While 36 months may not seem like an extended period of time, it can seem like an eternity in the volatile world of politics. Arguably, this is especially relevant in Middle Eastern economies such as Saudi Arabia, where geopolitical conflicts and economic limitations have historically caused significant volatility.
Given that a little over three years have passed since the death of Saudi monarch King Abdullah, however, it’s fair to surmise that Saudi Arabia has maintained an impressive sense of stability during this time. Much of this has to do with the King’s unique legacy, of course, which has laid the foundations for the nations recent growth and diversification.
In this article, we’ll assess the legacy of King Abdullah, and ask how this continues to impact on the financial markets.
Who Was King Abdullah, and What was his Legacy?
While King Abdullah officially ascended to the throne in 2005, he had effectively been running the Saudi kingdom since his half-brother King Fahd’s stroke a decade earlier. It was during these two decades in charge that the King imparted his ambitious and ultimately indelible legacy, as he advocated social and economic reforms that remain pertinent to this day.
Perhaps the biggest aspect of King Abdullah’s legacy was his commitment to modernising and reforming cultural attitudes in the region, as this has now translated into significant gains for female residents. While his desire to drive widespread reform was impacted by deep-seated cultural opposition throughout his tenure, he pledged bold reforms and never wavered from his stance.
In 2013, for example, he became the first Saudi monarch to appoint women to top government positions, while appointing 30 women to the 150-member Shura Council. Not only this, but his successor and half-brother Salman has worked tirelessly to honour his predecessors intentions, enabling females to vote and run as candidates in municipal elections. More recently, he ordered an official form in the royal decree that requested driving licenses to be issued to women, with a growing number now working as taxi drivers nationwide.
From an economic perspective, King Abdullah’s biggest achievement was to drive the diversification of the nation’s revenue streams, as he looked to plan for a time when Saudi Arabia could no longer rely almost exclusively on oil. In hindsight, this has proven to be a master stroke, and one that has blazed a trail for other Middle Eastern economies to follow.
As far back as 2005, King Abdullah signed Saudi Arabia up to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), integrating the country into the global economy arguably for the very first time. This also opened up the nation to foreign investment, which laying the foundations for increased spending on economic infrastructure and widespread diversification. As a result, Saudi Arabia is now profiting from lucrative industry sectors such as media, tourism and financial services, while minimising its reliance on the production and sale of oil.
This enabled Saudi Arabia to cope when an excess of global supply curbed oil prices just after King Abdullah’s death in 2015, helping to stabilise the economy and sustain the nation’s appeal across a host of financial marketplaces. More specifically,
The Last Word – King Abdullah’s Legacy and the Financial Marketplace
It’s interesting to note that when King Abdullah finally passed in January 2015 after a period of ill-health, oil prices actually rose by 2% while market volatility was kept to a minimum. This was a testament to the stability and progressive reform that the late monarch had brought to the region, as such a development would usually trigger seismic shocks throughout the financial market.
The market reaction was also muted by widespread expectation of a smooth leadership transition, and the hope that King Abdullah’s successor would continue his predecessor’s attempts to inspire social, economic and political reform. As a result, financial market trading saw no significant dips in volume, while investors were encouraged not to seek flight or identify brand new opportunities.
In the longer-term, King Abdullah’s legacy has certainly stood the initial test of time, paving the way for further reform and sustained diversification of the economy. This is helping to establish Saudi Arabia (and the Middle East as a whole) as a seminal economic force, and one that is capable of enjoying continued growth and potentially capitalising on volatility in the western world.
ISLAMABAD: State Minister for Interior Talal Chaudhary on Tuesday apprised the Senate that banning the issuance of licenses for automatic weapons was the government’s policy and it would be continued.
Winding up discussion on a motion regarding the Government’s policy of banning the issuance of licenses for automatic weapons, the minister said it was a right step to purge the country of illegal weapons.
He said Pakistan was only country in the world where ordinary people were given licenses of automatic weapons. The Prime Minister in his maiden speech also wished to ban issuing of licenses for automatic weapons, he said.
He said the issue was also discussed thrice in the Cabinet meetings. It was also decided to change the automatic weapons with semi automatic and the government was also ready to pay for the automatic weapons.
The minister said courts have granted stay to only 104 individuals for keeping automatic licenses weapons. However, the court has not suspended the Cabinet decision to ban issuing licenses for automatic weapons.
The minister said the Standing Committee on Interior has also recommended for not imposing ban on issuance of licenses for automatic weapons but it could not be honored.
Mohamed Abdul Ghaffar
KUWAIT CITY: Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Wednesday collectively pledged $3 billion for the reconstruction of post-Daesh Iraq.
Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said his country would contribute $1 billion worth of loans and investments to help rebuild infrastructure that was damaged or destroyed during Iraq’s three-year war with the terrorist group.
Speaking at a Kuwait-hosted conference of international donors, Al Thani affirmed his country’s commitment to supporting Iraq reconstruction efforts.
“Qatar’s reconstruction efforts will focus mainly on infrastructure projects,” he said.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, for his part, said his country would allocate $1.5 billion for reconstruction initiatives in Iraq.
Speaking before conference attendees, al-Jubeir said the recent establishment of a Saudi-Iraqi “coordination council” was part of ongoing efforts by both countries to enhance bilateral relations.
Anwar Gargash, UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, who also spoke at the conference, said his country would contribute $500 million to planned reconstruction efforts.
Some 2,300 companies — from 70 countries — are taking part in the conference, which kicked off Monday.
After its three-year fight against Daesh, which overran much of the country in 2014, Iraq now hopes to secure $100 billion worth of investment to rebuild infrastructure damaged or destroyed during the conflict.
Iraq invaded oil-rich Kuwait in 1990 under former President Saddam Hussein before being forced to withdraw by a U.S.-led military coalition.
Hussein was later toppled following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. (AA)
SHIBERGHAN: Internally displaced families in northern Jawzjan province are complaining they lack food and firewood and fear a large number of their children and women may die of cold if the government does not pay attention.
Ghulam Hussain, who along with his family fled Darzab district and migrated to Shiberghan, the provincial capital, due to clashes between Taliban and Daesh, said they are in a bad situation.
“I live with my family in a tent without having a smallest life facility, the cold weather is seriously harassing us,” he said.
He said a number of children and women could die of their exposure to extreme weather conditions if they were ignored.
Bibi Meraj, a displaced woman from Qush Tepa district, said that they lacked any resources and lived in a tent amid cold weather. She said no one had helped them.
“We have been in Shiberghan for the past three months, but no one has so far helped us, we ask the government to provide us cooking dishes, winter clothes and food items to help get rid of current problems,” she said.
“If the government has no ability to help the displaced families, then it should at least ensure security in their own areas to facilitate the return of displaced people to their homes”, Meraj added.
Halima Sadaf, a provincial council member, told Pajhwok Afghan News that around 2,000 displaced families from Darzab and Qush Tepa districts were in bad situation in Shiberghan and their needs and demands had not been responded so far.
She claimed to have shared the problems of displaced people with relevant organs. “Some women and children of these families are ill and they have no resources for treatment.”
“I don’t know for what our officials have kept blankets and food items in warehouses. The displaced families are in a bad situation and in need of these items,” she added.
However, Faizullah Sadat, provincial natural disasters management authority head, said 600 families had received food items and clothes and the rest would also receive the same in near future.
He said that around 4,000 families form Sar-i-Pul and Faryab provinces and Qush Tepa and Darzab districts of Jawzjan had been displaced to Shiberghan city. Most or around 2,000 of these families are from Qush Tepa and Darzab districts.
“We are trying to distribute rice, oil, flour and warm clothes to all the displaced families so they don’t face the shortage of food and clothes in winter,” he said.
Many families have been displaced as a result of clashes between Afghan forces and insurgents and infighting between Taliban and Daesh militants in Sar-i-Pul, Jawzjan and Faryab provinces this year.
KARACHI: Pakistan’s only World Boxing Council (WBC) champion Muhammad Waseem believes that the National Boxing Championship in the country is nothing more than a joke and an example of nepotism.
Waseem himself has suffered greatly over the years by the lack of professionalism and politics among the Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF) that had forced him to quit amateur boxing altogether in 2015.
This year’s 36th National Boxing Championship took place in Lahore, but the highlight of the event was not the talent at display but the fact that the boxers were unsatisfied and protested after their matches. The event saw a pause of 20 minutes because of the protest. Army won the gold meda, while Wapda and Pakistan Air Force took the second and third positions respectively, but Waseem believes that the decisions made at the championship are usually one-sided.
“I can talk about these things today because I’m not a part of PBF in anyway,” Waseem told The Express Tribune. “The players are not chosen on merit, neither are those referee judges fair. In fact it is the federation’s secretary and the president that hold the most leverage. It is always about their favourite players and departments.” Waseem reminisced that he had to hold the same protests against the same nepotism in 2007 and 2010 at the national championships when he knew he had won the bouts in 52kg events but still the referee judges chose his opponents as winners.
“I have faced this first hand,” said Waseem. “It is a double trouble for the person who dares to speak. For example I suffered because not only was the decision given in my bouts was wrong, I was also chastised for speaking up against this. So these boxers who protested will also bear the brunt.” Waseem feels that his dream of representing the country at the Olympics was partly shattered because the PBF chose boxer Amir Khan’s younger brother Haroon Khan in the 52kg event for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, overlooking him.
“They asked me to lose weight and fight in 49 kg just to accommodate Haroon, yes that happened. I had won the World Combat Games gold medal. I thought I was in great form for the next Olympics, but then PBF did what they did, and the same thing continues now, the real talent would never make it to the top,” said Wasem.
He pointed out that the selection for the national squad would also be biased when it comes to the upcoming Commonwealth Games.
“If they are getting the boxers from the national championships that won because of favouritism, how are they going to win medals for the country at the Commonwealth Games? It is like they are all going for a free ride,” said Waseem.
KARACHI: Imran Khan predicted on Saturday that the punishment of money laundering will be given to Nawaz Sharif next month, reinforcing that the ex-PM carried out corrupt practices through the offshore accounts.
Addressing to a media talk in Karachi, the PTI Chairman said, “Nawaz Sharif will be punished for money laundering. He should also be punished for the fraudulent Qatari letter.”
He opined that the PML-N president is using all possible means to avoid the verdict against him from the accountability courts where corruption references are under proceeding. “He (Nawaz Sharif) wants to derail the system to avoid the punishment,” he added.
Imran Khan also stated that Nawaz Sharif is trying to escape with the money collected through corrupt means, claiming that even the “dummy” premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi knows about the corruption.
Moreover, he made it clear that he has no alliance with the PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, explaining that there is no difference between Zardari and Nawaz.
On the extra-judicial killing in Karachi, he expressed grief and announced to visit the residence of Naqeeb Mehsud. He demanded of police reforms in all provinces and gave the example of police in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which he claimed is depoliticised now.
He lashed out at the leaders for not doing so despite mandate. He also mentioned that there are allegations of extra-judicial killing on Punjab CM Shehbaz Sharif.
SOUL (Monitoring Desk): North Korea will send 22 athletes to the Winter Games in the neighbouring South next month and compete in three sports and five disciplines, the International Olympic Committee said on Saturday. The IOC said in a statement that the North and South had agreed to march under a single flag at the opening ceremony and would field a united team in the women’s ice hockey, confirming earlier reports.
TAXILA: Former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has said on Saturday that he cannot sit pretending to be a mute and that he speaks the truth whether he is conversing with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Nawaz Sharif or his political opponents.
Nisar Ali Khan addressed a rally in Taxila and criticised Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) by saying that those who raised slogans in support of former dictator Pervez Musharraf and Pakistan People’s Party leader late Benazir Bhutto, are now supporting PTI.
Nisar said that he does not believe in the slogans raised by PPP.
Former federal minister said that he would not abandon his voters whether he wins the election or not. Nisar claimed to have served the people while his political opponents were busy delivering speeches.
The ex-minister said that those who are habitual of changing political fronts are used to raising slogans of PPP, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q), PTI and other parties.
ISLAMABAD: The government submitted its report in the Supreme Court on Thursday regarding the Faizabad sit-in, after the apex court took suo motu notice of the matter on Tuesday.
The Defence and Interior Ministries presented their response in the court before the two-member bench, as the sit-in entered in its 18th consecutive day which is staged by a religious group.
While hearing the case, Justice Qazi Faez Isa expressed his disappointment at the displeasing situation in the capital of the country and government doing nothing and millions of people of Rawalpindi and Islamabad were suffering as it disrupted seriously daily life in the area.
Justice Isa said that when the writ of the state is end then the decisions are made on the streets and adding that without taking any names that the sit-in is all about one man who wants to get fame by using other people for it.
,” Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf told the court the government didn’t want the bloodshed in the country and are trying to avoid such situation and trying our level best to end the Dharna by included religious scholars in the dialogue process with the protestors.
He added that around 1800 people are participating in the sit-in, and the government has filed 18 cases against 169 people.
The court directed ISI to re-submit its report on the sit-in at its hearing next Thursday.