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Saturday, 20 January 2018

Qatar weathers ‘blockade shock’ with ease - The Peninsula Qatar

Qatar weathers ‘blockade shock’ with ease - The Peninsula Qatar:

"Qatar has been able to ride out the ‘blockade impact’ on its economy better than expected, Arqaam Capital Research noted in its ‘Mena Banks Outlook.’ In its latest research note, Arqaam Capital said it has added QNB to its core portfolio. It had already upgraded QNB stock to a Buy from Hold following the bank’s strong Q3 17 performance.
Qatar’s latest GDP data shows 3.6 percent year-on-year expansion, while latest trade data also shows resilience, with imports in particular now higher than pre-blockade levels having risen by 11.5 percent year-on-year in October, after dipping over 30 percent in June and July.
The 2018 Qatar budget should provide further support as it pencils in 16 percent higher spending, while Arqaam calculates a 3.7 percent fiscal surplus at $65/barrel (bl) oil price.  According to Arqaam, the Barzan gas facility is likely to further raise the oil and gas sector’s output by 11bn standard cubic feet/day.
Qatari Riyal is stabilising after it moved away from the peg towards the latter part of the year. Foreign outflows have already slowed down significantly, with continued deposit outflows from foreign sources offset by higher borrowing from foreign banks and cheaper funding from the PSE sector."



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Saudi 2020 and the plan to attract tourists - will it work? | ZAWYA MENA Edition

Saudi 2020 and the plan to attract tourists - will it work? | ZAWYA MENA Edition:

"The kingdom hopes it can extend its tourism industry beyond the religious pilgrimages of haj and umrah, in December announcing it will start issuing tourist visas in the first quarter of 2018. Other reforms specifically targeted at easing socio-cultural restrictions support this decision that will directly open up the conservative country to visitors: women will be allowed to drive by June this year, the 35-year-old ban on cinemas was lifted last month, and for the first time in Saudi Arabia, just last week women were allowed to attend a men’s soccer match.

As part of sweeping changes, the tourism sector is a central tenet of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s “Vision 2030” and 2020 National Transformation Program, which constitute unprecedented plans to wean the country off its oil dependence, shrink the importance of the state and create millions of new private sector jobs to meet the demands of its young, expanding population.

“The idea to diversify the economic base is gaining momentum and tourism is a great way to do that,” said Asim Bukhtiar, Head of Research at Saudi Fransi Capital. “Saudi has a lot of tourist potential, not just religious visitors, but there are a lot of other heritage and historical sites, which up until now have been closed to international visitors.”
"



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S&P maintains 'BBB+/A-2 Rating for Sharjah amid growth expectations  - The National

S&P maintains 'BBB+/A-2 Rating for Sharjah amid growth expectations  - The National:

"S&P Global Ratings has affirmed its BBB+/A-2' credit rating for Sharjah on expectations that the emirate's economy will recover in the next three years thanks to a deficit reduction programme and added investment related to Expo 2020. "We expect an acceleration in GDP growth in 2018, based on the increased economic activity in the real estate and construction sectors and the spillover effects of rising investment in nearby Dubai in relation to its World Expo 2020," said the rating agency, which held its outlook for the emirate's economy as stable. The emirate's economy is expected to average 2 per cent growth a year from 2018 to 2021, S&P predicted. Sharjah's government has yet to disclose its own GDP growth forecasts for the coming year."



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Bahrain needs an immediate rethink on subsidies | GulfNews.com

Bahrain needs an immediate rethink on subsidies | GulfNews.com:

"The Bahrain economy is undergoing changes designed to strengthen the state’s treasury income through many revenue enhancement measures. The authorities are adopting action in line with developments elsewhere in the Gulf, and notably mirroring what is happening in Saudi Arabia. These encompass reducing subsidies, raising prices for governmental services and where possible imposing taxes. Understandably, officials have little choice but streamline public finance. The numbers for fiscal year 2018 put expenditure at $9.2 billion and revenues at $6.2 billion. This leaves a projected deficit of $3 billion, which would be about 9 per cent of the gross domestic product. The gap is however an improvement over 2016’s deficit, when it stood at $4 billion or 12.5 of GDP. The latest steps intended to generate additional budgetary revenues include raising petrol prices. Starting January 9, the National Oil and Gas Authority increased prices for octane 95 by 25 per cent to $0.53 per litre. This marks the second such rise in fuel prices within two years, and the government is not ruling out further increases."



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Peak oil demand and its implications for Gulf producers | Arab News

Peak oil demand and its implications for Gulf producers | Arab News:

"Even if oil consumption reaches a peak and then starts to fall, the world will still need large quantities of oil for many decades to come.
The prediction is contained in a thoughtful paper co-authored by Spencer Dale, chief economist of BP, and Bassam Fattouh, director of the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.
“Global oil demand is likely to continue growing for a period, driven by rising prosperity in fast-growing developing economies,” they wrote in a paper published on Monday."



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US to overtake Saudi as crude oil producer: IEA - The Peninsula Qatar

US to overtake Saudi as crude oil producer: IEA - The Peninsula Qatar:

"The United States are set to overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's number two oil producer after Russia this year, as shale companies, attracted by rising prices, ramp up drilling, the International Energy Agency said on Friday. "This year promises to be a record-setting one for the US," the IEA wrote in its monthly market report. Crude production of 9.9 million barrels per day (bpd) in the US was now at the highest level in nearly 50 years, "putting it neck-and-neck with Saudi Arabia, the world's second largest crude producer after Russia," the IEA said."



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Saudi minister previously detained in corruption crackdown to head Davos delegation

Saudi minister previously detained in corruption crackdown to head Davos delegation:

"Saudi Arabia’s delegation to the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos next week will be led by state minister Ibrahim al-Assaf, who was released from detention related to an anti-corruption purge in November, Saudi sources said.

Assaf, who was also a former finance minister and a board member of national oil company Saudi Aramco, was among people detained and under investigation by a new anti-corruption body, a senior Saudi official had told Reuters.

After he was seen attending a cabinet meeting earlier this month, a Saudi source said he had been cleared of wrongdoing and retained his positions as minister of state and adviser to the king."



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Oil prices fall as rally falters on growing U.S. output concerns

Oil prices fall as rally falters on growing U.S. output concerns:

"Oil prices ended down on Friday and broke a four-week winning streak after a rally that had taken benchmarks to three-year highs, as investors sold positions on re-emerging U.S. production concerns.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 fell 70 cents, or 1 percent, to settle at $68.61 a barrel after hitting a session low of $68.28. On Monday, they hit their highest since December 2014 at $70.37.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 settled at $63.37 a barrel, down 58 cents, or 0.9 percent. WTI marked a December-2014 peak of $64.89 a barrel on Tuesday."



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