Interpreting Middle East Economic News and Analyzing Market Trends

Archive for June, 2013

Dubai property market heats up again, apartment sales rise 17% and rents are up 12% in one year. Talks revived for underwater hotel, but will it stay under water?

Source: Gulf Business

Dubai property is hot once again, both sales and rents are up double-digits over the past year.  The pace of the recent rise suggests that there is more momentum behind it, so much so that developers are considering bringing back some of their crazy projects, which were cancelled during the last downturn.  Will these projects make it this time?  How much more can Dubai property rise when the number of challenges facing the world economy keeps growing?

 

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Lebanon is falling apart… again

In a clear sign of escalating tensions in Lebanon, 16 soldiers were killed in clashes with militants in the southern city of Sidon.  Violence is also spreading to Tripoli in the north so this is not a one-off event.  Tensions over Syria are to blame.

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Qatar emir to step down and hand over power to son

 

In a surprise move, Qatar’s emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani is to hand over power to his son, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.  Sheikh Hamad has been the most controversial leader in the Gulf ever since he overthrew his father in a bloodless coup in 1995, moving Qatar to center stage in terms of Middle East foreign policy.  Qatar also became the wealthiest country in the world in terms of per capita income under his rule.

 

There’s also a clear message to other Middle East leaders: Don’t hang on to power forever.  In a region where transfer of power is typically triggered by death of a leader, Sheikh Hamad is setting the precedent by willfully handing over power to a successor, even though it’s his own son.  Being leader for life is no longer fashionable.

 

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The next financial crisis will wipe out the lagest financial institutions. How will Islamic financial institutions fare?

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The headline in Forbes from this past March reads “Risk is Back.”  Financial institutions today are riskier and have more derivative exposure than they had prior to the Lehman failure in 2008.  More specifically, a handful of banks carry over 95% of the estimated $250 trillion global derivative exposure.  This is trillion with a ‘T’ and not billion with a ‘B’.  To put this in perspective, the total US GDP in 2012 was about $16 trillion.  It’s already a foregone conclusion that the next financial crisis will wipe out these mega-institutions as they will be too-big-to-save.  What will happen to Islamic banks and financial institutions as the dominoes begin to fall?

 

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Qatar and UAE finally get upgraded to emerging market status while Greece and Morocco go the other way

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Photo: Gulf Business

  Qatar and the UAE finally got upgraded to emerging market status by MSCI.  The move is widely celebrated in the region as the ticket to bringing in foreign institutional investors and increase liquidity in the tiny Gulf markets.  Greece, on the other hand, has gone the other way…

 

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