Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Riots for Investment | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A strange phenomenon has occurred that may be the only one of its kind. Such an occurrence is worthy of study by the decision makers of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council). The United Arab Emirate firm, Danah Gas, offered some of its shares for public investment to citizens of the GCC countries. Thousands rushed with their savings to invest.

Thousands of Saudis spent the night on the streets of the Arab Emirates to take part and flights were fully booked to the country. In Bahrain, thousands flooded the streets to the extent that police had to intervene and a few people were injured due to the sheer number of keen investors. In Kuwait, the security services also had to intervene when citizens heard that they could apply for investment at one of the local banks. A Kuwaiti newspaper published photos of police attempts to calm the public, informing them that the 500 applications were designated to certain customers of the bank.

The phenomenon indicates a strong investment orientation valued and encouraged by society but neglected by governments. Why can the countries of the GCC not conduct a privatization program in which it sells the large economic firms owned and mismanaged by the state? Why can the countries not allow their citizens to own companies in a way that would preserve their savings especially considering the citizens of the GCC countries are well known for their consumptive habits and their race to live luxuriously? Such a step would improve the revenue of these citizens, providing them with an additional source of income.

The nationals of Gulf countries show a strong desire to invest financially, yet the governments are privatizing slowly. This drives them to risk investing shares and real estate. Undoubtedly, here is an opportunity for the Gulf governments to divest itself of the management of a number of economic firms by selling them to society and creating an environment of free economy at the same time.

As long as there is a desire among the people to invest their money, there is no excuse for governments. One can even argue that the people are more aware than the governments that lead them despite our mutual hatred for instability, rioting and brutality against state security services.