The Effects of Middle East Wars on the Global Economy: A Perspective for UK Finance Professionals

The Effects of Middle East Wars on the Global Economy: A Perspective for UK Finance Professionals

01 Nov 2023

This informal CPD article, ‘The Effects of Middle East Wars on the Global Economy: A Perspective for UK Finance Professionals’, was provided by GIRA - Global Institute of Regulatory Accreditation – who offer a powerful new way to learn online with every course designed according to principles of effective learning, through storytelling, discussion, visible learning, and using community support to celebrate progress.

The Middle East has been the epicentre of geopolitical unrest for several decades. Its strategic importance, primarily due to its vast oil and gas reserves, has rendered the region crucial to the global economy. This relationship has manifested itself in various ways, from oil price fluctuations to shifts in investment strategies. For finance professionals based in the UK, understanding these dynamics can provide crucial insights into global financial forecasting and risk management.

1. Oil Price Volatility

Arguably, the most immediate and evident impact of Middle Eastern conflicts on the global economy is the volatility in oil prices. The region is home to a significant portion of the world's oil reserves, including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Iran, which are among the top oil-producing countries globally.

Whenever there's instability or outright conflict in the region, the global oil supply chain is affected. Supply disruptions or even the mere perception of potential disruptions can lead to dramatic spikes in oil prices. Such a phenomenon was evident during the 1973 oil embargo and more recently, in the aftermath of the drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities in 2019.

For UK finance professionals, this volatility can have a myriad of implications:

Equity Markets: Oil and gas companies constitute a significant portion of the FTSE 100. Hence, rising oil prices can boost the stock prices of energy companies, but they may simultaneously impact other sectors adversely, especially those heavily dependent on oil, such as airlines and logistics firms.

Currency Markets: The UK, being a net oil importer, might witness a weaker pound against oil-exporting nations' currencies during times of elevated oil prices.

2. Global Trade Disruptions

Middle Eastern nations are pivotal links in global trade routes, especially for maritime trade. The Suez Canal in Egypt, for instance, is one of the world's busiest shipping lanes. Wars or tensions in the area can disrupt these critical pathways, leading to delays and added costs for businesses globally. Such incidents can reverberate in the form of increased costs for goods, impacting inflation rates and consumer purchasing power.

3. Shifts in Investment Patterns

Political instability often deters foreign direct investment (FDI). With the Middle East representing a significant market and a source of returns for many international investors, wars and conflicts can lead to a rapid shift in investment patterns. Finance professionals in the UK need to be attuned to these changes, as the pullout of investments from the Middle East could lead to redirected capital flows, potentially benefiting safer markets or those with better yield opportunities.

4. Impact on Interest Rates

The Bank of England, like other central banks, monitors global economic conditions to guide its monetary policy. Sudden inflationary pressures due to rising oil prices or global trade slowdowns influenced by Middle Eastern tensions can influence the Bank's decisions on interest rates. For instance, if inflationary pressures rise, the Bank might consider hiking interest rates to combat inflation, impacting borrowing costs for businesses and consumers alike.

Global oil supply chain is affected

5. Geo-political Alliances and Their Economic Implications

The Middle East's strategic importance has led to the formation of various geopolitical alliances. Economic sanctions against certain Middle Eastern nations, or trade deals forged in the face of shared security interests, can have a direct effect on the UK's trade and economic relations. For finance professionals, this could mean new markets opening up or existing ones becoming restrictive, necessitating a rethink of investment and trade strategies.

6. The Influence on Energy Transition and Sustainability Goals

As the global community becomes more conscious of environmental sustainability and the pressing need to combat climate change, conflicts in the Middle East can inadvertently drive the transition to alternative energy sources. While oil remains the dominant energy source, its supply vulnerabilities due to regional wars highlight the pressing need for diversification.

The UK has been at the forefront of championing renewable energy sources, and disruptions in oil supply can further catalyse this transition. For finance professionals, this offers a dual perspective:

Investment in Renewables: The shift from fossil fuels, expedited by Middle Eastern conflicts, makes the renewable sector increasingly attractive for investments. UK-based finance professionals should consider the growing prospects in wind, solar, and other alternative energy sectors.

Evolving Energy Markets: While oil remains pivotal, its dominance may wane as nations seek more stable and sustainable energy sources. This transition can lead to the emergence of new markets and trading commodities, influencing global trade dynamics.

Moreover, as companies worldwide adopt Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria, the emphasis on sourcing energy from conflict-free zones becomes paramount. The Middle Eastern unrest can push global corporations to re-evaluate their energy procurement strategies, leading to an increased demand for renewables.

7. Evolving Risk Management Strategies

For finance professionals, particularly those in risk management roles, the continuous unrest in the Middle East necessitates the development of evolving risk mitigation strategies. Beyond just the direct economic implications, there's a need to forecast the secondary and tertiary impacts of such conflicts. These could encompass areas like insurance premiums (especially for businesses with Middle Eastern operations), hedging strategies for commodities, and credit risks for businesses significantly exposed to the region.


The Middle East's complexities and its intertwined relationship with the global economy make it indispensable for UK finance professionals to be informed and agile. By understanding the potential economic repercussions of conflicts in the region, they can better anticipate market movements, devise strategies to mitigate risks, and identify opportunities that such geopolitical shifts might present.

As the global economy becomes increasingly interconnected, the ripples from any major geopolitical event in the Middle East will likely be felt worldwide. For those in the finance sector, a keen eye on the region, coupled with a holistic understanding of its implications, will be instrumental in navigating the uncertain waters of the global financial landscape.

We hope this article was helpful. For more information from GIRA Education, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively, you can go to the CPD Industry Hubs for more articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

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