Syrian government sacks central bank governor

Syrian government sacks central bank governor
Syrian President Bashar Assad on Tuesday sacked the governor of war-ravaged Syria’s central bank amid currency crash in recent months. (AP)
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Updated 13 April 2021

Syrian government sacks central bank governor

Syrian government sacks central bank governor
  • Analyst said governor didn’t live up to his role through implementing real interventions to salvage local currency
  • Syrian pound lost more than 98 percent of its value against the dollar over past decade

DAMASCUS: The Syrian government on Tuesday dismissed central bank governor Hazem Karfoul whose three-year tenure coincided with a severe economic crisis.
“President Bashar Assad issues a decree terminating the appointment of Hazem Karfoul,” the presidency said in a statement.
It did not give a reason or appoint a replacement.
Karfoul was named central bank governor in 2018, seven years into a conflict that has killed more than 388,000 people and displaced millions.
He oversaw an accelerating economic crisis sparked by civil war and compounded by sanctions, the coronavirus pandemic and a financial crunch in neighboring Lebanon.
An analyst in Damascus, asking not to be named over security concerns, said Karfoul “did not live up to his role through implementing real interventions” that could salvage the local currency.
Karfoul, he said, had been incapable of “quick and decisive decisions” at a time when the government was looking for “energetic new faces” to oversee a rescue phase.
The Syrian pound has lost more than 98 percent of its value against the dollar over the past decade.
Officially valued at 1,256 to the greenback, it sold for more than 3,000 on the black market on Tuesday, money exchangers told AFP.
Last month, it sold for 4,000 to the greenback, hitting an all-time low.
The government last month started enforcing a series of measures to stem a further drop in the pound’s value, according to pro-government newspaper Al-Watan.
They include new import bans and a state crackdown on unofficial money exchangers, it said.
Karfoul held several posts at the central bank, including deputy chief, before he was named governor.
The US treasury department sanctioned him in 2020 along with several other senior officials.
In its announcement, the treasury cited reports that Karfoul in September 2019 met with some of Syria’s wealthiest businessmen to press them to donate to state coffers.
He allegedly “identified the properties and other assets of the businessmen during the meeting and had suggested... their fortunes could be seized if they did not give a significant contribution.”


OPEC+ likely to be cautious on oil demand at upcoming meeting

OPEC+ likely to be cautious on oil demand at upcoming meeting
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 10 sec ago

OPEC+ likely to be cautious on oil demand at upcoming meeting

OPEC+ likely to be cautious on oil demand at upcoming meeting
  • Opec+ is a group consisting of both Opec and some of the world's largest non-Opec oil exporting nations

RIYADH: The OPEC+ group is likely to take a cautious stance when deciding next week whether to go ahead with planned production increases following the discovery of a new COVID-19 variant has emerged, Geneva-based oil trader Vitol Group said. 

The new variant, named Omicron, has rattled the oil market globally, pushing prices down to their biggest decline since April 2020. 

There are signs that demand may be weakening in some markets going into the winter months in Asia and Europe, said Mike Muller, the head of the Asia unit at Vitol, as reported by Bloomberg.

The new coronavirus variant will probably lead to more flight cancellations this week, he said.

Several countries have tightened travel restrictions against a number of African countries, following the discovery.

Opec+ is a group consisting of both Opec and some of the world's largest non-Opec oil exporting nations.

“OPEC+ have erred on the side of caution,” Muller said on a weekly webinar by Dubai consultancy Gulf Intelligence.

“Post facto they’ve proven to be right. It is likely they will take into account these fundamentals and the possibility of a demand hit over the winter months.”

OPEC and its partners, including Russia, will meet next week to discuss whether it will implement a planned production increase of 400,000 barrels per day.

 


Qatar’s wealth fund might acquire $7bn gas assets from UK’s National Grid: CNBC

Qatar’s wealth fund might acquire $7bn gas assets from UK’s National Grid: CNBC
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 41 min 53 sec ago

Qatar’s wealth fund might acquire $7bn gas assets from UK’s National Grid: CNBC

Qatar’s wealth fund might acquire $7bn gas assets from UK’s National Grid: CNBC
  • Goldman Sachs and Barclays are advising National Grid on the sale

RIYADH: Qatar Investment Authority (QIA),  the country’s sovereign wealth fund, may acquire assets of the UK’s National Grid, which operates electricity and natural gas transmission networks, CNBC Arabia reported, citing two unnamed sources.

QIA was part of a consortium of investors that acquired about 61 percent of the British company's gas pipeline assets five years ago.

Now the Qatari fund is competing with other global investment funds, including Macquarie and Equitix, to acquire the gas assets in an estimated $7 billion deal, the sources said. 

Goldman Sachs and Barclays are advising National Grid on the sale, the report added.

This comes amid a protracted energy crisis that has affected the UK and Europe significantly in recent months amid the disruption of global supply chains. 

The country earlier announced it reached an agreement with Qatar to secure its gas needs or 40 percent of the UK’s total energy mix. 

National Grid has a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange and a secondary listing in the form of its American depositary receipts on the New York Stock Exchange.


Amazon to open Abu Dhabi fulfilment centre by 2024, says govt media office

Amazon to open Abu Dhabi fulfilment centre by 2024, says govt media office
Updated 28 November 2021

Amazon to open Abu Dhabi fulfilment centre by 2024, says govt media office

Amazon to open Abu Dhabi fulfilment centre by 2024, says govt media office

 Amazon has partnered with Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) to establish a fulfilment centre by 2024 to be built in accordance with the company's carbon-reduction strategies, the Abu Dhabi government's media office said on Sunday


The project will create thousands of jobs, boosting Abu Dhabi's logistics sector and retail ecosystem and will be in line with the UAE's ambition to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, the media office added.


Gulf countries to establish integrated industrial strategy: Bahraini minister

Gulf countries to establish integrated industrial strategy: Bahraini minister
Updated 28 November 2021

Gulf countries to establish integrated industrial strategy: Bahraini minister

Gulf countries to establish integrated industrial strategy: Bahraini minister

Countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are planning to set up an integrated industrial strategy, Bahraini Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism Zayed Alzayani said.

This will be done by creating a unified “Gulf strategy for industry,” Asharq Al-Awsat reported, citing him.

The Gulf countries are also trying to increase dependence on each other instead of importing raw materials from abroad, which Alzayani said could create jobs, diversify economies, and expand their exporting values. 

He added the region is heading towards the formation of a customs and economic union by 2025, and the integrated industrial system will help the Gulf to stand among global conglomerates as a single bloc.

When combined, Gulf countries are the 12th largest economy globally, the minister said, adding their aim to be among the top 10 biggest economies in the world.

 


Lebanon launches second licensing round for 8 offshore oil, gas blocks 

Lebanon launches second licensing round for 8 offshore oil, gas blocks 
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 28 November 2021

Lebanon launches second licensing round for 8 offshore oil, gas blocks 

Lebanon launches second licensing round for 8 offshore oil, gas blocks 
  • The US is mediating between Lebanon and Israel, who are technically at war, to resolve the dispute

RIYADH: Lebanon has launched the second licensing round for eight offshore oil and gas blocks after two years of delay.

The government had agreed to launch the second round in April 2019 but it was postponed due to the pandemic, Bloomberg reported.

The US is mediating between Lebanon and Israel, who are technically at war, to resolve the dispute over about 860 square kilometers of water.

The deadline for applications is June 15, according to the Lebanese Petroleum Administration.