Emir of Abu Dhabi and UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan is vastly wealthy; reports indicate assets in the tens of billions of dollars. A closer look at his finances reveals where the money goes and, more importantly, who else signs off on it.
All eyes are on the much-discussed cabinet reshuffle expected in Cairo in the coming months. With signs that even the Prime Minister himself could be replaced, a review of his prospective successors will allay the uncertainty that this change could pose to Egypt’s investment environment.
Egypt’s military is known for its economic prowess, crafting arguably a strong business reputation for itself. There are indications suggesting that its commercial portfolio extends to the agriculture sector, where a host of known interests may position it as a key industry player.
Out with the official institutional parameters of Emirati politics lies the role of the majlis. The UAE’s power brokers are seeking to build reputations as inclusive leaders through popularity in the majlis, but this dynamic is more complex than it appears on the surface. The majlis is an interesting institution, with many sources suggesting this is where many business deals originate.
Although the sons of Zayed unquestionably control politics in Abu Dhabi, distant cousins on their father’s side of the family have amassed considerable political and commercial prestige. In a setting whereby political activity is confined to Nahyan figures, understanding the significance of lesser known princes is of the utmost priority.
Adorning the billboards around construction sites in Saudi Arabia is the Bin Laden family name. However, fame and fortune have not protected the company from Riyadh’s watchful gaze; the Crown Prince’s team are determined to reform the company and may be willing to usurp it if necessary.
Recent trends suggest that Saudi Arabia’s construction sector is undergoing substantive change, despite historically being a predictable pillar of the national economy. Combined with the Crown Prince’s ‘build it and they will come’ attitude, space is clearly opening up for new actors.
A relatively new member of Cairo’s business elite, Ahmed Abou Hashima is fast becoming the new face of Egypt’s steel sector. His source of wealth and early ventures helped carve out a reputation for himself, which ultimately attracted the attention of billionaire investors from the Gulf and unprecedented wealth.
The titans of Arab oil and gas usually belong to the ruling political families or in parastatal government bodies. Hamid Jafar, together with his three children, hold unique sway in the UAE's energy dealings thanks to high level political contacts in the Emirate of Sharjah - making them a private energy success story.
Top of the King and Crown Prince's agenda in recent months has been to secure widespread support through the appointment of loyalists. These new power players enjoy access to the Kingdom's strategic affairs, making it critical to assess who falls into the camp of Riyadh's new elite.
As China looks West in search of economic partnerships, it finds a Kingdom uniquely positioned to assist its 'One Belt One Road' strategy. While their bilateral ties are rooted in energy dealings, Saudi's maritime capabilities may be set to catapult its fortunes in line with Beijing's grand plans.
Mohammed bin Zayed has spent years manoeuvring loyalists into the key posts around him, which will truly bear fruit once he formally inherits the throne. Commercial actors must endeavour to understand the significance of this, as the country's open-door economic policy is largely dependent upon the Crown Prince's own longevity.