Saudi Arabia raised an estimated $12.2 billion from VAT in 2018, exceeding expectations by nearly one-third.
Oman's state-owned Duqm refinery closes $4.6 billion in financing from domestic and international sources.
Umm Al Quwain, one of the UAE's 7 emirates, issues royal decree increasing government salaries by 100 percent.
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.
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 effects of the VAT are beginning to show in inflation. According to Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, January UAE inflation data shows a marked strengthening with the introduction of 5% VAT. Headline inflation accelerated by 2.7% m-o-m in January (December: 0.7%) with the y-o-y rate rising to 4.8% rounded (December: 2.7%). The rise in prices was broad based, particularly in categories subject to VAT, including food and clothing.
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.
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.
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.
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.