North Africa/Middle East

Oman has started talks with banks for a potential Islamic bond sale this year, Bloomberg News reported. The Gulf nation’s discussions are still preliminary. Oman last tapped the international debt market in January, when it raised $3.25 billion. The country’s debt is rated junk by all three major credit assessors. Oman’s public finances, long among the weakest in the Gulf Arab region, remain vulnerable to oil-price swings and disruptions from the global pandemic.
Read more
A lender wholly owned by the federal government of the United Arab Emirates is planning to sell its second-ever international bonds as soon as this month, Bloomberg News reported. Emirates Development Bank, which started operations in 2015 and provides financing to citizens and small- and medium-sized enterprises, could raise $750 million or more, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. The money would go toward supporting companies in sectors considered a priority for the economy, the people said.
Read more
Lebanon scrapped a new dollar-deposit rule on Thursday that triggered minor street protests and meant savers lost the ability to change their money at a more favorable rate, Bloomberg News reported. A day after the Shura Council, the country’s top judicial body, banned a long-standing rule allowing depositors to access their dollars at a rate higher than the official currency peg, Riad Salameh, the governor of Banque du Liban, said the decision was being revoked. The rule “is still in effect,” Salameh told reporters in Beirut after meeting with the president and the head of the council.
Read more

Lebanon’s severe economic and financial crisis is likely to rank as one of the worst the world has seen in more than 150 years, the World Bank said in a report released Tuesday, the Associated Press reported. The World Bank said that since late 2019, Lebanon has been facing compounded challenges, including its largest peace-time economic and financial crisis, the spread of coronavirus and a massive blast at Beirut’s port last year that is considered as one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history.

Read more
The OPEC oil cartel and allied producing countries plan to restore 2.1 million barrels per day of crude production, balancing fears that COVID-19 outbreaks in some countries will sap demand against surging energy needs in recovering economies, the Associated Press reported. Energy ministers made the decision during an online meeting Tuesday.
Read more
Saudi Arabian oil group Aramco is in talks with banks for a U.S. dollar-denominated bond issue, two sources said, seeking to raise money ahead of large commitments for its major shareholder, the Saudi government, Reuters reported. Aramco was widely expected to become a regular bond issuer after its debut $12 billion bond deal in 2019 was followed by an $8 billion, five-part transaction in November last year.
Read more
Abu Dhabi’s state oil firm raised $1.64 billion by selling bonds and shares in its fuel arm, which slumped the most in more than a year, Bloomberg News reported. The capital of the United Arab Emirates contains almost all the OPEC member’s hydrocarbon reserves. The government, along with others in the region such as Saudi Arabia and Oman, is seeking to use money from energy assets to build new industries and diversify the economy. Abu Dhabi National Oil Co.
Read more
Egypt is targeting $6 billion-$9 billion in tourism revenue in 2021 as an influx of Eastern European and Gulf vacationers revive a key sector heavily hit by the pandemic, the minister said, Bloomberg News reported. With visitors numbers having risen to about 500,000 a month, Egypt is hoping for a total of more than 6 million tourists this year, Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany said Wednesday on the sidelines of a tourism conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Read more
Dubai-listed Emirates REIT made no indication it’s willing to compromise with a group of creditors that rejected its proposal to exchange $400 million of sukuk securities for new notes, Bloomberg News reported. A dispute with investors escalated on Wednesday after the dissenting certificate-holders said they have the numbers to block the offer and asked for a meeting with the company the following day “to discuss the concerns of the Ad-Hoc Group and its requirements for the restructuring process.” Rothschild & Co. and Clifford Chance are advising the group.
Read more
Israel will sign a free trade agreement with South Korea this week, marking the first such arrangement with an Asian market, Israel's economy ministry said on Sunday, Reuters reported. The deal is meant to bolster bilateral trade by cutting out customs duties and offering safety nets on investments. Bilateral trade reached about $2.4 billion in 2020, about two thirds of it goods and services imported into Israel, the ministry said. The deal will be signed this week in Seoul during a visit by Israel's foreign affairs and economy ministers.
Read more