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Sunday, 31 December 2017

The key energy questions for 2018

The key energy questions for 2018:

"What are the issues that will shape the global energy market in 2018? What will be the energy mix, trade patterns and price trends? Every country is different and local factors, including politics, are important. But at the global level there are four key questions, and each of which answers is highly uncertain. The first question is whether Saudi Arabia is stable. The kingdom’s oil exports now mostly go to Asia but the volumes involved mean that any volatility will destabilise a market where speculation is rife. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is apparently in control but it is a strange and fragile sort of control that requires the imprisonment of dozens of senior businessmen including members of the royal family, the concentration of power in the hands of one individual and a huge international PR campaign to persuade the world that MbS is a modernising liberal. That is certainly not the view held in Yemen or across the Middle East. Behind the grand plans for a new $500bn city (sorry, "urban metropolis for the world") run by robots and the radical notion of allowing Saudi women to drive for the first time is a degree of old-fashioned religious fanaticism directed against the Shia communities across the region and Iran in particular. This could produce real instability over the next few months. "



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 Saudi developer Dar Al Arkan to sell a 30 per cent stake of unit in IPO  - The National

 Saudi developer Dar Al Arkan to sell a 30 per cent stake of unit in IPO  - The National:

"Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Development, the biggest publicly traded real estate developer in Saudi Arabia, has received a nod from its board for plans to sell a 30 per cent stake in its property management unit, joining a growing list of regional companies looking to raise funds through initial public offerings of their subsidiary businesses. "The company plans to file the offering application to the [ Saudi Arabia's] Capital Market Authority to obtain the approvals," Dar Al Arkan said in a statement the Tadawul stock exchange, where its shares are traded. Samba Capital & Investment Management is advising Dar Al Arkan on the deal, it said without giving a timeline of the transaction or how much it plans to raise through the share float. Dar Al Arkan Properties Company, is a wholly-owned unit and runs Dar Al Arkan's property management and leasing business. It has income producing assets worth 2.68 billion Saudi riyals (Dh2.62bn) spread across a number of cities in the kingdom."



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Adnoc Distribution IPO to spur more listings in energy sector | GulfNews.com

Adnoc Distribution IPO to spur more listings in energy sector | GulfNews.com:

"The successful listing of Adnoc Distribution on Abu Dhabi bourse is likely to encourage more energy companies from the region to go public to raise capital as low oil prices hurt their revenues, according to analysts. Adnoc Distribution, the fuel and retail arm of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) was listed on Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) on December 13 with the stock opening at Dh2.90 compared to the final IPO price of Dh2.50, a 16 per cent increase. Both local and international investors showed strong interest in the IPO (initial public offering) and the company raised Dh3.1 billion after it offered 10 per cent of its shares."



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No New Year cheer for UAE property market | Arab News

No New Year cheer for UAE property market | Arab News:

"It is that time of year when the Gulf’s plethora of real estate pundits look into their crystal balls to see what the future might hold.
Last year was a particularly difficult for the region as it contended with weak oil prices, political tensions and volatile investor sentiment. The introduction of value-added tax in Saudi Arabia and the UAE from 2018 will inject yet more short-term uncertainty into the market, some commentators have said.
However, as the global price of crude picks up, the economic growth prospects of the region’s oil-exporting countries are projected to improve in 2018."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf underperforms in 2017, has reason to expect better 2018

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf underperforms in 2017, has reason to expect better 2018:

"Middle Eastern stock markets far underperformed the rest of the world in 2017 but as the year ended, beaten-down valuations for shares and plans for higher government spending gave investors reason to expect a better 2018.

Egypt’s stock index surged 21.7 percent in 2017 as economic reforms bore fruit, but the picture in the Gulf was little short of disastrous because of geopolitical tensions, sluggish economic growth and sagging real estate prices.

Saudi Arabia’s index edged up just 0.2 percent during the year compared to a 34 percent leap for MSCI’s emerging markets index. Among other major Gulf markets, Dubai fell 4.6 percent and Qatar, hit by a boycott imposed by other Arab states, lost 18.3 percent."



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Qatar year in review: isolation casts a shadow over economic prospects for 2018 - The National

Qatar year in review: isolation casts a shadow over economic prospects for 2018 - The National:

"The diplomatic crisis in the Arabian Gulf region that has affected Qatar’s economy shows no signs of abating and any escalation in the issue between the gas-rich country and the quartet of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt means Doha will have to dig deep into its reserves to support its economy. “The economy is likely to rely increasingly on state funding for growth, reversing a funding model in the past couple of years, where non-resident [bank] deposits were the key source of funding,” the investment bank EFG-Hermes said in a research note. A forecast by BMI Research, a unit of Fitch Ratings, of an oversupply in the liquefied natural gas market next year that could force the spot prices of LNG down significantly does not bode well for the economic and fiscal prospects of Qatar. The country is the world’s biggest LNG exporter and revenues from the sale of hydrocarbons account for about 90 per cent of its income."



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Qatari lenders strained under the ongoing diplomatic row  - The National

Qatari lenders strained under the ongoing diplomatic row  - The National:

"Government deposits have extended a lifeline to Qatari banks, easing some of the damage of deposits outflow in the wake of the diplomatic row with the Arab quartet of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt.

However, any escalation of the dispute or it continuing over an extended period will increase pressure, affect asset quality and impact the profitability of the lenders.

“The longer the crisis lasts, the more it will weaken investor confidence [in the Qatari banking sector],” BMI, a unit of Fitch Ratings, said in a research note released on November 21. “In turn, this poses risks to banks’ funding and profitability – particularly at a time of structurally lower oil prices and rising interest rates.”"



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Qatar’s PPI increased 6.1% in November - The Peninsula Qatar

Qatar’s PPI increased 6.1% in November - The Peninsula Qatar:

"The Producer Price Index (PPI) for the industrial sector for November 2017 increased by 6.1 percent to 60.8 points compared to the previous month and rose by 21.4 percent (y-o-y) compared to the corresponding month of the previous year 2016. The Index data, released yesterday by the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics, consists of three components of three main sectors including mining, 72.7 percent of the general index, manufacturing, 26.8 percent, and electricity and water, 0.5 percent. The mining index showed a 6.9 percent rise compared to the previous month as a result of the increase of the prices of the group of crude oil and natural gas by 6.9 percent. The index rose by 20.8 percent compared to November 2016."



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QIIB high ratings by Moody’s, Fitch reflect Qatar’s economic strength, says Al-Shaibei

QIIB high ratings by Moody’s, Fitch reflect Qatar’s economic strength, says Al-Shaibei:

"QIIB announced that Moody’s and Fitch Ratings have affirmed its ratings at ‘A2’ and ‘A’ respectively, which reflects the bank’s strong financial position and its ability to confront challenges and market factors.
On QIIB’s ratings at ‘A2’, Moody’s said that it is based on several considerations, one of which is that the bank maintains high levels of liquidity and a strong capital base. Additionally, QIIB is one of the oldest Islamic banks in Qatar and has a strong client base, especially in the retail sector.
Fitch explained that “The affirmation of the bank’s Viability Rating (VR) and the removal of the Rating Watch Negative (RWN) reflect Fitch’s view that immediate risks from the diplomatic crisis to the bank’s overall standalone credit profile has reduced. "



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Mideast funds to boost equities positions, favor Saudi after state budget: Reuters poll

Mideast funds to boost equities positions, favor Saudi after state budget: Reuters poll:

"Middle East fund managers plan to boost their equity holdings after a very weak year in which the region underperformed emerging markets globally because of geopolitics and slow economic growth, a Reuters poll showed on Sunday.

Egypt’s stock market surged to record highs in 2017 as economic reforms took hold but Gulf Cooperation Council markets sagged, with Dubai’s index .DFMGI falling 4.6 percent and Saudi Arabia .TASI almost flat. By contrast, MSCI’s emerging markets index .MSCIEF soared 34 percent.

As a result, Middle East and North African equity funds returned just 2.5 percent on average in the year through November, compared with more than 21 percent for global emerging market equity funds, according to calculations by Citywire using data from Lipper, a Reuters company. "



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A Guide to Mideast Markets in 2018 - Bloomberg

A Guide to Mideast Markets in 2018 - Bloomberg:

"For as long as Gulf economies rely on oil, crude will be a factor in determining how investors trade regional markets. But right now, politics is king. In the past 12 months, tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran escalated, ties between Qatar and its neighbors were severed, rebels in Yemen fired rockets over Riyadh and Saudi Arabia started a crackdown on corruption that led to the arrest of high-profile businessmen and royals, including Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. Rising geopolitical risks has impacted the way Middle Eastern investors react to oil prices, making shares in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council the most negatively correlated with crude since 2014, according to a Bloomberg index of the region’s major indexes. The stock gauge fell about 3 percent so far this year even after crude prices recovered to the highest level since 2015."



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Saudi Aramco faces a momentous year as IPO deadline looms | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Saudi Aramco faces a momentous year as IPO deadline looms | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"When in October 2016, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced that the Kingdom’s national oil champion, Saudi Aramco, would go public in 2018, it seemed as though there was all the time in the world to prepare the company for a record-breaking initial public offering on global stock markets. How time flies. As 2017 progressed, the pace of preparation accelerated ahead of that deadline, but it also became apparent that there were challenges in sticking to an unbending plan for the biggest IPO in history, and that the Kingdom had other options as it looked to raise $100 billion from the sale. But amid the debate and uncertainty over the precise eventual form of the IPO, Aramco quietly stuck to its strategic plan: Diversifying away from the being a mere crude pumper to become a diversified energy conglomerate at the center of Saudi industry, as well as a global force in the energy business. That will surely continue, at an even faster pace, in 2018."



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Dubai's Emirates airline ends 2017 on a high note reaching fleet and product milestones | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Dubai's Emirates airline ends 2017 on a high note reaching fleet and product milestones | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Emirates, the world’s largest international airline, is concluding another banner year of growth and innovation, marking significant milestones across its fleet, network, and product innovation initiatives, cementing its position as a market leader and industry trendsetter. Since January 2017, Emirates has carried over 59 million passengers. The airline served over 63 million meals on its flights departing Dubai, and moved over 35 million pieces of baggage in Dubai to its network of 156 destinations. Emirates registered over 3,600 passenger flights on average per week, or over 191,000 flights in 2017, travelling more than 886 million km around the globe, which is equivalent to over 16,000 trips to Mars. Reflecting on the year, Sir Tim Clark, president Emirates Airline said: “Despite the ups and downs of 2017, Emirates delivered steady growth and we have come out stronger and even more resilient. "



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Saudi's NCB plans to raise capital with 10 billion riyal bonus share issue

Saudi's NCB plans to raise capital with 10 billion riyal bonus share issue:

"Saudi Arabia’s National Commercial Bank (NCB), the kingdom’s largest lender, said on Sunday its board had proposed increasing the bank’s capital by 10 billion riyals ($2.7 billion) through issuing bonus shares to help support growth.

In a statement to the Saudi stock market, NCB said it will increase its capital to 30 billion riyals from retained earnings, by issuing one bonus share for every two shares owned, subject to approval from shareholders and authorities.

No money is being raised from shareholders, who are getting the new shares for free, but the move is an accounting device that bolsters the bank’s equity, thus helps future lending."



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Winds of change blow through renewable energy market

Winds of change blow through renewable energy market:

"Europe’s renewable energy industry is used to breaking records for generating more power from low carbon sources. 

Yet two recent milestones stand out.

Vattenfall, the Swedish energy group, and Norway’s Statoil were among the companies that took the market by surprise before Christmas when they bid in the world’s first exclusively subsidy-free offshore wind auction, held by the Dutch government."



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Saturday, 30 December 2017

A historic opportunity for Gulf states to reset public finances | GulfNews.com

A historic opportunity for Gulf states to reset public finances | GulfNews.com:

"Next year will go down in history for making taxation on consumption an everyday fact of life in the Gulf countries ... or at least in most member states. Also, higher fees on governmental services are on the way. And more state subsidies are likely to be phased out.
Clearly, the days when GCC economies were regarded as tax-free havens and for offering subsidised goods are largely over. Increasingly, the Gulf would adopt the notion of pay your way, and those wanting state services must show a willingness to pay normal — not low or special — rates.

If any, the decline in oil prices on the back of strong supply in non-Opec countries, notably that of US shale oil, required a revisit of public finances throughout the GCC, including countries with substantial financial reserves. Entities like the IMF have long argued the need for more diversified sources of revenues to bolster state budgets on a sustainable basis."



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OPEC Wins Over Hedge Funds to Make 2017 Oil's Most Bullish Year - Bloomberg

OPEC Wins Over Hedge Funds to Make 2017 Oil's Most Bullish Year - Bloomberg:

"Oil bulls are charging into the new year with unprecedented vigor, and the credit goes to OPEC. The signs that the group is winning its tug of war with shale are compelling, and money managers have taken note: Their combined bets on rising prices for West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude reached record levels in December. “At least through the first half of 2018, they’ll stay pretty bullish,” said Ashley Petersen, lead oil-market strategist at Stratas Advisors in New York. “June will be a real turning point because that’s when we’ll hear about unwinding the deal, and if OPEC doesn’t handle it delicately, then there will be concern that the market will be flooded with oil again.”"



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Friday, 29 December 2017

Qatar economy registers 5.5% surge y-o-y in real terms

Qatar economy registers 5.5% surge y-o-y in real terms:

"A robust expansion in both hydrocarbons and non-hydrocarbons helped Qatar economy register 5.5% surge year-on-year in real terms (inflation-adjusted) during the third quarter (Q3) of this year, according to the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics (MDPS). The country's gross domestic product or GDP at constant prices (base year 2013) grew 1.9% compared to Q3, 2016 mainly on the back of non-hydrocarbons, particularly construction, manufacturing and financial sectors. Qatar's growth trajectory indicates that the blockade by the siege countries haven't altered the strong fundamentals, which rest on the solid platform, a phenomenon that has been corroborated by world economic think tanks including the Bretton Woods institution, experts said."



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Qatar economy has recovered from boycott, GDP figures show

Qatar economy has recovered from boycott, GDP figures show:

"Qatar’s economy has largely recovered from a boycott imposed by other Arab states and is again growing at one of the fastest rates in the region, according to figures released by the statistics ministry on Friday. Gross domestic product, adjusted for inflation, rose 1.9 percent from a year earlier in the third quarter of 2017, accelerating from a revised growth rate of just 0.3 percent in the second quarter, which was the slowest expansion since the 2009-2010 global financial crisis. GDP grew 5.5 percent from the previous quarter, accelerating from a rate of 0.2 percent in the second quarter."



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Amazon and Apple in talks to invest directly into Saudi Arabia

Amazon and Apple in talks to invest directly into Saudi Arabia:

"Global technology groups Apple and Amazon are close to unveiling plans to invest directly into Saudi Arabia as the kingdom seeks to pull itself out of an economic recession and diversify away from oil.

Both companies have been in talks with the government for more than a year, people briefed on the discussion said. Deals for Apple to establish flagship retail outlets and for Amazon to expand cloud-computing services could be announced as soon as the first quarter of next year, they said.

Apple and Amazon declined to comment."



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Will the Gulf’s flying gentry consider venturing below stairs? | Arab News

Will the Gulf’s flying gentry consider venturing below stairs? | Arab News:

"The arrival of Emirates at Stansted, a hub for Ryanair, sets up some potentially interesting options as the luxury and budget ends of air travel respond to the shared experience of tougher competition.
While Etihad’s ill-fated codeshare alliance strategy failed to deliver on its ambitious hopes following the collapse of both Air Berlin and Alitalia, there is still considerable interest in codeshare combinations between big global carriers and their low-cost cousins serving regions from Europe to Asia — and that do not require vast investments.
There has been no hint from either Emirates or Ryanair of any desire for future collaboration, but Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has long held the belief that carriers such as his would eventually provide the spokes to the hub model."



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UAE conventional banks' assets amount to $585bln in late November | ZAWYA MENA Edition

UAE conventional banks' assets amount to $585bln in late November | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"The total assets of conventional banks operating in the UAE amounted to AED2.148 trillion by the end of November, accounting for around 80 percent of the UAE banking system's total assets, which reached AED2.687 trillion, with Islamic banks comprising the remaining 20 percent, with total assets of AED538.5 billion, according to the UAE Central Bank Indicators Report.

Conventional banks' assets increased by AED44 billion by the end of November against October, in yet a new sign of these banks' increased solvency, driven by government deposits as well as residents and non-residents' deposits following the recent interest rate hike.

The Islamic banks' assets rose as well by AED3.4 billion to AED538.5 billion during November from AED534.9 billion in October."



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Saudi Squeeze on Alwaleed Has More at Stake Than Money - Bloomberg

Saudi Squeeze on Alwaleed Has More at Stake Than Money - Bloomberg:

"Almost two months into it, Saudi Arabia's crackdown on corruption is yielding at least some of the $100 billion the kingdom is targeting. Dozens of former officials and businessmen have exchanged part of their wealth for freedom.


But in the increasingly drawn-out case of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the public face of the Saudi royal family to many foreign executives and investors, there's more at stake than taking over his global business empire and talks on a settlement have hit an impasse.

The Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is about to enter a crucial few months that will show his true motives and the scope of his power.

"



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Oil Resurrection Sets Stage for Another OPEC-Shale Clash in 2018 - Bloomberg

Oil Resurrection Sets Stage for Another OPEC-Shale Clash in 2018 - Bloomberg:

"Oil’s revival from the biggest crash in a generation persisted, with prices set for a second annual gain after a year marked by hurricanes, Middle East conflict and the tussle between OPEC and U.S. shale.


Futures are up more than 11 percent in 2017, having entered a bull market in September. The year’s gains were driven by output cuts by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia, along with geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and pipeline disruptions from the North Sea to Canada and Libya. In 2018, investors will watch whether the price recovery triggers a new flood of U.S. output."



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Thursday, 28 December 2017

Kuwait's KIPCO extends debt maturities with $331mln bond | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Kuwait's KIPCO extends debt maturities with $331mln bond | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Kuwait Projects Co (KIPCO), the Gulf state's largest listed investment company, has completed a 100 million dinar ($331 million) seven-year bond issue, it said on Thursday Corporate bonds in Kuwait are typically shorter-dated issues, but KIPCO said its seven-year bond will leave it without any debt repayments until the middle of 2019. "By issuing these dinar bonds, we have reduced our debt maturity concentration by converting from short-term into longer-term (debt)," said Faisal al-Ayyar, KIPCO's vice chairman. "The funds raised by the bonds will be used to repay existing obligations, stagger our maturities and diversify our investor base." "



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Oil prices stay near high on strong U.S. refinery runs, China data

Oil prices stay near high on strong U.S. refinery runs, China data:

"Oil prices dipped on Thursday but stayed close to their highest in 2-1/2 years, as data showed strong demand for crude imports in China and on increased refining activity in the United States that drew more crude from inventories.

Trading was typically thin at year end, with many traders on vacation.

The U.S. Energy Department said crude stocks fell 4.6 million barrels in the latest week. Inventories excluding the nation’s strategic reserve have declined more than 11 percent in the last year. "



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Two Saudi Princes Are Released After Graft Probe - Bloomberg

Two Saudi Princes Are Released After Graft Probe - Bloomberg:

"Two sons of Saudi Arabia’s late King Abdullah have been released after being detained in the kingdom’s declared crackdown on corruption, according to a person familiar with the matter and a Saudi royal who celebrated their freedom on social media.

Prince Mishaal bin Abdullah, former governor of Mecca province, and the former head of the Saudi Red Crescent Authority, Prince Faisal bin Abdullah, have left the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh where detainees were being held, the person said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. Princess Nouf bint Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Saud, a close relative of the late monarch, posted photos of the two and confirmed their release on her verified Twitter account.

Play Video
Two Saudi Princes Said to Be Freed From Ritz-Carlton
"



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Gulf Arab Energy Producers Issue Record Debt for Expansion - Bloomberg

Gulf Arab Energy Producers Issue Record Debt for Expansion - Bloomberg:

"Gulf Arab energy companies issued record debt this year as producers opted to exploit lower borrowing costs to fund expansion plans.

Oil and gas producers, pipeline operators and refiners in Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar borrowed $28.7 billion through bonds and syndicated loans in 2017, eclipsing the previous high set two years earlier, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Those companies borrowed about $71.4 billion in the past three years, more than twice the amount in the previous period.


The annual average of the J.P. Morgan Middle East Composite Index’s debt yield, an indication of borrowing rates in the region, declined 12 basis points to 4.58 percent in 2017, a two-year low. Global energy demand will jump 35 percent by 2040, from 2015, OPEC estimates. Its Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo says oil investment is needed now to meet that growth and to make up for declining production at older fields."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-UAE markets rise at end of very poor year; some fund managers expect better 2018

MIDEAST STOCKS-UAE markets rise at end of very poor year; some fund managers expect better 2018:

"United Arab Emirates stock markets rose on Thursday, their last day of trade during a year in which they were among the world’s worst-performing emerging markets, while most other Middle Eastern bourses also gained. Dubai’s stock index fell 4.6 percent during 2017 while Abu Dhabi’s index lost 3.3 percent; MSCI’s emerging markets index gained about 34 percent. Geopolitical tensions, a regional economic slowdown caused by low oil prices, and slumping real estate markets in Dubai and Abu Dhabi all pulled down their stock markets."



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No spike in sight for Dubai property prices in 2018 | GulfNews.com

No spike in sight for Dubai property prices in 2018 | GulfNews.com:

"One thing is for sure — Dubai’s property values are unlikely to record any sharp increases in the new year. Developers and their off-plan ambitions will ensure that prices remain grounded.
“There has been no appreciation in off-plan launch prices,” said Firas Al Msaddi, CEO of fäm Properties. “And developers are still supplying the same range of products in new phases and with fresh payment plans and more attractive offers, including Dubai Land Department (fee) waivers or post-handover payment plans.”

All of which makes it doubly difficult for individuals to try and sell off their properties in the secondary market and at a premium to what they bought. “It’s almost impossible to resell because they can’t compete with the developer,” said Al Msaddi."



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UAE property developer secures 1 bln dirham loan for mega-project

UAE property developer secures 1 bln dirham loan for mega-project:

"Arada, a newly-created United Arab Emirates-based property developer, has secured a 1 billion dirhams ($272 million) Islamic syndicated loan from UAE banks to help fund a major project in the northern emirate of Sharjah, it said on Thursday.

The money will help pay for the 24 billion dirham Aljada, a project designed to cater for growing demand for more housing and leisure activities in the northern emirates.

Traditionally, the larger and more glitzy real estate developments have been confined to the wealthy southern emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai."



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Financial oil trading booms, especially in the United States

Financial oil trading booms, especially in the United States:

"Financial oil trading is booming, hitting records this year, with volumes in U.S. contracts outpacing growth elsewhere on the back of the U.S. shale oil boom.

Trading data in Thomson Reuters Eikon shows 2017 volumes for U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) front-month futures, the most exchanged contracts, will hit a record of nearly 150 million.

 This is more than double the 71 million trades for spot Brent futures, the international benchmark, further widening a gap that has yawned open as U.S. crude output has surged nearly 70 percent over the past five years.

"



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Five Oil Signals to Watch in 2018 - Bloomberg

Five Oil Signals to Watch in 2018 - Bloomberg:

"Oil traders are going to have their work cut out in 2018. OPEC and its allies are heading into the second year of supply cuts to wipe out the global oil glut, while rising U.S. output is threatening those efforts. Geopolitical tensions also add a wild card to the market mix. As oil watchers seek to plot a course through the year ahead, they’ll be paying close attention to signals ranging from timespreads to options contracts. Here are five key barometers to watch as 2018 unfolds: "



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Saudi businessman in debt dispute released from detention-sources | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Saudi businessman in debt dispute released from detention-sources | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"A Saudi Arabian businessman whose family's commercial empire is involved in a multi-billion dollar debt dispute has been released from detention in the kingdom's Eastern Province, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Abdulaziz al-Sanea's release comes as the government steps up efforts to find a company to run a struggling 750-bed hospital owned by his family, a search that has turned the spotlight on the kingdom's effort to bring overseas investors into the healthcare sector.

Al-Sanea was freed late last week after being detained in October for unpaid debts, related at least in part to the hospital, according to the sources. "



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Ithmaar Holding gets approval for listing in Dubai | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Ithmaar Holding gets approval for listing in Dubai | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Ithmaar Holding has received approval from the UAE’s Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) to list on the Dubai Financial Market (DFM). Ithmaar, which is licensed and regulated by the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) and is currently listed on the Bahrain Bourse and Boursa Kuwait, said the SCA’s approval marks an important milestone in its plans to list on additional stock exchange in the region. The plan, which was presented by an Ithmaar shareholder as an additional agenda item at the annual general meeting in March, was approved by the shareholders who welcomed the initiative."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Builders boost Dubai, Saudi edges up in early trade | ZAWYA MENA Edition

MIDEAST STOCKS-Builders boost Dubai, Saudi edges up in early trade | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Gulf stock markets were generally sluggish in early trade on Thursday although Saudi Arabia edged up and Dubai was boosted by strength in construction stocks.

The Dubai index added 0.6 percent as Drake & Scull, the most heavily traded stock, surged 4.1 percent to 2.29 dirhams, which would be its highest close since April 2016.

The construction company posted a big third-quarter loss but investors are hoping for much better fourth-quarter results now that a recapitalisation has been completed, which may help it obtain operating funds. "



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Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Russia’s LNG ambitions no longer a pipe dream

Russia’s LNG ambitions no longer a pipe dream:

"Leonid Mikhelson beamed with pride when Vladimir Putin this month hailed Novatek’s $27bn liquefied gas pipeline project as an “extremely important step” for the country.

The chief executive of the nation’s biggest privately owned gas producer and the Russian president had for years been told that the Yamal liquid natural gas project in the Russian Arctic was too difficult to build and not viable in a country where gas exports have been dominated by state-owned Gazprom.

“This is a complex project, of course, and in this room there are very good people, good specialists, who at the beginning of the process, told me: ‘Do not do this’,” Mr Putin told the chief executives of Russia’s other top energy companies, including Gazprom’s Alexei Miller and Rosneft’s Igor Sechin, who were summoned to fly to Yamal for the pipeline’s opening ceremony. “But those who took on this project took a risk; this risk proved to be justified — and achieved results.”"



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High profile Saudis released after graft probe

High profile Saudis released after graft probe:

"Several high-profile Saudi businessmen and former government employees rounded up in a corruption crackdown have secured their freedom after reaching financial settlements with the authorities.

Those freed include Ibrahim al-Assaf, who was finance minister for two decades before being sacked last year, and Saud al-Duwaish, a former chief executive of Saudi Telecom Company, according to two people briefed on the matter. Pictures and videos circulated online recently appeared to show them out of detention.

There were no details about the settlements, but the government has previously said those detained could be released if they handed over cash and other assets, believed to be up to 70 per cent of suspects’ wealth in some cases. Others said to have been released include a son of Saleh Kamel, a billionaire who runs one of the Middle East’s biggest conglomerates."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf mostly rises on oil surge; Saudi petchems, builders up | ZAWYA MENA Edition

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf mostly rises on oil surge; Saudi petchems, builders up | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"An overnight surge in the Brent oil price above $67 a barrel for the first time since May 2015 helped most Gulf stock markets rise on Wednesday, while Dubai rebounded modestly from a six-month low. The Saudi stock index closed 0.3 percent higher in active trading volume, though it came off an early high as the oil price retreated from its peak on Wednesday afternoon. Eleven of 13 Saudi petrochemical producers, whose margins could benefit from dearer oil, rose. The biggest, Saudi Basic Industries , added 0.6 percent. "



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Saudi Arabia’s reform drive is bold, yet fraught with risk

Saudi Arabia’s reform drive is bold, yet fraught with risk:

"The Middle East’s most dynamic leader this year, albeit in a sluggish field, would be Mohammed bin Salman, crown prince of Saudi Arabia. MbS, as the 32-year-old wunderkind is known, has seized the reins of power and set a dizzying pace for a ruling family that by habit coalesces slowly around low common denominators, with caution and consensus as its watchwords. Saudi Arabia’s radical attempt to fire up its economy with private investment and wean it off dwindling oil revenue is a story with huge implications. There is no doubting the ambition and energy with which MbS, licensed by his aged father, King Salman, is propelling economic and social reform; or how important it is, for the region as well as the kingdom, that he succeeds. His socio-religious liberalisation is bold, breathing fresh air into a stifled Saudi society. He has clipped the wings of the fanatical religious police. He is slowly dismantling gender segregation and the cloistering of women, and promoting mixed entertainment, lifting ludicrous bans on concerts and cinema. Next year, in a move that must stick in the craw of Wahhabi clerics, women will be allowed to drive."



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Oil prices slip away from 2015 highs, but market remains tight | Arab News

Oil prices slip away from 2015 highs, but market remains tight | Arab News:

"Oil prices on Wednesday slipped away from two-and-a-half year highs hit the previous session as the gradual resumption of flows through a major North Sea pipeline made up for supply disruption in Libya. But the two outages in quick succession have highlighted how much tighter global oil markets have become a year into supply cuts led by OPEC and Russia. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $59.73 a barrel at 0421 GMT, down 24 cents from their last settlement. WTI broke through $60 a barrel for the first time since June 2015 in the previous session."



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Qatar’s trade surplus surges by 54.8% - The Peninsula Qatar

Qatar’s trade surplus surges by 54.8% - The Peninsula Qatar:

"Qatar’s trade surplus expanded to QR12.8bn in November, a 32 percent jump from a year ago and 54.8 percent surge from the previous month, a preliminary data released by the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics showed yesterday. In November 2017, the total exports of goods, including exports of goods of domestic origin and re-exports, amounted to around QR21.8bn, an increase of 15.9 percent compared to November 2016, and increase by 3.8 percent compared to October 2017. On other hand, the imports of goods in November stood at QR8.9bn, down 2 percent from a year ago. On month-on-month, imports declined by 26.9 percent."



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After Oman, Kuwait also postpones VAT until 2019 | ZAWYA MENA Edition

After Oman, Kuwait also postpones VAT until 2019 | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Oman’s finance ministry decided to postpone the implementation of the Value Added Tax (VAT) until 2019, and transitive tax until mid-2018. Meanwhile, a CNBC Arabiya TV said that Kuwait has also decided to defer applying VAT until 2019, likely to give the National Assembly enough time to vote on the unified Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to enforce the tax in all member states.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have already decided to put the tax into practice by January 1, 2018. VAT is a tax imposed on the difference between products’ cost and sale prices. It is an indirect tax imposed on all goods and services except those exempted by an official decision."



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Tax-free no more: Saudi Arabia, UAE to roll out VAT in 2018

Tax-free no more: Saudi Arabia, UAE to roll out VAT in 2018:

"Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have long lured foreign workers with the promise of a tax-free lifestyle, plan to impose a 5 percent tax next year on most goods and services to boost revenue after oil prices collapsed three years ago.

The value-added tax, or VAT, will apply to a range of items like food, clothes, electronics and gasoline, as well as phone, water and electricity bills, and hotel reservations.

Elda Ngombe, a 23-year-old college graduate who’s looking for a job in Dubai, said there’s one specific purchase she’s planning before next year’s price hike: “Makeup, because I can’t live without makeup.”"



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi rises on oil price surge, most of Gulf little changed | ZAWYA MENA Edition

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi rises on oil price surge, most of Gulf little changed | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Saudi Arabia's stock market rose in early trade on Wednesday as petrochemical shares climbed on the back of an overnight surge in the Brent oil price LCOc1 above $67 a barrel for the first time since May 2015. Other Gulf bourses were little changed.

The Saudi stock index added 0.5 percent in the first 45 minutes as the top petrochemical stock, Saudi Basic Industries, rose 1.0 percent.

Construction firms were also strong on hopes that higher oil revenues would give the government money to boost infrastructure spending next year; Khodari rose 1.3 percent. "



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Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Saudi Arabia releases 23 corruption detainees - The National

Saudi Arabia releases 23 corruption detainees - The National:

"Saudi Arabia has in the past two days released 23 of the more than 200 royals, officials and businessmen detained on charges of corruption after they reached deals with the government, Okaz newspaper reported on Tuesday.

It also said that more detainees will be released in the coming days, while the rest who continue to deny charges against them will soon face trial.

“The government wants to close this file case as soon as possible,” a source told the daily."



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Al-Rajhi REIT shares to go on sale next week | Arab News

Al-Rajhi REIT shares to go on sale next week | Arab News:

"The initial public offering period of Al-Rajhi REIT Fund will run from Jan. 1 to Jan. 14, Al-Rajhi Capital said.
The fund will have a size of SR1.62 billion ($282 million), the fund manager revealed.
Some 42.67 million units will be offered to investors at SR 10 each."



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Qatar Airways continues to fly high; HIA targets 50mn passengers a year

Qatar Airways continues to fly high; HIA targets 50mn passengers a year:

"Qatar Airways continues to fly high, piloted by its expansion plans despite the illegal blockade on the country by imposed by four Arab nations, as the national carrier adds new destinations and hopes to reach its pre-blockade traffic volumes soon. 
Qatar Airways flies to more than 150 destinations now with Russia’s St Petersburg joining the airline’s global network on December 20.
Qatar Airways added many new destinations to its network this year including Auckland, Dublin, Nice, and Prague. "



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Oil hits 2-1/2 year highs on Libyan pipeline blast

Oil hits 2-1/2 year highs on Libyan pipeline blast:

"Oil prices touched two-and-a-half year highs in light volume on Tuesday, boosted by an explosion on a crude pipeline in Libya and voluntary OPEC-led supply cuts.

Libya has lost around 90,000 bpd of crude oil from a blast on a pipeline feeding Es Sider port, a Libyan oil source said, adding that NOC was still assessing the damage.

A Libyan military source said earlier that armed men had planted explosives at the pipeline. "



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America's Hottest Oil Play Just Needs a Few Thousand Truckers - Bloomberg

America's Hottest Oil Play Just Needs a Few Thousand Truckers - Bloomberg:

"When the price of oil collapsed in 2014 and disrupted drilling operations all across Texas’s massive Permian Basin shale formation, truckers were among those hardest hit. Rendered unnecessary by the slump in output, they were fired in scores.


Now, three years later, with oil prices inching back higher and production in the Permian soaring once again, the drillers want the truckers back. The feeling, though, isn’t mutual. The pain of the 2014 bust remains fresh for many who went on to find driving gigs in other industries and, what’s more, they worry that companies will remain tightfisted with pay as they re-hire.

The result is a growing trucker shortage that threatens to limit just how high drillers can push production. The problem is most acute in the western fringe of the Permian -- known as the Delaware Basin -- where shale companies are moving back into aggressively as prices climb. Given the off-the-beaten-path location of these wells amid the sprawling 75,000-square mile Permian, the need for truckers to haul the oil over primitive roads to pipelines is greater than in more centrally located spots."



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Saudis Expect Oil Revenue to Jump 80% by 2023 - Bloomberg

Saudis Expect Oil Revenue to Jump 80% by 2023 - Bloomberg:

"Saudi Arabia expects oil revenue to jump about 80 percent by 2023 to help the kingdom record its first budget surplus in a decade, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

 Under a six-year program to balance the budget, officials predict rising oil prices and output will push income from oil sales to 801.4 billion riyals ($214 billion) from 440 billion riyals this year, the people said on condition of anonymity because they aren’t authorized to share the data publicly. It assumes the price of oil will reach $75 a barrel. Non-oil revenue, excluding income from the Public Investment Fund, would increase 32 percent to 337 billion riyals, they said.

While Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s plan to transform the economy aims to reduce its reliance on oil in the long term, higher crude prices are central to efforts to support growth while introducing measures that would help boost revenue from other sources. The kingdom has led a drive among major non-OPEC members to stabilize oil markets through production cuts that have helped Brent crude prices exceed $60 a barrel.

"



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi, Egypt outperform in weak region

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi, Egypt outperform in weak region:

"Saudi Arabia’s stock market rose in a mostly weak Gulf region on Tuesday after data showed deflationary pressure on the economy easing, while Egypt also gained but trading volume remained very low because of the end-of-year holiday period. The Saudi index rose 0.4 percent as real estate developer Dar Al Arkan, the most heavily traded stock, jumped 7.8 percent to its highest finish since September 2014. The stock soared between mid-November, when international index compiler MSCI said it was adding it to its Saudi Arabia Index, and mid-December. Investors are also hoping for the company to reach a deal with the housing ministry on building homes."



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A watershed year for Middle East business | Arab News

A watershed year for Middle East business | Arab News:

"It was a watershed year across the region, with the old economic certainties of business life in the Kingdom and wider Gulf upended and disrupted by new realities. The price of oil was at the fulcrum of that shift as Gulf economies pondered how to plug deficits and boost revenues from raising valued added tax to selling shares in such titans as Aramco and Adnoc. Here the business writers of Arab News pick the big business stories that shaped the region in 2017. JAN"



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In blow to finances, Oman postpones VAT introduction: local media

In blow to finances, Oman postpones VAT introduction: local media:

"Oman will delay the introduction of a 5 percent value-added tax until 2019 instead of introducing it next year as originally planned, local media reported late on Monday, a decision that may hurt its effort to strengthen shaky state finances. All six countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council agreed among themselves to impose VAT at the start of 2018. But while Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are set to go ahead on Jan. 1, other countries have been slow to make the necessary legislative and administrative preparations. To boost state revenues, which have been strained by years of low oil prices, Oman will impose a new tax on sugary drinks and tobacco products by mid-2018, the Times of Oman reported, quoting finance ministry sources. Some other GCC members introduced such a tax this year."



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Dubai DFM issues new regulations for Repo and Murabaha transactions | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Dubai DFM issues new regulations for Repo and Murabaha transactions | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Dubai Financial Market, DFM, has announced issuing two new regulations that pave the way for market participants to implement both repurchase agreements, Repo, and Islamic Murabaha transactions, in conjunction with the approval given by the Securities and Commodities Authority, SCA. The regulations have been outlined in line with the international best practices as well as in full coordination with various market participants. Accordingly, DFM investors may utilise the two mechanisms to transfer their DFM listed securities as part of a Repo transaction or an Islamic Murabaha transaction with Shariah compliant financial institutions. The DFM may now process requests for transfer of securities listed on DFM for Repo transactions between a Repo seller and a Repo buyer, who have agreed on a repurchase agreement in accordance with DFM requirements."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf moves sideways in thin, early trade | ZAWYA MENA Edition

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf moves sideways in thin, early trade | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Gulf stock markets largely moved sideways in thin, early trade on Tuesday with activity dampened by the absence of some foreign investors for year-end holidays. The Saudi index was roughly flat in the first half-hour; the most heavily traded stock, Dar Al Arkan, fell 1.1 percent but the second most active, Chemanol, surged 3.8 percent. Saudi Industrial Export  jumped 6.9 percent as a capital decrease to 10.8 million riyals ($2.9 million) from 108 million riyals through a share cancellation went into effect. "



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Monday, 25 December 2017

Emirates' economy set for brighter times in 2018 - The National

Emirates' economy set for brighter times in 2018 - The National:

"Tim Fox, the head of research and the chief economist of Emireates NBD, talks about the outlook for the UAE in the coming year. What are your forecasts for the UAE economy in 2018? How will that growth vary between Dubai and Abu Dhabi? The UAE’s economy likely grew 2 per cent in 2017, down from 3 recorded in 2016. The slower growth rate was entirely due to cuts to oil production, in line with Opec’s overall strategy to limit output and reduce excess supply in the global crude market – a strategy that supported the recovery in oil prices last year. The outlook for 2018 is constructive, and we expect growth to accelerate to 3.4 per cent. The oil sector is expected to contribute positively to overall GDP growth next year, as several GCC countries have indicated they will look to boost crude output gradually in the second half next year. Non-oil growth will likely be driven by public sector infrastructure investment rather than consumer demand. Our assumptions are for Dubai to grow by 4.2 per cent and for Abu Dhabi to grow by 2.9 per cent in 2018."



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Qatar bourse continues to be under bearish spell

Qatar bourse continues to be under bearish spell:

"Qatar Stock Exchange continued to be under bearish spell to trade under 8,600 levels as foreign funds largely kept away from the market in view of Christmas. Increased buying support from local retail investors notwithstanding, the 20-stock Qatar Index fell 0.36% for the second consecutive day to 8,569.58points. There was increased net selling by domestic institutions and lower buying support from non-Qatari individuals in the bourse, whose year-to-date losses were seen at 17.89%."



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VAT implementation in Oman postponed until 2019 | GulfNews.com

VAT implementation in Oman postponed until 2019 | GulfNews.com:

"The application of the selective tax on certain products will start by the middle of 2018, the ministry said. No further details have been given about the postponement by the Omani authoirites. In November, 2016, Oman announced that it will implement value-added tax (VAT) by the beginning of 2018 in a move to diversify its revenues amid the decline in oil prices. "



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf mostly quiet as Abu Dhabi's Dana soars before court hearing

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf mostly quiet as Abu Dhabi's Dana soars before court hearing:

"Gulf stock markets were mostly quiet in moderate trading volumes on Monday as Abu Dhabi-listed Dana Gas jumped ahead of a court hearing on its effort to avoid redeeming $700 million of Islamic bonds. Abu Dhabi’s index edged up 0.3 percent as Dana jumped 13.2 percent; it was the market’s most heavily traded stock by far. A court in the emirate of Sharjah was expected later on Monday to hear a case in which Dana is seeking to have its sukuk declared invalid under United Arab Emirates law."



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Saudi transformation in 2017 and the year ahead | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Saudi transformation in 2017 and the year ahead | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"To say that 2017 was an eventful year for Saudi Arabia is an understatement. It was full of great achievements, formidable challenges, and some surprises. Regional and international events aside, domestically Saudi Arabia went through a real transformation in governance and economic policy. There were several milestones during the year, but I will address three: Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s elevation to crown prince in June, the unprecedented campaign against corruption in November, and the expansionary budget announced last week during one of the worst economic downturns in recent years. On June 21, on the recommendation of the Allegiance Council, King Salman chose Prince Mohammed to be his crown prince and next in line to the throne, in addition to being deputy prime minister and minister of defense. That move streamlined Saudi governance at the highest levels and was accompanied by major restructuring of several government institutions. The Office of Public Prosecutor, for example, was elevated to Cabinet level, reporting to the king directly. It was granted more independence in carrying out its quasi-judicial tasks, a move that was essential later in the year when it handled the anti-corruption campaign. On Nov. 4, Saudi Arabia launched its largest anti-corruption campaign in recent history. Authorities arrested hundreds of senior princes, officials and businessmen suspected of shady deals, and froze the bank accounts and other assets of many more. Over 200 individuals were detained during just the first week of the campaign, and 1,200 accounts frozen."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf mostly quiet, Dana Gas leaps in Abu Dhabi | ZAWYA MENA Edition

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf mostly quiet, Dana Gas leaps in Abu Dhabi | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Gulf stock markets were mostly quiet in thin, early trade on Monday although Abu Dhabi-listed Dana Gas jumped ahead of a court hearing on its effort to avoid redeeming $700 million of Islamic bonds. Abu Dhabi's index gained 0.5 percent as Dana jumped 11.8 percent; it was the market's most heavily traded stock. A court in the emirate of Sharjah was expected later on Monday to hear a case in which Dana is seeking to have its sukuk declared invalid under United Arab Emirates law. "



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GCC banking sector performance to be resilient in 2018 in slow growth environment | GulfNews.com

GCC banking sector performance to be resilient in 2018 in slow growth environment | GulfNews.com:

"The banking sector in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is expected to deliver a stable performance in 2018, reflecting strong financial fundamentals, particularly in the largest banking systems such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia, according to rating agency Moody’s. While slow economic growth, fiscal and geopolitical risks are expected to pose challenges to profitability and loan quality of the region’s banks, the raging agency expects strong capitalisation levels with high loan-loss reserves providing banks strong loss-absorption capacity. “Low oil prices and [the] resulting fiscal consolidation measures have dampened economic activity in the GCC. Non-oil economic growth will remain modest but will pick up slightly in 2018 to 2.6 per cent as Brent oil prices stabilise at the upper end of our $40 (Dh146) and $60 (Dh220)/barrel band, opening some room for more gradual fiscal consolidation. Having said that, expected VAT [value-added tax] introduction could initially dampen non-oil growth, while extension of Opec [Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries] production cuts throughout 2018 will weigh on real oil sector growth,” said Olivier Panis, a Vice-President and Senior Credit Officer at Moody’s. "



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Saudi finance ministry sells $1.27bln of domestic sukuk | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Saudi finance ministry sells $1.27bln of domestic sukuk | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Saudi Arabia's finance ministry said on Sunday it had sold 4.775 billion riyals ($1.27 billion) of domestic sukuk in its monthly sale by re-opening the government's October issue for a second time. The ministry sold 2.400 billion riyals of five-year sukuk, 1.800 billion riyals of seven-year and 575 million riyals of 10-year. Applications for the offer totalled 10.325 billion riyals. Last month, the ministry sold 6.68 billion riyals of sukuk in the first re-opening of the issue, and in October it sold 10 billion riyals. "



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Qatar Shares to Kick Off 2018 Near Cheapest Level in 8 Years - Bloomberg

Qatar Shares to Kick Off 2018 Near Cheapest Level in 8 Years - Bloomberg:

"After being battered by political turmoil this year, Qatari shares are set to start the next one near their cheapest levels relative to emerging-market peers since early 2010. That’s a change for the nation’s stocks, which traded at a premium for most of the preceding three years. A selloff triggered by a political spat between Qatar and its neighbors sent valuations plummeting. While politics will remain in focus in 2018, analysts and investors say some shares in Doha are now trading at attractive levels."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf slips in thin trade, Egypt hits record high

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf slips in thin trade, Egypt hits record high:

"Gulf stock markets slipped on Sunday as trading volumes were mostly low because of the absence of many foreign investors for Christmas holidays. Egypt rose to a record high but volume was very low there too.

The Saudi index fell 0.4 percent as telecommunications firm Zain Saudi lost 2.0 percent and rival Mobily dropped 2.4 percent.

Arabian Cement fell 1.2 percent after saying its merger talks with Al Safwa Cement had ended without agreement. It did not elaborate."



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Sunday, 24 December 2017

Iraq plans new Kirkuk-Ceyhan oil pipeline

Iraq plans new Kirkuk-Ceyhan oil pipeline:

"Iraq has invited companies to submit statements of interest in building a new pipeline from the northern city of Kirkuk to Turkey’s Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. The state-run Oil Projects Company said Sunday the 350-kilometer (220-mile) pipeline will carry up to one million barrels a day. It says companies have until Jan. 24 to submit applications for pre-qualification. It did not provide a timeline for the project, which will be offered under a build-own-operate-transfer scheme."



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Qatar Shares to Kick Off 2018 Near Cheapest Level in Eight Years - Bloomberg

Qatar Shares to Kick Off 2018 Near Cheapest Level in Eight Years - Bloomberg:

"After being battered by political turmoil this year, Qatari shares are set to start the next one near their cheapest levels relative to emerging-market peers since early 2010. That’s a change for the nation’s stocks, which traded at a premium for most of the preceding three years. A selloff triggered by a political spat between Qatar and its neighbors sent valuations plummeting. While politics will remain in focus in 2018, analysts and investors say some shares in Doha are now trading at attractive levels."



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Global IPO volume hits 10-year high | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Global IPO volume hits 10-year high | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Global IPO volumes in 2017 reached the highest level in a decade, according to the latest Cross-Border IPO Index (as at 4 December 2017) by global law firm Baker McKenzie. The Middle East region also picked up with 300 per cent increase in value of domestic deals and securing the first cross-border listing in the region since 2015. Low market volatility as a result of the relatively benign geopolitical environment and improved market sentiment were behind the increase in global IPO activity, which saw both cross-border and domestic activity grow. In total, 1,694 companies raised $206.6 billion from IPOs, a jump of around a third in both value and volume on 2016."



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Mideast Stocks: Gulf markets narrowly mixed in early trade | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Mideast Stocks: Gulf markets narrowly mixed in early trade | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Gulf stock markets were narrowly mixed in quiet, early trade on Sunday, with Saudi Arabian petrochemical firm PetroRabigh 2380.SE extending a sharp gain made at the end of last week.

The Saudi index was almost flat after half an hour as PetroRabigh climbed a further 2.1 percent. On Thursday it had jumped 6.6 percent after Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said the expanded section of its petrochemical complex would start operations in the first quarter of 2018.

Saudi Printing & Packaging gained 2.5 percent after saying its board had decided to remove Ghassan bin Mohammed Zaatari from the post of chief executive and appoint Fahad Ibrahim al-Mufarraj as managing director pending the appointment of a new CEO. The company did not explain why it made the change. "



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Saturday, 23 December 2017

Qatar banks’ assets grow by 10.9% to QR1.33trn - The Peninsula Qatar

Qatar banks’ assets grow by 10.9% to QR1.33trn - The Peninsula Qatar:

"Banks’ assets (and liabilities) in Qatar rose  by QR14bn to QR1332.7bn in November, compared to QR1318.7bn in October, 10.9 percent jump from a year ago. Deposits from government and public sector have increased by QR9.6bn to QR308bn. Government deposits recorded QR92.4bn in November, while the deposits of government institutions settled at QR186.6bn. The deposits of semi-government institutions, in which government share is less than 100 percent and more than 50 percent, settled at QR32.1bn. On the other hand, the total loans of the government and public sector increased by QR7.5bn to reach QR350.9bn, The Group Securities noted in its review of the banks’ consolidated balance sheets for the month of November 2017."



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Abu Dhabi Investment Authority invests $1bln India real estate funds | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Abu Dhabi Investment Authority invests $1bln India real estate funds | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"With the support of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, ADIA, India’s HDFC Capital Advisors, a wholly-owned subsidiary of HDFC Ltd, has achieved the initial close of its second affordable housing fund, the HDFC Capital Affordable Real Estate Fund – 2, it has been announced.

This will be combined with the HDFC Capital Affordable Real Estate Fund – 1, H-CARE-1, which was raised last year, to create a US 1 billion platform targeting affordable and mid-income residential projects in India’s leading fifteen cities.

ADIA is the primary investor, through a wholly-owned subsidiary, in both H-CARE-1 and H-CARE-2."



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Oil inches higher ahead of Christmas holiday weekend

Oil inches higher ahead of Christmas holiday weekend:

"Oil prices rose in light volumes on Friday, steadying near their highest levels since 2015 on pledges from OPEC leader Saudi Arabia and non-OPEC Russia that any exit from crude output cuts would be gradual.

Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, ended the session up 35 cents at $65.25 a barrel, its highest close since June 2015.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures settled 11 cents higher at $58.47 a barrel. WTI has also been touching values not seen since mid-2015 over the past two months."



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Saudis Seek $6 Billion From Alwaleed, Wall Street Journal Says - Bloomberg

Saudis Seek $6 Billion From Alwaleed, Wall Street Journal Says - Bloomberg:

"Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, detained since early November in a corruption probe, faces a demand from Saudi Arabian authorities of at least $6 billion to win his freedom, the Wall Street Journal reported.


The price being demanded is among the highest sought for those who have been arrested, the newspaper reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Alwaleed, 62, is the 57th-richest person in the world, with an $18 billion fortune according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He is known internationally for investments in companies including Citigroup Inc., Apple Inc. and Twitter Inc.

"



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Friday, 22 December 2017

‘Kuwait weakest among Gulf countries in terms of economic performance’ | ZAWYA MENA Edition

‘Kuwait weakest among Gulf countries in terms of economic performance’ | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Economic expert Jassem Al-Sa’adoun indicated that Kuwait is the weakest among the Gulf countries in terms of economic performance due to lack of public management of its affairs, reports Al-Qabas daily.

He explained that the rate of growth of Kuwait deteriorated the most from the 2008 crisis. Prior to the crisis, the growth rate was 6.4 percent but it fell by 1.4 percent after the crisis. Al-Sa’adoun said this during a symposium titled “Sustainable Investment” organized by Rasameel Structured Finance Company. He revealed that every developmental plan adopted by Kuwait has been a failure along with its failure to confront corruption and eliminate monopoly and difficulty to practice business.

 
Al-Sa’adoun explained that Kuwait lacks political stability, evident from the fact that the seventh government was recently formed within the last six years. The government has been the same except for the technocrat ministers. He stressed that Kuwait is the most sensitive to any geopolitical changes that could occur, highlighting a report issued by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as per which the expected growth of the Kuwaiti economy in 2017 will range from 0.2 percent to 2.1 percent due to the Gulf crisis even though Kuwait is not one among the parties involved in the crisis."



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Exclusive: London-listed NMC in talks to run struggling Saudi hospital - sources

Exclusive: London-listed NMC in talks to run struggling Saudi hospital - sources:

"London-listed NMC Healthcare is in talks with the Riyadh government to take over the running of a struggling Saudi hospital, according to four sources familiar with the matter.

A deal for the Saad Specialist Hospital in Khobar, one of the top cancer treatment facilities in the Gulf, would be a rare instance of a foreign group operating a Saudi hospital.

It would be a test of Riyadh’s plan to bring overseas investors into the healthcare sector under a reform drive, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, aimed at restructuring the kingdom’s economy and reducing its dependence on oil revenue."



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Russia backs gradual, managed exit from oil cuts with OPEC

Russia backs gradual, managed exit from oil cuts with OPEC:

"OPEC and Russia will exit from oil production cuts very smoothly, possibly extending the curbs in some form so as not to create any new surplus in the market, the Russian energy minister told Reuters.

Alexander Novak also said in comments cleared for publication on Friday that he saw no direct connection between the oil cuts and Saudi Arabia’s plan to list Aramco, the world’s top oil producer.

“Everyone in the market is interested in achieving balance,”Novak said in response to a question on whether Saudi Arabia could abruptly exit the cuts as soon as it lists Aramco sometime in 2018. The share sale promises to be the world’s biggest. "



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Oil Set for First Weekly Gain Since November as Stockpiles Drop - Bloomberg

Oil Set for First Weekly Gain Since November as Stockpiles Drop - Bloomberg:

"Oil headed for the first weekly advance in a month as U.S. crude stockpiles fell to the lowest level in more than two years and the pace of production gains slowed. 




Front-month futures slid 0.5 percent in New York, trimming the weekly gain to 1.4 percent. Crude supplies slid last week to 436.5 million, the lowest level since October 2015, according to U.S. government data Wednesday. Output expanded at the smallest rate since starting a nine-week gain in mid-October. The North Sea’s Forties Pipeline System is set to return to normal flows early next year, according to a statement from operator Ineos Group."



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Thursday, 21 December 2017

Abu Dhabi Plans First Treasury Bill Sales Next Year - Bloomberg

Abu Dhabi Plans First Treasury Bill Sales Next Year - Bloomberg:

"Abu Dhabi plans to start selling treasury bills for the first time next year, according to people with knowledge of the matter, as the OPEC producer seeks to develop its local-currency debt market.


The government is working with international and local banks on how the notes will be structured, the people said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private. Regulations are expected to be completed next year and regular sales could follow shortly after that, the people said.  "



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Swiss find serious shortcomings at JPMorgan in Malaysian 1MDB case | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Swiss find serious shortcomings at JPMorgan in Malaysian 1MDB case | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Swiss financial watchdog FINMA said on Thursday the Swiss subsidiary of U.S. bank JPMorgan had committed serious anti-money laundering breaches in relation to Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.

The case adds to the political storm that has raged for more than two years over the scandal at 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the focus of money-laundering investigations in at least six countries including Singapore, Switzerland and the United States.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who chaired 1MDB's advisory board, has denied any wrongdoing. "



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Foreign deposit outflow from Qatari banks slows further in November | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Foreign deposit outflow from Qatari banks slows further in November | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"An outflow of foreign deposits from Qatari banks slowed further in November as the impact of an economic boycott imposed by other Arab states continued to diminish, data from Qatar's central bank showed on Thursday.

Banks and investors from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt began pulling deposits and other funds out of Qatar in June, when those four countries cut diplomatic and trade ties with Doha.

But in November, foreign customers' deposits at banks in Qatar fell by just 2.8 billion riyals ($763 million) from the previous month to 134.9 billion riyals, the data showed. "



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Ex-Embraer executive pleads guilty to U.S. corruption charges

Ex-Embraer executive pleads guilty to U.S. corruption charges:

"A former executive at Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer SA pleaded guilty on Thursday to U.S. charges that he arranged a bribe to an employee of Saudi Arabia’s state-owned Saudi Aramco to secure a contract for the sale of three jets.

Colin Steven, 61, entered his plea before U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan. He said at the hearing that others at Embraer had approved of the payment and that he had agreed to cooperate with U.S. prosecutors.

Steven, who was charged with violating the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, wire fraud, money laundering and conspiracy, was released on bail following his court hearing, allowing him to return to Dubai, where he lives."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Qatar resumes rally, most of Gulf little changed

MIDEAST STOCKS-Qatar resumes rally, most of Gulf little changed:

"Qatar’s stock market resumed a rally from near six-year lows on Thursday while most bourses in the Gulf were little changed, lacking fresh stimulus.

The Qatari index added 1.2 percent as Vodafone Qatar, the most heavily traded stock, rose 2.6 percent. Qatar Islamic Bank gained 3.1 percent in active trade.

The index fell sharply in the months to mid-December after four other Arab states imposed an economic boycott on Doha. But signs that the damage is less than some investors had feared, and a supportive 2018 state budget plan announced last week, are now helping the market recover."



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Saudi energy chief says crackdown not hurting investment

Saudi energy chief says crackdown not hurting investment:

"Saudi officials played down fears that an anti-corruption campaign risked driving away international investors as the kingdom seeks to attract foreign capital to diversify its economy. “Eliminating the pockets of small corruption here and there is reassuring to investors and they are responding by increasing their appetite for the kingdom,” Khalid al-Falih, the energy minister, said on Wednesday. “Without any exaggeration, my phone doesn’t stop ringing.” More than 200 princes, businessmen and senior officials have been detained in Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s anti-corruption drive, raising concerns by investors about the business climate in the country. Those arrested include billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the Saudi Arabia’s most prominent investors, construction magnate Bakr bin Laden and Saleh Kamel, a prominent businessman from the coastal city of Jeddah."



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Dubai Financial Market welcomes listing of AWTAD on Second Market | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Dubai Financial Market welcomes listing of AWTAD on Second Market | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Majid Abdullah Alsari, Chairman of AWTAD (PJSC) today rang the market bell to celebrate the listing of company’s shares on the "Second Market" of Dubai Financial Market (DFM), in the presence of Hassan Al Serkal, Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Head of Operations Division of DFM as well as senior representatives from both sides. Dubai-based AWTAD, is a property investment company with a capital of AED150 million distributed between 1.5 million shares with a nominal value of AED100 per share. Welcoming the listing, Essa Kazim, Chairman of DFM said, "The Second Market represents significant value for businesses and investors alike as it enables investors to trade on private companies’ shares within a regulated and advanced environment and through the electronic trading system. The listing also enables private companies that play an integral role in the economic activity, to avail various benefits of being a listed company." "The second market has a huge potential to expand considering the big number of private joint stock companies in the country of approximately 150 companies and DFM encourages them to be part of its comprehensive platform. The listing on the second market provides these companies with numerous benefits including; links with local and international investors, the streamlined access to funds necessary for expansion as well as enhancing its competitiveness through the implementation of best practices of transparency, corporate governance and investor relations, preparing the company for a new era of growth," Kazim added. "



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Qatar's currency manipulation probe could curb offshore FX trade, risk Gulf backlash

Qatar's currency manipulation probe could curb offshore FX trade, risk Gulf backlash:

"Qatar’s investigation into alleged manipulation of its currency could give it more control over exchange rates but make some international banks more wary of doing business with Doha. The probe may also risk prompting Qatar’s diplomatic enemies to impose more economic sanctions on it, if their banks are targeted in the investigation. “The risk is if the other Gulf countries, say Saudi and the UAE, react to this campaign by Qatar against currency manipulation by imposing fresh sanctions on Qatar,” said Jason Tuvey, an economist at Capital Economics in London."



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Oil falls as UK North Sea oil pipeline moves closer to restart

Oil falls as UK North Sea oil pipeline moves closer to restart:

"Oil prices fell on Thursday after the operator of Britain’s Forties pipeline in the North Sea said it was expected to restart in early January after repairs over Christmas.

Forties is the largest of the five North Sea crudes that underpin Brent, a benchmark for oil trading in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

 Oil prices have risen since the pipeline was shut on Dec 11. But Brent oil prices LCOc1 fell after the announcement to trade 23 cents down at $64.33 per barrel at 0933 GMT. "



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Saudi Aramco Embarks on Global Hunt for Natural Gas Supplies - Bloomberg

Saudi Aramco Embarks on Global Hunt for Natural Gas Supplies - Bloomberg:

"Saudi Aramco is looking for natural gas assets from Russia to East Africa and the U.S. as the kingdom’s state-owned energy giant hunts for ways to meet soaring domestic demand. The comments by Khalid Al-Falih, who’s both Aramco chairman and Saudi energy minister, are a tacit admission Aramco has failed to find enough domestic gas reserves despite years of exploration. He’s now considering imports of super-cooled liquefied natural gas to bridge the gap with local consumption and cut the amount of crude oil burned in power stations instead of exported for profit. “Aramco is drawing a very wide net,” said Al-Falih, mentioning the Mediterranean and the Caspian Sea as other potential targets for gas assets."



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Saudi energy minister: Premature to discuss changes in OPEC-led pact | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Saudi energy minister: Premature to discuss changes in OPEC-led pact | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said it is premature to discuss any changes to the OPEC-led supply cut pact as market rebalancing is unlikely to happen until the second half of 2018 even with the current outage of the North Sea Forties pipeline.

Any potential exit from current cuts would be done gradually once the market returns to balance but drawing down inventories will still take more time, Khalid al-Falih told Reuters on Wednesday. “We haven’t seen any major declines in inventories that we didn’t expect. As we said last month, we still have approximately 150 million barrels of overhang, and it is going to take the second half 2018 to draw that down,” Falih said.

“We expect the first few months of 2018 to be either flat or a build (in inventories) as it is typically the case with the seasonality with the oil market especially on the demand side,” he said in an interview in Riyadh. "



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Qatar resumes rally, most of Gulf little changed | ZAWYA MENA Edition

MIDEAST STOCKS-Qatar resumes rally, most of Gulf little changed | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"Qatar's stock market resumed a rally in early trade on Thursday while most bourses in the Gulf were little changed, lacking fresh stimulus. The Qatari index , which has rebounded from near six-year lows in the past 10 days, added 0.5 percent as Vodafone Qatar, the most heavily traded stock, surged 4.4 percent. The index fell sharply in the months to mid-December after four other Arab states imposed an economic boycott on Doha. But signs that the damage is less than feared and a supportive 2018 state budget plan announced last week have helped the market recover. "



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Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Dubai developer hammered by crisis offloads more debt | Arab News

Dubai developer hammered by crisis offloads more debt | Arab News:

"Dubai property developer Limitless has taken another step toward restoring its balance sheet via an early debt repayment to creditors of more than 412 million dirhams ($112 million).
It means the developer, whose projects include a 200-hectare residential and commercial development in Dubai’s Jebel Ali, will have cut its liabilities to banks and trade creditors by almost half come the year-end.
Limitless, which was formerly part of Dubai World, was hit hard by the financial crisis of 2008/9 when Dubai property prices plunged by more than half, and the business was later forced into a debt reduction program to avoid going bust."



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Qatargas and OMV sign five year LNG agreement - The Peninsula Qatar

Qatargas and OMV sign five year LNG agreement - The Peninsula Qatar:

"Qatargas Operating Company Limited (Qatargas) today announced the signing of a new Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA) with OMV Gas Marketing & Trading (OMV). Under the terms of the agreement, Qatargas will deliver up to 1.1 million tonnes of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) per annum to the Austrian company for five years. Commenting on this occasion, Saad Sherida Al Kaabi, President and Chief Executive Officer of Qatar Petroleum, and Chairman of the Qatargas Board of Directors, said: “We are very pleased to announce this new deal with OMV – an international, integrated oil and gas company operating from the heart of Europe. OMV provides major European customers and distributors with tailored natural gas solutions, and we look forward to supplying them with reliable Qatari LNG.” Al Kaabi added: “With this deal, Qatargas has once again demonstrated its ability to capture new opportunities and expand its network of customers in an evolving market.”"



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