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50 Amazing MENA Stats

With four dictators ousted, the after shocks have reverberated throughout the region in 2011 and will no doubt be felt in 2012.
Zawya | 26.12.2011
The year 2011 has been extraordinary not just for the tectonic shift in the region's political structures, but also the extraordinary pressures and opportunities faced by many regional economies.

With four dictators ousted - including one dead - many others were shaken to the core - the after shocks have reverberated throughout the region in 2011 and will no doubt be felt in 2012.

We identify 50 amazing statistics that highlight the remarkable year:

1. Arab Spring Price Tag USD56-Billion: The Arab Spring not only cost at least four dictators their jobs but also USD56-billlion in lost GDP for the worst affected countries, according to a study by Geopolicity, a consulting firm. For the tragic human toll, see point 50.

2. Gulf Spending At USD150-Billion: Gulf states pledged $150-billion in response to the regional unrest, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch estimates. The figure makes up nearly 5% of the six countries' GDP for the year and constitutes around 57% of this year's combined spending.

3. MENA Oil Importers GDP Fall 0.4%: Major oil importing economies in the region will collectively contract by 0.4% in 2011. In sharp contrast, the oil exporters will rise 6.5% this year, according to Institute of International Finance.

4. Egypt SE Down 43%: Egypt was the third worst performing markets among major, liquid markets this year, having fallen 43% by December 20. Only Greece and Cyprus markets had done worse by Dec 20.

5. Egypt FDI Outflows USD65Mn: Foreign direct investment in Egypt suffered a striking reversal, to a USD65 million outflow in the first half of this year from a USD4.2 billion inflow in the first half of 2010.

6. Iran Rakes In USD100-Billion: Iran will generate $100-billion from its oil exports this year, according to IHS Global Insight.

7. Crude Prices At 150-year High: Average oil prices this year are expected to be at their highest level in their 150-year history. Research shows the annual average price of Brent crude so far this year is well above its previous high of about $97 in 2008. IHS CERA expects Brent to average about $111 for the year.

8. GCC Oil Output Rises By 10%: Gulf oil production has risen 9.8% this year, with Saudi Arabia main beneficiary with output up more than 12%.

9. SAR2 Trillion Saudi GDP: Saudi Arabia's GDP is expected to cross SAR 2 Trillion, according to SAMBA on the back of high oil prices and economic and social spending programme of USD130-billion.

10. USD600Bn of Saudi Net Foreign Assets: Saudi Arabia's net foreign assets are expected to shoot up to USD602-billion in 2011, compared to USD466 billion in 2010 - an incredible 30% increase in a year.

11. UAE Inflation At 1%: The UAE, which has been plagued with high inflation for years, will see inflation rise to a mere 1% this year, according to Samba.

12. USD20-Billion GCC Fund: Gulf allies pledged a USD20-billion fund to be equally shared by Bahrain and Oman as the two states grappled with domestic protests.

13. Gulf Projects At USD1.8 Trillion: Gulf projects, planned and under way stood at USD1.8 trillion, with Saudi Arabia making up almost USD650 billion. The UAE has seen projects contract 3% and are close to USD600-billion.

14. Tower That's One Mile Long: Amid all the economic gloom and regional tensions, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Al Saud announced that he is building a mile-long Kingdom tower in Riyadh. The project will cost USD1.2 billion and the overall Kingdom City will cost USD20-billion.

15. GCC Investors USD33-Billion Poorer: Gulf Markets lost USD33-billion in the first half of the year, as the Arab Spring was in full swing and the European crisis unravelled.

16. IEA Released 60 Million Barrels: The International Energy Agency released 60 million barrels of oil in strategic stocks in June to calm oil prices as the threat of Libyan, Syrian and Yemeni oil disappearing gripped oil markets.

17. 1.6 Mn Oil Off the Market: Speaking of Libyan oil, the civil war in Libya led to the complete shut down of its oil production of 1.6 million barrels per day. Since then, the Libyan National Oil Corporation says that production had risen to 840,000 b/d.

18. Syrian Economy Contracts 2%: The International Monetary Fund expects Syrian economy to contract by 2% this year, as civil war looms in the country.

19. Ben Ali Sentenced, Fined EUR 50 Mn: The ousted Tunisian president Zine El Abideen Ben Ali and his wife were sentenced to 35 years in prison in absentia and fined EUR50 million by a Tunisian court after the leader fled with his family on January 14 - triggering a region-wide Arab Spring. The Saudi Government has refused to extradite the exiled leader.

20. Egypt's Hotel Occupancy Down 15%: Egypt's tourism sector was one of the biggest victims of the Arab Spring. The sector which contributes 13.5% of Egypt's GDP and employs four million, was down 24% in the third quarter alone, compared to the same period last year. Hotel occupancy, which stood at an average of 90% during the heydays was lower by around 15% in key tourist spots, according to media reports.

21. USD200 Billion Useless For Gaddafi: The Los Angeles Times, quoting unnamed senior Libyan officials, claimed that Gaddafi died as the richest man in the world - a staggering USD200-billion, which is in addition to the USD170-billion seized by Western Governments.

22. 8th Cabinet For Kuwait: Just as the year was coming to close, Kuwait's political logjam ended with the government being dissolved by the Emir. The country has seen now seen its 8th cabinet since 2006.

23. Qatar Grows At 21.5%: Qatar is expected to be the fastest-growing economy in the region in 2011, driven by about a 30% increase in LNG production.

24. Nearly USD800 Billion For The Gulf: Higher oil prices and production levels will lift the budget revenues from the Gulf's hydrocarbon exports from USD554 billion in 2010 to USD793 billion in 2011, according to the Institute of International Finance.

25. Nearly USD2-Trillion GCC Foreign Assets: Gross foreign assets of the GCC are projected to rise to about USD1.9 trillion (against foreign liabilities of USD0.4 trillion), according to the IIF estimates.

26. 78-Year-Young Saudi Leader: The death of 82-year-old Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saudi, brought into sharp focus Saudi Arabia's succession issues at a time when the region was looking up to the Kingdom as a rock of stability. While the 87-year-old King Abdullah was quick to promote the 78-year-old Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud as the Crown Prince, it has highlighted the future of Saudi leadership and that of the Al Saud dynasty.

27. USD3.8 Billion Dubai Debt: Nearly USD4 billion of Dubai debt is maturing next year, according to ratings agency Moody's. The rating agency also believes that Dubai's likely direct exposure to liabilities is reduced to USD12.7 billion. In total Moody's say USD101.5 billion of debt linked to the Dubai government and its state-owned non-financial corporations.

28. USD900-Billion For OPEC: Opec countries will rake in $900-billion the year, as oil demand kept key suppliers like Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iraq and Kuwait busy.

29. MENA Airline Profit Forecast Fall USD400Mn: The International Air Transport Association, or IATA, cut its forecast for Middle East airlines' profit this year by half to USD400-million, as the Arab Spring and EU debt crisis takes its toll on the regional aviation industry.

30. Emirates Airline Profits Down 76%: Regional aviation bellwether Emirates airline said its profits fell 76% in the first half due to fuel costs and foreign exchange issues. Meanwhile, Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan says the airline achieved operating profit in the third quarter of the year. He expects the Abu Dhabi carrier to breakeven in the current fiscal year.

31. Air Arabia Faces Turbulence With 26% Drop: Low-cost carrier Air Arabia also said its third quarter profits fell 26% due to challenging market conditions.

32. Kuwait Housing Loans Up 87%: The Savings and Credit Bank says the number of approved housing loans rose 40% year-on-year and value of approved loans KD12.8 Mn as of October-2011, rose a whopping 87%.

33. 44,000 Millionaires in Saudi Arabia: There were 44,000 millionaires in Saudi Arabia, 40,000 in the UAE and 31,000 in Kuwait and Egypt each this year, according to a Credit Suisse report.

34. Tunisia's unemployed 600,000: Tunisia, the epicentre of Arab Spring, has 600,000 unemployed out of 3.5 million work force - a 17.1% unemployment rate. This would be the biggest challenge for the recently elected Ennahad party who won a majority in the 218-seat parliament.

35. Four out of Five Like the New Moroccan PM: More than 82% of Moroccans say they have confidence in newly appointed Islamist Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane's ability to run government, according to a local independent poll. The PM's party - the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party, has won 199 of the 295 seats in parliament.

36. Egypt's Islamist win 65% of Votes in First Phase: Muslim Brotherhood's Justice and Freedom party and the Salafist Nour Party won 65% of the seats in the first phase of the elections in Egypt. Liberals only managed to secure 29.3% of votes. There is still some way to go before the fate of all the 498 seats are decided, as the elections are held in instalments.

37. Six Islamists Stripped of Nationality: The UAE, which escaped the full effects of Arab Spring, stripped six people of UAE nationalities 'for committing acts posing threat to the State's security and safety'. Earlier, five Emirati bloggers were pardoned by the UAE President after being jailed for taking part in an Internet campaign.

38. Dubai At 2-Million: Dubai's population hit 2-million in December, according to the Dubai Statistics Centre, a 5% rise over 2010.

39. USD5 Billion for Jordan & Morocco: The Gulf states created a USD5 billion fund for GCC hopefuls Jordan and Morocco in December. Both states have applied to join the six-nation economic bloc.

40. 98.3% Sudanese Vote For independence: South Sudanese voted 98.3% in favour of independence from North Sudan. The South provides 75% of Sudan's 450,000 barrels per day production. Undeterred, the North expects to post a 2% growth in GDP this year.

41. Oman Turns Around USD500Mn Fiscal Deficit: Oman remained undeterred in a tough year which saw rare protests in the country and posted a USD2.15-billion fiscal surplus in the first ten months of the year. The country had posted a USD510-million deficit last year.

42. 4,510 Syrians In Lebanon: Lebanon has proved to be a haven for many Syrians fleeing the troubles in the country. According to reports, more than 4,500 Syrians were registered by the UN High Commissioner for Refugee by December 17.

43. Syrian Public Spending Down 25%: International sanctions and domestic unrest has left the Syrian economy in a state of paralysis. To manage the sputtering economy, the government ordered a 25% cut in all public spending immediately including "fuel, maintenance, bonuses, and transport expenses".

44. 3.5 Million MENA Housing Units: Lack of housing has been a key bear bug for the region's citizens in 2011, and an issue of much resentment. Jones Lang La Salle has estimated the measure of the housing problem to be a shortage of 3.5 million of affordable dwellings. Egypt (1.5 million), Iraq (1 million), Morocco (600,000) and Saudi Arabia (400,000) suffer from the biggest shortfalls, according to the real estate consultancy.

45. USD1.27Bn Abu Dhabi Museums On Hold: Abu Dhabi, not ever short on funds, took the prudent step of stalling its plan to build three museums for the combined value of USD1.27-billion. The Sheikh Zayed National Museum, Louvre Abu Dhabi and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum, which were to be built on the Saadiyat Island, were put on hold as part of a larger rationalisation effort by the Abu Dhabi authorities.

46. Qatar 22nd Least Corrupt Nation: Qatar emerged as the least corrupt nation in the region, and the 22nd least corrupt in the world, according to the latest Transparency International report on Corruption. UAE (28th globally), was the second least corrupt in the region. Meanwhile, Sudan, Iraq and Libya were the most corrupt in the region and among the worst offenders in the world.

47. Lebanon Tourism Down 24%: Total number of tourists to Lebanon fell 24.4% during the first ten months of 2011 to 1.4 million from 1.85 million during the same period last year, as the impact of the Syrian unrest cascaded down to Lebanon. The International Monetary Fund notes that the Lebanese economy will only eke out a 1-2% growth this year, compared to the 8% annual growth between 2007-10.

48. 1 Israeli prisoner: 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas was released after five years in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. Meanwhile, Palestinian PM Mahmood Abbas pushed for a Palestinian statehood at the United Nation and scored a diplomatic victory by being fully recognised by UNESCO.

49. 16 IPOs: Only 16 MENA IPOs raised USD853 million till December 25, according Zawya IPO Monitor. It was a poor year for the markets, with many companies holding back due to regional and global unrest. Saudi Arabia, with 5 listings with a combined size offering of USD460 million led the region. Abu Dhabi saw three issuances to raise USD271 million and Casablanca SE saw four listings, raising a combined USD39 million. Last year, 26 companies raised nearly USD2.5-billion in MENA markets.

50. Thousands: More than anything else, the year will be remembered for the thousands of brave men and women who tragically lost their lives or were wounded across the region in the pursuit of democracy, dignity and a better life. The year 2011 should be dedicated to their memory and their sacrifices. They are not a statistic, but a real symbol of bravery that has brought the MENA region to a new chapter in their history.

Their courage inspired the Occupy Movement across the world and overshadowed the deaths of Moammer Gaddafi, Osama Bin Laden, Kim Jong-il - dictators and tyrants who terrorised the very people they purported to represent. 2011 was truly the year of the death of dictators and the triumph of the fabled Arab Streets.
About the author: Zawya