Panel 3c Gulf Economies in Transition

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Chair: Dr Christian Steiner, Research Associate, University of Frankfurt

Paper 1: Dubai’s Crisis Revisited – Dubai after the Crisis?
Dr Christian Steiner, Assistant Professor, Department of Human Geography, University of Frankfurt

The recent global financial and economic crisis has cut Dubai to the quick. After decades of impressive economic growth rates, financial markets dried up, causing Dubai’s real estate bubble to burst and a deep recession in its economy. Numerous real estate developers and investment companies, including some of the major government-owned companies belonging to Dubai Holding, got into difficulties and had problems repaying their debt. Even though it was possible to avert the immediate danger through the help of Abu Dhabi, the crisis has left a profound impact on the emirate. The paper investigates from a political economy perspective whether it has been possible to overcome and effectively manage the crisis in Dubai in the last two years. Furthermore, the paper will provide an answer to the question how the crisis will presumably impact on the long-term future economic development and the political economy of the emirate.

Paper 2: Economic Integration from a Country Perspective: Oman in the Gulf Cooperation Council
Dr Steffen Wippel, Senior Researcher, Zentrum Moderner Orient

Academic publications on the GCC still focus on security cooperation and political conflicts in the area. As the region’s economic integration steadily advanced, it became another topic of research, but the more profound study of real progress in trade liberalisation or in establishing a common market is still insufficient. The paper intends to analyse Oman’s position within the GCC. It relates to transdisciplinary conceptual debates on regionalisation, such as the “New Regionalism Approach”, that integrate the multiple facets of the phenomenon. The paper will study Oman’s economic relations with other Gulf countries, concentrating on regional trade and it will analyse political and public positions in Oman toward integration in the Gulf area and look for the motives behind them. >> download the paper

Paper 3: From Oil to Tourism. An Overview of Economic Diversification in the GCC
Professor Bryan Loughrey, University of Hertfordshire (co-authored with Heba Aziz, Edith M Szivas and Lubna Al Mazroei)

The GCC countries have embarked on the diversification of their economies to include tourism as an economic sector that promises long-term economic benefits. This paper will examine the economic potential of tourism sector development in the GCC countries in the context of their drive for economic diversification, green economy transition and employment generation. The paper will analyse the tourism indicators in the GCC countries, commenting on whether tourism is an effective development path that will realise economic diversification and create employment opportunities, given the economic, political and socio-cultural reality of the region. It will also discuss the benefits from the economic unity that the GCC offers for the realisation of the development plans and objectives.

Paper 4: The GCC’s ‘Demographic Imbalance’:  Perceptions, Realities and Policy Options
Dr Ingo Forstenlechner, Adviser, Federal Demographic Council, Abu Dhabi and Associate Professor, United Arab Emirates University

In light of the GCC’s ‘national’ demographic pyramid profile, a considerable amount of literature has focused on examining the idiosyncrasies of its labor markets: the ‘emerging strains’ and growing levels of ‘structural unemployment’ resultant from an evident over-dependence on an expatriate workforce and the government job provision mechanism that lays at the heart of the social contract. This paper suggests that a new strand of the literature will coalesce around the theme of the region’s “demographic imbalance” – contextually, the ratio of nationals to non-nationals. No other region in the world is so directly and ‘continually’ reliant upon such high ratios of ‘temporary’ non-national labor. Whilst this relationship has been mutually beneficial it is currently also giving rise to an array of concerns. This paper evaluates a series of policy options, including labor market reform, managing the needed migrants more efficiently and equitably, investing more in, and more gainfully employing, national human capital; building a stronger, more confident national identity, changing key perceptions about economics, and ultimately deciding over what stake to give non-nationals in society. >> download the presentation

These are abridged versions of the abstracts submitted by  the presenters.

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