The Industrial Organization of Food Imports in Small Countries: The Curious Case of Qatar

The small Gulf Arab countries heavily depend on foreign supplies for their food requirements.  Yet, very little empirical analysis has been conducted on food security issues facing these countries.  This column describes a novel micro-data set for Qatar which is capable of feeding analysis to assess the special food security dilemmas of food-import-dependent micro states. […]

Gulf Cooperation Council Local Currency Bond Markets and Lessons from East Asia

The countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council were hit hard by declining oil prices during the global crisis. This column argues that East Asia has shown how viable local bond markets are essential to weather future crises when bank lending collapses. While it will be a long process requiring strong political will, the time for the “plumbing” work is now.    

Small Countries, Small Problems?

Bahrain and Qatar’s less than 1 million populations make them the smallest countries in GCC (see Chart 1). Both countries are blessed with natural resources, albeit with varying degrees. Do small countries suffer from their smallness? Do small countries enact better economic policies and grow faster? Are Bahrain and Qatar at a disadvantage because their […]

GCC monetary union: What criteria should we use to determine the location of the common central bank?

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) withdrawn from the planned Gulf monetary union came as a big surprise as it exposed how petty political goal can undermine bigger economic gain.  Surely, for the UAE, the ability to house the Gulf central bank in its capital, Abu Dhabi, seems more important than the proper materialization of the […]

Global crisis brought power to GCC central banks

Fed’s back to back rate cuts in October 2008 have caused a sense of uneasiness among GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) central banks deciding whether to follow suit. For the first time in decades, we are watching some differences in monetary policymaking among GCC central banks. Thus following Fed’s 8 October 2008 rate cut by 50 basis points, all but Qatar central bank have matched Fed’s move. By contrast, Fed’s latest (29 October 2008) round of rate cut by 50 basis points has so far been implemented in Bahrain, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, while UAE officially left its rates untouched, and Qatar is yet to decide on a move.

Understand GCC Inflation

The persistence rise in consumer price inflation in the six GCC economies has attracted a lot of attention over the past several years. Aside from the global rise in food and energy prcies, strong domestic credit growth (as well as loose money supply) and the prolonged dollar peg have come out as key factors behind […]

Why it is difficult to fight inflation in GCC economies?

There is a well-known macroeconomic response to this question. Since GCC national currencies are fixed to the US dollar (except Kuwait?) and therefore monetary policies are unable to effectively deal with rising and persistent inflation; as a result only the real economy adjusts in terms of higher prices. There are also two less-known microeconomic reasons […]

Is Qatar heading backward?

Yes! At least this is the feeling I get from a recent Advisory Council’s recommendation to overhaul Qatar’s much needed sponsorship law (news published in Gulf Times, 24 June 2008). Under the existing sponsorship law when an expatriate worker quits his job and subsequently leave the country, he cannot re-enter the country with a new […]