2018 (Middle East & North Africa) Corruption Perceptions Index
source: Transparency International (see attributions)
"The Corruption Perceptions Index is an index which ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and business people. It uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean. More than two-thirds of countries score below 50 on this year’s CPI, with an average score of just 43. It reveals that the continued failure of most countries to significantly control corruption is contributing to a crisis in democracy around the world. While there are exceptions, the data shows that despite some progress, most countries are failing to make serious inroads against corruption. " - excerpt from CPI website (below)
Average Scores By Region
As a region, Middle East & North Africa ranked fourth, ahead of Eastern Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa, but behind Western Europe, Asia Pacific and the Americas.
The world population data is based on the 2019 Index of Economic Freedom by the Heritage Foundation. The total world population stands at 7.42 billion people at the time of this study.
The total population of this region stands at 433 million people (or 5.8% of the world's population). Egypt is the most populous country in this region, with a population of 94.8 million people.
Iran is second with 81.4 million people. Algeria takes third with a population of 41.5 million people.
1990 - 2016 Middle East: This table depicts for the (often declining) size of forest areas from 1990 - 2016 for countries in Middle East.
Forest area (% of land area) - Forest area is defined, according to World Bank, as land under natural or planted stands of trees of at least 5 meters in situ, whether productive or not, and excludes tree stands in agricultural production systems (for example, in fruit plantations and agroforestry systems) and trees in urban parks and gardens.
Along with Asia's top sovereign wealth funds, the SWFs of Middle East manages a combined total of more than US$3 trillion in assets. Most of these sovereign wealth funds originated from oil revenues in these oil-rich countries. In recent years, as the price of an oil barrel slumped, these funds come into play, helping the governments cope with deficits in budgets and excess expenditures.
Of the top ten sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates SWFs account for five of the top ten - namely, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA - US$828 billion in assets), Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD - US$209 billion in assets), Mubadala Investment Company (MDC - US$125 billion in assets), Abu Dhabi Investment Council (ADIC - US$110 billion in assets) and the Emirates Investment Authority (EIA - US$34 billion in assets).
We continue to track the tallest and most luxurious hotels - this time, in the Middle East. Dubai continues to dominate the field with her slate of eight tallest hotels among the top ten in the Middle East.
Dubai is the largest and most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with a land area of 4,114 sq km and sees about 16 million tourists annually (targeting to hit 20 million tourists by 2020). While Dubai's hotel rooms were rated as the second most expensive in the world in 2014 (after Geneva), its average hotel occupancy held steady at a solid 86-88% rate. This certainly bodes good returns on investments for the tallest hotels of Dubai!
The Burj Khalifa of Dubai is the tallest building in the world and the Middle East at 828m. It also has the most number of floors in the world at 163 floors.
Naturally, compared to the Burj Khalifa, the Abraj Al Bait of Saudi Arabia seems to be at a distant second at 601m. Yet, we must know that the Abraj Al Bait is nevetheless the third tallest building in the world.
At third, is Marina 101 of Dubai at 425m. It is also worth noting that this landscape will soon change in the coming 2-3 years. The upcoming Jeddah Tower of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, due to complete by 2020, will reach 1,000m in height and will be the tallest building in the world and the Middle East.
This list looks at the international plug types supported by cities and countries in the Middle East.
There are currently 15 international plug types that are supported across 250 cities and countries. Each of these 15 plug types is assigned a letter by the US Department of Commerce International Trade Administration (ITA). Here are the list of cities and countries and their respective supported plug types - a useful guide for international travelers and tourists.
For travellers driving in the Middle East: Today, all Middle Eastern countries and territories practise right-hand traffic (RHT) for their roads.
Right-hand traffic (RHT) is the practice of keeping to the right side of the road, in bidirectional traffic. In RHT, vehicles keep right and the cars are left-hand drive (LHD) with the steering wheel on the left-hand side of the car.
The Middle East has 259 foreign persons or organizations in the Entity List (As of 21 May 2019)
Out of the 259 entities, 121 entities are based in the United Arab Emirates, followed by Iran with 64 inclusions and Afghanistan with 30 inclusions.
If the review policy for these foreign persons or organizations is listed as Presumption of Denial in the entity list, then any license applications are unlikely to be granted. Based on public information from the US Department of Commerce (as of 21 May 2019), there are currently 1138 foreign persons or organizations under the Entity List.
1990 - 2016 Middle East: This table depicts for the loss of forested areas for countries in the Middle East.
May 15, 2019. Come November 3, 2020, the world will learn, with bated breath, whether the 46th United States president will emerge - or not. It is barely eighteen months away from the next U.S. presidential election and already, some countries could have already begun the countdown, wishing the elections would come sooner.
Within a short span of the past four weeks, the United States has escalated the trade war with China while still engaged in retaliatory tariff tit-for-tats with Mexico, Canada and the European Union. In the same period, the United States has also increased sanctions on Iran and deployed a carrier strike group to the Gulf, provoking hostile tensions in the Middle East, while shrugging off a series of missile tests by North Korea whose nuclear deal negotiations with Trump, after two unprecedented summits, has stalled.
At eighteen months out and with rising economic and military tensions on multiple fronts, Trump's re-election campaign is exactly right on schedule. There is enough runway for him to exert his "maximum pressure" strategy to force opposing countries to quickly capitulate and comply and ratchet up early wins to build up momentum on the path to re-election. However, if these trade and military tensions drag on, then the opposing countries gain the advantage of time and earn the option of waiting for Trump's term to run out and try for a better deal with the next U.S. president.
After two unprecedented summits - one in Singapore (2018) and the other in Hanoi Vietnam (2019) - that seemed to affirm Trump's unorthodox diplomacy, the relationship between Trump and Kim in 2020 has since regressed to square one. On May 4th, 2019, North Korea resumed the test launches of its missiles - an act that broke a diplomatic pause of missile launches in more than a year.
The missiles launched were short-range ballistic missiles; the payload they carry do not threaten the U.S. mainland. However, the message they carry is potent. In breaking the diplomatic pause, Kim is sending a message that if talks do not improve, North Korea can easily resume the testing of long-range ballistic missiles. On the latest missile test, Trump tweeted that Kim "does not want to break his promise to me. Deal will happen!". This statement could signal two things: (a) a carrot - the U.S. remain committed to the nuclear deal talks ("Deal will happen") - and (b) a stick - an unspoken threat if North Korea resume its ICBM tests (Kim "does not want to break his promise to me").
However, with the 2020 U.S. Presidential Elections looming, the momentum has tipped in North Korea's favour. Trump will be under time pressure to prove that his North Korea diplomacy works. Kim could do a full-court press on the U.S. for sweeter concessions (sanctions relief without total disarmament). In the worse case, if negotiations goes south, Kim could still wait it out until the next U.S. Presidential elections to try again. After all, firstly, Kim has no term limits and secondly, the unprecedented summits that Trump has initiated now give greater operating room for the next president to sit down with Kim.
With potential contenders throwing their hats into the ring for the 2020 Republican primaries as well as U.S. Presidential Elections, the U.S.-China trade war negotiations just gained a new dimension. If the China economy can hold up amidst the trade war, then the Chinese will hold more clout at the negotiation table, given that time has more pressure on Trump than it has for Xi.
Earlier in May, the US-China trade talks concluded without a deal. Not longer after, the warning shots were fired; Trump ordered a hike in tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese products. On 13 May, China returned shots by raising retaliatory tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods. It remains to be seen whether the Trump administration will escalate this conflict by following through on the threat to put 25% tariffs on the $325 billion in the remaining un-taxed Chinese goods.
While the trade war hurts both of the world's top two largest economies, any damage to the US economy carries an extra punch for Trump's upcoming elections and Trump's brand as a masterful deal-maker. China hopes this time pressure will lead to Trump expediting a trade deal that does not require China to concede much while giving Trump the perception of a win in this war. However, if U.S. decides not to budge, China could still wait out and observe the election process and judge whether to make a concession that increases Trump's chance of a second-term or reserve the concessions for negotiations with the next President of the United States. This privilege of waiting-out, however, hinges strongly on the impact of the tariffs on the Chinese economy.
Mexico is among the United States' top three trading partners and one of its two bordering countries. In 2018, according to Census Bureau, the U.S. exported $265 billion worth of goods to Mexico and imported $346.5 billion from Mexico. Since Trump's presidency, he has been determined to make good on two of his election promises involving Mexico - restructuring of the NAFTA to reduce U.S. trade deficit and the $33 billion border wall to stamp out illegal immigration and illegal trade of drugs and weapons from Mexico.
The NAFTA was superseded through negotiations by the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) signed on 1st October 2018. Prior to the USMCA, the United States had slapped tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on alumnium from Canada, Mexico and the European Union. Mexico retaliated by slapping tariffs on $3 billion worth of American goods. At this point, the USMCA is currently stalled in the Congress and may not receive enough votes with concerns on labor, environmental and pharmaceutical provisions. Mexico and Canada are equally unwilling to ratify the USMCA unless the United States lifts its tariffs on steel and aluminium.
Trump has publicly stated that Mexico will eventually pay for the $33-billion U.S.-Mexico border wall, which Mexico has openly rejected. However, as long as the Trump administration is in charge, Mexico can expect continued hard pressure to meet Trump's demand. Looking at the presidential candidate field, Mexico can only hope the none of the upcoming presidential hopefuls make the same election promises about the Mexican border wall as Trump.