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Middle East & African Monitor – 11 December 2017

  • Egypt Invites Palestinian & Jordanian Leaders For Talks Over Jerusalem Decision.
  • OPEC To Reveal Its Exit Strategy From Output Reduction Pact Next Year.
  • Kuwait’s Oil & Finance Ministers Replaced.
  • Egypt’s CA Deficit & Inflation Rate Continue To Decline.
  • KSA Prepares To Launch Household Allowance System – Cinemas To Open Next Year.
  • Iran & Tunisia Release Their 2018 Budget Plans.
  • Siemens Wins EUR 700 Mio Power Plant Contract In Libya.
  • Salini Impregilo Wins US$200 Mio Contract In The UAE.
  • BYD To Establish EV Factory In Morocco.
  • Algeria’s First Communications Satellite Launched Into Space.

REGIONAL COMMENTARY

Egypt Invites Palestinian & Jordanian Leaders For Talks Over Jerusalem Decision.
Egypt’s President Sisi is set to meet with the Palestinian and Jordanian leaders, Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdullah II, later today to discuss the recent controversial decision by the US to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. A statement issued by Sisi’s office said that the meeting was arranged in order for a discussion to be held on ways to deal with this event “in a manner that preserves the rights of the Palestinian people and their national sanctities, and their legitimate right to establish an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.” In reaction to the US decision, Egypt’s Grand Imam, Ahmed al Tayeb and the head of the country’s Coptic church, Pope Tawadros II, have already both said they will not meet with US Vice President, Mike Pence, when he undertakes an official visit to Cairo towards the end of this month. Meanwhile France’s President Emmanuel Macron has again criticized Washington’s unilateral declaration on Jerusalem, describing it yesterday as “contrary to international law and dangerous for the peace process.” According to the France-24 news outlet he also called on the Israeli Prime Minister “to show courage in his dealings with the Palestinians to get us out of the current dead-end," adding that "peace does not depend on the United States alone, it depends on the capacity of the two Israeli and Palestinian leaders to do so."

OPEC To Reveal Its Exit Strategy From Output Reduction Pact Next Year.
The UAE’s Energy Minister, Suhail bin Mohammed al Mazroui, was quoted by Reuters saying earlier today that, the signatories to the OPEC/NOPEC out reduction agreement will reveal their exit strategy from this program by June 2018, adding however that this did not mean that the accord would end then. "We will announce a strategy in the June meeting, that does not mean we will exit in June, that means we will come up with a strategy. Hopefully the market will be in a much better position for us to come and announce an exit strategy. What is that strategy? No one can tell you the shape, the form, how is it going to be done, prior to everyone’s meeting, every voice counts in this group, it is unfair for anyone to come and predict,” he stated.

Kuwait’s Oil & Finance Ministers Replaced.
According to Kuwait’s state-run news agency, the country’s oil and finance ministers have been replaced. Nayef Falah al Hajraf takes over at the Finance Ministry, and Bakhit al Rashidi is to become the new Oil Minister. This latest reshuffle, which also included the appointment of Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al Ahmad as Defence Minister, follows the resignation of the previous cabinet at the end of October this year. You will find a complete cabinet list here.

Egypt’s CA Deficit & Inflation Rate Continue To Decline.
According to Egypt’s Central Bank, the country’s current account deficit shrank to US$1.6 bio during Q1 of the current fiscal year from US$4.8 bio in the same period last year. The trade deficit has also reportedly also narrowed by 5% to US$8.9 bio, driven by a rise in exports. Meanwhile headline inflation dropped to 26.70% last month, compared to 31.80% in October and is the lowest level recorded so far this year, according to the national statistics agency.

KSA Prepares To Launch Household Allowance System – Cinemas To Open Next Year.
The Saudi authorities are expected to launch a cash allowance scheme this week, which is aimed at providing somewhat of a buffer to lower income families against the negative knock-on effects of austerity measures such as higher fuel and electricity prices. Meanwhile a statement, reportedly issued earlier today by the Ministry of Culture and Information, has said that its media department has begun the process of licensing public cinemas in the Kingdom and that the first such facility may open as early as March next year. (Cinemas have been banned in Saudi Arabia since the early 1980s).

Iran & Tunisia Release Their 2018 Budget Plans.
Hassan Rouhani’s administration yesterday unveiled a cautious draft national budget for the 2018/19 fiscal year, based on average oil price of US$55 per barrel and totaling around US$$ 334 bio (including state enterprises). Whilst this bill reflects only a small increase on the previous year, and is expected to be passed by Iran’s parliament, the government is facing growing pressure to improve the life of the average citizen, especially as unemployment remains stubbornly high despite the recent rise in oil exports.Meanwhile Tunisia’s parliament has approved a TND 36 bio budget for the year ahead, it includes a series of measures aimed at reducing the C/A deficit that currently stands at a record high. Steps to be taken include; a tax hike on new vehicles, alcohol and tourist accommodation, as well as an increase in VAT. 

Siemens Wins EUR 700 Mio Power Plant Contract In Libya.
Germany’s Siemens has reportedly signed a EUR 700 mio contract to build a gas-fired electricity plant in each of the Libyan cities of Tripoli and Misrata.

Salini Impregilo Wins US$200 Mio Contract In The UAE.
The Italian construction firm, Salini Impregilo, has been awarded a US$200 mio contract to build a transit way between two islands in Abu Dhabi.

BYD To Establish EV Factory In Morocco.
The Chinese electric car manufacturer BYD signed an agreement this past weekend to establish an assembly plant near Tangiers, which once operational would produce battery-powered cars, buses and trucks, and employ up to 2,500 workers.

Algeria’s First Communications Satellite Launched Into Space.
Algeria’s first-ever communications satellite was successfully launched into space this past weekend. The Alcomsat-1 satellite will be used to improve the country’s telecommunication and internet services and was built by China’s Great Wall Industry Corporation who also provided the launch vehicle.

11-12-2017

AND FINALLY…
Did you know that the earliest sign of licorice use was discovered in the tomb of Tutankhamen? The ancient Egyptians used licorice to treat various respiratory disorders.

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