Saturday, 9 April 2011
Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill was one of the first to spot the emerging Bric countries, and coined that term for Brazil, Russia, India and China. Now he is saying the Middle East and North Africa is likely to join the Bric countries in the sense of rising demand from a population that wants more, albeit as a result of unrest, revolution and civil war.
Dr O’Neill goes so far as to compare what is happening in the MENA region to the fall of the Berlin Wall: a rather sudden and unexpected popular and largely peaceful rebellion in favor of liberal democracy. Is that a reasonable analysis?
The final 50 are made up of nominations from the Mena FM readership, whittled down by an anonymous judging panel of Mena fund industry insiders. The list was compiled of individuals who have demonstrated innovation, leadership, resilience and transparency throughout the difficult market conditions of the past year.
The list is not ranked in order of influence; however, we have highlighted a top 10 sub-list of individuals who are held in particularly high regard across the region. Only one executive per company was permitted, although exceptions were made where a key role was shared. Both the top 10 and remaining 40 are listed in alphabetical order by company.
I'd flown into the Eastern Province, the heart of the Saudi oil industry, which also happens to be the heart of political unrest here. Demonstrations in the kingdom have been more muted than in other Arab countries, but they've been significant enough to get the government's attention.
Visiting journalists are assigned a government representative, who can be helpful in arranging interviews and navigating the Saudi bureaucracy, but who also controls what we see. The protests, my handler in Dammam assured me, are overblown.
Mr al Sanea, who has consistently denied all allegations against him in the long-running affair, is named as first defendant on a list of 15 executives in documents filed in a Bahraini court by the kingdom's public prosecutor.
The charges were the subject of a brief hearing in the lower criminal court in Manama last month, but this is the first time the details have emerged. The National has seen a copy of the charge sheet.
"Recent royal decrees in the wake of regional political unrest will increase spending, but this will not endanger Saudi Arabia's strong fiscal position and balance sheet, which underpin the ratings," says Charles Seville, Director in Fitch's sovereign team. "Moreover, while Saudi Arabia shares some features with those Mena [Middle East and North Africa] countries which have recently suffered unrest, there are also major differences, notably the government's ability to alleviate socio-economic problems from increasing oil revenues."
The total value of commitments under the two separate packages of decrees was up to 450 billion Saudi riyals (Dh440.56 billion, or 25 per cent of 2011 forecast GDP), but most of the spending will be spread over several years. Spending could rise by 30 per cent this year, driven in part by one-off items, but the government would still run a surplus of 7 per cent of GDP.
Kuwait-based Gulf Investment Corporation and National Bank of Abu Dhabi both sourced funds from the Southeast Asian country in the past year, and the Dubai government is mulling a Malaysian sukuk sale, setting a trend of Gulf issuers looking outside the region for financing.
Malaysia is home to the world’s largest Islamic bond market and has an estimated $79 billion in excess liquidity.
U.S. crude topped $113 but trailed Brent, which closed out its best weekly gain since February. Deepening violence in Libya and concerns about unrest in Saudi Arabia and Nigeria lent new impetus to a rally that is threatening to crimp global growth and add to growing inflation concerns.
Analysts said Friday's sharp gains in oil, wheat, copper and gold -- while stocks slipped -- stemmed from a big wave of second-quarter investment. Oil drew extra support from fears that the war in Libya was starting to inflict lasting damage on the oil sector.