Events such as the death of a long-standing ruler or plummeting prices of a key export would have led to social and economic upheaval in many countries, yet Saudi Arabia has managed both with an impressive ease.
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The non-oil private sector is playing an ever-expanding role in the growth of Saudi Arabia's economy. However, will it be able to help tackle the country's high unemployment ratio and low home ownership rates? James King reports.
The impact of low oil prices on Saudi Arabia's banks in 2014 was negligible, as they posted stellar figures. And the sector looks to be in a good position to continue to thrive, says James King, a testimony to its prudent management.
Hit hard by the global financial crisis and a stagnant domestic political scene, Kuwait is now emerging as a stable, pro-business destination with a buoyant private sector and an economy moving away from its reliance on oil, as James King discovers.
The governor of the Central Bank of Kuwait, Mohammad Al-Hashel, has every reason to look to the future with optimism, given that the country's banking sector is coping well with low oil prices, welcoming foreign entrants, bringing down its NPL ratio and helping diversify the country's economy.
Despite its small size, Kuwait has long been a key player within the global Islamic finance industry, and with its sharia-compliant institutions posting strong figures in 2014, this position only looks likely to strengthen.
Kuwait’s banks are slowly recovering from the global financial crisis and bankers are optimistic for 2015. However, issues remain, including high exposure to the real estate market, outstanding debt settlements and a funding shortfall for the country’s SMEs.
The dual blow of declining oil prices and increasing instability in neighbouring Iraq hit the Kuwait Stock Exchange hard in 2014. But hopes are high that it will rally in 2015, after a modest rise in the weighted index in January.
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