Life often imitates art, and more prosaically in Turkey, football imitates the economy.

That’s the verdict of Renaissance Capital, who in an end-of-year sporting note, draws out the parallels between Turkey’s macroeconomic woes and its national game.

According to RenCap: “Turkey’s declining success in football can be mapped to economics”. Read more

Turkey’s decision to allow Russia permission to build the South Stream gas pipeline seems to have caused a degree of panic in Ukraine. The agreement, reached on Wednesday, could have significant implications on long-running gas negotiations between the two countries and reduce Ukraine’s bargaining power in extracting much needed price concessions from Moscow.

The South Stream pipeline would see Russian gas exported across the Black Sea to Europe, bypassing Ukraine, whose gas transit network is currently responsible for carrying 80 per cent of Russian energy exports to the EU. Read more

Even by its high standards, 2011 has been a tumultuous year for Pakistan. Political uncertainty, energy shortages, terrorism, and flood devastation all feature heavily in the central bank’s end of year report on the state of the economy, which makes for predictably glum reading. Read more

Pakistani children wave Pakistani and Chinese flagsHow do you say: ‘Welcome to Pakistan’ in Mandarin?

More and more Pakistani schoolchildren may be answering just that, as Mandarin could become a compulsory part of the school curriculum in the Karachi, Pakistan’s commercial capital, and the surrounding province of Sindh, in a move that is further evidence of the warming relations between Islamabad and Beijing.

Authorities want Mandarin to be taught to all secondary school children in the region by 2013, according to a Sindh government statement.  It may be wishful thinking in a province where over 40 per cent of people can’t read at all. But as a sign of China’s growing influence it’s significant. Read more

Manmohan Singh left Dhaka on Wednesday having had the shine firmly wiped off a visit that was meant to mark the beginning of strengthened bilateral ties between India and Bangladesh. The unexpected absence from the trip of Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of neighbouring West Bengal, made it a case of one step forward, two steps back for trade and business ties between the two countries. Read more

A dark skin complexion remains one of Indian society’s most visible taboos.

Indians are becoming more western in their consumer habits, buying anything from jeans to mobile phones, but on one point they remain resolutely traditional – the preference for fair over dark skin. Read more

‘What’s in a name?’ was Shakespeare’s Juliet’s call to her forsaken lover. Well quite alot, especially when that name happens to be Muammer Gaddafi.

One of the many unforeseen consequences of the deposition of the Libyan leader is the spate of re-namings that are hurriedly taking place in countries that boasted close bilateral ties with the fallen regime. Read more

SukukIslamic financial products may not be an obvious first port of call for investors in troubled times. But sukuk – or ‘Islamic bonds’ – are witnessing sustained demand despite the political upheavals of the Arab Spring-turned-summer and the recent volatility that has hit the global markets.

“We’ve seen a good pick up in activity in the past months and notably, at the height of market volatility”, Mohammed Dawood, head of Islamic capital markets at HSBC, told beyondbrics. Read more

Suleiman KerimovThe announcement by an obscure Russian club, Anzhi Makhachkala, to make Samuel Eto’o the world’s highest paid footballer (and by some estimates, the highest paid athlete in modern sport) will have most commentators lamenting that football is just a game of money-men and mercenaries.

But club owner Suleiman Kerimov (pictured) has less in common with the archetypal football-investing Russian oligarch than appears at first glance. In choosing to pump an estimated $100m into his local side in the war-torn Caucasus he is in a different world from Chelsea and Roman Abramovich. Read more

You might think that India takes a close interest in Bangladesh – a fast-growing neighbour with bags of economic potential despite its periodic natural disasters and political upheavals.

But India’s relationship with the country which split from west Bengal to form East Pakistan in 1947 can be best described as one of ‘benign neglect’.

India is a bit player in the Bangaldeshi economy, ranking ninth in terms of FDI. To underscore the apathy, no Indian prime minister has visited Dhaka in 12 years.

However, Manmohan Singh now wants to change all that – with a visit next month that will prioritise business. Read more

Singaporean fans of Manchester United last caught glimpse of their favourite club when the Red Devils visited the country in a one day trophy-touring parade in July. But as of next year, they, along with millions others, could well have the opportunity to buy shares in the 19 times Premiership champions if the club’s plans to do a partial float on the Singaporean stock exchange go through.

Yet, as Manchester United gears itself up to become a publicly listed company once again (it was delisted after the Glazers bought it in 2005), the question that is being asked among the club’s UK-based fans is not only why Singapore over say, Hong Kong, but why Asia more generally? Read more

Halal is big business.

With an estimated 1.8bn Muslims around the globe (and growing), the market for supplying Muslim-friendly food products is expanding into the most far-flung reaches of the world. Malaysia – a Muslim majority country – wants to capitalise on this $560bn-a-year food industry by exploiting the growing appetite for halal in China. Read more

Brics and mortarDubai’s Muslims may be reconsidering the merits of high-rise living after top-floor residents of the word’s tallest building were told they had to fast longer during the holy month of Ramadan.

Occupants of the 160-storey Burj Khalifa have been told they must to fast for up to three minutes longer than these at ground level because they can see the sun for longer from their otherwise privileged vantage points. Read more

Real Madrid returned from its pre-season tour of China on Monday with a 100 per cent winning record, 13 goals under its belt and plans to build the largest football academy in Asia.

The world’s most famous football club will partner with Chinese Super League team, Guangzhou Evergrande, to set up the academy that will enrol up to 10,000 12-13 year-olds in Guangdong province, as Real looks to expand its presence in the far east.

But can Real beat away its rivals and succeed in turning China into a money spinner? Read more

Kadyrov challenges Maradona

Grozny is not a name often associated with Europe’s sporting metropolises. But the Chechen capital – a battleground of two separatist wars in 1994 and 2000 – has undergone an economic and architectural regeneration since an unofficial peace with Moscow in 2006.

Now Ramzan Kadyrov, the state’s ruler, wants to use football as a catalyst for further development. Russia is due to host the FIFA World Cup in 2018 and Kadyrov wants Grozny added to the list of 14 host venues. Read more

With its cricketing fortunes seemingly on the wane, now seems as good a time as any for India to jump on a lucrative football bandwagon. This is exactly the plan of the West Bengal division of the Indian Football Association, which aims to revolutionise domestic football by setting up a money-spinning league for the beautiful game.

The Premier League Soccer (PLS) is inspired by the hugely successful Indian Premier League (IPL), whose Twenty20 tournament has turned Indian cricket into big business since its launch in 2008. Read more