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UAE

What Sheikh Khalifa’s passing means for the UAE

The passing of the UAE’s President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nayhan today is unlikely to alter the economic outlook with GDP set to grow rapidly amid stronger oil output and looser fiscal policy. That said, the next president will face several challenges, including the country’s relationship with OPEC+, ensuring the UAE remains the region’s leading financial and logistics hub and dealing with Dubai’s debts.

13 May 2022

S&P Global PMIs (Apr.)

April’s batch of whole economy PMIs showed a loss of momentum at the start of Q2 but continued to highlight the growing divergence between the Gulf and non-Gulf economies as a result of the spillovers from the war in Ukraine. China Drop-In (12th May, 09:00 BST/16:00 SGT): Join our China and Markets economists for a 20-minute discussion about near to long-term economic challenges, from zero-COVID disruptions to US-China decoupling. Register now.

9 May 2022

Pockets of public debt vulnerability

Tighter global monetary conditions and spillovers from the war in Ukraine have caused public debt problems to worsen in several emerging markets, and the MENA region is not immune to this. Within the region, Tunisia’s public debt position is most fragile and the government now faces a ballooning subsidy bill. We think that a debt restructuring will ultimately needed. Elsewhere, the devaluation of the Egyptian pound has coincided with concerns about the growing share of public debt that is denominated in FX. Of course, in the Gulf, high energy prices will provide a significant boost to public finances this year. We’re more concerned about private sector debts, particularly in Dubai. With the Dubai World Expo now over, there’s a growing risk of overcapacity in key sectors that could make debt servicing more difficult.

28 April 2022
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Gulf leads the way as Ukraine war drives divergence

The Gulf economies will be major beneficiaries from higher energy prices and our growth forecasts sit far above the consensus. Outside the Gulf, higher inflation and tighter fiscal policy will weigh on growth, while balance sheet problems are likely to build. In Egypt, despite the recent devaluation, we think the currency will need to weaken further in order to stabilise the external position. One consequence is that interest rates will be raised – and by more than most expect. Elsewhere, we think that Tunisia’s government will ultimately turn to default.

Whole Economy PMIs (Mar.)

March’s batch of whole economy PMIs were a mixed bag but further highlighted that the spillovers from the war in Ukraine are driving a divergence between the Gulf and non-Gulf economies. Emerging Markets Drop-In (7th April, 10:00 EDT/15:00 BST): Join us on Thursday for our next monthly Emerging Markets briefing where our economists will discuss how the Ukraine war’s spillovers are helping and hurting EMs, and the impact of global central bank tightening. Register here

Curtains close on World Expo, Gulf support for Egypt

The World Expo in Dubai closes its doors today and, while it has provided a near-term fillip to the economy, we are concerned that it will leave a legacy of overcapacity in key sectors that reignites the Emirate’s long-standing debt problems. Elsewhere, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar have all pledged financial support to Egypt this week and should help to alleviate some of the strains in the country's balance of payments. But it may raise questions over officials’ appetite to secure financial support from the IMF.

External strains building in North Africa

The Gulf stands to benefit from the war in Ukraine. Oil output is likely to be raised more quickly, while higher energy prices will boost export revenues by around 10% of GDP this year, providing some scope for fiscal loosening. In contrast, most of the non-Gulf economies will see current account positions deteriorate. Egypt responded to these strains by (finally) devaluing the pound this month, while Tunisia is facing growing pressure on its currency, which makes a sovereign default increasingly likely.

Regional divergence to widen on back of Ukraine war

The spillovers from the war in Ukraine will further drive divergence in economic growth across the Middle East and North Africa. The Gulf economies stand to benefit as oil production is likely to be raised more quickly which, combined with higher oil prices, will probably prompt some governments to loosen fiscal policy. Outside the Gulf, however, higher commodity prices will push up inflation and policymakers will probably have to step up fiscal consolidation efforts. Commodities Drop-In (24 March, 11:00 EDT/15:00 GMT): Our Commodities team will be exploring how the war in Ukraine is shaking up commodity markets, from oil to wheat, while tackling some of the big market questions – not least whether we’re in for 1970s-style oil supply shocks. Register here.

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