Geographically and strategically central, here we profile the outlook for the energy-rich MENA region, which is something of a litmus test for the pace of the wider global energy transition.
1. Economic force despite headwinds
The MENA region remains a major energy force, producing around 24% of the world’s total crude oil, and Qatar alone has the world’s third largest gas reserves.
These fundamentals should be acknowledged at what has been a challenging time for regional economies; the World Bank forecasts growth fell to 1.9% in 2023, down from 6% in 2022. It notes oil production cuts amid a slowdown in global economic activity, which is depressing oil prices, will weigh adversely on MENA energy exporters.
Nonetheless there is a sense that MENA is looking upwards rather than downwards – by the end of 2023, eight of 15 economies returned to their pre-pandemic level of real GDP per capita – and growth this year is expected to accelerate to 3.5% (3.6% in GCC).
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