Middle East economy

By Julie Dickson of Ashmore

There was no shortage of concerns about emerging markets last year. Investors fretted about US Fed tapering, China’s growth, tension escalating in Syria, and Turkey and Egypt facing social and often violent unrest. Global Emerging Markets investors reacted and diverted funds to the developed markets, leaving EM stocks to post a dismal -2.6% return for the year. But investors in Middle East equities saw things differently and enjoyed returns of 30.6% (MSCI GCC US$ Net), outpacing Developed and Emerging Markets by a wide margin.

Why? How? Read more

An Asian worker carries carries a rod at a flyover construction site in eastern Riyadh on April 7, 2013. Saudi Arabia.Gulf states are intensifying their efforts to create jobs for nationals at the expense of expatriate workers as they face youth unemployment and pressure to prepare for a future less reliant on crude exports, writes Camilla Hall.

Kuwait has said it will reduce foreign workers by 100,000 a year, while hundreds of thousands of companies in Saudi Arabia faced a deadline last month to meet the proscribed quota of Saudi employees or risk having their licences removed. Read more

Kuwait has introduced new corporate legislation as it tries to compete for foreign investment with its more successful regional peers, primarily the United Arab Emirates, write Camilla Hall and Simeon Kerr.

Notorious in the region for its recent economic underperformance, Kuwait is trying to move ahead with more coherent regulations in an effort to kick-start its non-oil economy and boost confidence in markets. Read more