Here is a selection of some of my articles published over the past few years. Quite a lot are hidden behind paywalls, but if you see this sign ◊ you’ll be able to click through and read the full article.
A service to the economy?
Unemployment is one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest problems. Only the service sector can provide enough jobs, but will Saudis be willing to do them?
The Middle East, June 2013
New paradigm emerges for Egyptian deal-making
The Qatari takeover of EFG Hermes may have collapsed, but other buyouts show what is possible.
Euromoney, June 2013
◊ Saudi Arabia’s contradictory green policy
Riyadh is keen to develop renewable energy at home while still selling fossil fuels to the world. It is a contradiction it will find hard to resolve.
The Gulf, June 2013
◊ Empty towers
Riyadh’s new financial district is struggling to attract tenants. Rather than rivalling Dubai as a regional financial hub, could the Saudi capital be copying its neighbour’s history of overblown property development instead?
The Economist, 11 May 2013
The oil price balancing act
Oil prices may be edging downwards these days, but Middle East governments continue to rely on high crude prices when it comes to balancing their budgets.
MEED, 9 May 2013
A return to the good old bad old days for Dubai?
Dubai’s property market is in recovery mode, but with speculators once again actively flipping houses and apartments there are signs that the boom and bust of the past could return.
MEED, 30 April 2013
Military spending increases across the Gulf
Gulf governments spent well over $100bn on defence in the past year as they grappled with the ongoing consequences of the Arab Spring and rising tensions between Iran and the West.
Gulf States Newsletter, 25 April 2013
Investcorp: The house that Kirdar built
Behind the scenes at the Bahrain-based private equity group that helps wealthy Gulf investors buy up European and North American businesses and real estate, including interviews with the CEO Nemir Kirdar and other senior executives.
Euromoney, April 2013
◊ Aiming at the wrong target
The UAE central bank’s decision to limit how much people can borrow to buy their homes may not have the effect it is hoping for, not least because most buyers these days are cash buyers.
The Gulf, April 2013
Will oil be a curse or a blessing for Lebanon?
Beirut has launched its first offshore exploration round and hopes are high of finding oil or gas under its Mediterranean waters, but it could simply provide a new forum for domestic political disputes and arguments with Israel.
MEED, 13 March 2013
◊ The world’s latest frontier stock market
The $1.3bn IPO of Asiacell could pave the way for investors to start taking the Iraq Stock Exchange seriously
The Middle East, March 2013
A lesson in conflict
The Syrian civil war is making the already difficult job of educating refugees even tougher, says UNRWA.
MEED, 6 March 2013
Abu Dhabi revives its spending habits
A new $90bn spending spree shows that the emirate’s short-lived austerity is over, but it will probably still miss its long-term growth targets.
MEED, 21 February 2013
Syrian inflation soars as war rages
The cost of living is rising sharply , providing another source of pain for those caught up in the fighting
MEED, 14 February 2013
◊ Going public in Iraq: Asiacell’s historic listing
Is the mobile company’s stock market debut the start of something bigger for the Iraq Stock Exchange?
The Economist, 3 February 2013
◊ Qatar’s dangerous games in North Africa
Doha’s support for the revolutions was welcomed by many, but has it bitten off more than it can chew?
The Gulf, February 2013
Saudi Arabia approves another expansionary budget
Budgeted spending rises to a record $218.6bn but the government always overspends anyway.
Gulf States Newsletter, 24 January 2013
The politics of apathy
Jordan’s elite are struggling to convince the public to care about the election for the next parliament
MEED, 20 January 2013
◊ Waiting for a great leap forward
There are signs Kuwait’s economic fortunes could at last improve after the most recent election, but no-one’s holding their breath.
The Middle East, January 2013
Libya: Not so open for business
Some new deals are being done, but the government’s extensive review of Gaddafi-era contracts and ongoing security fears are deterring many investors.
Africa Confidential, 18 January 2013
Kuwait poll reinforces political uncertainty
With the general election out of the way the country has a chance to break the deadlock between parliament and government, but opposition protests are likely to continue.
MEED, 6 December 2012
◊ The common ground between Kuwait and Jordan
There are parallels between the political crises enveloping the two countries. Can their leaders show each other a way out?
The Gulf, December 2012
Kuwait faces tense run-up to polling day
A critical court ruling on voting laws and a big opposition rally are due to take place in the days leading up to the parliamentary elections on 1 December.
Gulf States Newsletter, 22 November 2012
Concessions fail to halt protests in Jordan
Recent reforms made by King Abdullah have been contradictory and piecemeal. Meanwhile the pressure on the regime just keeps on mounting
MEED, 7 November 2012
Africa’s Teflon-coated bonds
There is no clearer sign of the strength of investor interest in emerging markets than the scramble for African sovereign bonds, but how long can it last?
Euromoney, November 2012
Turkish banks target the Gulf as trade takes off
Banks from Ankara and Istanbul are eyeing up expansion in the GCC and Iraq as the country’s trade shifts eastward away from Europe
Gulf States Newsletter, 25 October 2012
Zambia issues debut foreign currency bond
Demand far outstrips supply as investors continue to crowd into African bond market.
Euromoney, October 2012
◊ UAE city limits
Abu Dhabi is doing well out of high oil prices, but that means little to Dubai which continues to struggle with its debts
Emerging Markets, 11 October 2012
Job hunting in Saudi Arabia and Trying to Build a Consensus
Two pieces on two tricky issues for Saudi Arabia’s rulers: how to get more locals into work and what the appointment of the latest crown prince says about the politics of succession.
MEED, 10 October 2012
◊ No place like home
Saudi Arabia’s dysfunctional housing market should be helped by a new mortgage law that’s coming into force this month.
The Gulf, October 2012
Qatar cements its regional influence and asserts its role as a global investor
Two features on how Doha is offering aid to the new North African democracies but, at the same time, getting tougher with its international investments
MEED, 21 September 2012
Turkey’s timid banks
The strength of the domestic economy means Turkish banks don’t venture abroad much, but will the country’s growing international trade force them to broaden their horizons?
Euromoney, September 2012
◊ Forex test for Angola’s banks (jpeg)
Oil companies will soon have to process all their payments through local banks, but will the system be able to cope?
Africa Confidential, 7 September 2012
Syria: on the brink of economic collapse
Civil war, rising inflation, prolonged drought and dwindling monetary reserves all take their toll
MEED, 22 August 2012
Kurdistan Projects Market Report 2012
Edited 100-page report on the economy of the northern region of Iraq.
MEED Insight, August 2012
◊ Small Countries Financial Management Programme: independent evaluation (pdf)
Researched and wrote the Africa section of this NGO evaluation report after interviewing participants from central banks and finance ministries in five countries in sub-Saharan Africa. It was one of three sections, alongside others on the Caribbean and Pacific Islands.
SCFMC, July 2012
Iraq Oil & Gas Projects Market 2012
Edited 120-page report on how Iraq’s oil and gas sector is getting back on its feet.
MEED Insight, June 2012
The spill-over effect
Violence in Syria is being mirrored on the streets of Lebanon
MEED, 1 June 2012
An economy constrained
Lebanon’s economy is doing better this year than last, but its performance is still being held back by events across the border
MEED, 1 June 2012
◊ Riyadh’s nervous stock market regulators
Authorities are becoming more cautious about opening up the local bourse to international investors
The Gulf, June 2012
Doha’s debt build-up
It is one of the richest countries in the world, but Qatar’s debts are piling up. Is there any reason to worry?
MEED, 18 May 2012
◊ Japan’s soft power politics in the Middle East
Heavily dependent on Middle East oil, Tokyo is keen to encourage stability. But there are limits to what its soft power push can achieve.
The Diplomat, 13 April 2012
Border dispute casts doubt on Jericho industrial park
A new industrial park in Jericho could provide a template for reviving the West Bank economy, but the Israeli government is not making life easy for the project’s backers.
MEED, 6 April 2012
◊ Will Moscow wake from its economic slumber? (pdf)
Russia’s economy needs some judicious reforms, but is Vladimir Putin the right man for the job?
The Market Magazine, April 2012
Qatar prepares for slower growth
The implications of what is expected to be a rapid deceleration in Doha
MEED, 9 March 2012
◊ The Arab League’s battle to avoid irrelevance
The organisation has played a prominent role in the Libyan and Syrian uprisings, but it will remain a peripheral player in the region in the future
The Gulf, March 2012
The Middle East’s private banks fall victim to the Arab Spring
Local private banks in the region are losing out as the region’s wealthy react to political uncertainty
Euromoney, February 2012
◊ Kuwait’s economic stupor
A sclerotic political system means the country’s economy is continually losing ground to its GCC rivals
The Gulf, February 2012
A fight for survival
Global investment banks are downsizing in the Middle East, but as deal flow continues to evaporate local banks are in an even worse position
Euromoney, November 2011
Two steps forward, two back
The inert political reform process in the UAE
MEED, 4 November 2011
◊ Storm clouds ahead?
The impact of Europe’s debt crisis on Gulf economies has been muted so far, but that could easily and quickly change
The Gulf, November 2011
Invest in Jordan 2011
Commissioned and edited 100-page report created for the World Economic Forum meeting at the Dead Sea, Jordan
◊ GCC: United we stand?
Gulf states have acted together in response to the Arab Spring, but there may be trouble ahead
Emerging Markets, 23 September 2011
◊ Curb your enthusiasm
How the Arab Spring is undermining the Gulf’s financial hubs
Emerging Markets, 23 September 2011
A qualified foreign policy success
Qatar’s involvement in Libya’s revolution has worked well so far, but exposes some deep contradictions
MEED, 23 September 2011
Bahrain: like Wall Street with guns
The brutal crack-down on pro-democracy protestors has dealt a blow to the Gulf island’s position as a financial hub
Euromoney, September 2011
Lebanon’s lost opportunity
Domestic political inertia have mixed with upheaval in neighbouring Syria to create big problems for the country’s economy
Euromoney, September 2011
Syria’s economy under pressure
Protests and brutal repression are hurting the economy, but not enough to bring down the regime
MEED, 26 August 2011
◊ The Ramadan effect
The economic impact of Ramadan on GCC economies
The Gulf, August 2011
Tehran is paying the price for removing subsidies
Why the IMF was too hasty in its praise of Iran’s economic reforms
MEED, 19 August 2011
◊ Staying in the black
Gulf governments are increasingly dependent on high oil prices to balance their budgets. Is this sustainable?
The Gulf, July 2011
Middle East & North Africa Rail Report 2011
A comprehensive overview of the rail market across the region.
MEED Insight, 2 May 2011
Evolution during a revolution
What Qatar’s military intervention in Libya says about its foreign policy
MEED, 22 April 2011
Kuwait’s Islamic banks face unconventional future
Just as it comes to terms with the fallout of the economic crisis, the Islamic sector must prepare for political instability
Euromoney, April 2011
What a failing Yemen means for the Gulf
Yemen’s problems are already seeping across its borders, but there is little the GCC can do about it – in the short-term at least.
MEED, 1 April 2010
◊ Roil, Jordan?
By acting fast, King Abdullah II has managed to avoid the turmoil seen elsewhere in the Arab world … for now
Foreign Policy, 28 February 2011
◊ also republished in The Nation (Pakistan)
◊ Prayers, police and protests in Jordan
Words and photos from the Hashemite kingdom
Sojourn Posse, February 2011
Only the beginning for Tunisia
The country’s political problems will take a while to fix in the wake of the revolution, but its economic problems are even more deep-seated
MEED, 21 January 2011
The impact of sanctions on Iran’s banks
How the country’s banks are faring in the face of international sanctions and huge domestic bad debts
MEED, 24 December 2010
One year on from the Dubai World debacle
Can the emirate use its trade, transport and services sectors to find a way out of its troubles?
Euromoney, December 2010
◊ Paraguay in the footsteps of Graham Greene
Words and photos from an overlooked corner of South America
Sojourn Posse, November 2010
◊ The prospects for post-crash Dubai
Dubai is still struggling to come to terms with the effects of its crash. Lower but more sustainable growth is the surest consequence
Emerging Markets, 5 October 2010
Can Gulf financial centres bridge the gap?
The prospects for the rival business hubs of Dubai, Doha and Manama
Euromoney, September 2010
The rise of public-to-private deals in Central & Eastern Europe
Why private equity firms are turning to stock markets for new targets
Transform, Autumn 2010
Facing up to cyber threats
Gulf governments claim Blackberry phones are a national security threat, but there are far larger technology issues to worry about
MEED, 17 September 2010
Reflecting on 40 years of Sultan Qaboos’ rule
Oman’s economy has grown spectacularly, but questions remain about a successor
MEED, 23 July 2010
Euro woes give Gulf pause for thought
What the ongoing euro crisis means for the planned GCC single currency.
MEED, 9 July 2010
Riyadh courts Berlin’s expertise
The changing nature of German-Saudi relations
MEED, 18 June 2010