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.
While many are worried about the violence and instability in the Middle East, one area seems to be booming – the art auction world. A recent auction in Dubai proves the region’s increased interest in all things art. The latest auction by Christie’s actually broke 42 world auction records.
Interest Through Christie’s
As Michael Jeha, managing director of Christie’s Middle East explained, “The solid results for both the art and the jewelry sales are an indication that the art market in the Middle East continues to mature and attract an increasingly international and local following.”
Bonhams’ 7th Auction
Bonhams, which just had its seventh auction in the area, also saw very strong results. As Jonathan Horwich, the Global Director of the Picture Department at Bonhams said, “We saw good results and increased levels of competitive bidding across the estimate range. With the addition of online live bidding this year we saw even wider participation from international collectors than we have previously experienced.”
Both Bonhams and Christie’s entered the Middle East market relatively recently. Christie’s first came to the area in 2005 and Bonhams made its start in 2007. In 2010, Dubai actually became Christie’s fastest growing sales centre with a 153% increase over what they had seen in 2009.
Transformations in the Art Market
As Michael Jeha explained, “The regional art market has rapidly transformed before our eyes. You only have to look at the catalogue for our Middle Eastern art sale on April 19 and compare it with our first sale catalogue in 2006 to appreciate how the quality of the works has developed with each sale season. The pool of collectors interested in bidding in the sales has expanded too and in 2010, bidders in Christie’s Dubai sales came from 25 countries.”
As if the Middle East didn’t have enough to deal with already – rising food prices are now threatening to cripple many already strapped people. QNB Capital reported that the rising food prices in the area are a result of many factors including rising income levels in countries like China, unseasonal weather and fule price spikes.
Food prices rose a record amount in 2010, with a 25% increase. As reported by QNB Capital, the index of global food prices maintained by the UN Food and Agricultural Organization rose by 25% in 2010, surpassing previous records set in June of 2008. This number has increased even further in 2011, increasing by another 9.9% so far this year.
Hitting the Poor
The World Bank reports that these figures are hitting the poorest in society the hardest and bringing the world, as they report, near a “breaking point.” The World Bank’s food price index is at record levels as well, having increased 15% between October 2010 and January 2011. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has also projected a 19% rise in food prices for this year.
Food Price Impact
The impact that these food price increases have on the area depends on the share of household food expenditures in each location. For instance, in Egypt, food represents 39,9% of the Consumer Price Index compared to Qatar where it’s only 13.2%. In addition, the current food price increases are mostly for basic foods, rather than for more expensive or processed food items. This impacts poor populations more than it does the wealthy, since poorer people tend to buy more basic foods such as rice.
As QNB Capital reported, “As the Middle East relies mainly on food imports, the region is particularly vulnerable to food security concerns. If this trend of rising food prices continues, Arab countries will likely be forced to increase their strategic food reserves and develop technologies to boost domestic production to meet growing food demand.”