Will privatisation work in the GCC?

One of the most important pillars of Saudi Arabia’s economic reform programme is the push for more private sector investment and, as part of that, the privatisation of some key state assets. Privatisations are complex affairs and there are legitimate questions as to whether Riyadh will be able to sell everything on its list. But if it is successful, it will offer encouragement to other governments keen to follow suit.

Salaries fail to track rise in cost of living

From 1 October, the cost of tobacco and sugary drinks in the UAE spiked upwards, with the introduction of excise tariffs of up to 100 per cent. That was merely a precursor to a more wide-ranging value-added tax (VAT), which will be introduced in early 2018 and comes in the wake of a wave of other additional costs over recent years, including subsidies being lifted on fuel, charges levied on airport passengers and paid-for parking.

Moscow and Washington weaponise their competition for Gulf influence

Rivalry between Russia and United States has gone public with a number of potentially mould-breaking deals
The rivalry for influence across the region between Russia and United States broke out into the open as a series of proposed defence deals emerged in the first half of October. Saudi Arabia has suggested it could buy missile defence systems from both Moscow and Washington, Bahrain says it is also in the market for Russian missile defences and the UAE may be close to breaking from the regional norm for aircraft procurement with a deal to buy Russian fighter jets. It is not the first time Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) states have shown interest in diversifying their defence equipment supply chains away from the US and European allies, but the developments around missile defences in particular put the issue in a stark spotlight.