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.
Two and a half years after the nuclear deal between Iran and Western nations was inked, questions linger around its effects and viability. Penetrating Iran’s commercial sphere may ultimately prove more difficult than expected, not least due to the relative ‘free reign’ the country’s IRGC has enjoyed in the domestic economy as well as its role in the armed forces.
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Saudi Arabia is on the move and its chief power player, Mohamed bin Salman, is wasting no time in rustling influential feathers. In light of November 2017’s mass arrests, questions are being asked with regards to the Kingdom’s outlook and, crucially, whether this move benefits the Crown Prince or the state.
With private investments set to provide a U.S. $10 billion injection into Egypt’s economy, the in-roads for foreign investors are now opening up. A timely example is Enppi in the country’s energy sector. However, privatisation is a politicised issue and dealing with public stakeholders will be simply unavoidable. Moreover, the post-IPO dynamics in the energy sector may not unfold as expected.
Rumblings in the Saudi Stock market have piqued the interests of international investors, who are enticed at the prospect of potential returns. Navigating Riyadh’s political agenda, however, will be equally as critical to entering the Tadawul as a sound investment strategy with political exposure currently at its height.
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.
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.