Featured Topic: Middle East

Well, anyone living and investing in the UAE should be pretty happy. Things are going well which is why it shouldn’t be such a great surprise that the population has more than doubled in the last few years. In fact, figures show that there has been an increase of a staggering 65 percent inhabitants in the region from 2006 to 2010. This could be to do with the economy since most of these newbies to the area are comprised of overseas investors and workers with a mere 11 percent of those living there being UAE nationals at the end of June 2010. It is Abu Dhabi that has had the large influx of investors.

GDP Rise

The region’s non-oil GDP was said to have increased by 3.3 percent over the course of the year, according to figures released by the International Monetary Fund, as opposed to the 2.1 percent figure of last year. Additional development is anticipated due to the UAE’s “low interest rates, strong crude prices and better prospects promote expansion. ” People living in the area are thrilled with the news and “optimistic” that such trends are set to continue.

More Pocket Money?

But, at the end of the day, it remains unclear as to whether all this good news will mean more money in the pocket of the average UAE citizen. Apparently it may not. It looks like salaries are going to either stay the same or just increase a minimal amount. This is despite the fact that it seems to be an employee’s market right now as companies are on the lookout for a not-endless supply of skilled workers. So it seems a bit strange that salaries remain under lock and key. Nonetheless it’s all relative. Despite the lack of rising salaries, according to a study these salaries are still at the top of the entire Middle East market.

Pakistan Packs It In

Despite the crazy floods to strike the country just a year ago, impacting a staggering 18 million people, it looks like Pakistan’s economy is actually growing today. Indeed, it looks like the country will be joining forces with Malaysia and economists expect economic cohesion between the two countries to expand “by at least 10 percent this year.”

According to Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, Malaysia’s Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister, there could be joint work between the following sectors: chemicals, palm oil downstream products, petrochemicals, and telecommunications. Because both countries have their own strengths, Mahatir told a “Business and Investment Opportunities in Pakistan” conference that he believes the two should take advantage of each other for mutual benefit.

Indeed, this has already been happening. The figure recorded for Pakistani investments in Malaysian manufacturing area reached a total of RM1.099 billion spanning 26 projects. As well, last year trade between the two countries was recorded at RM7.991 billion.

Booming Bahrain

Economic and financial advancement in Malaysia is going beyond the scope of its host country. Indeed its trading with Bahrain shot up to $192.2 million. As well, last year Malaysian exports to Bahrain reached $71.57 million and $120.6 million the other direction.

According to CEO of My Events International, Shahul Hameed, this “increased trade not only reflects a healthy business relationship with emerging countries in the South East Asian region but also shows its eagerness to explore key investment and financial opportunities inside and outside of the Middle East region.”

For sure whenever political issues get ironed out it, the way will be paved for economic and financial development as well.

 

While China’s economy and finance markets are looking bold and strong, its Korean neighbor isn’t faring quite so well.  The potential of the Middle Eastern mess is once again being blamed for the success and stagnation of the yuan and the won.  Indeed, statistics showed a hit of 345.35 billion yuan (probably supported by short- and medium-term bonds).  Meanwhile in North Korea the “dire economic situation” is so extreme that international food aid calls (which have likely lessened due to missile and nuclear programs) are becoming increasingly louder, apparently to no avail.  On the one hand the country was blaming international pressure for their failure while simultaneously asking the world for charitable handouts.  Despite its attractive-looking economy, China has not been dealing with the Middle Eastern mess so well, and instead psychologically ignoring its very existence, or running into a panic at the thought of what might entail.

China’s Success Mimics Korea’s Failure

So while the Chinese economy is going from strength to strength, the same can’t be said for Korea.  This hasn’t always been the case.  At one time, it was reported that South Korea was providing around 400,000 tons of rice each year to North Korea but once relations between the two started depleting around three years ago, this gift ended too.

Looking towards China though, things couldn’t be brighter.  It seems that Yujiapu is set to be home to “the world’s largest financial zone a decade from now.”  A set of twelve buildings are to be constructed marking just the “first phase” in this new financial world headquarter, really putting the rest of the region to shame.  While their brothers in North Korea are looking for bread and water, the Chinese are enjoying festive banqueting.


 

 

Recent world events – New Zealand earthquake, Japan’s credit rating downgrade and continued Middle East and Libyan unrest – led to a significant drop in stock markets across Asia.  For example, South Korea’s Kospi, the Nikkei 225 stock and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index all plummeted around 2 percent.  As well, Japan had trouble dealing with its huge debt following Moody’s Investors Service downgrading its outlook for the country’s credit rating, citing “increasing uncertainty” over Japan’s capacity to effectively deal with rising debt.  This doesn’t spell good news for the country which only last month had its sovereign debt rating cut by Standard & Poor.  Australia, China, Singapore and Taiwan are currently in the same boat vis-à-vis stock markets. The only good news for the region of late has been the increase in oil prices.

 

Socotra

In a letter to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, said the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani said his country is ready to establish a Yemeni company – country to explore for oil and gas and develop oil fields in Yemen, in addition to investing in the development of tourism to the island of Socotra.

The Chairman welcomed the country in favor of investments in Yemen and praised the role played by Qatar in the protection of Yemen’s unity and security.

Socotra continues to be the focus of recent tourist projects in Yemen. Its natural beauty and remote destination has caused it to a destination for adventurers. Now the Yemeni government is hoping to transform it into a source of revenue. With tourism increasing in general in Yemen, the leaders want to capitalize on a wave of what they see as a positive international interest and foreign investment.

Socotra maybe the key to Yemen’s success.