Eagle Capital’s CEO is in close proximity to some of Egypt’s most influential decision makers. After a brief spell in government that ended in 2017, the extent of her pursuits became unknown; she is now emerging as a key executive in the media sphere, with elites heavily invested in her dealings.
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.
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.
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.
Institutional manipulation is fast becoming Salman’s hallmark in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The latest restructuring of the Ministry of Interior’s senior leadership team, combined with the creation of the Presidency of State Security, shows that no stone will be left unturned in the King’s advancement of his son.
Power players in Saudi Arabia are tweaking their networks and staffing their ranks with loyalists. As a result, 2018 will involve elite readjustment to these new dynamics as well as a continued level of unpredictability. Shadow Governance will be closely monitoring MbS and those orbiting him.
Elite networks in Egypt are gearing up for a big year in 2018. The presidential election will capture headlines; but power plays - that reveal much about Cairo’s incumbent decision makers and their intentions if they win a second official mandate - will continue to fly under the radar.
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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As investment opportunities continue to present themselves in the MENA region, identifying politically unexposed partners is the key challenge for foreign investors. A cadre of prominent commercial families who are not ostensibly beholden to the political elite exist, but diligence and foresight is needed to identify them.
Iran’s bazaari’s represent a long-standing way in which commerce is organised. Given their enduring influence, it is important to understand the societal and political caveats that make bazaari’s more than market traders. Although not initially obvious to the foreign investor, these should firmly be on the political risk radar.
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In a jurisdiction where transparency is largely absent, Egypt’s military is perhaps the biggest beneficiary of opaque dealings. In fact, the military’s private-sector interests muddy Egypt’s investment waters to such an extent that it is thought to have a hand in almost every economic sector. The lay of the land is thus intertwined with the armed forces’ business exploits.
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Clerics form the broadest societal network in Iran; and although their influence is believed to be waning, they still exert significant political and commercial influence. Understanding the proclivities of this group of Iranian power players is as important for investors interested in gaining exposure to the Iranian economy, as it is for political observers seeking to understand the levers of change.
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