This year was an exceptional one for everyone, everywhere, but perhaps even more so in the Middle East, where the economic slowdown induced by the pandemic was amplified by the drastic drop in oil prices and production.
As a result, regional GDP contracted by 3.8% in 2020, reports the World Bank in its April update, adding that the estimated accumulated cost of the pandemic in terms of GDP losses to the region’s economies by the end of 2021 will amount to $227 billion.
To try and weather the storm, governments set up stimulus packages and borrowed massively to sustain health care, housing and social welfare. As is often the case in times of crisis, structural imbalances were pointed out as major impediments to economic recovery, and decision-makers pulled the reform agenda back from their priority lists.
Overall, banks showed resilience. There were no major crashes; and although mergers and acquisitions might pick up again in the aftermath of the pandemic, it should be...read more...