D’abord, d’où vient la Crise entre le Qatar et ses Voisins? Si elle est la plus grave depuis la création du Conseil de Coopération du Golfe (CCG) en 1981, elle n’est pas la première. En 2014, Riyad, Abou Dhabi et Manama avaient retiré pendant huit mois leurs ambassadeurs du Qatar (sans rupture des relations diplomatiques et de blocus).
Les griefs entre le Qatar et notamment l’Arabie Saoudite et les Emirats Arabes Unis sont donc anciens mais le véritable catalyseur de la crise de cette semaine est la nouvelle administration américaine.
Alors qu’en 2014, les raisons de la brouille faisaient suite au printemps arabe et à la résurgence et au soutien des Frères Musulmans – parmi d’autres groupes islamistes – par le Qatar, l’Arabie saoudite et les Émirats arabes unis ont vu ces groupes et ce mouvement comme une menace fondamentale envers leurs existences. par exemple, le coup d’État soutenu par l’Arabie saoudite et les EAU en Egypte en 2013 était censé remettre les mouvemennts des Frères Musulmans et le Qatar à leur place, ce qui a été le cas dans une large mesure. Doha a cependant continué à abriter la Confrérie sur son sol, comme le dirigeant du Hamas, ce qui reste un obstacle dans les relations avec d’autres membres du Conseil de Coopération du Golfe, dont l’Arabie saoudite et aux Émirats arabes unis.
Doha avait aussi soutenu des groupes entre 2011 et 2013 notamment dans ces « guerres civiles du Golfe » par procuration. En Libye, les « Brigades de défense de Benghazi » ont été liées au Qatar tandis qu’en Syrie, Doha a soutenu des groupes militants rivaux de ceux soutenus par l’Arabie Saoudite.
Pourquoi cette crise éclate maintenant?
Les experts ont avancé plusieurs raisons. Une explication est celle du renforcement de la relation entre Israël, l’Arabie saoudite et les Émirats arabes unis et leur volonté en commun de couper le Qatar du Hamas. De même, les relations de Doha avec Téhéran inquiètent Riyad et Abu Dhabi notamment en raison de deux appels téléphoniques récents entre l’Emir Tamim Al-Thani et le Président Hassan Rouhani.
Le veritable vecteur de la crise fut cependant l’attitude de la nouvelle administration américaine. Donald Trump et son équipe ont envoyé le message que Washington sera un allié beaucoup plus ferme que la précédente présidence américaine dans la région. Du point de vue de Riyad et Abu Dhabi, la nouvelle administration américaine leur a donné l’autorisation d’agir fortement contre leur ennuyeux voisin, le Qatar. Il s’agit donc d’isoler l’Iran mais aussi de faire quelque chose sur le front dérangeant des liens entre certains pays du Golfe, dont des Saoudiens et des Koweïtiens à des organisations extrémistes telles que Al-Qaïda et l’Etat islamique (voir à ce propos le livre le Christian Chesnot et Georges Malbrunot, “Nos très chers émirs”). Ceci inclut aussi des citoyens qatariens et des pressions existantes aux Etats-Unis, comme au Congrès, pour que des actions soient prises. Cela pourrait aller jusqu’au déménagement des installations militaires du Qatar, incluant actuellement le CENTCOM et une base aérienne majeure.
Dans ce contexte, la charge contre le Qatar est un moyen de lâcher du lest en pointant du doigt vers un coupable “idéal”.
Lundi 5 juin, le Qatar recevait Youssef al-Qaradawi. Que cela signifie-t-il?
Nous pouvons certainement voir cette rencontre à deux niveaux. Tout d’abord, elle illustre la volonté du Qatar de ne pas se laisser dicter son comportement par d’autres Etats, fussent-ils les Etats-Unis ou des régimes voisins du Conseil de Coopération du Golfe. Le Qatar a en effet toujours suivi une politique étrangère indépendante et se démarque par sa volonté de parler à tous les acteurs régionaux, quels qu’ils soient (en quelque sorte sa « marque de fabrique »). La rencontre avec Youssef al-Qaradawi peut également être vue comme un entretien qui a pour but de voir comment tactiquement répondre à cette mise au ban du Qatar sur la scène régionale et les suites donner à la relation avec les Frères Musulmans.
Est-ce qu’on peut s’attendre à une rupture des liens entre le Qatar et les Frères Musulmans ?
Pas véritablement sur le fond. Si la pression devient trop forte sur le Qatar, l’émirat prendra alors ses distances comme il l’a fait en 2014 lors du précédent incident diplomatique entre Doha, Riyad, Abou Dhabi et Manama. Ces trois pays avaient alors retiré pendant huit mois leurs ambassadeurs du Qatar mais sans rupture des relations diplomatique et à l’instauration d’un blocus contre Doha. Le Qatar avait à ce moment réduit sa relation avec la confrérie mais sans toutefois revenir sur l’essentiel de la relation stratégique entre les Frères Musulmans et l’émirat. L’incident actuel est bien le plus grave en revanche mais l’intensité de la rupture des liens entre le Qatar et les Frères Musulmans dépendra certainement de la position des Etats-Unis dans les semaines suivantes et de la volonté de l’administration Trump de mettre la pression sur le Qatar – notamment afin d’isoler l’Iran – en s’appuyant sur Ryad et Abou-Dhabi.
Dans l’optique d’une telle hypothétique rupture, le prix à payer serait certainement plus élevé pour les mouvements issus de la confrérie, que le Qatar a soutenu financièrement – comme le Hamas – ou bien médiatiquement, notamment avec sa chaine télévisée Al-Jazzera. Cela dit sur le Qatar s’engage dans un bras de fer avec les membres du Conseil de Coopération du Golfe, dont l’Arabie Saoudite, les dégâts à court terme peuvent être rapidement importants. Sa seule frontière terrestre, dont l’émirat dépend pour son approvisionnement en nourriture – importée majoritairement – est fermée, et les conséquences économiques peuvent être majeures (par exemple pour Qatar Airways) pour Doha.
Une remise en question de la relation forte entre le Qatar et les Frères Musulmans ne changerait pas trop la politique étrangère du Qatar dans la région finalement puisque Doha avait déjà revu à la baisse ses ambitions régionales afin de se concentrer sur une politique traditionnelle de médiations comme cela a été le cas en Syrie avec l’accord dit « des quatre villes ». En Libye le Qatar a cessé ses livraisons d’armes et soutient le processus de réunification patronné par l’ONU.
Shopping generally in the Middle East in 2016 statistics showed despite all predictions, an unabated upward trend and is now being taken fairly seriously by the countries of the GCCs leadership in their drive towards diversification of their respective economies. In the shopping infrastructure and profusely omnipresent throughout the numerous malls and most exclusive Shopping Centers in the GCC are the top notch locally franchised brands of imported luxury range of clothing, jewelry, shoes, etc. mainly from Europe.
Dubai, for instance has over the years become the ultimate champion city in the range and variety spread of facilities starting with its airport Duty Free area and culminating with its planned Expo 2020.
Meantime, more retail space is being provided in Dubai as well as throughout the GCCs like these shown here below as the newest 9 malls that were developed and / or completed last year. These are listed according to their size.
Mall of the World, Dubai,
To be fully completed before 2020
Nakheel Mall, Dubai
To be completed this year
Mall of Saudi, Riyadh,
To be completed in 2022
Al Diriyah Festival City Mall, Riyadh
Completion date not known to date.
Mall of Qatar, Doha
Already completed in 2016 and open to the public
Doha Festival City Mall, Doha
Completed and open to the public in 2016
Mall of Oman, Muscat
To be completed in 2020
City Center of Ishbiliyah, Riyadh
To be completed in 2018
The Pointe Mall, Dubai ,
Completed in 2016
An article of TradeArabia of 4 days ago, gives a good account on the latest in the domain and is rpublished here below.
London may have recently been named as the world capital for luxury store openings in 2016, but when it comes to a place that is vying to be the ultimate destination for luxury shopping tourism, the Middle East is set to take this crown.
Despite cities such as Paris, London and New York, the UAE has established itself as luxury shopping paradise with more than 50 shopping mega malls, regular shopping festivals, and leading designer goods, available tax-free.
And thanks to the latest tourism figures, with Dubai alone pulling in 14.9 million visitors in 2016 and Dubai International Airport still being the world’s busiest airport, with expectations of traffic at over 89 million in 2017, this surge of travellers in the region is cementing its appeal as a luxury shopping haven.
And other destinations are also rising up the ranks. In Abu Dhabi – the capital of the UAE – guest stays were up by 8 per cent in 2016, with over 4.4 million tourists clocking up a staggering 12 million guest nights, with the UK ranking number one in terms of the amount of tourists visiting from Europe. This increase in foreign tourists represents a new record for the capital of the UAE.
In addition to a long list of luxury brands and a wide variety of retail choices, the UAE’s shopping centre’s have also been globally recognised for their distinctive amenities such as one-of-a-kind ski slopes and their proximity to the iconic Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. This also includes Yas Mall, which has been built on an island, and is home to the Yas Marina Circuit which sees record numbers of international visitors attend for the Formula One every year.
And when it comes to retailers, it seems the market is also booming. The UAE, is perceived as a key long-term entry market for companies, with many entering the market or expanding their stores in the region, resulting in more intensified competition on the international global shopping stage.
With an expertise spanning six decades, one of the leading player’s in the world of beauty, fashion and gifts, The Chalhoub Group, is helping to lead this retail evolution for luxury shopping tourism globally. Its specialty department store, TRYANO in Yas Mall, bears testament to this.
With over 20,000-sq-ft of retail space and a collection of over 250 coveted international and local brands, shoppers visiting the store, which runs across three levels, experience a ‘Sculpture Garden’, a deconstructed ‘Greenhouse’ and the ‘Fountain of Youth’, an interactive digital fountain that comes to life in streams of dancing LED lights that glitter and pulse to echo visitors’ movements
We have written on numerous occasions on Qatar’s policy of qatarisation (Ref. 15 years of Qatarisation), here is DohaNews produced article on Qatar peculiar situation of its minority autochthonous population. We could safely say that it is about the same situation in all countries of the GCC.
Qatar’s population is continuing to grow, but the number of Qatari nationals remains fairly static, at around 10 percent of the country’s residents, according to some estimates.
However, it used to be as high as 42 percent, according to Priya D’Souza.
The former editor of BQ Magazine was born in Qatar, and her family has lived in the country since the 1950s.
However, Qatari nationality is passed down almost exclusively through the father’s bloodline, and expats who are born in Qatar are not usually granted citizenship.
D’Souza recently left Qatar for good, and is now writing a series of posts for website calloftravel.com to “shed some clarity on the Qatar community (both local and migrant) to aid those looking to make Qatar home for the next few years.”
She also charts the changing relationships between the local population and expats. Her family for example still has close friendships with Qatari families they have known for almost 70 years.
But it is difficult to call a country home and not a hold passport to that nation, she added. All families who have lived here for generations “have at some point hoped for Qatari citizenship.”
Now, changes appear to be afoot among this population, with many long-term resident families considering, “for the first time in decades” leaving Qatar.
She didn’t elaborate why, but added:
“While Qatar will always hold a special place in my heart as the country I was born in, the Qatar of the last decade and what it is turning into, is the reason I had very little choice but to leave,” she said.
D’Souza’s future posts will cover topics such as how safe the country is; whether Qatari society is hypocritical; migrant worker rights and treatment; working in Qatar and censorship; and Qatarization.
In a report titled SUSTAINABLE CITIES INDEX 2016 : Putting people at the heart of city sustainability, Arcadis, a global design and consultancy firm released this report on the most sustainable cities in the world. The PDF formatted report of Arcadis said it ranked 100 global cities across three sectors of sustainability — “People, planet and profit.”
In the same report however, Doha, Qatar is found as ‘not’ or the least environmentally sustainable form amongst the GCC countries. In effect, Doha came in at 72nd out of 100 cities in this year’s Sustainable Cities Index, compiled for Arcadis by UK-based economic consultancy Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). Last year, the country’s capital ranked 41st out of 50 cities in the same index.
Generally, the Middle East did not fare well on the global sustainability scale, and of the eight cities in the Middle East included in this year’s study, Doha fared the worst in the region because of its ‘green factors’ while ranking in the middle in terms of regional sustainability.
Dubai took the top spot and came in 52nd position globally, followed by its Emirati neighbour Abu Dhabi. Refer to the table below for the Middle East cities ranking in Arcadis’s report.
City and country
Middle East ranking
Abu Dhabi, UAE
Kuwait City, Kuwait
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Worldwide, European cities walked away with taking up 13 of the top 15 placements. The Swiss city of Zurich came in first place and Stockholm third, though Singapore came in second.
In the ‘planet’ category, cities were judged across seven factors such as Environmental risks, Energy, Green space, Air pollution, Greenhouse gas emissions, Waste management, Drinking water and sanitation.
But as put in Business Insider UK Arcadis in their report’s “profit sub-index”, ranked all the cities in the world in order of wealth and economic sustainability. “The 19 most wealthy and economically healthy cities in the world” have amongst them Dubai at the 4th position.
Spear’s magazine and leading wealth consultancy company WealthInsight have revealed on June 14th, 2016, the cities with the Highest Percentage of Millionaires per Capita (per head of the population) in an article written by Codelia Mantsebo . We reproduce this article as a good and educational read of the weekend.
Cities with the most millionaires per capita . . .
Our research shows that sovereign city-state Monaco still has the highest percentage of millionaires with almost one in three inhabitants classed as a millionaire.
Tax havens Zurich and Geneva follow in second and third place. New York is named as the top North American city and fourth overall with almost one in twenty one people named as millionaires.
London moved up one in the ranking to fifth overall with one in twenty nine inhabitants being named as millionaires.
Commenting on the findings, Oliver Williams of WealthInsight said “Monaco continues to add more millionaires per head of its population than anywhere else: it has seen its density go up by 6% since the last ranking two years ago. Such is the escalating exclusivity of the Principality that only the ultra-wealthy are able to lay hands on Monegasque passports.
“London’s financial strength has also seen it rise through the rankings; it now boasts more millionaires per head than Frankfurt despite being the second most populous city on the list after New York”.
“It’s interesting to note that, although seven European cities make up the top 10, less than half of them are in the European Union. Zurich and Geneva, however, have both seen a fall in their millionaire densities as outside pressures exert themselves on the Swiss private banking industry.”
In Asia, the article survey commissioned by the Elite Traveler luxury media group has found that both Hong Kong and Singapore have the highest percentage of high net worth individuals in Asia, with almost three in every one hundred inhabitants classed as a millionaire.
The research by Spear’s Magazine and leading wealth consultancy company WealthInsight revealed that just over two in every 100 people classed as millionaires in Doha.
Its millionaire density of 2.2% put it well ahead of Dubai (1.2%), which ranked 11th, and Abu Dhabi (1.1%), which was ranked 13th in the list.
The only other Gulf city to make the top 20 in Asia and the Middle East was Riyadh, with a millionaire density of 0.4%, the report showed.
“Doha has the highest density of millionaires in the Middle East, largely driven by oil and gas revenues. However, as wealth in the Gulf dries up alongside oil prices, entrepreneurial cities such as Tel Aviv will take their places.”
With the price of oil dropping, 2 years ago, restrictive budgeting generally was expected to end up with large numbers of professional expats exiting Qatar in a hurry. The ensuing despair of knowing that oil price course would most probably not budge up is biting into many businesses in Qatar, company CEOs have told Reuters.
Qatar’s population recently blown to around 2.5 million people, with mostly Asian workers, is going through traumatic layoffs starting with the cream of salaried professionals. Companies have been laying off thousands of well-paid expatriates of mainly non-technical background; the World Cup 2022 helping to maintain as it were, the momentum of construction pace steady.
A down to earth article written by Tom Finn and published by Reuters on July 18, 2016 is well worth reading if only by intellectual curiosity.
How an “Exodus of professional workers is reshaping Qatar” . . .
Five years ago Samer Habib left the United Arab Emirates and moved to Qatar where he opened a restaurant that turned a profit serving Lebanese salads and sandwiches to expats.
In June, the business folded.
The European lawyers and Indian clerks who for years frequented Habib’s restaurant have been leaving the country in recent months, he said, many laid off in sweeping cuts to public and private companies hastened by a fall in energy prices.
“Customers keep coming to me and saying: ‘Samer, this is my last sandwich’,” he said. “They say it’s been a tough year.” Like other Gulf states heavily dependent on energy sales, Qatar – the world’s top liquefied natural gas exporter – has sought to cushion the impact of lower oil prices on its finances by raising utility bills and slashing spending.
Many of the foreign workers who make up the bulk of the 2.5 million-strong population have been affected. Companies in Qatar that rely on government contracts are feeling the pinch and are freezing salaries and terminating contracts of expatriate engineers, lawyers and consultants from countries including Britain, France, the United States and India.
This trend risks increasingly polarising the country between wealthy Qataris at the top and Asian blue-collar workers at the bottom. Businesses that rely on the custom of professional foreign workers with their tax-free salaries and disposable income, including restaurants like Habib’s, private schools, car dealerships and shopping malls, could struggle to survive.
In 2015 state-run Qatar Petroleum let more than 1,000 foreign workers go as part of restructuring, according to the energy minister. Al-Jazeera, the pan-Arab satellite news network owned by Qatar, closed its American channel in April and has laid off 500 staff, most of them in Doha. Vodafone’s Qatar subsidiary said in May it would cut about 10 percent of its workforce.
It is unclear exactly how many of Qatar’s 1.6 million foreign workers are departing, and the country’s population is still growing due to an influx of Asian workers building highways and stadiums for the 2022 soccer World Cup. But industry sources, including three company CEOs, told Reuters that job cuts were widespread and tens of thousands of white-collar workers had been laid off in the last two years.
A Facebook group set up in March for departing expatriates in Qatar selling cars and second-hand furniture has over 50,000 members and is updated hourly. The small country is astonishingly wealthy – one of the richest in the world per capita – but faces a $12.8 billion budget deficit this year, its first in over a decade. The government in December halved its forecasts for economic growth and last month said it expects to run a deficit for at least three years as low natural gas and oil prices strain revenues.
The layoffs could further weigh on the economy. Hotels, malls and private schools – projects conceived when oil prices were high and Qatar’s winning of the 2022 World Cup was driving infrastructure and population growth – now compete for the custom of a dwindling middle class of professionals.
Mohammed al-Emadi, a real estate tycoon who has developed a $1 billion luxury shopping centre in Doha that will open in September, said the mall’s cafés and fashion boutiques will have no trouble drawing customers. But he concedes were it not for the project’s eye-catching design – a marble structure modelled on a 19th century Italian galleria with shops tailored to super-rich Qataris, whose jobs have survived the austerity – his business might be in trouble.
“Ten to 12 malls are currently being built in Qatar and soon they will open,” Emadi said, adding that some mall owners were having to drop rent prices to attract tenants. “This is not a good sign. In the current economy … the market can’t handle any more malls.”
Two other malls are set to open later this year – the Doha Festival City and the Mall of Qatar, a building equivalent in size to 50 football pitches with over 500 stores. Both projects have delayed their opening dates. Hotel owners, too, have concerns about an oversupply with government spending cuts affecting business tourism and leading to a 19 percent decline in hotel room prices in dollar terms this year, according to Ernst and Young.
Qatari politicians dismiss as scaremongering the notion of a capital flight. They say new facilities, including Doha’s Hamad International Airport, US university campuses, and world-class swimming pools and stadiums, will continue to lure residents and visitors to the country, regardless of oil prices.
BUILDING WILL DRIVE DEMAND
We are thinking long term, beyond 2022 (World Cup), and looking at areas of growth like regional tourism from the Gulf. Of course there is still room for malls and hotels … these things are encouraging people to visit and work here,” said a Qatari government official.
Some businesses, though, spy an opportunity in the exodus of workers. Second-hand car dealers in Doha run a lucrative trade buying used sports cars from foreigners departing in a hurry, which are then shipped and sold in Asian markets. Bentleys, Porsche GTs, SL63 Mercedes … pretty much every day we see one brought in,” said a Western businessman who has run a car dealership in the city for over a decade.