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Few observers could have failed to notice the number of businesses currently expanding into the Middle East, as international investors seek to capitalise on what has been dubbed the ‘Gulf goldmine’. The economies of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – the six nations comprising the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – have undergone rapid growth and expansion. Indeed, recent reports show that (notwithstanding the recent fall) Saudi Arabia’s stock market has risen almost eight-fold during the past five years and until recently was estimated to be worth more than $1trn (£572bn). Likewise, earlier this month the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, confirmed Dubai’s budget surplus of $1.58bn (£900m) for the 2006 fiscal year. Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Qatar have also seen huge economic growth, with soaring oil revenues funding investment.

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