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Middle East & African Monitor – 7 September 2017

  • France Is “Worried” About Trump’s Position On Iran Nuclear Accord – French Foreign Minister.
  • Major Cabinet Reshuffle In Tunisia.Libyan Oilfield Finally Resumes Operations.
  • Saudi Arabia Said To Be Considering Revisions To Its NTP.
  • Egypt’s FX Reserves Continue To Rise – CB Clears Backlog. 
  • Qatari Stocks Dip After FTSE Decision.Yields Rise At Latest T-Bill Auction In Qatar.
  • Bahrain Prepares To Conduct SUKUK Issuance.
  • Tanzania Signs US$500 Mio Loan Agreement.
  • Oman’s SWF Invests US$120 Mio Into Berkeley Energia.
  • Saudi Arabia’s Economic Cities To Introduce Real Estate Fees.

REGIONAL COMMENTARY

France Is “Worried” About Trump’s Position On Iran Nuclear Accord – French Foreign Minister.
France’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, was quoted by Reuters as saying yesterday that his government was concerned over the current US administration’s position on the P5+1 nuclear accord with Iran and that this could put the agreement at risk. “The agreement which was passed two years ago enables Iran to give up on a nuclear weapon and so avoid proliferation. We have to guarantee this stance. I am worried at this moment in time by the position of President Trump, who could put into question this accord. And if this accord is put into question then voices in Iran will speak up to say: ‘Let’s also have a nuclear weapon.’ We are in an extremely dangerous spiral for the world,” Le Drian stated. On Tuesday, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, claimed that President Trump “had grounds” to declare that Tehran was not complying by the conditions of the accord. “This is about US national security, this is not about European security. If the President finds that he cannot in good faith certify Iranian compliance, he would initiate a process whereby we move beyond narrow technicalities and look at the big picture,” Haley said. The next US three-monthly certification of this compliance is due to take place next month.

Major Cabinet Reshuffle In Tunisia.
Tunisia’s President, Youssef Chahed, yesterday announced a major reshuffle of his coalition cabinet following some earlier resignations and drawn-out discussions with various political parties. 13 ministers were replaced with new appointments made to the key positions of Defence, Education, Finance and the Interior. The incoming Finance Minister will be Ridha Chelghoum, who held the post in 2011 and who will now have to deal with the challenge of making progress on the implementation of a sensitive reform program, as called for by the IMF following its decision to provide the North African country with a US$2.9 bio loan.

Libyan Oilfield Finally Resumes Operations.
Libya’s Sharara oil field will reportedly begin operating again from today after a more than two-week halt, following a blockade of the facility by a local militia group.Al Arabiya quoted one unnamed official at the field as saying;“We have just started, little by little,” adding that it would probably take three to four days for production to reach normal levels again.

Saudi Arabia Said To Be Considering Revisions To Its NTP.
According to an article in today’s Financial Times, Saudi Arabia is considering amending some of the targets and programs as laid out in its original ‘National Transformation Plan’ which was unveiled last year. The paper claims a revised draft will be released by the end of next month and would “change existing initiatives and add new ones,” however it is also believed that the Aramco IPO would not be affected by these potential changes as it does not fall under the NTP. A decision to revise certain targets and programs should not come as a surprise considering the size and scope of the Kingdom’s ambitious but extremely important plan to diversify its economy away from its current heavy reliance on the oil sector. 

Egypt’s FX Reserves Continue To Rise – CB Clears Backlog.
Egypt’s foreign exchange reserves rose slightly in August to US$31.14 bio its highest level since 2010. Meanwhile the Central Bank has said that it has cleared US$ billions of outstanding hard currency requests including US$2.1 bio for local importers, US$1.5 bio for various payments/transfers by international firms, on top of US$552 mio for the remittance of dividends, and US$250 mio owed to foreign airlines for flight ticket sales. 

Qatari Stocks Dip After FTSE Decision.
Qatar’s stock market reopened yesterday following the Eid al Adha break but ended the session down 1.30% on the day (-16.80% year-to-date), with Nakilat losing 2.90% after the FTSE announced it was moving the firm from its large-cap index to mid-cap. Meanwhile Aamal dropped 4.40 % and Qatari Investors Group was off 1.80% after the FTSE said it was removing both shares from its all-world index. A Reuters survey which was released last week suggested that 38% of regional asset managers were planning to reduce their Qatar allocations, while none were looking to increase their exposure in that market at this stage.

Yields Rise At Latest T-Bill Auction In Qatar.
Qatar’s Central Bank sold a total of QAR 1 bio via its monthly T-Bill auction yesterday although the 3-month yields were higher than the previous sale. QAR 350 mio of 6-month paper was sold at a rate of 2.49% while QAR 650 mio of 3-month bills were sold at a rate of 2.25% compared to 2.14% last month.

Bahrain Prepares To Conduct SUKUK Issuance.
Bahrain is moving forward with its plans to conduct a US dollar multi-tranche (7-12-30Y) Islamic bond issuance, by announcing the lead banks yesterday who are busy arranging investor meetings from tomorrow. The Kingdom is currently rated at BB+ by FITCH and BB- by S&P.

Tanzania Signs US$500 Mio Loan Agreement.
Tanzania has reportedly concluded a US$500 mio five-year loan agreement with a syndicate of banks led by Credit Suisse. The is the country’s first such loan since 2011 and the funds will be used to finance local infrastructure projects.

Oman’s SWF Invests US$120 Mio Into Berkeley Energia.
Oman’s sovereign wealth fund has reportedly invested US$120 mio in a UK based clean-energy company, Berkeley Energia. The money will be used to fund the development of the Salamanca uranium mine in Spain.

Saudi Arabia’s Economic Cities To Introduce Real Estate Fees.
The Saudi Arabian Economic Cities Authority announced via its website this week that it will begin charging real estate fees from early next year. The authority plans to introduce a flat 1% charge on the sales value or official valuation of a property, as well as a SAR 100 registration fee which will be applicable to both off-plan and completed properties.

07-09-2017

AND FINALLY…
The Middle East branch of the world famous Louvre museum will be officially opened on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island on the 11th of November 2017. The ceiling of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, was designed by the French architect Jean Nouvel, and includes eight layers of Arab-style geometric shapes, allowing beams of light to pour in. Over 600 UAE-acquired pieces of art will be on display alongside hundreds of other works on loan from France.

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