IMF official hopes Lebanon program talks can start before new year

IMF official hopes Lebanon program talks can start before new year
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Updated 19 October 2021

IMF official hopes Lebanon program talks can start before new year

IMF official hopes Lebanon program talks can start before new year

An executive director at the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday that he hopes program negotiations with Lebanon could start before the new year to try to pull the country's economy out of a crisis.

An IMF program is widely seen as the only way Lebanon can unlock foreign financial help which it desperately needs to emerge from one of the world's sharpest economic depressions.

“We hope the effort being made today will lead to access to all the data and to sufficient information ... all required data must be available first,” IMF’s Mahmoud Mohieldin said in a statement.

Mohieldin's remarks come after a meeting with Lebanon's Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Tuesday.

He added that any conditions the IMF would require “will not be harsher than what we see in Lebanon today.”

“I imagine that after the success of this program ... the required confidence can be restored to the economy and we positively bet on the ability of the economy and Lebanese people to respond to positive signals,” Mohieldin said.


Bahrain outlook improves on fiscal reforms, S&P says

Bahrain outlook improves on fiscal reforms, S&P says
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 6 sec ago

Bahrain outlook improves on fiscal reforms, S&P says

Bahrain outlook improves on fiscal reforms, S&P says
  • The agency said it expects the government to benefit from additional financial support from its Gulf neighbours

S&P Global Ratings has revised Bahrain's outlook to 'stable' from 'negative' on the back of new fiscal reforms aimed at improving non-oil revenues and cutting state spending, the ratings agency said in a statement.

Rated below investment grade, Bahrain was bailed out to avoid a credit crunch in 2018 with a $10 billion package from wealthy neighbours, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.


That money was linked to a set of fiscal reforms, but after the coronavirus crisis strained its finances, Bahrain in September postponed plans to balance its budget by two years and announced plans to increase a value-added tax.


"The Bahraini government recently announced additional fiscal reforms to strengthen non-oil revenue and rationalize expenditure. These measures, along with the more supportive oil price environment, should improve the sovereign's fiscal position", S&P said in a statement this weekend.


The agency said it expects the government to benefit from additional financial support from its Gulf neighbors, if needed.


Bahrain will double value-added tax to 10 percent next year, a move which S&P estimated could contribute receipts of about 3 percent of gross domestic product in the next few years, up from about 1.7 percent this year.


The Gulf state is also planning to rationalize operational government expenditure and social subsidies in 2023 and 2024, a move which shifts the focus of its reforms more on the spending side than on raising non-oil revenues.


"We believe there is higher implementation risk in expenditure rationalization as the delicate political and social environment on the island, which has constrained the government's efforts, persists", S&P said.


Bahrain has in the past backtracked on some reforms as its Sunni Muslim rulers feared that austerity moves would bolster the majority Shi’ite-led opposition and stir more of the unrest that rattled the country since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.


How Omicron is affecting Middle East markets

How Omicron is affecting Middle East markets
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 14 min 5 sec ago

How Omicron is affecting Middle East markets

How Omicron is affecting Middle East markets
  • Oil prices stumbled in their biggest decline since April 2020

DUBAI: The new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, has prompted global economic concerns, as fears of its spread begin to affect stock markets and oil prices. 

Saudi Arabia’s main market, the Tadawul All Share Index, opened 5.3 percent lower on Sunday, trading near 10,700 points. 

The Dubai Financial Market was down 8.49 percent.

Oil prices stumbled in their biggest decline since April 2020, with Brent prices dropping 11.55 percent to $72.72 per barrel when markets closed on Friday, while WTI slid 13.06 percent down to $68.15 per barrel.

The variant was first discovered in South Africa and had also since been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Israel, the UK, Australia and Hong Kong.

Within the Middle East Israel is the only country to have reported a case of the new variant so far, but some governments in the region have issued travel curbs to prevent the virus from spreading. 

On Sunday, Saudi Arabia expanded the list of African countries where it barred travel because of Omicron, adding Malawi, Zambia, Madagascar, Angola, Seychelles, Mauritius and the Comoros Islands.

The Kingdom earlier halted flights to and from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Eswatini.

Other Middle East countries, including the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Jordan have issued similar measures. 


Saudi stock market drops 5.3 as Omicron sparks global concern

Saudi stock market drops 5.3 as Omicron sparks global concern
Updated 13 min 50 sec ago

Saudi stock market drops 5.3 as Omicron sparks global concern

Saudi stock market drops 5.3 as Omicron sparks global concern

Saudi Arabia’s main market, the Tadawul All Share Index, opened 5.3 percent lower on Sunday, trading near 10,700 points.


Aramco prepares work on its largest non-associated gas field

Aramco prepares work on its largest non-associated gas field
Updated 28 November 2021

Aramco prepares work on its largest non-associated gas field

Aramco prepares work on its largest non-associated gas field
  • The Saudi-listed firm claims it to be the “largest non-associated gas field” in the Kingdom

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s oil giant Aramco is marking the start of its development of the Jafurah unconventional gas field on Nov. 29. 

The Saudi-listed firm claims it to be the “largest non-associated gas field” in the Kingdom. 

The move is part of the Kingdom’s push to commercialize its unconventional resources and expand Aramco’s integrated gas portfolio. 


London-based Knight Frank expands Dubai team as real estate continues boom

London-based Knight Frank expands Dubai team as real estate continues boom
Updated 28 November 2021

London-based Knight Frank expands Dubai team as real estate continues boom

London-based Knight Frank expands Dubai team as real estate continues boom
  • The firm hired Andrew Cummings, who has been involved in major sales transactions in Dubai, including two 100-million-dirham properties

DUBAI: London-based real estate firm Knight Frank has hired a veteran broker in Dubai as it expands its operations in the emirate, particularly targeting the luxury market. 

The firm hired Andrew Cummings, who has been involved in major sales transactions in Dubai, including two 100-million-dirham properties, which at the time were the second and third highest sales in the emirate’s residential market history. 

It comes as Dubai experiences a surge in sales transactions, particularly in the luxury residential market, in recent months.

“With Dubai’s property market roaring back to life and seeing record growth in 2021, now is absolutely the time to capitalize on this momentum,” Cummings said in a statement.