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Middle East & African Monitor – 11 November 2017

  • Saudi Arabia & Kuwait Order Their Citizens To Leave Lebanon
  • Seven People Released As Saudi Corruption Probe Moves Forward.
  • “No Challenges” To Crude Output Agreement – UAE Energy Minister.
  • UK Set To Approve US$2 Bio Guarantee For Aramco.
  • Rosatom Eyes Nuclear Power Plant Deal In KSA.
  • Algeria Predicts 4% GDP Growth Next Year.
  • Ghana Conducts Local US$ Bond Issue.
  • Inflation In Egypt Continues To Ease.
  • NIMR Wins Turkmenistan Order.
  • ENBD Opens Indian Branch.

REGIONAL COMMENTARY

Saudi Arabia & Kuwait Order Their Citizens To Leave Lebanon.
Late last night the Foreign Ministries of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait issued a statement calling on their citizens to leave Lebanon as soon as possible. “Due to the situation in the Republic of Lebanon, the Kingdom asks its nationals visiting or residing in Lebanon to leave as soon as possible, and advises its citizens not to travel to Lebanon from any other international destinations," a Saudi official was quoted as saying by Arab news. In an interview yesterday with CNBC Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Adel Al Jubair, accused Hezbollah of “hijacking the system” in Lebanon and called on the rest of the world to designate the group as a terrorist organization; “Hezbollah pretty much hijacked the Lebanese system, and Hezbollah has been the instrument that Iran uses to dominate Lebanon, the instrument that Iran uses to interfere in Syria with Hamas and with the Houthis, and so we see Hezbollah's mischief all over the region, Hezbollah has been responsible for smuggling weapons into Bahrain, Hezbollah is involved in criminal activities such as drug dealing and money laundering. We are saying that the world has to make sure that we designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, there can be no difference between a political wing and a militant wing, this a bird with one body and one mind, and Hezbollah needs to be designated, the world needs to take actions in terms of curtailing their activities and the world needs to push back against them wherever they operate. That's what we're saying, we cannot allow Lebanon to be a platform from which harm comes to Saudi Arabia. The Lebanese people are innocent, the Lebanese people have been dominated by Hezbollah and we need to find a way to help the Lebanese people come out from under the thumb of Hezbollah,” Al Jubair stated, and you can read the entire transcript of his interview here. Meanwhile the French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said today that his government believed that Lebanon’s former Prime Minister, Saad al Hariri was free to travel and was not being held against his will in Riyadh. "As far as we know, we think he is free of his movements and it's important he makes his own choices," Le Drian was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Seven People Released As Saudi Corruption Probe Moves Forward.
Saudi Arabia’s attorney-general, Sheikh Saud al Moaajeb, who is also a member of the new committee set-up to investigate corruption in the Kingdom, yesterday announced the release of some of the high profile officials and businessmen recently detained on suspicion of corrupt activities. “The number of persons arrested was 208, while seven were released, for lack of sufficient evidence. Given the magnitude of these charges, under the Royal Order of 4th November, there is a clear legal mandate to move to the next stage of investigations with the suspects,” Sheikh Saud was quoted as saying by the UAE’s National newspaper, adding; “There is a great deal of speculation around the world about the identities of the individuals concerned and the details of the charges against them. However, we will not disclose any details at this time, to ensure that they enjoy the full legal rights granted to them by the Kingdom, and ask to respect their privacy while undergoing judicial proceedings.” You can read the complete article on this topic here.

“No Challenges” To Crude Output Agreement – UAE Energy Minister.
The UAE’s Energy Minister, Suhail bin Mohammed al Mazroui, indicated this morning that he was optimistic about the upcoming OPEC meeting due to take place at the end of this month, and had no doubt that the OPEC/NOPEC output cap agreement would be extended again next year, with the only debate likely to revolve around the duration of the next extension. "I am optimistic about 2018 and about the next OPEC meeting as there won't be big challenges in our decision to extend the cut deal," the minister was quoted as saying by the Al Hayat newspaper.

UK Set To Approve US$2 Bio Guarantee For Aramco.
The UK Treasury is reportedly close to approving a US$2 bio loan guarantee for Saudi Aramco, which some media outlets are suggesting may be part of a bid by the British government to help convince the firm to list its much awaited IPO on the LSE next year. However this is not the first time the UK has provided an export credit to the energy giant, as it also supported a program which helped to finance the construction of Saudi Aramco’s Sadara chemical complex back in 2013.

Rosatom Eyes Nuclear Power Plant Deal In KSA.
Russia’s state-owned nuclear company, Rosatom, said it would be keen to participate in any tender for the construction of nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom is currently undergoing a review of its future energy needs and has initially proposed the establishment of up to 17 nuclear reactors in the country by 2032.

Algeria Predicts 4% GDP Growth Next Year.
The Algerian government is reportedly anticipating GDP growth of 4% in 2018 compared to 2.20% this year according to a recent Reuters article. Meanwhile the country’s trade deficit dropped by almost 38% to US$8.14 bio during the first three quarters of this year compared to the same period in 2016. This decrease is due primarily to a sharp drop in imports and the recovery in oil prices. 

Ghana Conducts Local US$ Bond Issue.
Ghana sold US$221 mio of its three-year US dollar denominated paper at 6.25% yesterday, although the issuance was only open to domestic investors.

Inflation In Egypt Continues To Ease.
Consumer inflation in Egypt continues to edge lower after peaking at 34.20% in July this year following the devaluation and float of the local currency. CPI slipped to 30.80% last month from 31.60% in September according to the country’s official statistics agency.

NIMR Wins Turkmenistan Order.
UAE based NIMR automotive company has been awarded a contract to supply the Turkmenistan Defence Force with long-range special operations vehicles according to the Arabian Business website.

ENBD Opens Indian Branch.
Emirates NBD this week became the second UAE based bank to open a branch in India, following a similar move by the National Bank of Abu Dhabi (now FAB) in 2015

12.11.2017

AND FINALLY…
Did you know that the entire area of the newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi is covered by a latticework silvery dome that is 36 metres high, and weighs 7,500 tonnes which is almost as much as the Eiffel Tower?

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