Interpreting Middle East Economic News and Analyzing Market Trends

Category: Oman

Ambitious Gulf investors to launch Islamic bank in Luxembourg with goal of serving wider European market

 

Islamic Bank in Lux

Gulf investors are again attempting to launch an Islamic bank in mainland Europe, this time in Luxembourg.  There have been previous attempts at launching Islamic banks in France and Germany, but they were never launched siting an unaccommodating banking regulator as the reason.  Other Islamic banks were launched in Switzerland over the years, but their objectives were very narrow in scope.  The UK, on the other hand, has been the most successful in this regard since it was the first Western country to adopt Islamic banking regulation.  Today, there are four Islamic banks operating in the UK, one retail and three investment banks.  Will an Islamic bank in Luxembourg be successful?

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Amnesty exposes Qatar’s slave labor practices, Qatar hires law firm to investigate itself, other GCC countries continue with similar practices

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All of Qatar’s construction workers are from poor neighboring countries such as India and Bangladesh

 

Last week Amnesty International exposed Qatar’s inhumane labor practices some describe as modern-day slavery.  In its investigation, Amnesty interviewed laborers, companies and government officials.  This story made worldwide headlines as Qatar has taken center stage recently as it prepares for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.  Amnesty should have gone further and expand its investigation beyond Qatar.  These poor labor practices are not unique to Qatar, all neighboring GCC* countries are guilty of these same practices.

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Middle East high tech startups take off

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Source:  Smithsonian.com

The Middle East has been a hotspot for tech start-ups lately.  This growing trend has been overshadowed by all the bad news coming out of the region since 2011.  Don’t expect any competition to Silicon Valley any time soon, but entrepreneurship is catching on in the Middle East in a big way.  Political troubles are only adding more fuel to the trend.

 

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Gulf countries to ban visas for gays using medical test to ‘detect’ homosexuality

Dubai Airport Immigration

 

It’s no secret that Gulf countries ban homosexuality and have been known to give jail time for those caught in ‘homosexual’ acts.  Now, however, they are going a step further and will soon ban visas for homosexuals and transgender individuals based on a medical test to ‘detect’ them.  This story will surely go down as one of those ‘what were they thinking?!’ stories.

 

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Oman uses solar technology to extract oil

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Photo: Glass Point Solar

For the first time in the Middle East solar technology is being used to extract oil.  Forget about emissions and greenhouses gasses, the main purpose for this is to get more net energy.  Traditionally, fossil fuels use fossil fuels in its production, hence, leaving less fuel to sell on the market.  This is net energy.  As we mentioned in our earlier post here, the trend has been a decline in net energy over the past two decades.  This has been the leading cause of higher oil prices.  It is also the main reason for launch of the ‘shale revolution,’ which ironically will only accelerate the drop in net energy as shale is energy intensive.

 

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