Our Insights

Intelligence you can act upon

For a limited period, visitors to our website will be able to access a selection of our very best insights and top calls on geopolitics and market trends in energy, finance, infrastructure and more.

As the go-to source for political and sectoral risk analysis in the MENA region, our team specialises in providing bespoke and actionable intelligence to support your business and investment decisions.

If you have interests in the region and wish to find out more about this product, or any of our services, please get in touch.

 

VAT hike aims to shore up Saudi’s finances amid low risk of public resistance

VAT hike aims to shore up Saudi’s finances amid low risk of public resistance

**Written and disseminated among select contacts on May 12**

Saudi Arabia announced a series of measures on Monday – including a three-fold hike in VAT from July – to address a sharp deterioration in its financial position. A policy response to the twin crises of lower oil prices and the global coronavirus pandemic was inevitable, but the austerity measures are far-reaching and will hit Saudis at a time when many businesses are already struggling amid severely restricted economic activity.

Rachna Uppal | Senior Analyst | r.uppal@castlereagh.net

Iraq: a compromise government for crisis management

Iraq: a compromise government for crisis management

**Written and disseminated among select contacts on May 11**

Iraq’s new PM, whose appointment on May 6 put an end to months of political stalemate in Iraq, faces multiple economic, social and geopolitical challenges. Before broader reform can be introduced, it will have to tackle a flailing economy, hit particularly hard by low oil prices and coronavirus. And while the new PM has the support of key political interests – the US, Iran and main parliamentary coalitions Fateh and Sairoon – he will face difficulties in trying to balance multiple interest groups and keep social protests at bay.

Daniel Moshashai | Regional Analyst Geopolitics & Infrastructure | d.moshashai@castlereagh.net

Jordan eases COVID-19 restrictions – but economic revival remains far off

Jordan eases COVID-19 restrictions – but economic revival remains far off

**Written and disseminated among select contacts on May 5**

Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply, Tareq Hammouri, announced on Sunday, May 3, that all economic sectors are permitted to reopen at full capacity starting the following Wednesday as long as Jordanian nationals comprise 75% or more of the work force. While the move is intended to kickstart the economy, the measure will not go far enough to avert a financial crisis.

Neil Quilliam | CEO | n.quilliam@castlereagh.net

Saudi ports: Bigger private sector role in development, overcapacity risk looms

Saudi ports: Bigger private sector role in development, overcapacity risk looms

**Written and disseminated among select contacts on May 5**

Increasing private sector investments into Saudi port developments reflect the big potential of the maritime and logistics sector, but there is a risk that capacity may end up exceeding global demand. The government has improved regulations and set up sizeable investment funds for strategic projects to attract foreign players, but current market conditions may deter or impact investments.

Daniel Moshashai | Regional Analyst Infrastructure & Geopolitics | d.moshashai@castlereagh.net

UAE banks face multiple challenges

UAE banks face multiple challenges

**Written and disseminated among select contacts on April 15**

Substantial government stimulus measures will help the UAE’s banking sector navigate the impact of the coronavirus crisis, but doubts remain over whether they will effectively translate into swift economic recovery once restrictions are lifted. Lenders certainly have the ability to lend – but whether they have the willingness to lend is the key consideration.

Rachna Uppal | Senior Analyst Business & Finance | r.uppal@castlereagh.net

UAE construction to struggle in current conditions – but emerge more streamlined and efficient

UAE construction to struggle in current conditions – but emerge more streamlined and efficient

**Written and disseminated among select contacts on April 7**

Government aid measures to support the construction industry will help lessen the impact of low oil prices and economic slowdown from the coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless, companies will be pushed to make critical decisions about project pipelines, efficiency and supply chain resilience in order to adapt to the conditions.

Daniel Moshashai | Regional Analyst – Geopolitics and Infrastructure | d.moshashai@castlereagh.net

Qatar bond plans will be market test for opportunistic Gulf borrowers

Qatar bond plans will be market test for opportunistic Gulf borrowers

**Written and disseminated to select contacts on April 7**

Qatar is set to become the first Gulf country to tap global bond markets since oil prices plummeted last month. In spite of a low-oil-price environment and COVID-19-related global economic slowdown, the country on Tuesday began marketing five- 10- and 30-year bonds, which it hopes will raise at least $5bn. The bond is expected to go on sale later today.

Rachna Uppal | Senior Analyst | r.uppal@castlereagh.net

Ratings downgrades in Kuwait, Oman add to growing GCC economic concerns

Ratings downgrades in Kuwait, Oman add to growing GCC economic concerns

**Written and disseminated to select contacts on April 1**

Ratings downgrades in Kuwait and Oman, prompted by plunging oil revenues, widening deficits and increased borrowing needs, will make accessing global funding more expensive and difficult, especially for regional economic laggard Oman. Although important, ratings do not always reflect the full picture, nor gauge investor appetite for Gulf risk once market conditions improve.

Rachna Uppal | Senior Analyst | r.uppal@castlereagh.net

Contenders in Kuwait’s line of succession

Contenders in Kuwait’s line of succession

**Written and disseminated to select contacts on March 27, 2020**

Uncertainty over the line of succession is becoming an increasingly important topic for Kuwait, where political deadlock has largely prevented the ultra-wealthy and low-populated country from enacting reforms to diversify its economy and run its public finances in a more sustainable and transparent way. In the event of the passing of its ruler, Emir Sheikh Sabah (91 this year), Crown Prince (CP) Sheikh Nawaf will take power. However, at 82 years old, his reign may be short-lived. This makes the choice for CP and next-in-line for the throne highly significant.

Courtney Freer | CA Consultant | contact@castlereagh.net

Saudi’s oil price gamble exposes fragile finances

Saudi’s oil price gamble exposes fragile finances

**Written and disseminated to select contacts on March 25, 2020**

Saudi Arabia’s finances risk becoming seriously impaired if oil prices remain lower for longer, with the state budget and balance of payments deficits virtually unfinanceable at $30/b in 2020. The massive cuts to spending needed could lead to political and public discontent, especially at a time when progress on Vision 2030 goals is slow and unlikely to deliver on its economic objectives in the ambitious time frame.  

Rachna Uppal | Senior Analyst Business & Finance | r.uppal@castlereagh.net

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