(CNN) – Fifteen months ago Tahrir Square was the site of a tsunami that swept President Hosni Mubarak and his entire government from office.
In the most populous country in the Middle East and North Africa, only the military apparatus has been left intact from the Mubarak era. The world is getting very familiar with the name and face of Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, head of Egypt's ruling military council.
This week marks a historic opportunity to break from that past. There are a dozen candidates vying for the top job, a third of them labelled as front runners.
In geo-political circles, Egypt is described as a pivotal power, an emerging market economy and potential political power that can sway the outcome in the region.
(Image: Getty Images)
(CNN) – It was a storybook finish at the world’s richest horse race. After a six-year drought on his home turf (actually a synthetic surface called Tapeta), Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum watched with a royal smile that could light up the Meydan Grandstand at the racing venue he built on the outskirts of his emirate Dubai.
Monterosso, ridden by the French jockey he personally picked, Mickael Barzalona, cruised to victory in the $10 million Dubai World Cup. In a CNN interview right off the winner’s circle at Meydan, the Ruler of Dubai and Prime Minister and Vice President of the United Arab Emirates told me, “My heart was in my throat at that time and I didn’t know what to say but thank God we won it and everybody has won - all of the country - I’m double happy now!” FULL POST
Abu Dhabi (CNN) – He was president for two terms, prime minister for one and is now in place for another stint in the top job. The question investors are asking of Vladimir Putin as he moves back to into the presidency is: What will be different the second time around?
Russian oligarchs and top policy makers within the country refer to this era as “Putin 2.0,” which has taken on a new sense of urgency since the protests from a young middle class after the parliamentary vote in December.
Viktor Vekselberg is president of Renova, a major shareholder in the TNK-BP joint venture, and a driving force in the country’s “Skolkovo” innovation project outside Moscow. In a recent interview with CNN, he said: “We don’t have time, three, five or 10 years for a slow restructuring.”
Davos, Switzerland (CNN) - Four years ago, the halls of Davos buzzed with excitement nine short months before the near-collapse of the Western banking system. Oil was above $100 a barrel, while sovereign funds from China to the Middle East started to flex their muscles on the global stage of the World Economic Forum.
There is now a bitter aftertaste that lingers after the recent upheaval of that financial crisis. The debt burdens in Europe and the U.S. still need to be reckoned with, giving those from the emerging markets the space to bask in the limelight here at this now fabled mountain retreat.
The central theme at the gathering of power brokers is transformation. That could simply be defined as the rise of the developing world – which is clearly transforming business as we know it today.
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (CNN) – For the past three years I have taken part in what is known within a group of 50 business and policy makers here in Riyadh as the “sand and snow expedition.” It starts from the capital of Saudi Arabia at the Global Competitiveness Forum and finishes at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
From an editorial standpoint you can, in one week, capture the views of the world’s largest oil producer and the latest on the Arab Spring before moving on to an arena with some 2,600 chief executives and political leaders trying to share the stage perched high among the Swiss Alps.
The visit in Riyadh included an exclusive interview with the wealthiest businessman in the Middle East, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal (pictured), chairman of Kingdom Holdings. From the 67th floor of the tower that bears the name of his group, Prince Alwaleed delved into some of the most sensitive issues in the region, from the Arab Spring to sanctions on Iran.
In the halls of the GCF, executives expressed deep concerns about potential conflict with Iran and the impact such a move would have. As he does with some of his investments, Prince Alwaleed took a contrarian view.
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia (CNN) – With 260 billion barrels of oil, Saudi Arabia has more than double the proven reserves of Iran, its nearest competitor within OPEC.
In an interview in Dhahran, in the Kingdom’s Eastern Provence, the veteran energy minister Ali Al Naimi said the country is ready step back in as the swing oil producer if sanctions undermine Iran’s exports of 2.2 million barrels a day.
“We have the capacity to produce 12.5 (million barrels a day) and we are idling now between 9.4 and 9.8. So we have substantial spare capacity,” he said.
Abu Dhabi (CNN) – Iran is using what is normally a quiet holiday lull in the West to make the most of its military manoeuvres in the Strait of Hormuz, which have concluded after 10 days. The navy test-fired two types of long-range missiles, following the launch of medium-range devices on New Year’s Day.
From afar, it would appear that Iran is throwing its trump cards on the table very early in this standoff with the United States, the European Union and the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar).
Abu Dhabi (CNN) – This time last year a match was lit by a fruit vendor in Tunis, which triggered uprisings throughout the region. Countries big, Egypt, and small, Tunisia, have witnessed wholesale change and the toppling of governments.
But at the one year mark, those on the ground here in the region are asking a simple question: Are we better off today than we were before the Arab Spring? People talk of a “The New Middle East” with a mixture of both optimism and despair, from Bahrain to Yemen.
Clearly the voice of the people has been heard and resonates on the streets of Cairo, for example, but unemployment is at a decade long high in Egypt, tourism is down officially by a quarter from a year ago and the Cairo Stock Exchange is the world’s worst performer of 2011.
“This country is literally and figuratively burning and we are approaching the threshold which it will become very hard to rebuild trust in the system,” says Mohamad Al-Ississ, a professor of economics at the American University of Cairo.
Abu Dhabi (CNN) - There is a milestone about to be set which is going largely unnoticed around the world. Oil will average more than $100 a barrel for an entire year for the first time.
Here in the Persian Gulf states, they call it three digit oil. Simply put, that is a number above $100.
Due to advancements in healthcare and people generally living longer, they say 60 years old is the new 40, meaning we are more youthful in age in the 21st century.
Does this apply to the oil market where $100 a barrel is the new $80 - not too hot, not too cold but just right for oil producing countries and consuming nations alike?
(CNN) – With the eurozone debt crisis in full swing and a Super Committee on Capitol Hill that admitted at least temporary defeat, one could be caught flat-footed and miss a milestone anniversary.
A decade ago, November 30 to be precise, the long serving international economist Jim O’Neill in a paper outlined his research on the power of the “Big Four” of the emerging world, Brazil, Russia, India and China. In his piece, “Building Better Global Economic BRICs,” O’Neill marked a turning point in economic thinking that future growth will be driven by these large emerging markets.
O’Neill boldly stated back then that the BRIC economies will surpass the G7 economies of the industrialized world by 2027 and most of his peers have lined up behind that strategy in agreement. In 2008, most strategists believe the western led financial crisis marked the quick transformation from the G7 to the G20 context, no less than an official recognition of O’Neill’s work.
The BRIC countries sit on $4.5 trillion of foreign reserves; add in the Middle East sovereign funds and their reserves and those tally up to nearly $6 trillion. That could explain the quick embrace by leaders during the heat of the crisis.
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