Gulf Economic Barometer

The Gulf Economic Barometer monitors initiatives taken by Gulf states as they seek fiscal, monetary, and trade policy changes to meet the challenge of reduced state revenue from natural resources. The key trend is a major shift in the way Gulf Arab 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.

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Saudi Arabia raised an estimated $12.2 billion from VAT in 2018, exceeding expectations by nearly one-third.

7 Visa Rules Changes in the UAE [Infographic]

7 Visa Rule Changes in the UAE The UAE announced several changes to its visa guidelines in a number of categories, including for workers, students, and tourists. The government will allow people escaping or subject to political violence in their home countries to apply for a 1-year visa with the potential for extension, despite not being a signatory of the U.N. refugee convention.

Abu Dhabi Stimulus Plan [Infographic]

Abu Dhabi Stimulus Plan The government of Abu Dhabi announced a $13.6 billion stimulus package aimed at supporting economic development over three years. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan instructed officials to draw up detailed plans for allocating the funds over the next 90 days. Abu Dhabi's economy has stagnated in recent years as a result of lower oil prices, as well as austerity measures taken by the government to curb the rise in deficits. The new stimulus package includes 10 initiatives designed to streamline bureaucratic regulations and facilitate the ease of doing business in the UAE.

The Bridge: Competing Megaprojects in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Kuwait Boubyan Island
by Robert Mogielnicki 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.

Market Watch: Saudi Economic Reform Update: Saudization and Expat Exodus

Oil worker in Khurais by Karen E. Young The experimental nature of Saudization begs many questions of which sectors are targeted and why, and how smaller businesses will be able to assume higher wage costs of hiring nationals.

Market Watch: Payment Delayed: The Economic Risk of Gulf Contracting Practices

Dubai Construction by Karen E. Young Like the Bin Laden Group and Saudi Oger, Carillion has proved that the construction of megaprojects in the Gulf, however lucrative and central to state-led development plans, is full of pitfalls.

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.  

Market Watch: The Cost of Private Education

Emirates German Foreign Minister

Education is costly, and in the Gulf, it is becoming a very important component of private sector economic activity.
 

Market Watch: The Political Perils of Economic Liberalization in the Gulf

by Karen E. Young Economic liberalization tends to bring with it social, if not always political, openings. By definition, liberalization challenges existing orders; more specifically, liberalization tries to deny the state a dominating role in the economy. State-led capitalism, as practiced in the Gulf states over the last 40 years, has invited foreign investment and migrant human capital, but it has always privileged the state and protected opportunity for citizens, most visibly via commercial agency laws and the kafala system.

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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.  

Market Watch: Self-Imposed Barriers to Economic Integration in the GCC

by Karen E. Young Qatar has lodged a complaint with the World Trade Organization against the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain for blocking its air traffic and increasing the costs of basic food and medicine imports. Though intra-Gulf state economic relations continue to suffer as a result of the current crisis, there are long-standing barriers to trade and investment flows that deserve consideration.  

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The Bridge: Qatar Must Adapt SEZs to New Regional Geopolitical Realities

by Robert Mogielnicki
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.

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Market Watch: Turkey’s Economic Stake in the GCC Dispute

by Karen E. Young On the heels of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced plans to visit Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. As the Gulf Cooperation Council diplomatic crisis continues, Erdogan’s presence likely will do little to calm regional tensions.

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