On my most recent trip, I visited Baku, Azerbaijan. The political and economic heart of this oil-wealthy nation, Baku had seen a large exodus of expatriates starting in 2014 due to falling oil prices. These departures and an overall weak economy brought rents down significantly. Over the last two years, rents have started to recover, and the sources I met with indicated moderate price increases in certain areas. While oil prices have rebounded slightly, the primary driver of rising rents is a decrease in the supply of long-term rentals. ]
During my recent survey, I visited the Avenue Mall in Manama, a seafront mall stretching for 1.5 km. It reminded me of the Avenue Mall in Kuwait because it provides an outdoor feeling with large glass windows and skylights, while protecting shoppers from the burning sun. As anyone that’s traveled to Bahrain knows, the country is a popular destination for residents of Saudi Arabia seeking recreation and malls are one of the top attractions. Numerous expatriates and Saudi Arabians visit Bahrain for the shopping, movies, restaurants, waterparks, and other activities.
The GCC and collective tax reforms: Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member countries first agreed to collective tax reforms in 2016, including directives to implement a VAT of 5%, as well as excise taxes, also known as selective taxes, and commonly referred to as “sin taxes.”
Over twenty countries have published double-digit annual inflation in the categories of alcohol and/or tobacco over the past three months.
I surveyed three cities in the country from mid-January to early February of this year and I found citizen and expat opinions of the reforms to be mixed.
Countries that rely heavily on oil resources to drive prosperity have long understood the challenge of government funding amid volatile global commodity prices.
The GCC isn’t alone in searching for new ways to raise revenue and curb behavior—similar excise taxes have been enacted worldwide
A move to Saudi Arabia has long been considered challenging for many female expatriates, deterred by the Kingdom’s hard line restriction of women’s rights.