Arab Digest editor William Law welcomes back Andreas Krieg of the Defence Studies Department, King’s College London and their conversation focusses on the battle that liberal democracy now finds itself engaged in as its MENA partners play the neutral card while quietly backing their ideological ally Putin in his war in Ukraine. It is an existential struggle, one encumbered with a stark hypocrisy.
Summary: as the Egyptian president drives the country ever deeper into a massive debt swamp, he is capitalising on Saudi and Emirati fears of another revolution the keep the Gulf money flowing in.
Summary: attention-grabbing headlines notwithstanding, the UAE’s move to a corporate tax is unlikely to alter the Gulf state’s lucrative role as a tax haven while personal income tax still looks a long way off.
In this the 100th Arab Digest podcast editor William Law is in conversation with Aslı Aydıntaşbaş a journalist and a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. Their focus is on the remarkable volte-face of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the Middle East. An economic crisis and collapsing popular support have forced him into a major rethink and in the case of Saudi Arabia a significant climbdown.
Summary: with the closing of Dubai’s world fair questions are raised about its legacy.
Arab Digest editor William Law’s guest this week is the author and MENA analyst Christopher Davidson. Their conversation focusses on how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is proving beneficial for the region’s autocratic leaders and not simply because the price of hydrocarbons has soared. Amongst other windfalls Russia’s oligarchs are finding new homes in the Gulf and bringing their wealth with them.
Summary: the 21 March devaluation of the Egyptian pound provided some relief but the debt burden that the Sisi government is building is unsustainable and leaves the country’s economy and its people vulnerable to external shocks.
Summary: Gulf monarchies’ refusal to side with the US and Europe against Russia is not about Russia. It is about a transactional approach to protecting national interests and avoiding the costs of strategic alignment.
Summary: despite concerns that crypto currencies may violate Islamic jurisprudence and conceal criminal activities, several MENA countries are surging forward in the race to establish pre-eminence in a rapidly emerging financial sector with the potential for staggering profits.
Summary: before the Russians invaded Ukraine, food insecurity was already an issue for many MENA countries but as of 24 February a bad situation got a whole lot worse.