With minimal growth and a hefty deficit expected in 2016, the Saudi Arabian government knows it must act fast to reverse the downward trend. James King looks at the raft of measures the country is putting in place to become less reliant on oil and achieve long-term growth.
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Saudi Arabia has accepted that fundamental change is needed to deal with its budget deficit and is stepping up to the challenge with a long-term plan that includes privatisation, cuts to subsidies, boosting religious tourism and creating a more diversified economy. James King reports on its progress.
The governor of the Central Bank of Kuwait, Mohammad Al-Hashel, tells James King about his efforts to maintain exchange rate stability, prevent banks from becoming over-reliant on the real estate industry, and create a sukuk-friendly environment in the country.
Well capitalised with low non-performing loan ratios and strategically diverse business lines, Saudi Arabia's banks have weathered the country's economic slowdown well. Now, with the economic backdrop unlikely to change in their favour, these lenders are looking at ways to remain profitable in the long term.
With its unresolved dispute with Saudi Arabia over the so-called 'neutral zone' rumbling on, record-low oil prices and the possibility of an Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries-imposed production freeze, Kuwait's oil industry is under pressure. Still, the country remains committed to investments in the sector.
Kuwait's economy has come under pressure in the past year, mainly due to falling oil prices. But, with the help of healthy sovereign reserves, the country has weathered the difficulties well, and the government remains committed to its long-term development plan.
The director-general of the Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Agency tells James King how the country's opening up to foreign investment and the liberalisation of its economy is helping to alleviate the impact of the oil price crash.
There is a positive mood in Kuwait's banking sector, thanks in no small part to the government's healthy balance sheet and its commitment to project spending. However, the low oil price environment and cooling real estate market loom large on the horizon.
Kuwait boasts one of the most respected Islamic finance markets in the world. But ever keen to move with the times, the country is establishing a capital markets authority law designed to develop the domestic sukuk market, one of many recent boosts the industry has received.
The vice-governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, Abdulaziz Saleh Al-Furaih, is happy for the central bank to maintain low interest rates and a consistent policy on the riyal. He tells James King of his plans for SMEs, the low oil price environment and what the future holds for the country's banking sector.