Latest articles from Middle East

Planning Ahead

August 2, 2004

Oil wealth offers new opportunity

August 2, 2004

As Saudi Arabia remains flush from booming oil prices, and opens its banking sector up to competition, the kingdom’s institutions are making aggressive plays for the consumer market and other new business. James Gavin, Jon Marks and Paul Melly report .With international banks set to enter Saudi Arabia’s previously guarded markets, as the long-awaited capital market law comes into effect, the threat of increased competition is looming on the horizon for the country’s banks.

Overflowing with natural resources

August 2, 2004

Rapid economic growth – thanks to a wealth of oil and gas – has turned Qatar into one of the world’s richest countries in terms of per capita GDP, providing opportunities that banks have been quick to take up. Mohamad Moabi reports from Doha.

Rebuilding confidence

August 2, 2004

After some difficult years, most Omani banks are reporting a significant upturn following efforts to improve discipline. Meanwhile the stock market shows signs of growth and project finance deals are picking up. Ben Wilkinson reports.

Riding the wave

August 2, 2004

Continued robust oil prices, prospects of renewed business ties with Iraq and higher government spending have bolstered optimism in Kuwait, reflected in massive gains in the local stock market and a real estate boom, writes Randa Azar-Khoury. Kuwait’s economy continued to project indicators of robust growth during the first half of 2004, following a very strong performance the previous year.

Financial focus

August 2, 2004

Project financing and proactive local banks are adding momentum to Bahrain’s campaign to be the GCC’s financial service hub, writes Jon Marks. With its powerful regulator, the Bahrain Monetary Authority (BMA), licensing some 364 financial institutions – over half of them banks – Bahrain prides itself on being the hub of the Gulf’s financial services industry.

Banks battle for customers

August 2, 2004

Competition is heating up for a share of Brunei’s consumer finance market. Simon Montlake talks to local banks and foreign entrants about their strategies. Newcomers to Brunei might be surprised to find that its small but affluent population of 340,000 is serviced by no fewer than nine domestic and foreign banks. In a country roughly the size of the US state of Delaware, a branch is never too far away, with some staying open until 10pm on weekdays for late-night transactions.

Going offshore without baggage

August 2, 2004

Brunei’s relatively new status as an offshore financial centre has enabled officials to pass quickly the necessary legislation to make it a world-class location. Simon Montlake reports on the country’s attractions for foreign banks. Brunei is among the newest entrants to the competitive field of offshore financial services. In the last four years, it has introduced legislative and regulatory reforms to position the oil-rich sultanate as an attractive tax-free jurisdiction for international banks and other financial companies.

Economic evolution

August 2, 2004

The Brunei Economic Development Board is tasked with overseeing the diversification of the country’s economy and raising its international foreign direct investment profile. Restructured in 2001 as a corporate body, the BEDB is staffed by senior government officials and prominent business leaders and provides a one-stop shop for private investors in Brunei. The Banker spoke recently with its chairman, Pehin Dato Haji Mohammad Haji Daud.

Brunei diversifies to sustain growth

August 2, 2004

Oil has made Brunei a wealthy country. However, if the current economic growth is to be maintained, the tiny Asian sultanate requires a wider spread of industries contributing to its income. Simon Montlake reports.