Mideast funds positive on Saudi Arabia after corruption crackdown

Saudi King Salman ordered the formation of a super committee to combat corruption in November. (SPA)
Updated 01 December 2017
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Mideast funds positive on Saudi Arabia after corruption crackdown

DUBAI: Middle East fund managers have become more positive toward Saudi Arabian equities after authorities launched a sweeping crackdown on corruption, a monthly Reuters poll showed on Thursday.
Forty-six percent of funds now expect to raise their allocations to the Saudi stock market in the next three months and none to reduce them, according to the poll of 13 leading managers, conducted over the past week.
That is the most bullish bias toward Saudi stocks since July, and compares with ratios of 31 percent and 8 percent in last month’s poll.
The crackdown alarmed the stock market because of its potential to damage the economy and undermine companies linked to suspects.
As a result, foreign investors were net sellers of stocks in the first three weeks of this month, exchange data shows. They were also concerned by rising tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, fueled by instability in Lebanon.
But many fund managers said they were looking past the short-term instability caused by the corruption crackdown to possibilities created by Saudi Arabia’s economic reform program, including privatizations, big new development projects and the plan to lift a ban on women driving next year.
“The crackdown on corruption that we witnessed earlier this month, along with escalated tensions between Iran and Saudi, pushes us to be cautious about our overall Saudi exposure,” said Dubai’s Arqaam Capital.
However, it added: “Short-term uncertainties are concerning, but our long-term view is net positive when putting together reform initiatives and liberalization efforts.”
The non-oil part of the Saudi economy is barely growing this year and is not expected to fare much better next year because of the planned introduction of a 5 percent value-added tax.
But the government is expected to increase spending on development projects moderately in 2018 — perhaps relying in part on funds recovered in the corruption crackdown — so some funds are starting to look toward an economic recovery in 2019.
Sachin Mohindra, portfolio manager at Abu Dhabi’s Invest AD, said that while economic, regulatory and social reforms in the region as a whole would sustain growth in the long term, for now “we expect regional investors to continue to exercise a lot of caution and volumes to remain subpar relative to history.”
 


GCC citizens eye properties in Oman as number of buyers rises

Many Gulf nationals often buy properties in prominent tourist spots. (File/AFP)
Updated 21 October 2018
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GCC citizens eye properties in Oman as number of buyers rises

  • An increase of 17.63 percent has been recorded

DUBAI: The number of GCC citizens buying properties in Oman has risen by 17.63 percent according to the country's National Center for Statistics and Information, local daily Times of Oman reported on Sunday.

The statistics show that 1,038 properties were purchased by GCC nationals in August 2018, compared to the 855 purchased last year.

“The increase in the number of GCC nationals’ ownership of plots in Oman is because they benefit from the returns on investment in the real estate sector and its value, compared to some other Gulf states. Some of them also buy plots because they have relatives in Oman and want to live near them. Some have inherited land plots because they are of Omani origin, in addition to the desire of many investors to own property in some provinces because of the weather and moderate climate,” an official from Oman’s housing ministry said.

GCC nationals often buy properties in prominent tourist spots in Oman, according to Ahmed Al-Hooti, a member of the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“Many nationals from Saudi, Qatar, UAE and Bahrain come here and buy properties in popular tourist spots such as Salalah, Masirah Island, and eastern beaches such as Ras Al Hadd for activities such as fishing,” Al-Hooti said.