The countries of the Gulf region underwent significant changes in the last years. While the recent Abraham accords will most probably change the geopolitical balance in the region, the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down economic growth of the Gulf and posed several challenges for the future.
Gulf security in the time of Coronavirus
When the pandemic spread through the Middle East, Iran was one of the most hit countries. However, the first help arrived from those countries traditionally perceived as Iran’s main adversaries. Although such initiatives have taken place in a confrontational context characterised by geopolitical rivalry, diplomatic tensions as well as military build-up, the pandemic’s economic backlash could force countries on both shores of the Gulf to review their assertive regional approaches in light of decreasing financial resources. How has the pandemic impacted Gulf security? We discussed it in a virtual panel in May.
Implications on the economic and energy sectors
The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply impacted industrial production and trade flows. The looming global depression is likely to further strain MENA structural economic weaknesses and heighten vulnerabilities in many countries, especially as it happens in parallel with a collapse in oil prices. What are the energy dimensions of the pandemic in the MENA region? This question was the topic of a MED regional meeting with Fahad M. Alturki (Vice President of Research, KAPSARC, Saudi Arabia), Karim El Aynaoui (President, Policy Center for the New South, Morocco), Daniel Lederman (Lead Economist and Deputy Chief Economist MENA, World Bank).
Tourism in Europe and the Gulf
Tourism is one of the sectors hit hardest by the pandemic. With travel restrictions, this year registered a significant decline in international tourist arrivals. Europe and the Gulf are particularly affected by this slump: Mediterranean countries such as Italy, France, and Spain are the world’s leading tourist destinations, with the tourism sector being an indispensable part of their national economy, while the Gulf countries have been actively investing over the past decade in the development of tourism as a major pillar of their strategy to diversify their economies away from oil. We discussed it in a MED regional meeting organised in partnership with KFCRIS.