Abu Dhabi has a new poster boy. Khalifa bin Butti is believed to sit on over U.S. $1.5 billion worth of assets, after starting his career in energy company ADNOC, and is thought to be the youngest billionaire in the Emirates. Track his commercial network and find what underpins his success.
Almost ten years to the day since sanctioning the purchase of Manchester City Football Club, Mansour bin Zayed continues to fly under the proverbial radar. His influence is best understood through the high-level positions he holds, most notably via a strong presence in Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth funds.
The maritime sector has been central to Dubai’s economic diversification away from its modest petroleum reserves. Overseeing the Emirate’s ports and free zones is Sultan bin Sulayem; a confidant and close friend of the Emir, Sultan has experienced both ups and downs but evidence points towards his enduring influence.
Six months on from the sweeping arrest of politicians, princes, and businessmen in Riyadh, there are still questions surrounding the Crown Prince’s motives. Intrigue into the billions of dollars’ worth of assets that Saudi authorities acquired will continue to grow; but the silence on this topic fails to dispel concerns.
The UAE’s method of resource distribution is undergoing a period of rigorous testing, raising questions about its long term economic health. The Khalifa Fund was set up to nurture the private sector and may be the lifeline local entrepreneurs need; Shadow Governance inspects the Fund’s effect as well as those behind it.
As the country prepares to undergo what may be its first significant political transition in years, rumblings in Algeria’s energy sector suggest that the battle could be see former heavyweights involved. Staying abreast of emerging dynamics will be the key to anticipating where power will end up once power plays unfold.
Riyadh's political elite are engaging in power plays not only to overhaul the state, as they repeatedly claim, but also to safeguard the regime from a coup d'état. Although their rule may seem guaranteed, the princes in charge have used every opportunity to safeguard Saudi's military apparatus.
The private security industry's most famous name is plying his trade for leaders in emerging and frontier markets. The influence of the former founder of infamous Blackwater Worldwide is almost certainly higher than that of any other mainstream international businessman, with evidence to suggest he maintains informal networks with the world's most controversial political elites.
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.
MENA’s commercial elite share one thing in common – most of them face a corporate succession dilemma within the next five to ten years. As blood kinship networks dominate businesses in the region, determining where the next generation of influence and decision-making powers lie is fast becoming the top priority for foreign investors.
One of the Iranian government’s many battles is rooting out corruption in its customs authorities. Steps have been taken to make the flow of goods and people more transparent in and out of the country but there are challenges remaining before Tehran can boast a truly hospitable investment environment.
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With a deep-rooted political and economic nexus, political decisions take their toll on commercial prospects in the Gulf. The current diplomatic rift between GCC member states may not be a ticking time-bomb but it has the potential to gradually erode western engagement region-wide, forcing international commercial actors to make their loyalties known.