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Monday, 31 July 2017

The terrifying perils of over-reach in the Middle East

The terrifying perils of over-reach in the Middle East:

"The Middle East is now arguably more unstable than it has been at any time over the past century. A great deal of what has brought the region down in this 21st century is ascribable to two pulverising events: the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the turmoil unleashed by the chain of Arab uprisings from 2011. These earthquakes smashed Iraq and Syria into pieces, and uncorked the evil genie of the age-old Sunni-Shia schism within Islam, with the modern champion of each sect, Saudi Arabia and Iran respectively, facing each other in proxy wars across the region."



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MAF on look out for acquisitions as first half earnings rise 4% - The National

MAF on look out for acquisitions as first half earnings rise 4% - The National:

"Majid Al Futtaim (MAF), the conglomerate behind Mall of the Emirates and operator of Carrefour stores throughout the Middle East, is on the hunt for acquisitions to help bolster its operations as the company posted a 4 per cent increase in first half year earnings. “Through both organic and inorganic growth, the company continues to pursue opportunistic acquisitions in line with its disciplined strategic and financial approach,” the company said in a July 31 statement. “It is actively assessing potential investment opportunities with a focus on digital capabilities, technology and e-commerce.” MAF has been on a buying spree, snapping up Retail Arabia’s Geant supermarket stores for an undisclosed sum and investing in Dubai-based consumer technology app Fetchr as part of a US$41 million funding round. It made an 11th hour bid for Souq.com but lost to Amazon, which bought the e-commerce company for more than $650m."



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New UAE tax law brings clarity on VAT | GulfNews.com

New UAE tax law brings clarity on VAT | GulfNews.com:

"The UAE had announced its intention to the introduce value added tax (VAT) in the country starting January 1, 2018. The issuance of the final tax law has set the stage for implementation of VAT and meeting the implementation deadline. The new law comes after the UAE, represented by the Ministry of Finance, ratified the Common Value Added Tax (VAT) Agreement of the States of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Common Excise Tax Agreement of the States of the Gulf Cooperation Council, following Federal Decrees No. 31 and 32 of 2017, issued by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. It is a follow up step from Federal Decree-Law No. 13 of 2016 on the establishment of the Federal Tax Authority (FTA) tasked with executing tax laws in the UAE. The Tax Procedures Law also establishes the register of tax agents who may interact with the FTA on behalf of taxpayers, specifies the basic requirements for appointing tax agents, and sets the standards for maintaining confidentiality by the authority as well as its officers."



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Exclusive: Qatar launches wide-ranging WTO complaint against trade boycott

Exclusive: Qatar launches wide-ranging WTO complaint against trade boycott:

"Qatar filed a wide-ranging legal complaint at the World Trade Organization on Monday to challenge a trade boycott by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates, the director of Qatar's WTO office Ali Alwaleed al-Thani told Reuters. By formally "requesting consultations" with the three countries, the first step in a trade dispute, Qatar triggered a 60 day deadline for them to settle the complaint or face litigation at the WTO and potential retaliatory trade sanctions. "We've given sufficient time to hear the legal explanations on how these measures are in compliance with their commitments, to no satisfactory result," al-Thani said."



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Moody's gets licence to rate Saudi Arabia's corporates

Moody's gets licence to rate Saudi Arabia's corporates:

"Moody's has obtained a licence to operate rating activities in Saudi Arabia, joining the two major foreign credit rating agencies Fitch and Standard & Poor's, as the country seeks to develop its corporate debt capital markets. Saudi Arabia's corporate sector has traditionally relied on the bank loan market to back its funding requirements. But since low oil prices started impacting liquidity in the local banking system, authorities have encouraged more bond issuances as bonds allow a larger investor base such as insurance and pension funds to be tapped, therefore reducing the strain on the banking system."



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Saudis Weigh Oil-Price Linked Tax for Aramco Before IPO - Bloomberg

Saudis Weigh Oil-Price Linked Tax for Aramco Before IPO - Bloomberg:

"Saudi Arabia is considering a flexible tax system for state-owned oil company Aramco that would increase royalty payments when crude prices rise, according to people familiar with the deliberations. Riyadh is mulling a proposal from Saudi Aramco to replace the current fixed royalty on revenues, the same people said, asking not to be named discussing government policies. Aramco has proposed to initially set the royalty at 20 percent -- the same rate as today’s fixed rate -- and increase it automatically if oil prices rise significantly. The Saudi government hasn’t yet decided whether to go ahead with the flexible royalty and it could decide against it, one of the people said. On top of the royalty, Saudi Arabian Oil Co., as Aramco is formally known, pays income tax on profit, which the government recently cut to 50 percent from 85 percent."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi dips on weak Q2 while blue chips support Dubai

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi dips on weak Q2 while blue chips support Dubai:

"Saudi Arabia's stock market index recorded its sixth straight session of declines on the back of weak second-quarter corporate earnings, but Dubai outperformed a weaker region as bluechips rose. The Riyadh index slipped 0.3 percent as shares of milk and yoghurt maker Saudi Dairy Foodstuff Co fell 1.3 percent after it reported a 5.2 percent drop in second quarter net profit. Its peer Aljouf Agricultural Development dropped 4.8 percent after its second-quarter net income shrunk by two-thirds on the year."



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Qatar’s imports fall 40% as blockade hits home

Qatar’s imports fall 40% as blockade hits home:

"Qatar’s imports slumped 40 per cent in June as the embargo imposed by its neighbours hurt the economy of the gas-rich Gulf state, official data show.

The trade data are the first to be released since Saudi Arabia on June 5 led a quartet of nations breaking air, sea and land ties with Qatar, which they accuse of supporting terrorism and stoking instability across the Middle East.

Qatar, which denies charges that it sponsors terrorism, has had to turn to Turkey and Iran for food imports since the closure of the Saudi land border, which it used to rely on to bring in most of its staple supplies."



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Majid Al Futtaim's Beijjani on Earnings, Qatar - Bloomberg

Majid Al Futtaim's Beijjani on Earnings, Qatar - Bloomberg:

"Alain Bejjani, chief executive officer at Majid Al Futtaim, discusses first-half results and his exposure to Qatar. He speaks on "Bloomberg Markets: Middle East." (Source: Bloomberg)"



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Mideast funds more positive on equities, Qatar balanced

Mideast funds more positive on equities, Qatar balanced:

"Middle East fund managers have become more positive on regional equities and have a balanced view on Qatar following a drop in valuations and as the shock of the sanctions imposed on Doha eases, a monthly Reuters poll showed.

The poll of 13 leading fund managers, conducted over the past week, found 38 percent expected to increase their allocations to regional equities over the next three months and none to reduce them. (For results of the poll, double click )

In last month's poll, 31 percent anticipated raising equity allocations and 8 percent foresaw reducing them. Second-quarter earnings released by Gulf companies this week, while mixed, have given some managers a clearer view of how economies are coping with low oil prices."



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UPDATE 1-Dana Gas revokes offer to swap troubled $700 mln sukuk

UPDATE 1-Dana Gas revokes offer to swap troubled $700 mln sukuk:

"Dana Gas has cancelled its offer to exchange its outstanding $700 million sukuk, or Islamic bond, with new notes, and will pursue "litigation-driven outcomes" with regards to its restructuring, the Abu Dhabi-listed energy producer said on Monday. Dana last month offered to replace its current sukuk, which it deems no longer sharia-compliant and therefore unlawful and unenforceable under United Arab Emirates law, with new notes. The move sparked concerns in the Islamic finance industry regarding the impact it could have on sukuk as a debt instrument."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Poor Q2 results dampen Saudi, bluechips buoy Dubai

MIDEAST STOCKS-Poor Q2 results dampen Saudi, bluechips buoy Dubai:

"Poor second quarter corporate earnings were a drag on Riyadh's index in early trade on Monday in a generally weaker Gulf market, though Dubai bucked that trend as bluechips rose. Shares of Saudi builder Khodari fell 1.1 percent after the company reported a second-quarter net loss of 25.02 million riyals ($6.7 million), wider than EFG Hermes' estimate of 14.40 million riyals. Quarterly revenue was half of that in the year-earlier quarter, the company said. Milk and yoghurt maker Saudi Dairy Foodstuff Co fell 0.8 percent after it reported a 5.2 percent year-on-year drop in second quarter net profit."



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