Gulf Economic Barometer

The Gulf Economic Barometer monitors initiatives taken by Gulf states as they seek fiscal, monetary, and labor policy changes to meet the challenge of reduced state revenue from natural resources. The key trend is a major shift in the way the GCC countries have been spending on public sector wages, infrastructure, and social services over the last decade. The GEB documents the policy changes as they are announced and/or implemented by country and by sector and will be updated regularly as data becomes available. The information here is neither official nor exhaustive.

July 12, 2018
Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, or PIF, reportedly asked lenders to participate in a multi-billion dollar loan, with the expectation that participating lenders in the deal will form the core banking group for PIF and its plan for expansion.
July 11, 2018
The UAE Cabinet has announced that it will begin offering a refund of the Value Added Tax on retail goods for tourists in Q4 2018, in order to support the country's tourism sector. 
July 10, 2018
The emirate of Ajman has reduced registration and renewal fees for consultants, contractors and suppliers of the public sector. The step is part of a broader initiative in the UAE to ease commercial costs by reducing licensing fees, and foster a more attractive business environment in the country. 
July 10, 2018
The Saudi government has published a draft version of a law covering public-private partnerships, or PPPs, offering investors exemptions on regulations including labor laws and limitations on real estate ownership in a bid to generate billions of dollars in revenue by 2020.
July 2, 2018
Kuwait to delay VAT implementation until 2021, and to consider implementation of “sin tax” on cigarettes, harmful products, as well as an increased corporate tax.
June 27, 2018
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the UAE announced that they are assembling a program "to enable the kingdom of Bahrain to support its economic reforms and fiscal stability." Bahrain is facing an estimated budgetary shortfall of $3.5 billion in 2018, and has been subject to immense currency and bond pressures. 
June 25, 2018
Oman's Ministry of Manpower issued a decree extending a temporary ban on employing expatriates in 87 jobs in the private sector for six months beginning July 30, 2018.
June 25, 2018
A new amendment to Oman's Executive Regulations of the Aliens Residence Law allows foreigners who own certain properties in Oman to apply for a visa without a local sponsor.
June 25, 2018
The Inspector General of Oman's Police and Customs issued a decree allowing expatriates employed in Oman's public sector to now sponsor visa applicants.
June 25, 2018
Around 1,700 contractors so far in Saudi Arabia are seeking damages from the government in response to a hike in per capita penalties imposed on businesses employing expatriate workers. The government said it is working on a mechanism to pay damages to employers.
June 25, 2018
The Dubai World Trade Centre's (DWTC) free zone announced it will reduce licensing and incorporation fees by up to 70 percent in order to support the government's effort to ease the cost of doing business in the emirate.
June 22, 2018

7 Visa Rules Changes in the UAE [Infographic]

7 Visa Rule Changes in the UAE

The UAE announced several changes to its visa guidelines in a number of categories, including for workers, students, and tourists. The government will allow people escaping or subject to political violence in their home countries to apply for a 1-year visa with the potential for extension, despite not being a signatory of the U.N. refugee convention.

June 22, 2018
Global index provider MSCI announced it would consider raising Kuwait's status from a frontier market to an emerging market in its annual review in 2019
June 22, 2018
Index provider MSCI announces it will include Saudi Arabia in its coveted emerging market grouping effective mid-2019
June 13, 2018
UAE announces overhaul of its visa system for private sector employees, transit tourists, students and others to "enhance" economic competitiveness.
June 13, 2018
Abu Dhabi's government announced it will distribute housing loans worth $1.16 billion to 2,500 beneficiaries in the first of two phases allocating 5,000 home loans in total.
June 13, 2018
Abu Dhabi will introduce a 30 percent tax on alcohol sold in off-license outlets beginning on June 15.
June 11, 2018

Abu Dhabi Stimulus Plan [Infographic]

Abu Dhabi Stimulus Plan

The government of Abu Dhabi announced a $13.6 billion stimulus package aimed at supporting economic development over three years. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan instructed officials to draw up detailed plans for allocating the funds over the next 90 days. Abu Dhabi’s economy has stagnated in recent years as a result of lower oil prices, as well as austerity measures taken by the government to curb the rise in deficits. The new stimulus package includes 10 initiatives designed to streamline bureaucratic regulations and facilitate the ease of doing business in the UAE.

June 5, 2018
ADNOC may be considering selling an additional 10 percent stake in its distribution business in on-going privatization efforts to boost non-oil revenue.
June 5, 2018
The UAE announced new housing benefits and subsidized loans for citizens in an expansion of social support programs.
May 29, 2018
Oman has extended its ban on hiring foreigners in certain sectors for an additional six month period.
May 25, 2018
Qatari ministers submitted a draft law permitting foreigners to own 100 percent of businesses in all economic sectors.
May 23, 2018
Saudi Arabia and the UAE sign a double tax treaty in order to reduce the tax burden on foreign investors and increase transparency.
May 21, 2018
UAE to mandate preferential hiring of nationals in 400 job descriptions and create reporting mechanisms to the Ministry of Human Resources for hiring and firing of nationals in the private sector
May 1, 2018
The UAE has removed VAT to wholesale gold and diamond businesses, though retail jewelry will still be subject to tax.
May 1, 2018
Saudi authorities order the handover of 25 state-run schools to be run by private sector companies as part of economic reforms designed to ease pressure on state finances.
May 1, 2018
Both Saudi Arabia and the UAE plan to invest in new technology hubs domestically, via Mubadala and the SoftBank Fund, and in Saudi Arabia, via the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority and a fintech initiative.
April 30, 2018
Tobacco sales fell by more than 50 percent in the end of 2017 after implementation of an excise tax.
April 25, 2018
UAE Federal Tax Authority formally approves VAT refund scheme for tourists visiting from outside the GCC, which was proposed in December 2017.
April 24, 2018
Bahrain seeks exemption from US aluminum tariff.
April 23, 2018
Saudi Arabia raises $1.33 billion in domestic sukuk, divided into three tranches: $1.04 billion in five-year tranche, $205.48 million in seven-year tranche, and $123.29 million in ten-year tranche.
April 15, 2018
The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) announced it has adopted International Standard Industrial Classification for All Economic Activities (ISIC), a United Nations industry classification system, for the issuance of foreign investment licenses.
April 12, 2018
Qatar is expected to raise $12 billion in a triple-tranche bond offering.
April 12, 2018
Qatar raises $12 billion in dollar-bond sale in three tranches: $3 billion in five-year notes at T+ 135 bps, $3 billion in 10-yr bonds at T+ 170 bps, and $6 billion in 30-year securities at T+ 205 bps.
April 11, 2018
Bahraini members of parliament urge government to withdraw proposed bankruptcy law.
April 10, 2018
Saudi Arabia raises $11 billion in dollar bond sale in three tranches: $4.5 billion at 4 percent in seven-year bonds at T+ 140, $3 billion at 4.5 percent in 12-year notes at T+ 175, and $3.5 billion at 5 percent in 31-year debt at T+ 210.
April 8, 2018
Oman announces new excise taxes on luxury goods and harmful products.
April 4, 2018
Qatar’s central bank head says plans to issue roughly $13 billion in bonds in 2018 matches 2017 issuance.
April 1, 2018
Kuwaiti parliament approves fees to be levied on expat remittances.
April 1, 2018
Saudi Arabian regulator approves exchange of domestic currency government bonds on local stock exchange, signaling development of local debt market.
March 29, 2018
FTSE Russell is pleased to announce that Saudi Arabia will be assigned Secondary Emerging market status within the FTSE Country Classification scheme commencing in conjunction with the FTSE Global Equity Index Series (GEIS) semi annual review in March 2019.
March 28, 2018
Bahrain issues a $1 billion sukuk, changing its plans to also issue a sovereign bond.
March 27, 2018
Saudi government decides to “reimburse” contractors for new expatriate visa fees for government projects signed before December 2016, when new labor fees were introduced.
March 21, 2018
Kuwait plans to begin selling shares in its Az-Zour North Independent Water & Power Project to the public, in three months' time.
March 21, 2018
Mubadala will take control of the Abu Dhabi Investment Council, merging both sovereign wealth funds.
March 17, 2018
1,500 jobs at Jeddah airport are to be “localized,” reserved for Saudi citizens only.
March 15, 2018
The Saudi government is expected to take a 35 percent stake of private construction firm, Saudi Binladin Group, as part of the anti-corruption seizure of assets.
March 15, 2018
Saudi Arabia plans to go to international capital debt markets again this year, after issuing a $17.5 billion bond in 2016, followed by a $9 billion sukuk, and a $12.5 billion conventional bond in 2017.
March 13, 2018
The Qatar Investment Authority, and its property investment arm, Qatari Diar, continue the sell off of some holdings.
March 8, 2018
The UAE emirate of Sharjah raises $1 billion through a 10-year sukuk, the emirate’s biggest transaction in debt capital markets.
March 7, 2018
The Kuwaiti parliament passes a law allowing bidoon (stateless people without passports, but native to Kuwait) to join the army.
March 7, 2018
The effects of the implementation of the VAT are beginning to show in inflation. According to research by Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, January inflation data for the UAE shows a marked strengthening with the introduction of 5% VAT. Headline inflation accelerated by 2.7% m-o-m in January (December: 0.7%) with the y-o-y rate rising to 4.8% rounded (December: 2.7%). The rise in prices was broad-based, particularly in categories subject to VAT, including food and clothing.
March 7, 2018
Saudi Arabia seeks to collect additional zakat from financial institutions, dating back over a decade.
March 6, 2018
The UAE requires social media entrepreneurs to hold licenses to operate; moreover, the National Media Council will regulate all digital media content produced in the country.
March 6, 2018
The CEO of the Emirates Securities and Commodities Authority is studying applications from four companies to go for initial public offering this year. These include companies (both state-owned and privately held) in aluminum, electricity, services, and finance.
March 5, 2018
ACWA Power International, which will soon be partially owned by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, plans IPO, which could raise more than $1 billion.
March 4, 2018
The government of Dubai follows Abu Dhabi and the UAE federal decision to freeze all government fees for the next three years.
March 3, 2018
Saudi Arabia will refinance its 2016 $10 billion syndicated loan with creditors, and increase the debt to $16 billion at lower and extended repayment terms.
February 28, 2018
The UAE government freezes all federal fees for government services for the next three years.
February 26, 2018
Saudi General Directorate of Public Security opens employment in military rank jobs to women.
February 26, 2018
Saudi Arabia extends its foreign investment license from one year to a renewable period of up to five years.
February 21, 2018
Bahrain selects five banks to arrange the transaction of an upcoming international bond issue -- the same banks from its September 2017 issue.
February 21, 2018
Bahrain’s minister of finance indicates plans to go ahead with VAT implementation by the end of 2018.
February 19, 2018
Investment Corporation of Dubai plans to raise $1 billion in a five-year loan to partly refinance existing debt of $2.55 billion, from 2013, that matures in June.
February 18, 2018
Saudi cabinet approves bankruptcy law drafted by the Shura Council in December 2017; though endorsed by King, no decision yet on implementation.
February 12, 2018
Saudi Arabia begins recruitment of women investigators in the public prosecutor’s office; 140 are vacant positions available.
February 8, 2018
Oman considers dollar-denominated sukuk to finance budget deficit; this will likely take place in March.
February 7, 2018
Saudi Telecom, 84 percent state-owned through the Public Investment Fund and other institutions, purchases rights to broadcast soccer games of local league and cup competitions, in addition to Saudi national team games.
February 6, 2018
Bahrain's Supreme Council for Health president, Lieutenant General Shaikh Mohammed Bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, reiterates government commitment to shoulder costs of health insurance for all citizens, without financial cap.
February 5, 2018
Abu Dhabi will start collecting tolls on roads, similar to Salik system in Dubai.
February 5, 2018
Saudi Arabia will use the Public Investment Fund to allocate 120 billion riyals ($32 billion) toward subsidized home loans for borrowers, in an effort to provide affordable housing to citizens.
January 28, 2018
Saudi Arabia announces list of 12 jobs in retail sector whose employment will be restricted to nationals; this will take effect in September.
January 28, 2018
Oman issues temporary six-month hiring freeze on expats from 10 sectors, in drive toward nationalization.
January 23, 2018
Oman plans to borrow as much as $2 billion in a loan from international banks.
January 23, 2018
Bahrain delays implementing further austerity measures pending parliamentary review.
January 23, 2018
Saudi Arabia's Capital Market Authority announced it will allow qualified foreign investors to own up to 49 percent of listed securities.
January 22, 2018
Kuwait Public Authority for Manpower sets July 1 as the date to implement a decision halting the recruitment of expats who hold university certificates and are below 30 years old.
January 21, 2018
Saudi Arabia sends out a request for proposals to banks to refinance an outstanding $10 billion syndicated loan from 2016.
January 21, 2018
Kuwait considers dollar-denominated bond sale, following $8 billion issue in March 2017.
January 18, 2018
Oman's State General Reserve Fund receives government approval to launch $1 billion infrastructure fund.
January 11, 2018
Clarifications issued on VAT in the UAE, exempting medicines and equipment, and designating some, but not all, free zones at zero tax rate.
January 10, 2018
The Government of Oman--rated BB/Baa2/BBB- by S&P, Moody’s and Fitch respectively--raises $6.5 billion via issuance of bonds with tenure of 5-year at T+190bps ($1.25 billion), 10-year at T+310bps ($2.5 billion), and 30-year at T+395bps ($2.75 billion).
January 8, 2018
Bahrain lifts subsidies on petrol resulting in rise in prices by 12 to 25 percent, depending on grade of petrol.
January 8, 2018
Saudi Ministry of Labor and Social Development announces full nationalization of car rental employment, starting March 18, 2018.
January 8, 2018
Saudi Arabia will allocate monthly stipends to public sector and military employees, to offset increase in costs of living due to imposed VAT, and rise in energy/fuel prices.
January 8, 2018
UAE government requires "Certificate of Good Conduct and Behavior" from employee's home country, to issue work visa; effective February 4, 2018.
January 7, 2018
UAE government announces new federal revenue distribution plan from VAT revenues, towards seven emirates.
January 6, 2018
Saudi Arabia exempts private healthcare and education from VAT.
January 3, 2018
Bahrain Ministry of Finance announces plans to implement VAT in 2018.
December 30, 2017
Bahrain implements new “sin tax,” increasing the price of tobacco and energy drinks by 100 percent and the price of soft drinks by 50 percent.
December 21, 2017
VAT to be refundable for tourists in the UAE, traveling from outside the GCC.
December 21, 2017
Energy costs in Saudi Arabia to rise to international market prices on gas and diesel by 2025--extended from 2020 target.
December 21, 2017
Sharjah announces salary hike for government employees: 17,500 Dirhams ($4,765) minimum, and 25,000 Dirhams ($6,807) minimum for graduates.
December 19, 2017
Saudi Arabia will introduce increased expat levy on private sector companies employing foreign labor, in drive towards nationalization.
December 18, 2017
Saudi Arabia plans to fund (in the amount of $8 billion/30 billion riyals) and set up a new export bank to facilitate overseas sales of mining and industrial products.
December 18, 2017
Oman introduces new fuel subsidy scheme for low-income nationals, effective January 2018: monthly cap of 200 liters, at $0.47/liter.
December 15, 2017
Saudi Arabia explores possibility of ‘Green Cards’ for foreign investors, as part of privatization drive for Vision 2030; eligibility based on scientific and professional skills scarce in Kingdom, or company ownership for local investment.
December 14, 2017
Saudi Arabia announces $19.2 billion economic stimulus package to bolster private sector growth in Kingdom.
December 11, 2017
Saudi Arabia will launch Citizen’s Accounts cash transfer program to help low and middle income households with costs of economic reforms.
December 11, 2017
Saudi Arabia begins plans to eliminate gas subsidies in January 2018; gasoline prices will increase by 80 percent.
December 10, 2017
Saudi Arabia introduces salary cards for domestic workers to protect wages; employers have six months to transition to new scheme.
November 25, 2017
Oman announces plans to sell OMR 150 million ($390 mln) development bond open to local and foreign investors, following similar OMR 150 million bond in September.
November 23, 2017
Saudi Arabia’s Capital Market Authority announces new regulations to allow smaller foreign investment funds into local stock market.
November 19, 2017
Saudi Arabia plans to impose 5 percent VAT on gas, effective January 1, 2018.
November 18, 2017
Saudi Arabia detains 24,000 in violation of residency and labor regulations, including 25 Saudi nationals involved in violations.
November 14, 2017
After raising fees on expats, labor market data see sharp decline in expat employment.
November 13, 2017
Oman will allocate $250 million in cash support to low-income nationals, to offset rise in fuel prices.
November 8, 2017
Kuwait will restrict work permits for foreign graduates, under age 30, to protect jobs for nationals.
November 6, 2017
Oman to issue tender for first large scale independent solar project.
October 26, 2017

Market Watch: Saudi Arabia’s Neom — State-Led Growth Meets New Global Capitalism

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman envisions a new kind of Saudi Arabia, or at least the opening of a space complete with yoga studios, beach resorts, and robots in place of migrant laborers. This is the image of Neom, the $500 billion master project to develop an over 10,000 square mile swath of land in the northwest corner of Saudi Arabia on the shores of the Red Sea, adjacent to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and southern Jordan.

 

October 24, 2017
Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund considers selling part of its 74% stake in SEC to investment partner, SoftBank.
October 24, 2017
Saudi Arabia raises 10 billion riyals ($2.67 bn) in fourth issue of riyal-denominated domestic sukuk: 4.15 bn ($1.11 bn) in five-year tranche, 1.35 bn ($360 mn) in seven-year tranche, and 4.50 bn ($1.2 bn) in ten-year tranche.
October 10, 2017
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund will create a subsidiary investment fund for small and medium sized enterprises.
October 10, 2017
Qatar seeks to raise at least $9 billion from new bond sale.
October 9, 2017
Saudi Arabia to require all insurance sales positions to be filled by nationals by Feb 1, 2018.
October 5, 2017
Oman to create 25,000 jobs for nationals, in both private and public sectors, starting December 2017.
October 3, 2017
Abu Dhabi raises $10 billion in bond offering: $3 billion in five-year notes, $4 billion of ten-year tranche, and $3 billion in 30-year offering.”
September 27, 2017
Saudi Arabia raises $12.5 billion in dollar-denominated bonds maturing in 2023, 2028, and 2047.
September 27, 2017
UAE excise tax on tobacco, energy drinks, and soft-drinks to be imposed starting October 1: tobacco and energy drinks will double in price; soft-drink prices will increase by 50%.
September 26, 2017
UAE approves new labor law for domestic workers: weekly day-off, 30 days paid annual leave, at least 12-hour daily rest, and right to retain personal documents.
September 25, 2017
Saudi Arabia hires foreign banks to lead plans for three-tranche bond sale, intended to offset falling oil revenues.
September 19, 2017
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund will launch Future Investment Initiative to invest in entertainment sector, with initial capital of 10 billion riyals ($2.67 billion).
September 19, 2017
Saudi Arabia raises 7 billion riyals ($1.87 billion) from third issue of riyal-denominated sukuk: 2.4 billion ($639 million) in 5-year tranche, 3.9 billion ($1.04 billion) in 7-year notes, and 700 million ($186.7 million) in 10-year tranche.
September 14, 2017
Bahrain has issued $3 billion in new syndicated debt (more than anticipated) – reportedly $850 million in a sukuk, $1.25 billion in 12-year notes, and $900 million due in 30 years.
September 14, 2017

Market Watch: The Political Perils of Economic Liberalization in the Gulf

by Karen E. Young

Economic liberalization tends to bring with it social, if not always political, openings. By definition, liberalization challenges existing orders; more specifically, liberalization tries to deny the state a dominating role in the economy. State-led capitalism, as practiced in the Gulf states over the last 40 years, has invited foreign investment and migrant human capital, but it has always privileged the state and protected opportunity for citizens, most visibly via commercial agency laws and the kafala system.

September 13, 2017
Bahrain will launch multitranche dollar-denominated bonds and sukuk, expected to raise at least $1.5 billion, as follows: 7.5-year sukuk, 12-year conventional bond, and 30-year conventional bond.
September 11, 2017
Kuwait Authority for Partnership Projects will open shares in Shamal AzZour Al Oula Independent Water and Power Plant by early 2018, in country’s first public-private partnership project.
September 6, 2017
Saudi economic cities will charge real estate 1 percent sales fee, plus a transaction fee and mortgage registration fee.
September 6, 2017
Bahrain is in talks with arrangers on new dollar bonds in seven-, 12-, and 30-year terms.
September 1, 2017
The Kuwaiti government clarifies the policy toward preferred hiring of nationals and “controlled termination” of expatriate employees in the public sector.
August 28, 2017
Kuwait’s second effort to encourage investors to own and/or operate utilities fails to close bidding process for the independent water and power plant project, Al Zour North 2.
August 24, 2017
Saudi Arabia sells its second sukuk of 2017 to local markets in three tranches, raising 13 billion riyals ($3.47 billion).
August 23, 2017
Saudi Arabia will introduce 5 percent value added tax on private educational institutions.
August 21, 2017
UAE publishes excise tax, effective October 1: 100 percent on tobacco and energy drinks, and 50 percent on sugary drinks.
August 16, 2017
Saudi Arabia plans to launch second issue of local currency sukuk.
August 14, 2017
Saudi Arabia Council of Ministers approves setting up of the General Authority for Military Industries, which enjoys legal status, as well as financial and administrative independence.
August 14, 2017
Saudi Public Investment Fund announces national state company for arms manufacturing: Saudi Arabian Military Industries.
August 8, 2017
Saudi Arabia will allow 100 percent foreign ownership of engineering firms to encourage sector development.
August 8, 2017
Bahrain hires banks in anticipation of U.S. dollar bond issue.
August 4, 2017

Market Watch: Self-Imposed Barriers to Economic Integration in the GCC

by Karen E. Young

Qatar has lodged a complaint with the World Trade Organization against the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain for blocking its air traffic and increasing the costs of basic food and medicine imports. Though intra-Gulf state economic relations continue to suffer as a result of the current crisis, there are long-standing barriers to trade and investment flows that deserve consideration.

 

August 3, 2017
Oman borrows $3.55 billion from Chinese banks to meet 2017 fiscal deficit.
July 31, 2017
UAE announces new tax law, with new ministry for excise and value added tax collection.
July 31, 2017
Saudi Arabia’s General Authority Civil Aviation announces plans to privatize all airports by the end of 2017.
July 31, 2017
Moody’s downgrades bond ratings for Oman (Baa2-negative outlook) and Bahrain (B1-junk status-negative outlook).
July 28, 2017

The Bridge: Qatar Must Adapt SEZs to New Regional Geopolitical Realities

by Robert Mogielnicki

The Saudi, Bahraini, and Emirati efforts to isolate Qatar logistically as part of the most recent Gulf Cooperation Council crisis will require a restructuring of the country’s plans for special economic zones (SEZs) – commonly known as free zones (FZs) in the rest of the GCC states.

July 26, 2017
Bahrain seeks proposals to arrange a dollar-denominated bond, and sukuk.
July 25, 2017
The Saudi Civil Aviation Holding hires Goldman Sachs to advise on plans to sell a minority stake in Riyadh's King Khalid International Airport.
July 25, 2017
Saudi Arabia raises 17 billion riyals ($4.53 billion) in an oversubscribed sukuk from investors, for its first riyal-denominated Islamic bond.
July 25, 2017
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Labor announces plans to expand sectors limited to nationals only for employment.
July 24, 2017
Abu Dhabi National Oil Company seeks large loan and project bond, as part of capital raising and restructuring efforts, including partial Initial Public Offering.
July 23, 2017
Saudi Arabia offers new sukuk in local currency, in 3 tranches (5, 7, and 10 years) hoping to raise as much as 10 billion riyals ($2.7 billion).
July 13, 2017
Kuwait's Ministry of Finance presents draft bill for implementation of selective tax on tobacco, energy drinks, and soft drinks, in line with GCC agreement.
July 12, 2017
Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture will start privatizing the sewage sector, offering three key projects in five cities and governorates across the kingdom.
July 12, 2017
Saudi Arabia's Public Transport Authority invites proposals from companies in railway transport services for the construction and operation of the Riyadh-Dammam Railway, Northern Railway, and Land Bridge Project, which would connect the Gulf with the Red Sea.
July 5, 2017
Expats living in Saudi Arabia will have to pay the newly-introduced "family tax" upfront to leave the kingdom.
June 29, 2017

Issue Paper: Prioritizing Renewable Energy in a Time of Fiscal Austerity

Surging population growth, large-scale infrastructure investment, and economic development progress have led to increased energy demand in the Gulf Cooperation Council states. Since late 2014, the new normal of low oil prices has necessitated fiscal constraints and at the same time prompted greater interest in renewable energy sources.

June 29, 2017
Saudi Arabia’s Ras al-Khair facility is set to be the first state-owned desalination plant to be privatized.
June 22, 2017
Saudi decree aimed at reinstating allowances and bonuses for public sector employees will cost between 5 and 6 billion Saudi riyals ($1.3-1.5 billion).
June 19, 2017
Oman Power and Water Procurement Company is expected to announce its pick of consultants for its first coal-fired independent power project.
June 18, 2017
Saudi Arabia has entered into long-term public-private partnerships with private companies for the development and operation of five of its airport.
June 12, 2017
Saudi Arabia to implement a monthly employment tax on foreign laborers and their dependents, starting in July.
June 11, 2017
Saudi Arabia implements a "sin tax," imposing a 100 percent tax on tobacco and energy drinks, and a 50 percent tax on soft drinks.
June 7, 2017
Kuwait’s National Assembly passes amendment to a labor law that increases holiday entitlements for public and private sector employees.
June 1, 2017
Saudi Arabia invites public consultation on proposed value added tax law.
May 31, 2017
Saudi Arabia considers listing Marafiq, a state-owned utilities company, on the local market.
May 31, 2017
State-owned Saudi shipping firm, Bahri, enters joint venture with Aramco, Hyundai (South Korea) and Lamprell (UAE) to build shipyard valued at 20 billion Saudi riyals ($5.3 billion).
May 28, 2017
Saudi Arabia announces a selective tax of 100 percent on tobacco and energy drinks, and 50 percent on carbonated beverages to be applied from June 10, 2017.
May 25, 2017

Issue Paper: War at Any Price: Domestic and Regional Economic Consequences of Yemen’s Civil War

by Karen E. Young

The civil war in Yemen is now approaching its fourth year, and the rising cost of the conflict in its humanitarian disaster and continued investments by the warring parties in military expenditures suggest that cost is not a deterrent or impediment to war. While the immediate costs to the Yemeni people have been clear, the future cost to Gulf neighbors, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in particular, may be more than these states have estimated.

May 24, 2017
Oman raises $2 billion through sukuk, with an interest rate of 4.397 percent.
May 23, 2017
UAE announces a selective tax of 100 percent on tobacco and energy drinks, and 50 percent on carbonated beverages to be applied in the fourth quarter of 2017.
May 17, 2017
Oman plans to raise $2 billion through sukuk sale.
May 12, 2017
S&P downgrades Oman sovereign to non-investment grade, from BBB- to BB+.
May 10, 2017
Saudi Arabia's deputy minister of civil service promises to eliminate non-nationals from public sector jobs by 2020.
May 9, 2017
Oman seeks to borrow $3.6 billion from three Chinese banks to meet spending needs.
May 2, 2017
Qatar plans implementation of new public-private partnership regulatory framework.
April 21, 2017
Oman considers listing Oman Oil Company's assets on the local market.
April 18, 2017
Saudi Arabia plans to incorporate and transfer its airports to SWF in preparation for privatization.
April 13, 2017
Saudi Arabia raises $9 billion with its first international sukuk issue.
April 4, 2017
Kuwait plans to increase its public debt ceiling from 10 billion dinars, to 20 billion dinars ($65.62 billion).
March 27, 2017
Saudi Arabia reduces Aramco’s tax rate from 85 percent to 50 percent, in order to attract investors for its IPO.
March 26, 2017
Saudi Arabia rolls out “white land” tax on all undeveloped residential and commercial plots in urban areas larger than 10,000 square meters.
March 15, 2017
Oman announces plans to list a 49 percent IPO in Muscat Electricity Distribution Company by June.
March 13, 2017
Kuwait to raise $8 billion with its first international bond issue.
March 2, 2017
Oman issues $5 billion in international bonds.
March 2, 2017

The Bridge: Restructuring of Saudi Arabia’s Energy Industry Gathers Pace

by Diane Munro

Saudi Arabia is powering ahead with ambitious plans to reorganize its massive energy sector. The restructuring is part of its strategic plan to reduce domestic oil dependence and adopt a more commercial approach to its business operations at state oil company Aramco as part of Vision 2030 and ahead of the historic initial public offering set for 2018.

February 27, 2017
Oman increases income tax, with significant changes applied to small businesses.
February 21, 2017
Bahrain issues a $600 million tap from its $1 billion October 2028 bond.
February 7, 2017
Oman issues short-term treasury bills to the local bank market in the amount of 32.77 million Omani rials ($85.08 million).
February 2, 2017
The GCC value added tax is closer to implementation.
January 31, 2017
Kuwait announces a 50 percent IPO in the Az-Zour North Independent Water and Power Project.
January 30, 2017
The Saudi Arabian cabinet approves a 5% value added tax to begin in early 2018.
January 18, 2017

The Bridge: Abu Dhabi Share-Swap Deal with BP Forges New Contract Model

by Diane Munro

Abu Dhabi capped a year of unprecedented change at state oil company Abu Dhabi National Oil Com­pany (ADNOC) with a landmark $2.2 billion share-swap with legacy partner BP. The unique model for a joint venture gives Abu Dhabi a 2 percent stake in BP in exchange for a 10 percent share in the country’s main onshore oil concession.

January 17, 2017
Saudi Telecom Company completes 400 million Saudi riyal ($106.7 million) purchase of remaining stake in Sale Advanced Co.
January 17, 2017
Qatar sells 15 billion Qatari riyals ($4.1 billion) in bonds to the local debt market.
January 16, 2017
Kuwait prepares for its first dollar-denominated bond issue.
January 10, 2017
Kuwait announces an increase in health fees.
January 9, 2017
Saudi Arabia increases residency fees for expatriates.
January 5, 2017
Saudi Arabia plans a sugar drink and tobacco tax for April.
January 5, 2017
Qatar amends the new labor regulation, reinstating the requirement for workers to have permission of employers to leave the country.
January 3, 2017
Oman prepares for an international bond issue.
January 3, 2017
Expatriate workers are sentenced to flogging and jail time for protesting unpaid wages in Saudi Arabia.
January 3, 2017
Abu Dhabi introduces a new 3 percent municipality fee on expatriate rental contracts.
December 13, 2016
Qatar eases restrictions on foreign worker mobility, contract transfer
November 30, 2016
Qatar introduces new fees for alcohol licenses for expatriates.
November 30, 2016
Saudi Arabia dips into its reserves to fund the Public Investment Fund an additional 100 billion Saudi riyals ($27 billion).
November 21, 2016
Saudi government makes back payments of over 40 billion Saudi riyals ($10 billion) to contractors
November 9, 2016
Kuwait announces plans for multiple public-private partnerships in water and electricity services.
November 8, 2016
Kuwait's quasi-sovereign EQUATE issues a new government-backed corporate bond.
November 8, 2016
Kuwait announces plans for an international bond sale in 2017.
November 2, 2016
Oman issues short term treasury bills to the local bank market in the amount of 42 million Omani rials ($109 million).
October 31, 2016
King Saud University in Riyadh lays off hundreds of expatriate medical staff under the pressure of hiring nationals.
October 19, 2016
Saudi Arabia's first international bond sale will be larger than expected.
October 4, 2016
Bahrain issues $2 billion in international bonds, half in a sukuk.
September 23, 2016
Oman moves assets between the Ministry of Finance and other government-related entities in preparation for its privatization efforts.
September 20, 2016
Saudi Arabia removes subsidies and increases fees for government services to issue passports, driving licenses, car transfers, traffic violations, residence permit renewals for domestic workers, and increases customs duties on 193 commodity products, effective October 2.
September 20, 2016
Qatar sells 4.6 billion Qatari riyals ($1.26 billion) in bonds to local debt market.
September 20, 2016
Bahrain announces a new flexible visa for temporary employment.
September 6, 2016
United Arab Emirates Cabinet approves bankruptcy law, expected to come into effect in 2017 pending presidential signature. The law is aimed at safeguarding the rights of creditors and debtors in insolvency situations, including measures that prioritize secured creditor rights, and enable companies to restructure without unanimous creditor approval.
August 23, 2016
Saudi Arabia continues bond sales to the local bank market in local currency, up to 20 billion Saudi riyals ($5.3 billion ) in August.
August 9, 2016
Saudi Cabinet approves new visa fees, including 8,000 Saudi riyals ($2,133) for a two year multiple entry permit, as well as reducing the benefits of a 500 Saudi riyals (about $133) multiple exit/entry visa from three to six months
August 2, 2016
Kuwaiti Cabinet approves increasing petrol prices by 41 percent for low octane petrol and 83 percent for low emission petrol, starting in September
July 23, 2016
The Saudi Industrial Property Authority (MODON) signs 6,000 industrial, logistic, and services contracts.
July 19, 2016
Bahrain approves new law to allow 100 percent foreign ownership of firms, curtailing commercial agency structure.
July 15, 2016
Sharjah municipality in the United Arab Emirates increases the tenancy attestation fee from 2 to 4 percent.
July 12, 2016
Kuwaiti government considers privatizing non-oil production units of the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation
June 29, 2016
State-owned Petroleum Development Oman obtains $4 billion in loans from international banks.
June 29, 2016
The price of petrol in Qatar will increase by 7 percent starting in July from 1.20 Qatari riyal ($0.32) to 1.30 Qatari riyal ($0.35) per liter.
June 23, 2016
New land tax to be introduced in Saudi Arabia.
June 15, 2016
Outbound travelers through Oman’s airports will have to pay 2 Omani rials ($5.19) extra in tax, starting July 1.
June 15, 2016
Abu Dhabi joins Dubai and Sharjah in implementing an airport departure fee, starting July.
June 13, 2016
Kuwait Investment Authority intends to sell its stake in nuclear group, Areva.
June 9, 2016
Oman issues debt in the form of a $2.5 billion bond – its first debt issue in nearly 20 years.
June 8, 2016
Saudi government considers a new income tax on expatriates
June 1, 2016
Omani government approves an increase in corporate tax
May 31, 2016
In June, the revised price for regular petrol in Oman will be about 170 baisas ($0.44) per liter, super graded will be about 180 baisas ($0.46), and diesel will be about 185 baisas ($0.48).
May 26, 2016
Qatar issues debt in the form of a $9 billion bond (in three maturities: five, 10, and 30 years), surprising markets with the amount of investor interest.
May 26, 2016
Qatar's Ministry of Energy and Industry announces gasoline prices increase to 1.30 Qatari rials ($0.36) per liter for Super 97, 1.15 Qatari rials ($0.32) per liter for Premium 90, and 1.40 Qatari rials ($0.38) per liter for diesel.
May 19, 2016
Kuwait makes plans to issue a sovereign bond.
May 15, 2016
Bahrain issues a $435 million privately placed sukuk.
May 14, 2016
Moody’s lowers Oman's credit rating from A3 to Baa1.
May 14, 2016
Moody’s lowers Bahrain's credit rating from Ba1 to Ba2.
May 4, 2016
Qatari government announces plans for a bond sale aiming to raise up to $5 billion
May 1, 2016
Employees at Saudi Binladin Group set fire to seven buses over not receiving salaries and repeated layoffs of more than 50,000 employees (nationals and expatriates).
April 30, 2016
The revised price for regular petrol in Oman will be 149 baisas ($0.39) per liter in May.
April 25, 2016
Saudi government sells five, seven, and ten year floating rate notes.
April 25, 2016
Saudi Arabia announces that it has no plans to introduce tax on income, capital, or basic goods.
April 24, 2016
Private Omani firms consider issuing sukuks.
April 12, 2016
Qatar’s Ahli Bank completes a $500 million debut bond issue.
April 4, 2016
Kuwait plans to issue debt worth 2 billion Kuwaiti dinars ($6.6 billion), split equally between sukuk and conventional bonds.
April 1, 2016
Kuwaiti work permit fee raised from 2 Kuwaiti dinars ($6.63) to 50 Kuwaiti dinars ($165.78); renewal from 2 Kuwaiti dinars ($6.63) to 10 Kuwaiti dinars ($33.16)
March 14, 2016
Kuwait plans to impose a 10 percent tax on company profits, a 5 percent value added tax, and a proposed tax on money transfers by expatriates.
March 1, 2016
Standard & Poor’s lowers Oman's credit rating two notches to BBB-minus.
February 27, 2016
Moody’s lowers Oman's credit ratings by two notches to A3.
February 23, 2016
Bahraini government terminates a $750 million bond sale of five and ten year bonds, only to reopen the cancelled sale as $600 million, with borrowing costs raised by 25 basis points.
February 17, 2016
Standard & Poor’s cut Saudi Arabia's credit worthiness twice in less than six months to A-.
February 17, 2016
Standard & Poor’s lowers Bahrain's credit worthiness from BBB- to BB, now rating it as junk.
February 10, 2016
Bahrain hikes import tariffs on alcohol and tobacco: alcohol will be taxed at 225 percent, from 125; tobacco products will be taxed at 200 percent, from 100.
January 12, 2016
Bahrain raises regular petrol prices to 0.125 Bahraini dinars ($0.33) per liter (56.3 percent increase).
December 31, 2015
Oman's Shura Council votes to increase corporate tax by 3 percent (from 12-15 percent without discrimination).
December 7, 2015
Bahrain contemplates proposal to introduce higher rates on traffic registration and inspections for expatriates and companies, impose fees on expatriate students at government schools, and new rates for unused plots of land and sewage usage.
November 13, 2015
The Omani government moves to find ways to reinstate over 1,500 Omanis laid off from contracting companies in November.
November 2, 2015
Bahrain begins distribution of cash deposits to citizens, to compensate for lifted meat subsidies; initial deposit covers October-December allowances.
October 20, 2015
Deadline to register to apply for meat subsidy cash compensation; pay-outs to begin January 2016, with back-dated effect.
October 1, 2015
Bahrain lifts meat subsidies, more than doubling the price of beef and chicken.
September 13, 2015
Bahrain rolls out registration for cash transfer program for nationals, to compensate for the rise in meat prices, after the lifting of subsidies.
September 2, 2015
Bahrain delays lifting of meat subsidies to October 1.
September 1, 2015
The Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation (Kahramaa) hikes water and electricity charges, under new consumption-based tiered pricing system.
August 15, 2015
Bahrain plans to lift meat subsidies on September 1.
July 22, 2015
UAE Minister of Energy announces the lifting of fuel subsidies, starting August 1; prices will be allowed to rise to international market levels, subject to a monthly price review.