Saudi Arabian-Egyptian Relations

Egypt has just gotten a visit from Prince Mohammed bin Salman.  Arriving in the region in an attempt to “deepen the alliance between two of the region’s powerhouses,” other matters discussed at the meeting with Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi included: regional matters and the fight against Islamic militants. While there was pull back in relations in 2016 due to opinion strategy disparity on the Syrian war, this meeting improved matters.

Data from MENA has shown that we are currently encountering a “new era of economic ties between Egypt and Saudi Arabia.” President of the General Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce Ahmed Al-Wakil said the total Saudi investments are worth up to $27bn.  Industries include: oil and electricity.

It is expected that there will be a further escalation in Saudi Arabia’s investment into Egypt given that officials from Egypt and the Kingdom have commented that they are hoping obstacles between the two countries will be reduced, facilitating the transportation of goods and services between them.

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Turkish Relationships

It seems like Turkey has recently been putting valiant effort into some of its neighboring relationships.  Taking a look at Qatar, the recent ‘Qatari-Turkish Economic Forum’, was set up to strengthen economic collaboration between the two countries in a variety of industries.  This includes (but is not limited to): agriculture, industry, infrastructure and pharmaceuticals.  This will be inaugurated by Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim bin Mohamed al-Thani, Chair of the Qatar Chamber and Rifat Hisarciklioglu, President of the and Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey

It does not end there.  Starting today (for two days), the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center is hosting the ‘Expo Turkey 2018.’ Organized by Medyacity, it is hoped that this will result in bolstering networking and investment opportunities between the two countries.

Over in Serbia, Rasim Ljajic, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications in Serbia, met up with Hakan Cavusoglu, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister.  The area of discussion centered around how to “improv[e] the overall economic relations of the two countries and the implementation of the infrastructure projects.”

It seems like collaboration has already been working.  In the first 11 months of 2017, trade between Serbia and Turkey “exceeded the record $1bn,” 21 percent higher than for the year earlier. Added to this is the new agreement that was signed on the stimulation and protection of investments and the fact that new investors are coming from Turkey.  It is very likely that foreign trade will grow even more this year.

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UAE and Pakistani Collaborations

Joint efforts between Pakistan and the UAE are advancing in a variety of industries.  One particular area is business, with dual efforts being made in the food, textile and service regions, as will be witnessed in two days’ time at Karachi’s 10th Annual Expo Pakistan. There will be around 50 UAE delegates there from both the public and private sectors.  The Pakistan Business Council will also be participating and business council members are expected to arrive from Africa, America, Australia, Jordan and the UK.

Figures for 2015-16 Pakistan-UAE bilateral trade stood at $7bn (with $1.06bn exports from Pakistan).  but this increased in 2016-17 by 9.4 percent, reaching $8.3bn.  During the show alone, it is anticipated that there will be in excess of $1bn trade transactions taking place.  As Dubai’s Consul-General of Pakistan, Syed Javed Hassan noted:

“The climate of investment in Pakistan is very conducive for investment as red-tapism and regulations have been eased to quite an extent to attract foreign direct investment. The government has also created certain tax free zones for a period of four to five years for investors from abroad. Besides that, the CPEC [China-Pakistan Economic Corridor] is another milestone for investors to invest. When this rail linking through Gwadar becomes operational, the commodities would be transported to China, Central Asia and most of European countries, benefitting about 40 per cent of the population of this [Gulf] region.”

Just a few weeks ago there was the Pakistan Property Show in which over 50 exhibitors showcased their real estate options at the Dubai World Trade Centre, offering Pakistanis from overseas an opportunity to purchase properties in their home countries.  At the show, foreign investors were able to increase exposure of their portfolios.

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Islamabad’s Afghan Embassy

The Afghan embassy complex is to be constructed in Islamabad.  An incredibly large structure covering 23,800 square meters, the structure is to be the largest embassy in the world.

The financing ($17 million) for the project is coming from a Chinese company and is indicative of strong and advancing Afghan-Pakistani relations, which were echoed at the ground-breaking ceremony with Nasir Ahmad Andisha, Deputy Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, Sun Weidong (Pakistan’s Chinese Ambassador) and Omar Zakhilwal (Islamabad’s Afghan ambassador).

It is hoped that the building will be complete by 2020.

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The Youth of Oman

In this movie – filmed, edited and produced by Hannah Gaber (who has interests in Middle Eastern matters) – Oman is viewed through its youth. Through this we learn of some of the severest challenges the region is encountering, as depicted by the youth of the nation.

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Dubai’s Own Microsoft Font

It’s an interesting thing to go down in history for…having your very own font.  Well, for Dubai it has to be better than other topics people discuss.  The Dubai Font (a combination of both Latin and Arabic texts) can now be accessed around the world via Microsoft Office 365.

The project – which took 18 months to process – was supervised by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai’s Crown Prince.  He worked with six people from Monotype (an American firm that has made specialty typefaces for large grands such as Vogue). Once completed he instructed government agencies to use it in all official correspondence.  Meanwhile, the rest of the world can feel free to use the simple, Arabic/Latin San Serif typeface, since it is available in 23 different languages.  Indeed, anyone of the 100 million Microsoft Office 356 software owners will be able to download in multiple formats.

As Maktoum (who is also chair of the Dubai Executive Council) said: “The launch of the Dubai Font to the world is a very important step for us as part of our continuous efforts to be ranked first in the digital world.  We are confident that this new font and its unique specifications will prove popular among other fonts used online and in smart technologies across the world. I have personally overseen all the stages of the development of this font, from the first design sketches to the execution phase.”

Chief designer, Nadine Chahine added: “It is a mean of expression, it is not the expression itself.  “It’s a sans serif with a lot of humanist influence.”  Ultimately it has been said to fill a gap in the market of high-quality Arabic fonts.

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Saudi Arabia’s Economic Comeback


The economy of Saudi Arabia has definitely had its fair share of hits, most notably the drop in oil prices.  But it seems that this is not stopping the region as we look at the recent governmental statement comprising the budget for this year, including its plan to significantly decrease its (record) budget deficit.  We learn more in this interview with Azhar Sukri.


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Omran: New Work Opportunities

hotelAn additional 1,000 jobs will soon become available in Oman’s hotelier industry.  Together with Omani developers, Omran (the Oman Tourism Development Company) will be requiring more staff to operate three new hotels.  And this will be expanded over the next 5 years, according to James Wilson, CEO of Omran.  He said that there will need to be the training of around 10,000 people who will be working in the hospitality, tourism and real estate industries.  This will ultimately move employment away from just being reliant on oil.

Furthermore, Omran recently started work on Muscat’s Mina Al Sultan Qaboos Waterfront Project, featuring a multi-use waterfront.  It is hoped that this will span 64 hectares and will be ready by 2020.

Meanwhile, Oman’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry has also been working toward escalating employment in the area.  Via the Human Resource and Job Market Development Committee, the Chamber recently held a seminar on ‘Creating opportunities in the job market,’ for SME owners, entrepreneurs, representatives from OAMC and Orpic and more.  OCCI’s Human Resource and Job Market Development Committee Chair, Mohamed Hassan al Ansi inaugurated the event and Orpic’s Ibrahim al Mamari delivered a presentation on how companies could support SMEs.

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US-Qatar Trade Relations

qatarRelations between America and Qatar have historically been bilateral, putting them in the category of bilateral allies.  Following its break from the UK in 1972, the US set up diplomatic relations with Qatar, today making them valuable partners, with Qatar being supportive of America’s transformation.  As well, the regions work together on maintaining security in the Persian Gulf.

At the recent US-Qatar trade and investment council meeting that took place in Washington, Minister of Economy and Commerce Sheikh Ahmed pointed out how the increase in GDP of the contribution of the non-oil sector.  The escalation was around 8 percent from 2010 to 2015.  Ahmed said that it was the non-oil sector that had a substantial role in the state’s economic growth during this time frame.

It was then that Ahmed thanked the relationship between the US and Qatar for this strengthening.  He said: “The strong, friendly and economic partnership between Qatar and the United States has achieved remarkable economic growth and increased trade volume. The total trade volume between the two countries reached $4.5bn in 2015.”  He also noted the necessity of the US-Qatar friendship, adding that his region was “looking forward to further advancement and promotion of economic, commercial and investment cooperation between the two countries.”

Also at the council meeting were other Qatari representatives such as those from the Foreign Ministry, Transport and Communications Ministry, Finance, General Authority of Customs Ministry and Qatar Investment Authority, among others.


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Pakistan: Upcoming Business Opportunities

pakistanIt appears – from a global bird’s eye view – that Pakistan could be the next hub of innovative business.  Over the last few weeks, three different regions have announced upcoming partnerships or collaborations in Pakistan that they plan on undertaking.

First off is France.  Thierry Pfimlin, the President of the Pakistan-France Business Council and VP of the (Asia Pacific Region) TOTAL contacted Parisian Senator Ishaq Dar, the Finance Minister.  Pflimlin made him aware of an upcoming business delegation from France.  This is because there are currently quite a few companies in France that are considering the possibility of establishing partnerships in Pakistan while bolstering the business relations that already exist there.  The main industries that would be engaging in such collaboration are: food processing, gas, infrastructure development, mining, oil and railways.

In Bahrain the Pakistan Embassy there set up the first conference focusing on Pakistan Bahrain business opportunities that took place three days ago.  Participants included over 350 delegates from the GCC region, Bahrain and Pakistan.  Overseas Pakistani businessman that work in Gulf countries (along with delegations from Qatar Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and UAE) also took part in the conference.

China is likewise looking at Pakistan for investor relations.  It is Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. that – given the upgraded Pakistani security situation – is looking into business expansion.  This Chinese multinational networking and telecommunications firm plans to develop five safe cities in Punjab while providing services in execution of CPEC-based projects, primarily for placing data cables for improved telecom connectivity at home and abroad.

With the improved security situation as well as the most recent signing of the multilateral convention on tax co-operation, the region is becoming an attractive one for FDIs.

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