In 2020, “Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain and Egypt could lead bond sales in the Middle East and North Africa in what Abdul Kadir Hussain, the head of fixed-income asset management at Arqaam Capital in Dubai, predicts will be another strong year for issuance. Governments and companies in the region raised a record $111 billion selling debt in 2019.”

Bloomberg’s Netty Idayu Ismail, assessing some of the trends we might see in the Middle East in 2020. [Bloomberg]



The Big Business of Riyadh Season: GEA Nets $270 Million from Entertainment Push

General Entertainment Authority's Turki al-Sheikh

The chairman of the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) in Saudi Arabia said that the Kingdom’s “Riyadh Season” of events has generated more than SR1 billion ($270 million) for the GEA, according to Arab News. [more]



E-commerce in the Gulf

Robert Mogielnicki analyzes the growing e-commerce sector for Gulf Arab states in agsiw.org.  With high per capita income and internet penetration levels the Gulf e-commerce sector is projected to reach $24b by 2020.  Just as importantly, robust e-commerce growth pumps up domestic commerce and creates highly skilled jobs.

PIF launches Jada, a $1.07 billion fund to invest in startups and SMEs

Zubair Naeem Paracha reports on the launch of Saudi-focused, PIF vehicle (Jada) to invest in venture capital and private equity funds.  Jada joins the Saudi Venture Capital Company which was established last year to invest in Saudi startups and VCs.

Saudi Arabia Jumps 72 Global Positions in Trading Across Borders Ranking, World Bank Reports

in businesswire.com : Reforms include the reduction of Customs clearance from seven to ten days to 24 hours, the reduction of the manual inspection rate at Customs from 89 percent to 48 percent, and the reduction of the number of documents required to import from 12 to 2 and to export from 8 to 2. These critical reforms facilitate Saudi Arabia’s drive to be positioned as one of the world’s most dynamic logistics hubs.



Saudi Aramco IPO

Interview at Davos: Aramco International Listing ‘Still on the Cards,’ Saudi Arabia Finance Minister Says

Saudi Arabian Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan discusses the recent $5 billion debt issuance, the state of the Saudi economy, and the prospect of an international...[via bloomberg.com]



More efforts needed to bridge gender, generation gaps in labor market: Saudi conference

The two-day T20 Inception Conference brought together experts from all over the world to discuss a range of essential issues covering climate, energy, migration, youth,...[By Rashid Hassan via arabnews.com]


Saudi Bonds

Saudi Arabia Issues $5 Billion of Bonds as Gulf Tensions Ease

The kingdom issued $5 billion of debt, taking advantage of low borrowing costs globally. It’s seeking to plug part of its growing budget deficit by...[By Archana Narayanan and Matthew Martin via bloomberg.com]


Saudi Youth Development Survey of 2019

Youth make up over two-thirds of Saudi Arabia: Survey

Youth, categorized as individuals aged 0-34 years, make up 67.02 percent of the total population of Saudi Arabia, according to a report released by the...[By Matthew Amlôt via alarabiya.net]


Pensacola Shooting

At Florida base, a mix of relief, anxiety in Saudi shooting aftermath

With an FBI investigation underway, Navy security officer David Link still is not allowed to talk about what he saw when a Saudi gunman killed...[By Phil Stewart via reuters.com]



Saudi Arabia to Screen Travelers From China After Virus Outbreak

Saudi Arabia will start screening passengers arriving from China and take other preventive measures following the outbreak of the new coronavirus in China, the kingdom's...[via nytimes.com]


Women in the Workforce

First military section for women introduced in Saudi Arabia

Under the initiative to incorporate more women into the field, previously announced in October 2019, women can now join the military as lance corporals, corporals,...[via thenews.com]


Study Abroad

From the field: The new student recruitment landscape in Saudi Arabia

The Saudi government began to wind down the KASP scholarship programme in 2016, and Saudi numbers in all major receiving countries began to drop off...[via icef.com]


Saudi Projects

Fifteen of the top projects currently shaping Saudi Arabia

The kingdom is pouring billions into a suite of gigaprojects, transport and mobility schemes, such as Riyadh Metro, designed to wean the country off its...[By Gavin Gibbon via arabianbusiness.com]


Trump Administration

Trump becomes third U.S. president to be impeached as House approves both articles of impeachment

The House voted after nearly 12 hours of debate Wednesday night to impeach President Trump for his conduct toward Ukraine and his refusal to cooperate...[via washingtonpost.com]


ME Risks

Commentary: A Guide to Middle East Risks in 2020

Governments and companies in the region raised a record $111 billion selling debt this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg....[By Netty Idayu Ismail via bloomberg.com]



Political deadlock delays choice of new PM to steer Iraq out of crisis

More than 450 people, mostly unarmed demonstrators but also some members of the security forces, have been killed since a wave of popular unrest began...[By Ahmed Rasheed via reuters.com]



When Iran blocked the internet, tech experts in the U.S. tried to hack a solution. Here’s why they couldn’t

All Iranians connect to the international internet through Iran’s Telecommunication Infrastructure Co. — which operates under the Ministry of Communications and distributes internet services through...[By Melissa Etehad and Ramin Mostaghim via latimes.com]



Turkish President Erdoğan calls for resettlement of 1M refugees in northern Syria

Over 370,000 Syrian refugees have already returned to the "peace zone," a stretch of land in Northern Syria that Erdoğan reestablished after his military forced Kurdish forces to...[By Marty Johnson via thehill.com]


Turkey in the Region

Turkey’s Resurgence as a Regional Power Confronts a Fractured GCC

Turkey’s relations with the Gulf Arab states have continued to intensify as Ankara and some Gulf Arab countries – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates,...[By Steven A. Cook and Hussein Ibish via agsiw.org]



Intel: Top US and Russian generals link up to talk Syria

Gen. Mark Milley, the top US military official, met his Russian counterpart Gen. Valery Gerasimov in Bern, Switzerland, today as part of an ongoing high-level...[By Jack Detsch via al-monitor.com]



Former Lebanese minister Diab set to be named PM: Sources

Former Minister of Education and Higher Education Hassan Diab looks set to be named Lebanon's new prime minister on Thursday, senior political sources have said,...[via aljazeera.com]


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