Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest producer and exporter of oil, accounting for 13% of global oil production. The oil reserves of the Kingdom are the second largest in the world, with a global share of around 16%. Over the last three decades, oil consumption in Saudi Arabia has grown at a CAGR of 5.3%. About 75% of the crude oil produced in Saudi Arabia is exported as crude and refined products, the remaining being consumed locally.
Saudi Arabia has been one of the largest exporter and importer in the world, in terms of merchandize trade. The petroleum sector exports accounted for roughly 75% of export earnings and 24% of GDP in 2015. Despite the slump in the oil industry, Saudi Arabia continued to maintain its production levels above 10 million barrels per day (Mbpd) in 2015. As a result of government investments, the non-oil sector witnessed a growth of 4.85% in 2014.
Saudi Arabia has the largest healthcare market among the GCC countries. It is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12%, reaching USD 48.13 billion by the end of 2018. Rising population, increased life expectancy, growing adult risk factors, and mandatory health insurance are expected to be the major growth drivers.
In the past few years, most of the industrial growth in Saudi Arabia has been led by the construction & cement, metals & mining, and petrochemical & refineries sub- sectors, amongothers. The government’s plan for economic diversification, including investment in large infrastructure projects such as the six economic cities, is one of the key drivers of growth in the industry sector.
Real estate is one of the key non-oil sectors of the Saudi Arabian economy, and it will play an important role in the success of the economic diversification planned by the Kingdom. The real estate sector will continue to grow, led by a growing population, rising personal income, increasing participation of multinational companies in the country, government initiatives, and increased private participation.
Saudi Arabia lies in the arid and semi-arid region of the Arabian Peninsula, and it is the largest country in the world without rivers. Despite unfavorable climatic conditions and scarcity of natural water resources, it has succeeded in meeting most of the water requirements of its rapidly growing population.
With its fifth edition, the 2014 Gulf Research Meeting reached another milestone, becoming definitely an established and expected event in the field of Gulf studies. This has only been made possible thanks to all our participants, both the new ones and the regular ones, who have enthusiastically contributed to the proceedings. Through parallel workshops dedicated to specific topics in the fields of politics, economics, energy, security and the wider social sciences, the Gulf Research Meeting addresses the existing shortcomings, to provide correct and insightful information about the region and to promote mutual understanding between the Gulf and the rest of the world.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ranked 22nd in the ‘Ease of Doing Business Rankings’1 in 2013. This is a significant improvement compared to its ranks (above 100) a few years ago. This change has been led by increasing government initiatives, which are enabling a friendly investment environment that encourages participation from foreign and local investors. Indeed, Saudi Arabia received the highest FDI inflows in the GCC region in 2012.
Saudi Arabia’s healthcare sector has come a long way since the establishment of the Ministry of Health (MoH) in the 1950s. The years that followed saw Saudi Arabia emerging as a key player in the global economy, following the success of its oil industry, which enabled investments to build a local healthcare system. Five year plans, better healthcare infrastructure, and recruitment of expats as doctors and nurses led to a multifold increase in the quality of services provided by the healthcare sector.
In the past few years, most of the industrial growth in Saudi Arabia has been led by the construction and cement, metals and mining, and petrochemicals and refineries sub sectors, among others. The government’s plan for economic diversification, including investments in large infrastructure projects such as the six economic cities, is one of the key drivers of growth in the industry sector. Saudi Arabia has a large local population base which is growing at over 2% per annum, which will also drive the demand for better infrastructure including housing.
Real estate is one of the key non-oil sectors of the economy of Saudi Arabia and will play an important role in the success of the economic diversification planned by the Kingdom. The real estate sector will continue to grow in the future led by growing population, rising personal incomes, increasing participation of multinational companies in the country, government initiatives, and increased private participation.
Saudi Arabia lies in the arid, semi-arid region of the Arabian Peninsula and is the largest country in the world without rivers. Despite unfavorable climatic conditions and scarcity of natural water resources, it has succeeded in meeting most of the water requirements of its rapidly growing population so far. Water consumption in the Kingdom increased at a CAGR of 2.6% from 1970 and reached 17,903 million cubic meters (mcm) in 2010 or about 653 m3 per capita, about 35% higher than the global average. The rise in water consumption was led by a nearly five time increase in population during the same period (1970–2010), higher urbanization levels, which increased from about 50% to over 80%, and increased industrialization.
The oil and gas industry is the backbone of the economy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia contributing about 75% to budget revenues, 45% to GDP, and 90% to exports. Saudi Arabia has the second largest oil reserves, largest oil production, and the fifth largest natural gas reserves in the world. Over 72% of the oil produced in the Kingdom is exported. Indeed, the economy of Saudi Arabia is dependent on these non-renewable sources of energy, with a high correlation between Saudi Arabia’s GDP and oil prices.
The Seminar Report summarizing the proceedings of the 2013 Gulf Research Meeting (GRM) has been released. The 2013 Gulf Research Meeting was the fourth meeting in what has become within the short period of its existence an established tradition in the field of Gulf studies. During this time and since the first gathering in 2010, the objectives of the GRM remain the same - to further build and extend the bridge of scholarly and academic excellence, and to promote continued exchange among scholars working on this critical part of the world. The past year has once again underlined the numerous issues that impact the Gulf region as well as the entire Middle East. A proper understanding of these issues and their wide-ranging consequences continues to be urgent and absolutely necessary. For the 2013 meeting, the number of workshops was restricted to twelve, a policy that we will continue in order to ensure the quality and longevity of our meeting. This made the selection from over 50 excellent proposals, covering a broad spectrum of critical issues currently facing the Gulf region, even more difficult. At the same time, the meeting still brought together more than 300 participants with 180 paper presenters and well more than 100 listening participants. The response for the meeting continues to be significant. Please click below to view the report.
An overall of the deliberations held during the first GCC-Swiss Forum held September 3 and 4, 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland has been released. The event which brought together more than 200 participants included several keynote speeches and panel discussions on issue related to promoting a better business environment between the GCC states and Switzerland.
In April 2013, the GRC undertook a week-long trip to South Korea and Japan. The visit was planned in conjunction with the opening of the GRC office in Tokyo and to focus on the growing strategic relations between these two countries and the Gulf region. This report provides an assessment of the visit in addition to providing an overview and summary of the many different meetings and events that were held as part of the trip
To analyze the events in the Middle East and put them in their proper context, the 10th Gstaad Roundtable under the theme of The Middle East: Change and Upheaval 2012 was held on June 15-17, 2012 in Gstaad, Switzerland. Hosted by the Gulf Research Center (GRC), the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), and the Crown Center at Brandeis University, the meeting brought together 24 renowned regional, security, and policy experts in order to assess the overall situation in the Middle East. The meeting focused on seven major themes ranging from an overall assessment of the geopolitical and regional dynamics at play to the current state and implications of the Arab Revolutions to the more specific issues of the situation in the Levant, Turkey, the Gulf region, and Israel and Palestine. The roundtable concluded with a discussion on the implications of the US election for the Middle East and its consequences for US foreign policy. The attached publication provides a detailed summary of those discussions. The 2013 meeting will be held from June 28-30, 2013.
Globalization has multiplied security challenges and significantly reduced the gap between domestic and international security. Security threats that develop within a domestic context can quickly escalate to have an impact beyond borders. Besides, the line between traditional and non-traditional threats to security has become increasingly blurred. New and complex security issues including pandemics, migration, energy security, cyber warfare, and climate change present decision-makers with challenges that need quick and efficient responses. In this context, good governance becomes a key issue. The first annual meeting of the Global Think Tank Security Forum held in Venice, Italy discussed some of the major security challenges facing nations today and provided an overview from regional and transnational perspectives. This volume contains the papers that were presented at the meeting.
The Seminar Report for the 2012 Gulf Research Meeting (GRM) held on 11-14 July 2012 at the University of Cambridge has been released. This Seminar Report contains a complete overview of GRM 2012 including the opening ceremony and each of the workshops. GRM 2012 was the largest of the three annual Gulf Research Meetings that have been held so far, underlining the attraction of such an event for the Gulf scholarly community. With the third meeting, the GRM continued the realization of its objective to build and extend the bridge of scholarly and academic excellence, and to promote continued exchange among scholars working on this critical part of the world. With the events that continue to impact the Gulf region as well as the entire Middle East, a proper understanding of the issues continues to be urgent and absolutely necessary. GRM 2012 covered a broad spectrum of critical issues currently facing the Gulf region and consisted of 19 workshops, which brought together about 500 participants, including close to 300 paper presenters and well over 100 listening participants. There was an increased response from scholars and other interested persons from the Gulf region itself.
Universities are central to building the innovative capacity of societies, the economy or industries alike because they provide access to basic science, the experience and knowledge of their researchers and learning opportunities to understand and adapt knowledge. Hence, exploring the structure and capabilities of the higher education institutions allows the appreciation of their contributions in the transfer of knowledge or technology from the research community to those sectors of the economy which apply that knowledge for enhanced productivity or commercial innovations. It also allows the understanding of the human efforts and resources engaged in learning, adapting or creating new knowledge for local needs and how these concepts are linked to the production, transmission and transfer of knowledge within local higher education institutions. The present paper seeks to explore the role leading universities play in the national innovation system of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and how they support the transfer of knowledge that nurtures the overall catching-up - development - process. It provides a typology of academic research outputs and university-industry relationships that exist within the UAE and seeks to understand their contribution to the development of local industry capabilities in strategic technology fields. Comparison is made when possible between local issues (difficulties) and those seen in developed or developing countries.
Gulf Research Center participates in the Global Trade Alert initiative of Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR). The fourth report of the Global Trade Alert was published on the occasion of the Jeddah Economic Forum, which has been organized by GRC on February 13-16, 2010. It examines whether macroeconomic stabilisation has altered governments' tendencies towards protectionism. It sheds light on the extent, nature and possible harm done by discriminatory state measures taken since the global financial markets, and subsequently the global economy, went into free fall. It focuses, in particular, on commercial policy developments and prospects in the Gulf region. The principal findings of the report suggest that macroeconomic stabilisation has not dampened protectionism; rather, that the rate of protectionism is not out of line with what was experienced during 2009. We also learn that the types of protectionism used the most have not changed during the process of stabilisation and that, if anything, G20 governments have been responsible for a higher share of protectionist measures since stabilization began. The report contains articles about Gulf domestic energy pricing and industrialization, Gulf food security, Gulf trade flows and political conflict as well as an examination of Gulf trade with East and South Asia.
Dubai World’s request for a debt standstill has sent shockwaves through international capital markets and has put the development strategy of the emirate into question. The report analyzes Dubai’s debt structure and how reduced access to international capital markets will affect its economic options. It gauges the effect on various Dubai companies and their credit worthiness and discusses possible contagion on the regional and international level. The report argues that Abu Dhabi will try to forge a consensus for more concentration of responsibilities on the federal level in exchange for its ongoing financial help for Dubai. The ambitious development goals of the UAE and its wish to play a more visible role in foreign policy will also require a more centralized approach to planning and institution building. Finally, the report weighs various scenarios that could unfold as the Nakheel sukuk will expire on December 14, 2009.
After giving a short overview of the current crisis, this report gauges its possible impacts on the GCC economies, namely the exposure of banks and sovereign wealth funds to asset write downs, higher financing costs and widening bond spreads for corporations and banks. It also takes a look at the likely impact on demand for GCC export goods such as oil, petrochemicals and aluminum
Food price inflation constitutes a major strategic challenge for the GCC countries as they have rapidly growing populations but a declining agriculture due to lack of water and arable land. Besides administrative measures like price controls, increased subsidies and build up of strategic food reserves, the GCC countries have envisaged agricultural investments overseas to counter threats to their long-term food security. For this purpose they have mainly eyed African and Asian countries that are geographically close and with which established political and cultural ties exist like Sudan, Pakistan and Kazakhstan. This report assesses the potential of GCC agricultural investments in such countries of Africa and Central Asia. It deals with food export potential and agricultural status quo, risk factors associated with the overall macroeconomic and political framework and openness towards foreign direct investments.
The report deals with major trends in renewable energies like solar, wind and biofuels, outlines renewable energy initiatives in the Gulf and asks which scenarios could unfold for the GCC countries. Rising domestic energy needs for power generation and desalination, favorable conditions for solar energy production and interest in acquiring technological know-how make a perfect argument for renewable energy in the Gulf. Renewable energies can stretch the lifeline of the GCC’s oil and gas exports, and in some decades from now, they even have the potential to develop into a major pillar of the economy. GCC countries should regard renewables not as unwanted competition to their oil and gas production, but rather as a welcome addition to tight global energy markets.
The GCC countries and the UAE and Qatar in particular have witnessed accelerated inflationratesfor three years now. Besides the dominant rent inflation,foodinflationhasbeenputinthespotlightrecently in the wake of food price hikes on a global scale. There should be no doubt that high food prices are very dangerous for political stability in all directions. That is because food security is a key element of human psychology. When such security is not guaranteed, it tends to exacerbate all sorts of cleavages and contrasts. There are also direct implications for the GCC countries where the demographic situation consists of a large expatriate population and a smaller national population base. In such situations, individuals who are normally tolerant of income or rights differences could begin to revolt and even question the political order. Moreover, it is the rulers who ultimately will be made responsible for the situation, and suspicion and animosity may erupt rapidly and unexpectedly. The issue thus deserves the utmost attention and decisive action.
Despite impressive economic development, the GCC countries have not yet developed a sophisticated bond market. Though primary issuance has increased, the bond and sukuk markets of the GCC countries still lack important ingredients of a functioning debt capital market like variety of issues, rating culture, transparency, market making and a broad spectrum of institutional market participants. The current high oil revenues put the region’s governments in a comfortable position and they do not need to issue debt in order to financefiscaldeficits.
Abstract: Food price inflation constitutes a major strategic challenge for the GCC countries as they have rapidly growing populations but a declining agriculture due to lack of water and arable land. Besides administrative measures like price controls, increased subsidies and build up of strategic food reserves, the GCC countries have envisaged agricultural investments overseas to counter threats to their long-term food security. For this purpose they have mainly eyed African and Asian countries that are geographically close and with which established political and cultural ties exist like Sudan, Pakistan and Kazakhstan. This report assesses the potential of GCC agricultural investments in such countries of Africa and Central Asia. It deals with food export potential and agricultural status quo, risk factors associated with the overall macroeconomic and political framework and openness towards foreign direct investments.
The EU-GCC energy project focuses on emphasizing the importance of the gas sector in the GCC states by establishing a gas network, enhancing the competitiveness of natural gas in the energy markets, and increasing the volume of natural gas exports to the EU through pipelines and LNG projects. This paper introduces a detailed analysis of the areas in which the use of natural gas could be increased, and the economic conditions through which the GCC private sector could be encouraged to depend on natural gas rather than other forms of fuel, especially crude oil and other heavy derivatives of oil. An export pipeline linking the GCC states, especially Qatar, with Europe could achieve some major and important objectives. In fact the European Commission recently prepared a technical study on the possible route, cost and feasibility of this pipeline. This paper deals with these aspects in detail.