by Asim Ali, Shatha Al-Aswad
Competitive branding between Bahrain, Qatar, and UAE has been made apparent on different levels; from oil, finance, real estate, and automotive to entertainment. Vision 2030 for the three neighbors gives a sense of duplicating strategies. As they aim to diversify their economies and create jobs, they have also duplicated efforts and reinvented the wheel.
Does the gulf area really need three or four financial hubs? If it does then theoretically – ceteris paribus – for all of them to function and thrive, there should be a high level of specialization to avoid cannibalization.
Gulf State Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs) are pouring capital into ideas made true to save future generations of their citizens. For all to succeed, there is a pressing need to coordinate efforts.
This paper will examine – through a case study of two Persian Gulf-based SWFs with financial hubs, Bahrain (Bahrain Financial Harbor), Qatar (Qatar Financial Centre) and, where appropriate, a contrast with Dubai (Dubai International Financial Centre) – whether there is a faddishness and competitive branding behind the rationale for the establishment ‘financial hubs’ in the Gulf states and whether the success of such initiatives is constrained by political, economic and institutional peculiarities of individual states.