Monday, November 12, 2018

EU countries approve arms sales to Saudi, UAE worth 55 times aid to Yemen

Europe's arms sector is unaccountable and highly influential in the corridors of power, with $86.7bn in approved sales to the Gulf since 2015.

European governments and the European Union publicly wring their hands about the "human tragedy" and need for "life-saving assistance" in war-torn Yemen.
Yet while the Saudi-led coalition has bombed the region’s poorest country over the past three years, the EU and European countries approved the sale of more than $86.7bn in arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to figures compiled by Middle East Eye.
The value of the licences which the countries issued in 2015 and 2016 - the only years for which data is available - amount to more than 55 times what the EU and European countries have donated to the UN’s chronically underfunded Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan.

To read the article go to Middle East Eye

Monday, July 02, 2018

The Economics of the Hajj

The annual pilgrimage of Muslims to Mecca is a massive logistical challenge for Saudi Arabia, which has been making significant investment in infrastructure

This article was first published in the July 2018 International edition of Accounting and Business magazine.
The hajj pilgrimage to Mecca is one of the five pillars of Islam, a religious duty every Muslim is expected to make once in their lifetime if they can afford it and are healthy enough. But with a worldwide Muslim population of 1.7 billion and the hajj taking place over just five days every year, the event is a massive logistical challenge for the Saudi Arabian government and the tour operators, hospitality service providers and retailers who make it happen.

 To read more go to:

Thursday, June 07, 2018

How Jordan brought its economic woes on itself

Middle East Eye

Mismanagement and corruption - not IMF-backed measures, refugees or drops in foreign aid - have caused the kingdom's problems, say analysts

As protests continue in Jordan, the kingdom has put the blame for the economy’s lacklustre performance and controversial tax reforms on IMF-backed austerity measures and a drop in foreign aid.
But in reality, say analysts, the economy has been badly managed for decades, while significant amounts of government spending remain undisclosed.
A quick look at headline figures explains what sparked protests over the imposition of a new income tax and price hikes and has sustained them over a week despite the resignation of the government and the prime minister.
According to department of statistics data released this week, unemployment has hit a 25-year high at 18.4 percent, rising to 24.1 percent among university graduates – and these estimates are conservative.

On top of that, inflation has doubled since 2006, raising the cost of everyday goods. At the end of May, the Economist Intelligence Unit declared Amman the most expensive city in the Arab world and 28th worldwide.

To read more:

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Nuclear deal: Iran faces the most powerful organisation you’ve never heard of

Middle East Eye

Before Western powers imposed sanctions on Iran in 2011, the US Treasury Department went on a roadshow in Europe and Dubai to persuade banks to stop transactions with the country.
But since the nuclear agreement in 2015 that eased the sanctions, the US Treasury hasn’t had to arm-twist. Instead, private European and Gulf banks have voluntarily refused Iran-related transactions, leaving a mere handful of European banks willing to deal with the country.

To read more go to:

Interview on Al Jazeera Arabic, documentary on Saudi Arabia - ما خفي أعظم – بين تطرٌفين

I'm on (dubbed in Arabic) at:


Monday, January 08, 2018

Made in Egypt? The quiet garment scheme making Israel millions

Middle East Eye 

CAIRO – Activists are targeting Disney and other brands over links to a contentious scheme that allows Egyptian manufacturers to export garments to the US tax-free so long as Israeli materials are used.
The quietly promoted programme, known as Qualifying Industrial Zones (QIZ), was enacted by the US Congress in 1996 in an effort to "normalise" relations between Israel, Egypt and Jordan, through economic cooperation.
Through QIZs, Israeli manufacturers supply at least 10.5 percent of products used in a garment. Then Egyptian factory workers in 705 QIZ-certified factories sew the final product which is exported to the US and exempted from taxes of between 5 and 40 percent, but typically at a 15 percent average.

To read more go to Middle East Eye

To read in French

Photograph by Paul Cochrane

'Factory of tomorrow’: Egypt aims to replace Far East as cheap clothing king

Middle East Eye

Egyptians earn a monthly average of between $100 and $113 in the garment sector 
(MEE/Paul Cochrane)

CAIRO - After nearly seven years in the economic doldrums, Egypt is keen to bolster its clothing exports, worth some $1.4bn a year, and employ over one million Egyptians.
Egypt - and Africa more generally - is well positioned to become the next destination for sourcing clothing: salaries in the up-and-coming manufacturing hubs of Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya are as low as $60 a month, rising to $100 in Egypt.
What is more, there are no other low-cost destinations left on the planet. Asian manufacturers are at full capacity and South America has also become too expensive to source from.
Garment workers earn on average $100 a month in India, and around $70 in Bangladesh, while the lowest in China is $208. Bangladesh, the second-largest producer, still has a certain stigma from buyers in the wake of the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster that killed 1,135 people.
That was the message at a major trade conference recently organised by the Egyptian government, export councils and the UN’s International Labour Organisation aimed at promoting Africa as a "new frontier" for garment and textile manufacturing.

 To read more go to Middle East Eye

Money Laundering Bulletin: Egypt - In Transition (Video)

20 minute video I made on Egypt's AML and CTF regime for Money Laundering Bulletin -