The deal struck by Opec countries on 30 November to cut oil output marked the first silver lining to the dark cloud of the slump in oil prices that has cast long shadows over the Gulf states’ economies since mid-2014.

The sharp contraction in state oil revenues – MEES calculations show that 2016 Opec oil export revenues were less than half 2014 levels and down 16.5% on 2015 – led cash-strapped governments to post record-high budget deficits as they grappled with a sudden reversal in fortunes. (CONTINUED - 1813 WORDS)