Afshin Molavi

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks in St. Petersburg, Russia on June 2. (Mikhail Metzel/TASS News Agency Pool Photo via AP)

As 2017 comes to a close, the major events of the year will dominate the year-end retrospectives: President Trump’s tumultuous first year in office, European elections from the Netherlands to France to Germany, the dramatic rise of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the body blows dealt to ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the on-again off-again trade tensions with China, the shadow of Russia in U.S. politics, the United Kingdom’s tortuous Brexit negotiations and the North Korea nuclear challenge, among others.

However, the events that make headlines are not always the most consequential stories. Often, hidden beyond the headlines of the day, the tectonic plates are shifting imperceptibly, quietly — these deserve our close attention.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 2013. (Mian Khursheed/Reuters)

Shortly after Egypt’s 2011 uprising ended with the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, prominent Egyptian investor Ahmed Heikal said: “If we get things right, we could be Turkey in 10 years. If we get them wrong, we could be Pakistan in 18 months”.

Everyone understood the subtext: Turkey was the model; Pakistan was the train wreck. After all, at that time Turkey had come off a decade of high growth, doubled its gross domestic product over the previous decade, tripled its per capita income and was still seen as an emerging-market darling. It even lent its first initial to the latest and newest acronym by Goldman Sachs’ Jim O’Neill (he of BRICS fame) — Turkey was the “T” in MINT: Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey.…  Seguir leyendo »

When Chinese President Hu Jintao visited the oil giant Saudi Aramco last year, he didn't need a translator. Plenty of Chinese-speaking Saudis were on hand. A few years earlier, Saudi Aramco had sent dozens of employees to study in Beijing. After all, China, not the United States, represents the future growth for Saudi oil exports.

Meanwhile, the Saudis are sponsoring students to study in India, China, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea. Three of those countries -- India, China and Malaysia -- were among King Abdullah's first four foreign visits after he ascended the throne in 2005.

The Saudi students represent one small part of the growing trade and business corridor between the Middle East and Asia.…  Seguir leyendo »