in Gulf Arab States

On July 13, AGSIW hosted a discussion of Robert Mogielnicki's recent book, "A Political Economy of Free Zones in Gulf Arab States."

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Flexibility, Multifaceted Objectives Contribute to Persistence of Gulf Free Zones

Free zones are poised to remain central elements of the post-coronavirus economic recoveries in Gulf Arab states despite shocks impacting the broader business-oriented sector and ongoing commercial reforms.

Reaching for the Golden Ticket: Long-Term Residency and Citizenship Schemes in the Gulf

On June 2, AGSIW hosted a discussion on the economic future of expatriates and citizens in the Gulf.

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The Centralization of Economic Policymaking in the Kingdom

Robert Mogielnicki discusses the centralization of economic policymaking and the consolidation of power amid the fast pace of new initiatives in the kingdom since the launch of Vision 2030.

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Saudi Arabia’s Economic Strategy: From Kitchen Sink to Virtuous Cycle?

The pace and scope of economic development initiatives and policies announced during the first five years of Saudi Vision 2030 have been dizzying, but any eventual progress is likely to be either broad and incremental or narrow and deep.

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Oman’s VAT Implementation Is Necessary and Not Enough

If Omanis aren’t ready to shoulder a 5% VAT, then they have a long, bumpy economic road ahead of them.

Developments in Qatar and Kuwait

On April 6, AGSIW hosted a dial-in briefing on recent developments in Qatar and Kuwait.

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UAE Moves to Retain and Attract Talented Expatriates

Emirati officials are rolling out an array of policies and initiatives intended to attract higher-skilled expatriates, but overlapping initiatives will likely heighten regional competition over foreign talent.

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Saudi Arabia Strives for a Sustainable Economic Future

A focus on sustainability-oriented economic policies and commercial initiatives in Saudi Arabia will not necessarily advance fiscal sustainability efforts in the kingdom.

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2021 Budgets Indicate Tough Economic Times Ahead

Mostly smaller budgets and conservative oil price assumptions signal the start of another challenging economic year for the Gulf region.

2021 Outlook

AGSIW hosted a virtual private roundtable with its leadership and scholars as they looked ahead to assess trends likely to shape the Gulf region during the coming year.

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Gulf Reconciliation Offers Uneven Economic Gains

Economic gains associated with the Gulf reconciliation will be narrow and limited, and any economic momentum should be channeled to tackle longer-term challenges in the region.

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Sovereign Data: The Development and Marketing of Bahrain’s Digital Domain

Gulf Arab states like Bahrain cannot preserve the traditional form of their economies indefinitely, but they can influence how their new digital future will unfold.

Report Launch: Economic Prospects and Policy Challenges for the Gulf Arab Countries

On December 10, AGSIW partnered with the International Monetary Fund on the launch of its Gulf Cooperation Council report.

Saudi Arabia and the G-20

AGSIW hosted a virtual private roundtable to discuss Saudi Arabia’s efforts to diversify its economy and attract investments, its presidency of the G-20, recommendations of the T20 group of think tanks, and the outcomes of this year’s G-20 meeting.

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G-20 Summit Signals Start of Challenging Decade for Saudi Economic Transformation

Saudi policymakers face the dilemma of how to accomplish ambitious Vision 2030 targets with fewer financial resources and more uncertainties.

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Oman’s Economic Reforms Struggle To Keep Pace With Mounting Challenges

The unpredicted fallout from the coronavirus pandemic shortly after the new sultan ascended the throne not only raises the stakes associated with reform implementation but also will test the population’s ability to shoulder new economic burdens.

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UAE-Israel Economic Ties Proliferate in the Wake of Normalization

Economic ties between the UAE and Israel are moving rapidly in many different directions, but the hard work lies ahead.

The Gulf’s Economic Policy Response to the Crises of 2020

The interrelated crises of the coronavirus outbreak and oil price rout have placed severe economic pressure on Gulf governments and private sectors across the region, highlighting prevailing dynamics and exacerbating existing trends in Gulf economies.

Navigating the Gulf Ecosystem for Startups

On September 22, AGSIW hosted a virtual panel discussion examining the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and energy market outlook on startups and entrepreneurial initiatives in the Gulf.

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Debt Maturities Loom As Gulf States Sell More Bonds

Regional policymakers must grapple with how the political and economic systems that they plan to sustain with today’s debt can meet tomorrow’s obligations.

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Is This Time Different? The Gulf’s Early Economic Policy Response to the Crises of 2020

As Gulf Arab policymakers continue to confront an ambiguous future, they will rely heavily on familiar economic policy measures and avoid straying from the status quo as long as possible.

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The Boutiqaat Saga: Balancing Innovation and Corporate Governance

Implementing stronger corporate governance frameworks that apply to regional startups is a good starting point to increase investor confidence in a challenging economic climate.

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How China Is Quietly Expanding Its Economic Influence in the Gulf

The coronavirus pandemic and oil price rout have provided China the opportunity to expand its dimensions of economic influence in the Gulf.

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Oman’s Bittersweet Economic Relations With China

Oman’s precarious reliance on energy exports to China and insufficient Chinese investment in non-oil segments of the Omani economy leave the sultanate in a weak position to address urgent economic challenges.

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Oman Jump-Starts Its Slow-Moving Technology Initiatives

Advancing Oman’s technology initiatives can help the government address economic challenges that have assumed a new degree of urgency following the coronavirus outbreak and oil price collapse.

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China Strengthens its Presence in Gulf Renewable Energy

The global economic slowdown presents Chinese entities with a cost-effective opportunity to expand investments in strategic sectors across the Gulf region.

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Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund Goes on a Spending Spree

A tense period in U.S.-Saudi relations has not dissuaded the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund from investing in major U.S. companies during an opportunistic spending spree.

Citizens, Expatriates, and the Future of Gulf Labor Markets

On May 20, AGSIW hosted a virtual panel discussion examining the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the long-standing issues confronting Gulf labor markets.

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As the Gulf’s Digital Economy Accelerates, Speed Bumps Await

Smart spending on the enhancement of Gulf governments’ digital capabilities and the development of technology-focused industries is needed to bolster future growth.

After Agreement to Cut Production, What’s Next for Oil- and Gas-Producing Countries?

On April 21, AGSIW hosted a virtual panel discussion analyzing the historic deal that ended the oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.

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After Hard Landing, Gulf Aviation Industry Braces for Slow Takeoff

Abrupt and potentially lasting changes to the Gulf’s air transport sector threaten existing business models over the short and medium terms.

Low Oil Prices, Coronavirus, and the Future of Gulf Economies

On April 7, AGSIW hosted a virtual panel discussion examining the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak in the Gulf.

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Oil Price War Tests Saudi-Russian Investment Cooperation

The collapse of the OPEC+ production agreement and the ensuing oil price war place pressure on joint investment initiatives spearheaded by Saudi and Russian sovereign wealth funds.

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Oil Outlook, Coronavirus Challenge Gulf’s Economic Diversification

The region’s digital economy is poised to play a greater role in economic diversification strategies as crisis management measures give way to longer-term planning.

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Free to Game: Esports in the Gulf

Discussions over establishing an esports free zone in Dubai reflect the high-growth potential of competitive online gaming across the broader Gulf region.

The Collapse of OPEC+ and the Oil Price Crash

On March 10, AGSIW hosted a briefing analyzing recent tensions within the alliance of OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers, OPEC+, and the ensuing oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.

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Water Worries: The Future of Desalination in the UAE

With few available alternatives for accessing water resources, the UAE is continuing to expand existing desalination facilities and construct new desalination plants.

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Saudi Fund of Funds Bets $1.07 Billion on Small, Local Firms

Saudi Arabia’s new $1.07 billion fund, Jada, aims to redirect investments toward small and medium-sized enterprises in the country’s domestic market.

Oman After Qaboos

AGSIW hosted a private discussion on the future of Oman following the passing of Sultan Qaboos bin Said.

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The Yemeni E-rial: A Digital Projection of Monetary Authority

The Houthis are unlikely to find immediate solutions in their nascent electronic currency, but this financial technology nevertheless serves a political purpose for the rebel group.

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U.S.-Iranian Tensions: Gulf Economic Implications

Robert Mogielnicki assesses the potential economic implications of tensions between the United States and Iran across the Gulf.

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Qaboos Successor Must Focus on Economic Prioritization

Oman’s political transition presents the new sultan and his government with a choice to maintain the status quo of economic policy or undertake a deeper, structural transformation of the energy-dependent economy.

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U.S.-Iranian Tensions Offer Stress Test for Gulf Arab Economies

Despite a subdued response by global and Gulf markets, the state of U.S.-Iranian relations poses long-term risks to Gulf Arab economies.

2020 Vision: AGSIW Assesses Threats and Opportunities in the Gulf

On January 8, AGSIW hosted a conversation considering the trends likely to shape the Gulf region in 2020.

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Add to Cart: E-commerce Development in the Gulf

E-commerce development initiatives align closely with high-priority government agendas to build technology-focused, knowledge-driven economies. However, challenges related to payments, regulation, and delivery threaten e-commerce growth prospects across the region.

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The Contradiction at the Heart of the Aramco IPO

The Saudi government does not see a viable, long-term future in oil and gas but continues to hope that investors will measure the country’s crown jewel, Saudi Aramco, differently.

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Expectation Gap Clouds Saudi Arabia’s Investment Climate

Global investors’ interest in Saudi Arabia’s ambitious economic transformation hinges on their ability to secure lucrative commercial opportunities in the country.

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Iran May Pay To Play in Crypto Amid Sanctions, Financial Tensions

Cryptocurrency activity is unlikely to offer the Iranian regime an immediate avenue for evading crippling U.S. sanctions.

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One Year On, the Iraqi National Oil Company is Everything and Nothing

While facing bureaucratic and legal hurdles, INOC’s fate rests upon competing visions for the future of Iraq’s oil and gas sector.

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As Personnel Shuffle, the PIF Marches Steadily to Saudi Vision 2030 Beat

The reshuffling of top officials in Saudi Arabia’s flagship state-owned firms and key ministries underscores the growing authority of the Public Investment Fund.

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Bahrain and Abu Dhabi Compete to be Gulf’s Cryptocurrency Hub

The heightened interest in cryptocurrencies across the Gulf is taking place alongside global efforts to both regulate digital assets and attract cryptocurrency firms.

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Diversified Investment in UAE Shaping China’s Economic Role in the Gulf

Despite a large appetite among Gulf Arab states for Chinese investment and trade, the UAE has emerged as China’s primary economic partner in the region.

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Fiscal and Security Pressures Highlight, and Threaten, Oman’s Unique Position in the Region

As fiscal constraints increase, tensions in the Gulf rise, and uncertainties surrounding political transition loom, Oman’s role in the Gulf Arab region could come under pressure.

Downstream Horizons: What is the Future for Economic Diversification in Gulf Arab States?

This panel critically examined the current state of economic diversification initiatives in Gulf Arab states.

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The Political Ramifications of the Gulf’s Digital Transformation

Gulf Arab states are striving to become tech-driven, knowledge economies, but the digital path ahead is bound to be bumpy.

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New Opportunities and High Stakes for Gulf-South Asia Relations

The strategic implications of interregional engagement between the Gulf and South Asia are becoming clearer and more pronounced.

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Saudi Arabia Takes Steps to Assure Foreign Investors

The economic components of Saudi Arabia’s ambitious transformation, in which local and foreign investments play a pivotal role, ultimately hinge on the government’s ability to improve the transparency of commercial processes.

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Year-on-Year Deficits Brewing in Gulf Economies

More spending, low growth, and recurring deficits are not a recipe for long-term economic sustainability, but this concoction may be a necessary pill for Gulf states to swallow as the hard work of economic reform sets in.

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Uber’s Acquisition of Careem Strengthens the Gulf’s Tech Credentials

Uber’s acquisition of its Dubai-based rival Careem signals a promising new phase for the Gulf’s technology sector.

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Gulf States Help Defuse South Asia Tensions, Protect Economic Interests

Three processes of interregional engagement – labor dynamics, energy cooperation, and strategic investments – are crucial for understanding how Gulf Arab states will exercise economic power in South Asia over the coming years.

Money Matters: The State of Financial Markets in the Gulf

In this panel, speakers draw on their extensive knowledge of the region’s markets to explain how modern financial mechanisms have acted as a buffer between Gulf societies at large and the newfound cash reserves of Gulf Arab states over the last 50 years.

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Saudi-Moroccan Political Tensions Challenge Quiet Economic Ties

A series of political disputes is testing bilateral relations between Saudi Arabia and Morocco, but growing economic engagement between the two monarchies offers an incentive for both sides to prevent simmering tensions from boiling over into commercial spheres.

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Qatar Balances Fraught Regionalism Against Uncertain Globalization

In order to remain a relevant actor in the global economic order, Qatar has established a middle ground between the trends of regionalism and globalization through a strategic strengthening of bilateral partnerships.

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Saudi-Indian Economic Partnership Charting New Course

The economic relationship between Saudi Arabia and India should be a fruitful one. However, domestic policy decisions and geopolitical tensions pose new – but ultimately surmountable – obstacles.

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New Omani Initiatives Reflect Gulf States’ Push to Nationalize Labor Forces

Short-term measures to replace expatriate workers with Omani citizens could have implications for the sultanate’s long-term economic growth and diversification process.

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Growing Saudi-Egyptian Ties Face Challenges of Economic Reforms

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s November trip to Egypt highlighted the important regional alliance between Riyadh and Cairo, but collaboration over megaprojects may strain Riyadh’s fiscal capacity.

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New UAE Investment Laws Pose Challenge to Free Zones

Government efforts to legalize full foreign ownership in specific sectors aim to significantly boost inward foreign investments. However, the commercial reform threatens to disrupt the long-standing economic institutions and commercial incentives associated with free zones.

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U.S. Sanctions Unlikely to Sever Iran’s Economic Ties to Gulf Arab States

Despite U.S. sanctions, Iran, with the second-largest economy in the Middle East after Saudi Arabia, is likely to remain an integral economic actor for the Gulf Arab states.

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The Supply-Side Politics of Kuwait’s Industrial Strategy

Kuwait hopes to usher in a “new industrial era,” but the country will have to pay more attention to demand and regional competition to boost industrial output.

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Neom Update: Funding the World’s Most Ambitious Project

Nearly a year after Neom's announcement, the futuristic Saudi megacity is still only in the early stages of development. To meet goals of opening fully by 2025, planners must overcome a key challenge: shoring up funding.

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“Yes We Cannes”: Cinematic Diversification in Saudi Arabia

Ahmad bin Fahd Al-Mezyed, CEO of Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Culture, used the 2018 Cannes Film Festival as a cinematic backdrop to garner international interest in the Saudi film and television industry.

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Competing Megaprojects in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia

During the March 25 Kuwait Investment Forum, Kuwaiti government officials reaffirmed the country’s commitment to develop the Silk City (Madinat al-Harir) megaproject and establish an integrated economic zone on five uninhabited Kuwaiti islands.

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The Looming E-Battle in the Gulf

Discussions between Amazon Web Services and Saudi Arabia to establish a direct presence in the country forecast a broader commercial struggle for control over the e-commerce market in Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

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Qatar Must Adapt SEZs to New Regional Geopolitical Realities

The Saudi, Bahraini, and Emirati efforts to isolate Qatar logistically as part of the most recent Gulf Cooperation Council crisis will require a restructuring of the country’s plans for special economic zones (SEZs) – commonly known as free zones (FZs) in the rest of the GCC states.