Evidence points to a shift in the landscape of Saudi Arabia’s defence sector. Traditional arteries of state prestige are no longer what they once were, as the new elite continue to consolidate their grip over state institutions. The establishment of a military holding looks set to ‘corporatize’ defence contracts in favour of Riyadh’s new power players.
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.
Dubai’s port authority has extended the UAE’s reputation to far-off locations – for better or worse. Now the city’s leadership must focus on narrowing the space for DP World’s vulnerabilities to have negative impacts on the Emirate as a commercial hub. An intriguing political dynamic further colours this nuanced case-study.
It’s not all about Aramco. SABIC lives in the shadow of its energy cousin in Saudi’s corporate landscape, but evidence suggests that it may be of equal strategic value to Riyadh’s power players. As the path towards diversification continues, investors are advised to become familiar with SABIC.
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.
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 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.
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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.