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February 18, 2014
Substantial changes in global economic weights over the past decades, in particular the rise of China and India, combined with major shifts on the energy supply side – the US shale revolution – have increasingly shifted the Gulf countries’ economic focus towards the Asian continent. Asia is now the GCC’s most important trade partner, both in terms of its hydrocarbon exports as well as imports of machinery, manufactured goods and food. The growing trade ties have also been accompanied by intensified bilateral investment relations. The observed shift promises to give the GCC countries better access to rapidly growing Asian retail markets, not only in energy but also other sectors such as telecommunications and Islamic finance. This should help the GCC in its ambition to diversify its economies. Migrant workers from Asia contribute significantly to economic prosperity and development in the Gulf monarchies, although the socio-economic implications stemming from the rapidly growing expatriate communities in the region will pose some challenges. [more]