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Irrigation-based challenges may be detrimental to the Iranian state, but for actors with sufficient capital and expertise, it represents an opportunity. Successful navigation of Tehran's political elite could bring access to a profitable and prestigious sector, ultimately bolstering Iran's water security in the process.
The startup scene in Iran is garnering momentum. If the national economy opens up to Western investors and its banking system accommodates external parties, understanding the lay of the land helps outsiders navigate what opportunities may await.
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With several of the region’s strategic sectors gearing up to ‘welcome’ private actors into the fold, international investors are bracing for renewed levels of access to old economies. As opportunities begin to present themselves, however, a host of hidden domestic dynamics will become more important than they have ever been.
Despite such a rapidly developing economy, the UAE’s telecommunications sector is off limits for multinational entities and even indigenous actors. Abu Dhabi’s premier family appear to control much of the telecom sector’s dealings and it has gained notoriety abroad over the past 12 years. Whether this is for political or commercial benefit remains debated.
In what is already a significantly destabilised operating environment, Libya’s oil sector is now beset by power plays. Both the National Oil Company and Presidency Council are vying for control over the future of the oil sector and have corresponding visions to go with it: the question is, which faction will win out and where does the upper hand lie?
With Iran’s government intent on developing its automotive sector, the space for profit and power will undoubtedly open up. That said, a complex set of dynamics already underpins carmakers’ ability to penetrate and subsequently compete in the Iranian automotive sector. With power plays abound, keeping one eye on the outcome is integral to understanding the market.
Endowed with a generous portion of the world’s known (and potentially unknown) mineral resources, Iran’s mining industry remains a veritable repository of untapped potential. Bereft of the necessary technology, Iran’s political elite must find ways to entice foreign actors into the fold – with the Chinese and Europeans ostensibly set to battle it out.
Investors are increasingly interested in the power players in Saudi’s banking sector. With limited space for foreign actors, it is key to understand who already has a presence and what the current dynamics may mean for the future of banking as the Kingdom’s economy undergoes a period of marked transformation.
Iran’s telecommunications industry is full of opportunity, but remains one that must be considered alongside the political and economic barriers facing the country as a whole. Investors must familiarise themselves with the sector proclivities, namely by gaining familiarity of its key players, and being aware of the informal trading that continues to blight the sector’s legitimacy.
Peeling back the outer layers of the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation is the most effective way for investors to assess its overall integrity levels. Forced resignations, bribery, and political instability cast doubt as to how trustworthy the centralised control over Egypt’s agribusiness is in reality.
Sources indicate that the aviation industry in Saudi is set to fly high. With a swathe of deals already under its belt, the space for investment in the Kingdom’s airports are well and truly opening up. In line with the broader reforms being implemented domestically, the aviation sector may undergo a boom in the medium-to-long term.
Summary: Among Egypt’s less explored commercial opportunities are those that lie in the technology sector. A work in progress, the Suez region has been chosen to play host to Egypt’s ‘Technology Valley’ in the hope that tech companies and ICT services will support the domestic shipping industry and contribute to the wider economy. The balance between opportunity and risk merits attention.
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