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Our Take on the Hot Topics

Our Global Markets team's analyses on the big stories of the moment across the region

Ethiopia: An East African ‘Renaissance’ Story

Hot topics –16 October 2018

Ethiopia’s economic growth continues to be impressive and the initial steps taken by the country’s young and energetic Prime Minister have already borne fruit both internally and externally. However some political and economic challenges remain which we discuss within our latest review of the country.

Glenn Wepener
Executive Director & Geopolitical Analyst Middle East & Africa

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Brexit: What next? We try to demystify the polemic

Hot topics –25 September 2018

The Brexit process, or lack thereof, in the U.K. is currently raising more questions among investors than it is answering. What we do know is that the U.K. will exit the EU on March 29th 2019, with or without a ‘deal’. If there is a ‘deal’ then a two year transition period will follow for settling all the minutiae. With the deadline for reaching a deal between Westminster and Brussels – the need to agree terms on the future trading, economic and political relationship between the two regions – becoming ever closer, investors want clarity. In this latest research paper, we attempt to offer some answers to investors’ current concerns and questions over Brexit, as well as to offer some clarity on where the Brexit story and the direction of U.K. risk sentiment may go from here.

Simon Ballard
Executive Director & Macro Strategist, Market Insights & Strategy 

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China & Arabia – The Return of the Silk Road

Hot topics – 07 August 2018

In this paper we focus primarily on China’s ancient and modern links with the Middle East and discuss the potential outcome the resumption of this mega-project could have on the region and beyond.

Glenn Wepener, Executive Director, Market Insights & Strategy

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Oil Market Update "Push & Pull"

Hot topics – 16 July 2018

The past 12 months have seen crude maintain its bullish mood and this was underlined when Brent tested the US$80 a barrel mark in May this year. Admittedly we have seen a minor technical retracement since then, but the fundamental and geopolitical environment overall still appears supportive for prices going forward. In this report we discuss how much further potential upside is possible in the near to medium term and what factors, both bullish and bearish should one keep an eye on.

Glenn Wepener, Exec. Director & Geopolitical Analyst

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Bahrain: Battered but not broken

Hot topics – 11 June 2018

With Bahrain’s current fiscal situation under the media spotlight recently, we conducted an analysis of the issue and conclude that the economic picture may not be as bad as it appears on the surface.

Chavan Bhogaita, Managing Director & Head of Market Insights & Strategy
Glenn Wepener, Exec. Director & Geopolitical Analyst
Simon Ballard, Exec. Director & Macro Strategist
Rakesh Sahu, Analyst

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UAE Real Estate ‘‘Foundations for Optimism’

Hot Topics – 19 April 2018

In our latest review of UAE real estate, “Foundations for Optimism” we find that a soft, but nonetheless cautiously optimistic tone continues to characterize the UAE property market. After the correction seen in real estate prices during 2014/2015 the market is now showing some encouraging signs of underlying price support, although with evidence of extensive incentives being used by landlords to retain incumbent tenants or entice new ones, market conditions are still far from strong.

Simon Ballard, Macro Strategist, Market Insights & Strategy

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India & the UAE ‘Trading Places’

Hot Topics – 05 April 2018

Trading between the UAE and India go back centuries. In this piece we look briefly at the UAE’s more modern history and how its relations with India became so intertwined.

Glenn Wepener - Executive Director, Market Insights & Strategy 

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Bahrain’s first $ debt issue of 2018, but perhaps not the last…

Hot Topics – 28 March 2018

The Kingdom of Bahrain is in the market with its first deal of 2018, a 7.5 year sukuk transaction. Given the country’s budget deficit, recent ratings downgrades, etc, this sukuk deal is one that needs to succeed. Furthermore, given the magnitude of the country’s funding requirements, we don’t see today’s deal as being the Kingdom’s only transaction for 2018 and hence expect further issuance during the year. Watch this space….

Rakesh Sahu – Analyst, Market Insights & Strategy
Chavan Bhogaita, MD & Head of Market Insights & Strategy

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Aldar + Emaar: There’s more to it than a JV

Hot Topics – 21 March 2018

The announcement of a joint venture between two of the UAE’s leading property developers - Aldar and Emaar – is more significant than may first meet the eye. We believe the collaboration is of huge strategic importance to Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the country as a whole

Chavan Bhogaita, MD & Head of Market Insights & Strategy

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Global Remittances - A Brief Overview

Hot Topics – 18 March 2018

Global remittances have undergone substantial transformation and growth over the past 50 years, and furthermore it is likely that this transformation will be even more pronounced in the coming years as a result of technological advances. In this report FAB’s Market Insights & Strategy team provides a broad overview of Global Remittances and highlights some of the key factors aspects of this market.

Mohamed Ali Al Shamsi, Market Insights & Strategy

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Saudi Arabia - Shifting Sands

Hot Topics – 12 March 2018

There is an ancient Arabic proverb which literally translated into English reads: “You cannot change the wind, but you can adjust the sail.”Although having originated a long time ago it could still be used today to highlight Saudi Arabia’s recently unveiled and unprecedented program of social and economic change. While foreign media headlines and investors may currently be focused on the discussion over where and when Aramco will be listed, other equally important events are either already underway or due to take place this year, thus we try and discuss these in the following piece.

Glenn Wepener -Executive Director & Geopolitical Analyst, Middle East & Africa

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ECB Preview: Does Draghi Believe in Goldilocks?

Hot Topics – 08 March 2018

ECB president Draghi, ever the wordsmith, now needs to tread a very delicate line between conveying the idea of sustainable Eurozone growth and scaring investors with an overly optimistic and hawkish rhetoric. The market hope is now that he shows a conviction in a Goldilocks Eurozone economy that is now running neither ‘too hot’ nor ‘too cold’.

Simon Ballard - Macro Strategist, Market Insights & Strategy

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Italian Elections: Uncertainty Seems to be a Certainty

Hot Topics – 04 March 2018

Italy has long been a country characterised by a fragmented political landscape and unstable governments. The latest elections are unlikely to yield anything different. From a financial markets perspective, the results of this latest election could be even further reaching, carrying the potential to create a sharp spike in market volatility and to call into question the future of the eurozone project.

Simon Ballard - Macro Strategist, Market Insights & Strategy

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Angola – Change Is In The Air

Hot Topics – 31 January 2018

Since the appointment of only the second Angolan President in 38 years a series of important policy actions have been initiated. We take a brief look at these and the potential outlook for this important oil producing country.

Glenn Wepener - Executive Director, Market Insights & Strategy

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Global Macro Thoughts

Hot Topics – 10 January 2018

Global financial markets are facing a potentially more challenging environment in 2018/2019 as central banks begin to pare back monetary and fiscal stimulus and embark on the (hopefully gradual) process of balance sheet normalization. The velocity of this normalization process will be key to how global markets react. To avoid adverse reaction across the risk asset space, central banks need to convey ‘dovish tightening strategies’. Time will tell.

Simon Ballard - Macro Strategist, Market Insights & Strategy

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Oman to print 2018’s first bond deal from the GCC

Hot Topics – 10 January 2018

The Sultanate of Oman is currently marketing a 3-tranched bond deal. FAB’s Market Insights team has provided some initial thoughts on this transaction.

Rakesh Sahu, Analyst, Market Insights & Strategy; Chavan Bhogaita, Head of Market Insights & Strategy

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Cryptocurrencies - Back to the future

Hot Topics – 10 January 2018

Digital currencies have become all the rage this past year, but could another ‘bubble’ market be forming and will the technology itself change the way we do business in the future?

Glenn Wepener - Executive Director, Market Insights & Strategy  

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SUDAN: A Window Of Opportunity

Hot Topics – 18 December 2017

The recent lifting of US sanctions on Sudan has potentially provided the country with a window of opportunity to re-join the global community following a long period of relative isolation. However it still faces numerous economic and political challenges and these are the issues we attempt to analyse here.

Glenn Wepener - Executive Director, Market Insights & Strategy  

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Oil Barrels Along

Hot Topics – 9 November 2017

Those of you who have been following our oil market commentaries for the past 12 to 18 months will already be aware of our optimistic outlook for crude prices since WTI dipped briefly below US$30 a barrel back in February 2016, and which we suggested was likely to be the bottom for this latest major cycle. Since then the market has staged a pretty respectable recovery but is there room to go further?

Glenn Wepener, Executive Director & Geopolitical Analyst Middle East & Africa

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Bahrain prints $3bn deal - Anyone still doubting investor demand?

Hot Topics – 14 September 2017

Bahrain’s successful $3bn three-tranche sovereign transaction shows pretty clearly that there is still substantial investor appetite for GCC paper. FAB’s Market Insights & Strategy team have produced a brief commentary on this deal.

Chavan Bhogaita, Head of Market Insights & Strategy
Rakesh Sahu, Analyst – Market Insights & Strategy

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Bahrain‘s new bond/sukuk combo – a good test of investor appetite?

Hot Topics – 13 September 2017

Following the Kingdom of Bahrain’s announcement of initial price talk for its 3-tranche bond and sukuk transaction, FAB’s Market Insights & Strategy team provides a quick overview of the deal along with some relative value analysis.

Chavan Bhogaita, Head of Market Insights & Strategy
Rakesh Sahu, Analyst – Market Insights & Strategy

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Take Two - Kenya’s Presidential Election To Be Re-run

Hot Topics – 04 September 2017

Markets have begun to reflect growing concerns over the potential for extended political turbulence in Kenya, after the country’s High Court declared the latest Presidential election’s results invalid and ordered fresh elections be held within the next two months, due to ‘illegalities’ around the electronic transmission of paper results. We expect pressure on Kenyan assets to continue in the near term, at least until the poll has been re-run.

Glenn Wepener, Executive Director & Geopolitical Analyst Middle East & Africa

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Off The Beaten Track

Hot Topics – 24 July 2017

Smaller Sub-Saharan countries such as Djibouti, Mauritius and Rwanda have made significant advances both politically and economically over the past few years, but do not quite get the same degree of limelight as the larger countries in Africa. While facing numerous and ongoing challenges, these economies highlight the true potential and hope for the world’s largest continent as well as dispel some of its myths.

Glenn Wepener, Executive Director & Geopolitical Analyst Middle East & Africa

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Egypt – Quiet Progress

Hot Topics – 18 June 2017

While a number of major geo-political events such as the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling of the US elections, sabre-rattling by North Korea, Brexit and the more recent Qatar dispute, continue to take-up much of the global media headlines and analysis, Egypt has quietly been making progress on the economic front since it floated the pound and signed up to an IMF program late last year.(...)

Glenn Wepener, Executive Director & Geopolitical Analyst Middle East & Africa

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VAT in the GCC

Hot Topics – 1 June 2017

A quick primer on the VAT implementation in the GCC. There is of course much more information yet to come in terms of VAT – such as the granular details about how and when it will be implemented in each of the Gulf states. Please watch this space for further updates in this regard.

Alp Eke, Senior Economist
Omar Abdulhadi, Associate Director & Analyst

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Oman Markets Its Debut US$ Sukuk Issue

Hot Topics – 23 May 2017

Following on from its successful bond issue in March, the Sultanate of Oman is now back in the debt capital market – this time selling a debut 7-year sukuk transaction. NBAD’s Market Insights team has published its initial thoughts and relative value analysis in the attached document

Chavan Bhogaita, Head of Market Insights & Strategy
Rakesh Sahu, Analyst – Market Insights & Strategy

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Words of War – The ‘Un’-doing Of North Korea

Hot Topics – 01 May 2017

In 1962 the world came the closest it’s yet been to a nuclear war, fortunately cool heads eventually prevailed both in the White House and Moscow as diplomacy overcame sabre-rattling and the rest of humanity breathed a huge sigh of relief. Now in 2017 are we facing another ‘missile crisis’ which, with very different personalities making decisions in Washington and Pyongyang compared to Kennedy and Khrushchev, has the potential to lead us down a road where diplomacy takes a back seat this time round?

Glenn Wepener, Executive Director & Geopolitical Analyst Middle East & Africa

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Saudi King orders Cabinet reshuffle & restores allowances

Hot Topics – 24 April 2017

The King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz, issued a number of decrees this past weekend including a reversal of certain austerity measures and a minor cabinet reshuffle.

Glenn Wepener, Executive Director & Geopolitical Analyst Middle East & Africa

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Iraq Politics & Economics – The Next Battle

Hot Topics – 13 April 2017

Over the past few years, the primary focus for the Iraqi government – in tandem with its local and foreign partners – has been and remains working to defeat ISIS. They now appear close to achieving this goal. Reconstruction, dealing with the humanitarian crises and establishing political stability across the country will then be their next and probably even greater challenge.

Glenn Wepener, Executive Director & Geopolitical Analyst Middle East & Africa
Omar Abdulhadi, Associate Director & Analyst

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Saudi Arabia’s Pivot to Asia

Hot Topics – 23 March 2017

Asia was the prime destination for Saudi Arabia’s oil sales last year taking just under 70% of the country’s total crude exports. As the Kingdom adjusts its domestic and foreign strategic goals, a number of factors including King Salman’s three-week long tour of Asia and Saudi Aramco’s recent energy related acquisitions, suggest an increased focus on that region.

Glenn Wepener, Executive Director & Geopolitical Analyst Middle East & Africa

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Kuwait Prints $8bn of Bonds & Pledges Prudent Borrowing Strategy

Hot Topics – 14 March 2017

Following the successful issuance of $8 billion of bonds by the State of Kuwait, NBAD’s Market Insights team has published this report with their initial take on the transaction and brief relative value analysis versus other GCC sovereign debt.

Chavan Bhogaita, Head of Market Insights & Strategy
Rakesh Sahu, Analyst – Market Insights & Strategy

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Kuwait Minus Thirty

Hot Topics – 13 March 2017

The State of Kuwait has released initial details for its much anticipated jumbo bond issue. In this report our Market Insights team discusses the transaction and also provides some relative value analysis versus other GCC sovereigns.

Chavan Bhogaita, Head of Market Insights & Strategy
Rakesh Sahu, Analyst – Market Insights & Strategy

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Kenya – East African Power House Faces a Difficult 2017

Hot Topics – 03 March 2017

Despite an ongoing challenge by Ethiopia and Tanzania, Kenya has thus far managed to cling onto its spot as East Africa’s largest economy displaying a robust performance over the past few years, with 2016 proving to be no different as the country’s GDP expanded by 5.90%. However the year ahead could be a much more difficult one especially on the financial and political side.

Glenn Wepener, Executive Director & Geopolitical Analyst Middle East & Africa

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Fixed Income – Oman Successfully Prints $5bn in Bonds

Hot Topics – 02 March 2017

Oman not only joined the new issue party but made quite an entrance with its $5bn transaction yesterday – the largest ever single deal printed by the Sultanate. In this report we summarise details of the issue and provide some relative value comparisons versus other GCC sovereign paper.

Chavan Bhogaita, Head of Market Insights & Strategy
Rakesh Sahu, Analyst – Market Insights & Strategy

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Fixed Income – Oman Joins the New Issue Party

Hot Topics – 01 March 2017

The Sultanate of Oman has today announced initial price target information for its forthcoming 3-tranche bond deal. In this report we look at the key comparables within the GCC sovereign space and provide some relative value observations.

Chavan Bhogaita, Head of Market Insights & Strategy
Rakesh Sahu, Analyst – Market Insights & Strategy

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Nigerian Naira – Pressure Building

Hot Topics – 23 February 2017

With rumours of another possible Naira devaluation doing the rounds following the latest foreign exchange policy actions by the Nigerian Central Bank, we discuss the potential effect these changes may have and whether or not they will be enough to restore liquidity and confidence in the local currency.

Glenn Wepener, Executive Director & Geopolitical Analyst Middle East & Africa

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2016: A quick glance in the rear view mirror

25 December 2016

Just as we had all re-wired our brains to write 2016 instead of ’15 we realised that we were already part way into the year, and thereafter – as always – the months flew past. Here we are now, in the last few days of the year and bidding farewell to what has been a pretty eventful year in more ways than one.

Chavan Bhogaita, NBAD's Global Head of Market Insights & Strategy

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Oil – Which Way Is Up? - 27 September 2016

"Since January this year we have been warning about the growing risk of a potential oil price spike in the near to medium term (...)"

Tunisia Awaiting a Miracle - 24 August 2016

Following the peaceful “Jasmine” revolution of 2011, Tunisia struggles to replicate its political achievements on the economic front.

Turkey: A Bumpy Road Ahead - 25 July 2016

S&P downgraded Turkey further into junk status; Moodys & Fitch have put the country’s ratings under review.

US Elections 2016: Mathematics vs Hype - 19 July 2016

The reason we believe Clinton will win over Donald Trump is based on basic numbers.

Nigeria’s FX Policy: Radio Silence - 1 June 2016

Offshore investors are still waiting for clarity on the recently announced plan to switch to a more “flexible” exchange rate regime. We believe a continuation of the status quo is unlikely.

Saudi Arabia National Transformation Plan - 07 June 2016

The Saudi Council of Economic and Development Affairs approved the National Transformation Plan (NTP), a pivotal element of the Vision 2030.

Saudi Arabia: All Change - 10 May 2016

The latest raft of ministerial changes is another step in the direction of diversification. Reforms promised are unprecedented.

Saudi Arabia's 2030 Vision – A Snapshot - 26 April 2016

The Kingdom’s “Vision 2030” plan involves a series of major economic and social reforms with ambitious targets

Abu Dhabi – additional steps towards diversification - 13 April 2016

Abu Dhabi authorities have announced additional levies that are likely to generate material incremental revenues for the Government.

Saudi Arabia – The Kingdom Strikes Back - 06 April 2016

Saudi Arabia has substantial assets, financial reserves, and a host of options in its ‘tool kit’ to get through the current challenges.

Egypt - Investors required - 15 March 2016

Egypt’s economy has suffered a severe downturn since the 2011 revolution as foreign investors and tourists deserted the country due to the subsequent social instability (...)

Angola - From boom to bust - 16 February 2016

Africa’s second largest oil producer relies almost entirely on crude oil sales which account for more than 75% of government revenues and 95% of the country’s foreign exchange inflows (...)

Iran's potential oil bonanza - 4 February 2016

There has been a lot of excitement and comment this past year about Iran’s full return to the oil and gas markets as sanctions are lifted and blocked overseas funds released.

Naira on the edge? - 12 January 2016

Nigeria’s Central Bank will no longer sell hard currency to the Bureaux de Change firms and allow commercial banks to resume accepting US dollar deposits.