The last bilateral contact between the Emir of Qatar Tamim Bin Hamad and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman last Friday is the best example. After some recent indications of a detente between the two Arab leaders, a crucial phone-call on Friday destroyed hopes of improving relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The two rival nations could be headed towards a real showdown.
After being known for decades as one of the most strictest countries in the world with regards to entertainment, music, movies or entertainment parks, the Kingdom has embarked on a totally new road. In the coming years, Saudi Arabia is pumping $2.7 billion into new entertainment projects. As part of the Saudi Vision 2030, the government wants its people to have more fun, while staying in the country. To support the latter, Saudi’s sovereign wealth fund Public Investment Fund (PIF) will set up a company to invest in the sector and do deals with strategic partners. As one of its main and first investments it will include an entertainment complex set to launch by 2019.
International investments in high-tech and fintech startups worldwide are booming. Main focus of investors (PE or institutional) is however still largely centered on the historical boomtowns in the US, Europe and Asia. India, Israel and Russia are a very good second league. The world however seems to be changing. The amount of startups in the MENA region (including Israel) is growing at an exponential rate, but still dwarfed by US and European figures. Still, after a start-up goldrush in Israel, followed by the usual Arab suspects, such as Dubai, Cairo and Tunis, others are getting up to challenge these leads.