North Africa/Middle East

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Lebanese authorities have started technical discussions to pull the country out of its crisis, a senior IMF official said, stressing the need to address the losses faced by the financial sector, Reuters reported. An IMF programme is widely seen as the only way Lebanon can unlock foreign financial help which it desperately needs to emerge from one of the world's sharpest economic depressions.
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Dubai’s key tourism sector is unlikely to rebound for at least a year, according to S&P Global Ratings, Bloomberg News reported. While the city will witness a modest recovery this year helped by one of the world’s highest vaccination rates, “weak international tourism is likely to drag on the economy until late 2022 at the earliest,” Ratings Credit Analyst Trevor Cullinan said on Tuesday.
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Tunisia is participating in the International Monetary Fund’s annual meetings, but there are no imminent visits planned by the lender to the North African country, a central bank official said, a day after a state-owned TV channel reported a delegation was due, Bloomberg News reported. Reporting Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva’s Wednesday comments on Tunisia’s troubled economy, Wataniya 1 said they came “on the eve of the visit of a delegation from the International Monetary Fund to Tunisia on a week-long mission to discuss the possibilities of resuming negotiations” on assistance.
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The United Arab Emirates approved its federal budget to 2026 and focused most of next year’s spending on social benefits and development, Bloomberg News reported. The Gulf country approved a total of 58.9 billion dirhams ($16 billion) of spending in 2022, nearly the same as last year. Most of the spending is going to development and social benefits, according to the state-run WAM news agency. Nearly 16% will go to higher education, 6% to social affairs, 8.4% to the health sector and 3.8% to infrastructure and economic resources.
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A Saudi court on Sunday issued a final order on the restructuring of the Algosaibi family’s conglomerate AHAB, putting a formal end to one of Saudi Arabia’s largest and longest debt disputes, Reuters reported. AHAB filed for a financial restructuring in 2019 under the framework of Saudi Arabia’s bankruptcy law, introduced the previous year to make the kingdom more investor-friendly. The Dammam commercial court on Sunday issued the final ratification order for the AHAB restructuring, which is now unappealable, Simon Charlton, chief restructuring officer at AHAB, told Reuters.
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The rise of gas prices could act as a catalyst for oil demand and thus more cargo for oil tankers, should more countries opt for oil-based supplies for their winter needs, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide reported. A cold winter could also play its part. In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Gibson said that “the current strength in gas prices is having major ramifications for global energy markets. Record prices in Europe and Asia are forcing utility firms to look for alternative energy sources and have pushed some companies into bankruptcy.

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The billionaire owner of Italian fashion house Cavalli is planning a lavish new tower in Dubai to showcase the brand’s return after a brush with bankruptcy and nearly two years of sluggish sales during the pandemic, Bloomberg News reported. Hussain Sajwani, founder and chairman of Dubai-based Damac Properties, told Bloomberg that he may even double down on the planned $545 million structure by building a similar one in Miami. “I am committed to rebuilding the Cavalli brand, to relaunching it on key markets,” Sajwani said in the interview.

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BNP Paribas SA and Citigroup Inc. are among global banks that are finally set to see some of their loans be at least partially repaid after getting caught up in one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest corporate defaults, Bloomberg News reported.In the first major test for the kingdom’s new bankruptcy law, Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi & Brothers Co., which has been locked in legal battles and negotiations with creditors over $7.5 billion of debt since 2009, had its proposal to restructure the obligations ratified by a Saudi court, Simon Charlton, Algosaibi’s chief restructuring officer said.
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The United Arab Emirates aims to raise the value of economic activity with Israel to more than $1 trillion in the next 10 years, hoping to work together on everything from healthcare to climate change and energy, the UAE economy minister said, Reuters reported. The Gulf Arab state has signed dozens of memorandums of understanding with its new ally in the year since it became the first Arab state to normalise ties with Israel this century. It was not immediately clear how the two countries expect to reach $1 trillion in economic activity in the next decade.
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Lebanon’s new government held its first meeting Monday with a call by the president to resume talks with the International Monetary Fund to help kick-start its recovery from one of the world’s worst economic crises in more than a century, the Associated Press reported. The 24-member Cabinet’s most pressing mission over the coming weeks will be to help improve conditions in the country of 6 million, including a million Syrian refugees. More than half the population now lives in poverty amid extended power outages and severe shortages in fuel and medicine.
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