The Bank of Palestine traces its roots back to 1960. Political upheaval has punctuated the bank’s operating environment since its founding. The bank’s chairman and general manager shares his experiences with Global Finance.
The Middle East is no stranger to political and economic uncertainty, but simmering religious and political tensions and stubbornly low oil prices have dealt the region a difficult hand. The question now is: How will countries play in order to win?
Changing fortunes in the region’s oil-rich economies have made the secretive world of sovereign wealth fund asset allocation even more opaque.
Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank was the first Islamic bank established in Abu Dhabi, in 1997, and has evolved to become one of the largest retail banks in the United Arab Emirates, with one of the strongest digital footprints of any bank in the UAE. ADIB increased full-year net profits by 10.5% in 2015 to reach 1.9 billion dirhams ($520 million). Global Finance sat down with ADIB’s CEO at the bank’s head office in Abu Dhabi.
Milestones | Iran
A strong showing by moderates in February’s elections to Iran’s parliament and assembly of experts (the constitutional body that appoints and dismisses the supreme leader) has boosted prospects for the Islamic republic’s reintegration into the global economy and reassured foreign investors that reforms will continue.
Now that some sanctions have been lifted against Iran, Oman’s governmental policy of neutrality could come to the fore in the banking sector. Bank Muscat is gearing up to enter the Iranian market, placing it ahead of many of its banking counterparts in the Gulf. Bank Muscat’s CEO answers questions from Global Finance about the move, and the bank’s challenges in an epoch of austerity.
Emirates NBD returned a stellar performance in 2015, but this year looks to be an entirely different proposition. Shayne Nelson, Emirates NBD Group’s CEO, tells Global Finance how the bank plans to drive growth and why consolidation is needed in the UAE banking sector.
Singapore could face a technical recession in the first half of this year as plunging oil prices and a drop in China’s appetite for imports weigh on the city-state’s economy.
Saudi Arabia is the Gulf Cooperation Council’s largest economy, but major economic, political and social challenges threaten the kingdom’s immediate economic future. Reducing its dependence on oil and gas is now a case of when, not if.
The prospect of the lifting of economic sanctions against Iran has investors excited about the return of this market to the global economic community. But the message is: Proceed with caution.
Nations slash subsidies in the face of cheap oil and regional conflicts.
Vietnam is emerging as one of the few bright spots among Southeast Asian economies buffeted by the slowdown in regional and global trade.
At a lavish ceremony last month, the Egyptian government inaugurated the new Suez Canal, marking an expansion of the original project, which dates to 1869.
GCC Regional Report 2015 | Trade
GCC With oil prices not expected to top $100 a barrel anytime soon, breaking down trade barriers is the one sure way to boost the GCC’s economic prospects.
Trends | Economy & Disease
In May, South Korea reported its first case of MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). The death toll had climbed to 24 as we went to press, making it the largest outbreak outside of Saudi Arabia, where the strain was first reported in 2012.
Vietnam | In May, Vietnam’s central bank once again devalued the country’s currency, the dong—the second such adjustment since January.
Milestones | Singapore
During the state funeral cortege of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s founding prime minister, Singaporeans were urged to salute rather than take photos using their smartphones, a vivid reminder of the government’s preoccupation with political correctness.
Milestones | Iran
It may have taken 12 years to reach, but the framework agreement struck between the so-called P5+1 (Russia, China, France, Britain, and the US, plus Germany), the European Union and Iran has enough momentum, say analysts, to yield a full accord by June 30.
Country Report | Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia’s budget deficit is ballooning, but a ministerial reshuffle has fueled hopes the kingdom is resolute in kicking its hydrocarbon addiction.
Kuwait | Country Report
Kuwait is at a crossroads. Despite huge financial reserves, the Persian Gulf state must speed up project implementation to revive a stagnant economy far too dependent on oil revenues.
Middle East | Emerging Markets Regional Review
The drop in oil prices is likely to affect public spending in the rentier states of the Persian Gulf, and pressure is mounting on governments to reduce economic dependency on hydrocarbons.