No part of the world has been spared the COVID-19 economic saber, but the MENA region is suffering from a double-edged sword: the pandemic and persistently low hydrocarbon prices. Despite the recession specter, many banks, both central and private, are doing what they can to minimize the damage for citizens and businesses. Confronting the challenges, they are finding new opportunities, primarily through digital means, to improve their operations and reach.
China’s Silk Road was for centuries an invaluable network of trade routes connecting Eastern and Western Eurasia. Now, in the 21st century, it has been resurrected in the form of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Despite suspicions about the motives behind the ambitious project, no one would deny the magnitude of China’s sweeping plan for infrastructure and economic development in more than 150 Eurasia countries. But can it pull it off?
Iran was for years considered an economic pariah, cut off from the rest of the world by crippling sanctions initiated by the US more than 35 years ago. The recent JCPOA has lifted many sanctions, allowing Iran to re-join the global economic community through participating in trade and attracting foreign investment.
There is much rhetoric around the opportunities provided by emerging markets. And there is plenty of discourse around the fact that banks are de-risking and retreating from such areas. The fact of the matter is that some regions of the world are riskier to operate in.