Saudi Arabia: Autocratic tendencies test international opinion as Khashoggi affair explodes

The disappearance and likely murder of the high-profile Saudi commentator is emblematic of the growing crackdown on dissent around the region, as younger generation autocrats concentrate their power. Riyadh was caught off-guard by the strength of international reaction to the Jamal Khashoggi affair, which has tested the west’s flirtation with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to an unprecedented extent – forcing other uncomfortable stories emerging from the region further down the news roster, including the spying charges placed against British academic Matthew Hedges in Abu Dhabi

Where have all the IPOs gone?

It has not been a good year for stock market listings in the Middle East. In the first half of 2018, there were only 13 flotations, raising a total of $1.3bn in capital, according to consultancy firm EY, and there has not been much activity since then. Most of the market debuts were by real estate investment trusts (reits), and if these are excluded, only five companies came to market, raising a total of $149m.

UAE launches stimulus packages and eases visa rules to boost activity

Despite Gulf producers’ success in forcing the price of crude up to around $70 a barrel, the strains of several years of lower oil prices are ever more apparent, even for the richest Gulf states. Adding to the pressure, several governments have had to shoulder the burden of huge military expenditure in Yemen and the cost of unprecedented diplomatic and other ‘soft power’ initiatives, as hydrocarbons revenues dropped away. These trends have driven a new burst of policy-making creativity in the UAE. Mindful of the need to generate more revenues, the authorities have launched a renewed drive to boost the economy’s competitiveness amid signs of sluggish growth.

Renewable Energy Is Powering Access To Learning

There are parts of the world where, when the electricity stops, learning too either slows down or stops entirely. During daylight hours, tropical humidity and heat can conspire against pupils trying to concentrate on what their teacher is saying. And if the school goes dark once the sun sets, no evening lessons can be held in the classrooms.