The MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region has long been accustomed to receiving economic support from countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council. Still, as geopolitical tensions in the region ease, the days of this financial backstop may now be over.
Instead of handouts and grants, there is a move toward other means of more mutual assistance, with investment from sovereign wealth funds designed to unlock development rather than prop up economies.
The progress made by this new approach is on display in Jordan, which is on a path to success, while it has left Egypt stumbling. Whatever else, the more sophisticated financial relationship between the GCC countries and the MENA nations is taking hold.
A recent report into the trend covered the latest developments and was discussed on the sidelines of the 78th United Nations General Assembly in New York.
A report entitled The Case for Co-operation Beyond De-escalation was compiled by Think Research and Advisory, which also organised the MENA Forum, where it was circulated. It explained how cooperation between MENA nations and GCC states can work in politics, the economy, energy and even geography.
ناقش "عامر بساط" @abisat من @BlackRock تعزيز المرونة الاقتصادية لمنطقة الشرق الأوسط وشمال إفريقيا في البلدان ذات الدخل المرتفع والمنخفض، وأكدّ على الدور القيادي لدول مجلس التعاون الخليجي في ازدهار المنطقة.#MENAForum2023 #SRMGThink
للاطلاع على تقرير المنتدى:... pic.twitter.com/OynGwkzcsF— srmg Think (@srmgthink) September 22, 2023
It outlined the evolution of policy toward investment and sustainable growth and away from unconditional financial assistance via diplomatic and strategic relations, with the overall aim “to secure and grow (recipients’) wealth.”
The report also identified a prevailing trend to get out from under the umbrella of the West – especially the United States – and to deepen economic, developmental, and political relations with non-Western countries — not least China, India, and Russia.
The latest phase of that process peaked in August with an invitation, extended to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt to join the BRICS club of nations. It is currently made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
But the development of these closer ties is not new.
The UAE has long been aiming to be a strategic logistics hub in its own right. It has become a cornerstone of China’s Belt and Road initiative for international infrastructure investment. That brought Chinese investment in the UAE’s ports, airports, and transport networks. Now, about 60% of China’s trade with the region passes through the UAE.