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  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: Ambition is high. Just a few years ago, the claim that the Gulf represented an important financial centre, let alone an aspiring Global Financial Centre (GFC), would have been seen as optimistic. However, it should be recalled that in the late 1990s, and even up until 2003, few analysts expected oil prices to move above the $20–30 range–yet by early 2008 oil was trading well above $100 and rising. The GCC economies have approximately tripled in size in just five years and their combined GDP will be well above $1 trillion in 2008, while their external financial wealth in the form of sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) and foreign exchange reserves alone is more than double this figure. These trends are not, of course, uncorrelated. Nevertheless, it is easy to see the region's comparative advantage from the swing in oil prices, whereas the scope for developing a significant advantage in global finance remains tentative. To develop and mature the Global Financial Centre concept will require considerable effort and nurturing, chiefly by GCC governments, banks and fund managers but including cooperative ventures with leading GFCs and financial services companies.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Arab Countries
  • Author: John V Mitchell, Paul Stevens
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: Since 2003, countries whose economies depend on the export of oil and gas have enjoyed a surge of revenue driven by rising oil prices and, in some countries, rising export volumes. The press has captured petroleum-fuelled prosperity in images of futuristic construction plans and the rocketing assets of sovereign wealth funds. However, this obscures important differences among oil and gas exporters in terms of reserves size and social development challenges. Based on a major study of twelve hydrocarbon-exporting countries, this report shows that the boom does not guarantee economic sustainability for these countries, most of which face hard policy choices over domestic consumption, development spending and rates of economic growth. The report estimates the timeframes these countries have in which to make the necessary changes and examine their prospects for success given the existing human, institutional and technical capacity, competitive advantages, infrastructure and access to capital.
  • Topic: Development, Energy Policy, Oil, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East