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Middle East & African Monitor – 13 December 2017

  • France Accuses Iran Of Trying To Aggressively Expand Its Regional Influence.
  • Nigerian Oil Workers Union Continues To Threaten Strike Action.
  • Moodys Predicts ‘Stable’ Outlook For GCC Banks.
  • Aramco Signs US$10 Bio Worth Of MOU’s With Foreign Firms.
  • ADNOC Shares Jump On First Trading Day.
  • UAE & KSA Discuss Digital Currency Cooperation.
  • Construction Of Egypt’s First Nuclear Plant To Begin Soon.
  • Dar Al Arkan Eyes Overseas Opportunities. 
  • Saudi Arabia Plans To Create Export Bank.
  • China To Provide Funding For New Airport In Mozambique.

REGIONAL COMMENTARY

France Accuses Iran Of Trying To Aggressively Expand Its Regional Influence.
The French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, claimed during a television interview yesterday that the regime in Tehran was attempting to widen its regional military and political ambitions. “The Iranian presence and the desire to make an axis from the Mediterranean to Tehran, I say no!” Le Drian said on France’s TV-2, adding that in Syria “Iran brings its militias, and supports Hezbollah. There is a Syria that needs to exist free from foreign powers and influence, the main actors in this affair are Russia and Iran, they need to use their weight to lead a political solution with the other members of the UN Security Council." His comments follow those made last week by the Trump administration’s National Security Advisor, HR McMaster, who was quoted as saying; “What the Iranians have done across the Middle East is fuel and accelerate cycles of violence so that they can take advantage of chaos and weak states to make them dependent on Iran for support.”

Nigerian Oil Workers Union Continues To Threaten Strike Action.
Members of the ‘Petroleum & Natural Gas Senior Staff’ union in Nigeria continues to threaten widespread strike action next week, but are due to sit-down with Labour Ministry officials today to discuss the issue. Their proposed action which is due to begin on Monday is reportedly linked to what the union claims were “unfair labour practices” by certain oil companies including Neconde Energy. According to the local ‘Nation’ newspaper, PENGASSAN has called on the government to compel this particular company to recall all its recently sacked workers within seven days and “abide by the nation’s labour laws,” adding that any failure to do so would force the union to call out its members on nationwide and indefinite strike action.

Moodys Predicts ‘Stable’ Outlook For GCC Banks.
Moodys Investor Services has issued its latest review of the regional banking sector in which it affirms its ‘stable’ outlook on the GCC banks. The agency said in its report that this view reflected “strong financial fundamentals, particularly in the largest banking systems,” adding that; “Although fiscal consolidation efforts in the region will persist, key regional infrastructure projects, such as UAE Expo 2020, World Cup Qatar 2022 and the Saudi National Transformation Program will support capital spending and credit growth which should expand by 5% in 2018.”

Aramco Signs US$10 Bio Worth Of MOU’s With Foreign Firms.
Saudi Aramco announced today that it had signed a series of MOU’s with a number of international firms including; Schlumberger, Technicas Reunidas and SNC-Lavalin. These agreements are linked towards boosting the country’s domestic manufacturing sector and increasing the percentage of local content and expertise involved. 

ADNOC Shares Jump On First Trading Day.
Shares in ADNOC’s distribution arm, which was IPO’d earlier this month and began trading on the Abu Dhabi Exchange today, have staged an impressive debut. The stock initially rose by over 15% in good volumes during this morning’s session before ending the day up 6%. 

UAE & KSA Discuss Digital Currency Cooperation.
The UAE’s Central Bank Governor, Mubarak Rashid al Mansouri, was quoted by Reuters earlier today saying that his country and Saudi Arabia were looking at the potential implementation of a digital currency for use in cross-border trades. This specific cryptocurrency would be utilized by banks and not by individuals the governor stated adding; "It is digitization of what we do already between central banks and banks."

Construction Of Egypt’s First Nuclear Plant To Begin Soon.
Russia has reportedly agreed to supply Egypt with a minimum of US$15 bio worth of fuel to eventually power the North African country’s proposed 4800MW nuclear power station. The El Dabaa plant will be Egypt’s first nuclear facility and its construction, which is set to be completed by 2028, will be led by the Russian firm, Rosatom and cost around US$21 bio. The bulk of funding for this project will be provided by a soft loan from the Russian government while the balance will be financed by Egypt.

Dar Al Arkan Eyes Overseas Opportunities. 
The Saudi Arabian based property developer, Dar Al Arkan is reportedly looking at potential opportunities in Europe and Morocco according to the company’s chairman, Youssef Al Shelash. “We have a good opportunity now to grow outside of Saudi Arabia because we have the cash and the capability,” Al Shelash was quoted as saying by Reuters yesterday. One of the proposals in Morocco apparently being considered by the firm, is involvement in a social housing initiative which the government there hopes will result in the construction of up to 800,000 homes by 2021.

country’s industrial and mining sectors. In relation to this, the Energy Minister, Khalid al Falih, was quoted by Reuters saying this morning that the bank would receive its first SAR 5 bio in capital this year, with a further SAR 25 bio set to follow.

China To Provide Funding For New Airport In Mozambique.
The Chinese government has agreed to provide Mozambique with a US$60 mio grant to help fund the construction of a new airport in the city of Xai Xai.

13-12-2017

AND FINALLY…
Did you know that all of the pet hamsters in the world today originally derived from a small wild population of these gerbils discovered in Syria in the early 1930s?

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