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Gulf Nations' Growing Influence in Africa Alters Geopolitical Landscape

Gulf nations, notably the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, intensify economic and diplomatic ties with Africa, offering hope and harboring risks.

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Mazhar Abbas
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Gulf Nations' Growing Influence in Africa Alters Geopolitical Landscape

Gulf States' Scramble for Africa: Economic Boon or Geopolitical Risk?

As Gulf nations, notably the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, ramp up their economic and diplomatic engagements across Africa, the continent finds itself at the heart of a new geopolitical dynamic. With billions of dollars pledged in investments, these Middle Eastern powerhouses are reshaping Africa's economic landscape, promising prosperity but also posing significant risks of exacerbating conflicts.

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Surge in Gulf Investments

Recent years have witnessed a dramatic increase in investment from Gulf countries into Africa, with the UAE leading the charge. According to FinOracle, the UAE's investment in Africa topped $59.4 billion between 2012 and 2022, positioning it as the continent's fourth-largest foreign direct investor. This influx of capital, aimed at infrastructure, renewable energy, and trade, underscores a deepening economic partnership between Africa and the Gulf states. Moreover, the expansion of diplomatic ties, exemplified by an increasing number of embassies and high-level summits, highlights a strategic shift towards closer relations.

Promise of Prosperity

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The burgeoning Gulf-Africa nexus holds considerable promise for African nations grappling with funding shortages. With Western aid dwindling and Chinese loans decreasing significantly, Gulf investments offer a vital lifeline for many African economies. These investments not only facilitate critical infrastructure projects but also open up new avenues for trade and economic diversification. Furthermore, the presence of over 26,000 African businesses in Dubai signals a burgeoning commercial synergy, promising to spur further economic growth and development across the continent.

Risks and Repercussions

However, the intensification of Gulf involvement in Africa is not without its perils. The geopolitical ambitions of these dynastic autocracies, often characterized by a disregard for democracy and human rights, threaten to destabilize already fragile regions. The situation in Sudan, where the UAE is accused of supporting the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in the ongoing civil conflict, serves as a stark reminder of the potential for Gulf investments to fuel violence and chaos. Such actions not only undermine peace and security but also pose a significant challenge to Western efforts to promote stability and democratic governance in Africa.

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