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Thursday, February 02, 2023 | Daily Newspaper published by GPPC Doha, Qatar.
 Pratap John
Pratap John
Pratap John is Business Editor at Gulf Times. He has mainstream media experience of nearly 30 years in specialties such as energy, business & finance, banking, telecom and aviation, and covered many major events across the globe.
Qatar banking sector's total assets edged down by 0.4% MoM (up 0.1% in 2022) in October to QR1.83tn, QNBFS said. Loans to deposits ratio went up during the month to 127.8% (as at October).
Business
Private sector drives Qatar bank loan growth to QR1.22tn in October: QNBFS

Driven by the private sector, Qatari banking sector saw overall loans increasing by 0.4% to QR1.22tn in October, QNB Financial Services (QNBFS) has said in a report.Loans have edged up by 0.2% so far in 2022, compared to a growth of 7.8% in 2021. Loans grew by an average 7.6% over the past five years (2017-2021), QNBFS said Tuesday.Deposits declined by 1.1% during October 2022 to QR954.2bn, due to a drop both in non-resident and public sector deposits.Deposits have gone down by 2% so far in 2022, compared to a growth of 7.6% in 2021. Deposits grew by an average 6.1% over the past five years (2017-2021), the report said.Qatar banking sector's total assets edged down by 0.4% MoM (up 0.1% in 2022) in October to QR1.83tn, QNBFS said.Loans to deposits ratio went up during the month to 127.8% (as at October).Total private sector loans moved up by 0.7% MoM (+4.4% in 2022) in October. The services segment and real estate were the main contributors toward the private sector loan growth for October.Services (contributes nearly 29% to private sector loans) increased by 2.2% MoM (+7.7% in 2022). The real estate segment (contributes nearly 21% to private sector loans) went up by 0.8% MoM (+6.6% in 2022).Consumption and others (contributes nearly 21% to private sector loans) gained 0.4% MoM (+4.9% in 2022), while general trade (contributes nearly 20% to private sector loans) declined by 1.2% MoM (-0.1% in 2022) during October.Outside Qatar loans went up by 1.4% MoM (-7.7% in 2022) during October.Domestic public sector loans went down slightly by 0.2% MoM (-6.7% in 2022). The government segment (represents nearly 30% of public sector loans) fell by 1.5% MoM (-24.8% in 2022).However, the government institutions segment's (represents nearly 64% of public sector loans) loan book increased by 0.4% MoM (+4.3% in 2022), while the semi-government institutions’ segment moved up marginally by 0.1% MoM (+2.3% in 2022).Non-resident deposits continued its steep decline for the year and fell by 5% MoM (-31.1% in 2022) in October, thereby leading the decliners in the overall drop in the banking sector deposits for the month, QNBFS said.Public sector deposits declined by 2.1% MoM (+10.1% in 2022) for October.Looking at segment details, the semi-government institutions’ segment had a huge drop by 19.4% MoM (+10.5% in 2022), while the government segment (represents nearly 25% of public sector deposits) declined by 7.5% MoM (-20.0% in 2022).However, the government institutions segment (represents nearly 62% of public sector deposits) increased by 5% MoM (+29.8% in 2022).Private sector deposits moved higher by 1.5% MoM (+9.4% in 2022). On the private sector front, companies and institutions’ segment gained 3.5% MoM (+18.3% in 2022).Meanwhile, the consumer segment went down by 0.4% MoM (+1.9% in 2022) during October.An analyst told Gulf Times yesterday the overall increase in loans by 0.4%, which is mainly coming from a 0.7% growth in the private sector, specifically from the services and real estate sectors, could be attributed to the sectors requirement in the build up to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.“Overall decline in the deposits by 1.1% was mainly due to the 5% drop in non-resident deposits. With higher oil and gas prices and improved local liquidity situation, there is less reliance on non-resident deposits and optimisation in funding sources for banks,” the analyst noted.

Women take photos at the Flag Plaza in Doha. Qatar's economy is now the largest it has ever been following the 6.3% year-on-year (y-o-y) surge in output in Q2. Data show the expansion was driven by 9.7% y-o-y growth in the non-oil sectors, up from 5% in Q1, amid strength in construction, transportation, wholesale and retail trade, and real estate.
Business
Higher commodity prices boosting Qatar public finances: Oxford Economics

Higher commodity prices are boosting Qatar’s public finances, Oxford Economics said and noted energy prices will remain high in 2023, buoying the country’s fiscal position.Pending the release of the 2023 budget, Oxford Economics forecasts a fiscal surplus of 8.8% of GDP next year and for the public debt-to-GDP ratio to subside to 41.7% in 2023, from a projected 46.3% this year.“With the debt burden shrinking, Qatar's credit rating will likely be upgraded further,” Oxford Economics said in its latest country report.In early November, S&P raised its rating for Qatar by a notch to ‘AA’ with a stable outlook, which came on the heels of Moody's positive credit outlook change.“We keep our 2022 GDP growth forecast at 5.2% and continue to see the pace of GDP growth slowing to 2.7% in 2023,” noted Maya Senussi, Oxford Economics’ senior Middle East economist.Qatar's economy is now the largest it has ever been following the 6.3% year-on-year (y-o-y) surge in output in Q2. Data show the expansion was driven by 9.7% y-o-y growth in the non-oil sectors, up from 5% in Q1, amid strength in construction, transportation, wholesale and retail trade, and real estate.Meanwhile, the oil sector expanded by 1.2% y-o-y, following an annual decline of 1.8% in Q1. Though recent industrial production data have yet to be released, Oxford Economics expects contribution from the oil sector to have remained positive.Energy prices have come under pressure as the world economy weakens.But the researcher thinks they will remain elevated, providing support to Qatar's macroeconomic environment.“The 2023 budget is being finalised, but we expect it to again be based on cautious revenue assumptions, such as the $55 a barrel oil price underpinning this year's budget. With spending somewhat rising and oil and gas prices boosting revenue, we expect a budget surplus averaging 8.8% of GDP in 2022-2023,” Oxford Economics noted.Qatar’s figures for H1, 2022 show the widest budget surplus since 2014. The budget was in surplus in 2021, reversing a deficit of 2.1% of GDP in 2020, the lowest in the GCC, Oxford Economics said.The riyal's peg to the dollar implies Qatar's central bank will track the higher rate path in the US, where the researcher expects the Federal Reserve to continue tightening into next year.The monetary authority has matched the Fed's moves since March, most recently raising the repo rate by 75 bps to 4.75% in November. While the hikes have had a very limited impact on growth so far due to supportive energy and fiscal trends, borrowing costs will likely have risen by 425 bps in a year, weighing on non-oil growth in 2023, Oxford Economics noted.Qatari banks have been resilient and are well capitalised and profitable, with low levels of non- performing loans.However, their reliance on foreign funding has risen, and Fitch downgraded some bank ratings earlier this year, it noted.

Gulf Times
Business
GCC 2023 outlook 'constructive', may remain 'outperformer' in global context: Emirates NBD

The GCC looks likely to remain an “outperformer in the global context” next year, Emirates NBD said although it expects the region’s average GDP growth to slow to 3.5% in 2023.The GCC countries have enjoyed a strong performance in 2022 on several fronts. The outlook for the GCC in 2023 also remains constructive.Emirates NBD expects economic growth in the region to come in at around 7% on a nominal GDP-weighted basis, the fastest in over a decade. This has largely been driven by double-digit growth in oil production across the region as the pandemic-related production cuts were fully unwound.“However the non-oil sectors have performed well too and we expect average non-oil GDP to reach 4.4% this year, similar to the growth rate achieved across the GCC in 2021, even as global growth has slowed this year,” noted Khatija Haque, head of research and chief economist at Emirates NBD.Domestic demand has continued to rebound from the pandemic and the recovery in global travel and tourism has also supported the non-oil sectors, particularly in the UAE.Expo 2020 contributed to strong growth in the UAE’s tourism and hospitality sectors in Q1, 2022, and the reopening of long-haul markets has seen visitor numbers rebound sharply from last year, although they remain around 15% below 2019 levels through September.The FIFA World Cup is expected to support demand in Qatar in Q4, 2022 even as the global economy has started to slow.The GCC budget performance has also improved significantly this year on the back of higher oil production and prices, as well as the broader economic recovery in the region, Emirates NBD noted.\"We estimate the average GCC budget surplus will reach almost 8% of GDP this year following seven years of deficits. While government spending has increased slightly this year, governments have so far been relatively prudent with their oil windfall, using budget surpluses to build up reserves, pay down debt and invest for the future, \" it said.The GCC countries have also provided financial support to other Mena countries that have faced current account shocks this year on the back of rising energy and food prices.“The outlook for the GCC in 2023 remains constructive,” it said.\"GDP growth will slow sharply as the 16% increase in oil and gas GDP that we saw this year is unlikely to be repeated, and further production cuts from Opec+ pose a downside risk to growth in this sector in 2023. Non-oil GDP is also expected to slow somewhat next year but is likely to remain relatively robust as governments continue to invest in strategic sectors and projects to diversify their economies.“Our baseline forecast is for oil prices to remain above $100/b next year, which will allow governments to maintain spending even as private investment slows,” Haque noted.There are headwinds to growth in the coming months, however. The tightening in monetary policy that we’ve seen in 2022 will continue to weigh on global economic growth in 2023 as central banks focus on bringing inflation down.Even with oil prices expected to remain relatively high, the region is not immune from slowing global growth, particularly given its position as a global trade and logistics hub.“Higher borrowing costs may deter private sector investment in the region and a strong dollar will also erode competitiveness, making the region a more expensive destination for both foreign investors and tourists,” Emirates NBD said.

By 2026, duty free sales in Qatar, UAE and Bahrain are further projected to reach $3bn, implying an annualised growth of 8.4% since 2022, Alpen Capital said in its report on ‘GCC retail industry’.
Business
Duty free sales at select GCC airports including Doha to reach $3bn by 2026: Alpen Capital

Duty free sales at select GCC airports including Doha and Dubai are expected to grow by 65.5% y-o-y to reach $2.2bn in 2022, Alpen Capital has said in a report.By 2026, duty free sales in Qatar, UAE and Bahrain are further projected to reach $3bn, implying an annualised growth of 8.4% since 2022, Alpen Capital said in its report on ‘GCC retail industry’.It said the GCC nations have laid out strategic plans to promote the tourism sector as part of their long-term objective to diversify away from oil. This has led to investments in the development of tourism infrastructure, which includes expanding the airport capacity to complement the governments’ commitment towards the tourism sector. At the same time, the governments have been easing visa regulations to boost the number of tourist arrivals.Duty free operators are the biggest beneficiaries of the expansion of the tourism industry, as the resultant rise in passenger traffic potentially leads to increase in sales.Prior to the pandemic, international tourist arrivals in the GCC increased at an annualised growth rate of 2.8% between 2016 and 2019 primarily driven by the UAE (6.6% CAGR) and Kuwait (6.7% CAGR).Majority of the demand was generated by personal, leisure and religious travel followed by business and professional travel during the period. With 35.7% inbound tourist arrivals in 2019, the UAE led the GCC countries in terms of share of international tourist arrivals, followed by Saudi Arabia (28.6%), and Bahrain (15.6%).As a result of the Covid-19 led restrictions, GCC international tourist arrivals declined by 75% y-o-y in 2020. However, swift response to curb the virus through stringent policies and widespread vaccine deployment led to the crisis reach an endemic state. Consequently, tourist arrivals in the region witnessed widespread recovery in 2021, posting a 56.1% y-o-y growth compared to the end of 2020 to reach 27.7mn.At the same time, passenger traffic at international airports in Doha, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Bahrain have also grown since 2020.These factors have revived the region’s airport retail market, which was significantly hit during the pandemic.Between 2016 and 2019, duty free sales at Doha, Dubai and Bahrain airports grew at a CAGR of 3.3% and cumulatively accounted for 44.1% of the Middle East’s total sales.In 2020, duty free sales at these airports declined by 58.3% y-o-y and witnessed a revival of 11.5% y-o-y in 2021 to reach an estimated $1.3bn by the year-end.Share of the GCC duty free sales of the total Mena region during 2021 improved to an estimated 46.9% from 44.1% in 2016.Key Qatar Duty Free retail openings in 2021 included several luxury avenues, stand-alone airport boutiques, cafes and high-end brand stores among others130.In 2021, the Hamad International Airport was recognised as the ‘Best airport in the world’ by the Skytrax World Airport Awards, while also being named the ‘Best Airport in the Middle East’ and ‘Best Airport with 25 to 35mn passengers’.The airport was also recognised with awards for ‘Best airport staff’ in the Middle East and ‘Covid-19 airport excellence’ during the year, Alpen Capital noted.

An Air India aircraft taxis past other aircraft operated by the airline at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi. India’s aviation market may be moving towards a duopoly following the merger of two full-service carriers Air India and Vistara.
Business
Debt-laden Indian civil aviation sees key merger; market may be further redrawn

Beyond the Tarmac The Covid crisis has had a massive impact on India's civil aviation sector with air traffic falling to all-time low last year.On Tuesday, India just recorded 215 new coronavirus infections and one Covid-related death within a 24-hour period, the lowest since April 2020, according to the country’s Ministry of Health.In the first quarter of 2021, at the height of the pandemic, India recorded the highest one-day tally of new Covid-19 cases anywhere in the world- exceeding 400,000 cases.Since then, in a nation-wide free inoculation drive, millions of Indians had been administered Covid vaccination, which helped bring down the daily caseload.But the recovery in India’s civil aviation market was hampered and got delayed because of the Ukraine war, which is the case in most major global markets.Due to a temporary halt in all airline operations at the peak of the pandemic and the subsequent rise in aviation turbine fuel (ATF) pricing, the finances of Indian airline companies have been in disarray.Experts say Indian airlines’ losses mounted to the tune of $2.5bn in last financial year and may hover around $1.7bn in the current fiscal, despite the opening up of the economy.Despite being loss-making, the Indian aviation industry continues to garner investors’ interest, attracting investments mainly from the private sector.India is the world’s third-largest air passenger market, after China and the United States.According to the India’s Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), in FY22, country’s passenger traffic stood at nearly 189mn, out of which domestic passenger traffic accounted for over 166mn, a 58% year-on-year (y-o-y) rise from 105mn in FY 21.On the other hand, international passenger traffic saw a 118% y-o-y rise to 22mn from 10mn in FY21. The Indian aviation sector is expected to touch 400mn passengers annually in seven-10 years.Despite the pandemic, domestic airlines have continued to add new aircraft to their fleets. Indian civil aviation ministry estimates the overall fleet size to almost double to 1,200 in five years from the current size of over 700 planes.In this context, the Tuesday’s announcement of Vistara airlines’ merger with Tata-owned Air India by March 2024 assumes significance.Singapore Airlines, which owns minority share in Vistara in its joint venture with Tata, will own around 25% of the enlarged Air India, into which it will infuse over ₹20bn.The rearrangement will mean a larger fleet and more routes under the Air India brand as Tata Sons rebuilds a mega aviation wing of its empire. At present, 51% share in Vistara is with Tata, while Singapore Airlines owns the remaining 49% in the joint venture set up in 2013.India’s aviation market may be moving towards a duopoly following the merger of two full-service carriers Air India and Vistara, noted consultancy and research firm CAPA India.The merger, it said, would strengthen the sector.“The competitive dynamics in India are moving towards a two-pillar system around the Air India Group and IndiGo. The two carriers combined are in due course expected to achieve a domestic market share of 75-80%,” CAPA India said.“This will redraw market and consumer power in the international arena back to Indian carriers, which has historically been dominated by foreign airlines”.India needs a high quality, dependable long-haul and ultra-long-haul airline to meet the country’s air connectivity requirements. The combined entity is in line with India’s aspirations to be a $5tn economy shortly, CAPA stated.Stating that there has been continuous improvement on the policy front, but if further reforms can be fast tracked, this will provide a powerful impetus to India's aviation system, CAPA said and emphasised that the confluence of world class entities on the corporate front, accompanied by fiscal (both direct and indirect taxes) and regulatory reforms, will enable India's true aviation potential to be realised in the medium to long term.An earlier Airbus’ forecast showed India will require 2,210 new aircraft over the next 20 years. That fleet could comprise 1,770 new small and 440 medium and large aircraft.Over the next decade, India will grow to have the largest population in the world, its economy will grow the fastest among the G20 nations, and a burgeoning middle class will spend more on air travel.As a result, Airbus noted passenger traffic in India will grow at 6.2% per year by 2040, the fastest among the major economies and well above the global average of 3.9%.Prominent Indian aviation analyst Ashwini Phadnis said “the merger of Air India and Vistara is on expected lines.”“This development augurs well for the Indian aviation market as AI and IndiGo will now be the two players with the largest market share within India. The merger along with IndiGo’s fleet induction plan should also help India claw back some of the international traffic from international carriers, which are presently carrying over 60% of outbound traffic from India,” Phadnis told Gulf Times.The merger of Vistara and AI will benefit both the airlines, he said. India is set to become the third largest global aviation market. Indian domestic passenger traffic hit pre-Covid levels of around 400,000 a day for a few days in November but has been around the 350,000 mark.A recent Nangia Andersen and FICCI study estimates that the out bound travel market from India will surpass $42bn by 2024.Given the financial position of the India aviation market with CAPA India revising upwards its loss estimates for Indian airlines to $2.5bn from $1.4-1.7bn earlier, excluding accounting adjustments and major impairment costs consolidation and mergers might be one way forward for the Indian aviation industry, he said.However, Phadnis noted it remains to be seen whether given the precarious balance sheet of most Indian carriers any carrier or investor will be ready to pump in funds right now.

Qatar is continuing to talk to German buyers about additional LNG supplies; HE the Minister of State for Energy Affairs Saad Sherida al-Kaabi said and noted “many European and Asian countries now want natural gas that we do not have enough negotiators to cope.”
Business
Qatar committed to contribute to Europe's energy security; LNG supply talks on with German buyers for additional LNG supplies: Al-Kaabi

Qatar is continuing to talk to German buyers about additional LNG supplies; HE the Minister of State for Energy Affairs Saad Sherida al-Kaabi said and noted “many European and Asian countries now want natural gas that we do not have enough negotiators to cope.”Germany is set to receive new flows of Qatari liquefied natural gas (LNG) from 2026 after QatarEnergy and ConocoPhillips Tuesday signed two sales and purchase agreements for its export covering at least a 15-year period.A ConocoPhillips subsidiary will purchase the agreed quantities to be delivered to the German receiving terminal at Brunsbuttel in the northern part of the country, which is currently under development.“We are discussing other possible deals for Germany and with many Asian and European countries. We are negotiating with German companies to further increase the volumes being sent,” al-Kaabi said in reply to a question by Gulf Times Tuesday."We are committed to contribute to the energy security of Germany and Europe at large," al-Kaabi said.Lance hailed the accord as "a vital contribution to world energy security".“QatarEnergy and ConocoPhillips are excited for the opportunity to responsibly and securely supply world markets with LNG from the Qatari expansion projects.”“These agreements will provide an attractive LNG offtake solution for our new joint ventures with QatarEnergy and position the joint ventures as reliable sources of LNG supply into Europe,” Lance added.According to a Bloomberg dispatch, the five (LNG) import facilities chartered by the German government will cost a total of €6.5bn over the next 10 to 15 years. There is also one privately chartered terminal planned. Once operational, they will be able to cover around one third of Germany’s current gas demand, according to a government estimate.Last week, QatarEnergy entered into a 27-year sale and purchase Agreement (SPA) with China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) for the supply of 4mn tons per year (MTPY) of LNG to China.Under the terms of the SPA, the contracted LNG volumes will be supplied from QatarEnergy’s North Field East (NFE) LNG expansion project and will be delivered to Sinopec's receiving terminals in China.QatarEnergy earlier this year signed five deals for North Field East (NFE), the first and larger of the two-phase North Field expansion plan, which includes six LNG trains that will ramp up Qatar's liquefaction capacity to 126mn tonnes per year by 2027 from the current 77mn in two phases.

GPCA secretary-general Dr Abdulwahab al-Sadoun
Business
GCC chemical revenue soars 10-year high 77% to $96bn in 2021: GPCA

Qatar will take part in the "exclusive" Ministerial Panel featuring energy ministers from across the GCC at the 16th Annual GPCA Forum in Riyadh in December, according to the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association.HE the Minister of Energy Affairs Saad bin Sherida al-Kaabi will be on the panel that will address the topic “Balancing net-zero ambitions in the energy sector with growth – a policymaker’s balancing act”.The other panelists are Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman al-Saud, Minister of Energy, Saudi Arabia and Dr Mohamed Bin Mubarak Bin Daina, Minister of Oil & Environment, Special Envoy for Climate Affairs, BahrainAccording to GPCA research, GCC chemical revenue in 2021 soared by 77.2%, the highest level recorded since 2013 due to post-Covid recovery that led to increasing demand and high chemical prices globally. Quantifying, the chemical revenue grew to $96bn last year from $54.1bn in 2020.On the back of higher chemicals prices, GCC chemical trade balance revenue almost doubled between 2020 and 2021 from $27bn to $53bn, with trade balance volume also growing by 30%, reaching 56.5mn million tons.While the industry remained buoyant over the last 18 months, it is currently off track to achieve its ambitious net-zero targets by 2050. According to the International Energy Agency, globally direct CO2 emissions from primary chemical production amounted to 925tons in 2021, a 5% increase with respect to the previous year.This is due to a production increase to levels above those in 2019. In the GCC, average CO2 intensity increased by 3% in 2021 as emissions rebounded since the Covid-related lockdowns in 2020. Nonetheless, CO2 intensity has remained on a declining trend since 2013.GPCA Secretary General Dr. Abdulwahab al-Sadoun commented, “If the industry is to achieve its net- zero ambitions by 2050, it would need to focus on growing its utilisation of renewables, improving its energy efficiency, reducing its emissions, and capitalising on new markets for carbon and other by-products as part of the circular economy.“Regional producers alongside their regional and global value chain partners are taking concerted steps, committing new investments and accelerating their research and innovation efforts in line with their decarbonisation efforts. Both the public and private sector have a crucial role to play on the road to net-zero.“GPCA is, therefore, pleased to host some of the region’s most prominent policymakers for an exclusive ministerial panel where forum delegates will have an opportunity to hear first-hand about our regional governments’ plans and initiatives enabling the transition.”

More than 1mn visitors are expected to visit the country during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, which is likely to significantly boost the revenues for the retail industry and add approximately 7bn to the nation’s economy
Business
Qatar seen to record GCC's highest growth in retail sales, reaching $18.5bn in 2022

Buoyed by the World Cup, Qatar is expected to record the "highest growth" in retail sales in the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) region, with an estimated 36% y-o-y to reach $18.5bn in 2022, Alpen Capital said in a report.This can be primarily attributed to an estimated 145.5% y-o-y growth in tourist arrivals as the country hosts the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, one of the biggest sporting events globally.More than 1mn visitors are expected to visit the country during the event, which is likely to significantly boost the revenues for the retail industry and add approximately $17bn to the nation’s economy.However, growth is expected to normalise post the completion of the FIFA World Cup with retail sales reaching $21.2bn in 2026, equating to an annualised growth rate of 3.5% since 2022.Although Qatar is a relatively smaller market compared to the UAE and Saudi Arabia, it is likely to benefit from the long-list of global sporting events lined up to take place in the country during the forecasted period, Alpen Capital noted.The rise in number of football fans from across the globe will help increase retail sales not only in Qatar but also the neighbouring GCC nations. Qatar Duty Free has been named as the Official Retail Store for the global footballing event.This includes a licence to exclusively sell all FIFA World Cup 2022 merchandise and collectables in the fan zones and at all stadiums hosting the matches in Qatar.Fans will also be able to purchase tournament memorabilia at Hamad International Airport, the Official Airport of the FIFA World Cup 2022, and at numerous outlets in malls across the country. In addition to hosting the FIFA World Cup 2022, the country has bid to hold several other international sporting events, festivals and tourism related activities in the coming years.Some of the major international sporting events lined up to take place in the country include the Formula 1, International Golf Championship, World Championship of Motorcycles, 2024 World Aquatics Championships, and 2030 Asian Games, among others.“These will help drive retail sales across the region,” Alpen Capital noted.

Workers refurbish the cargo hold of a Boeing Co 777-300ER aircraft, operated by Air France-KLM, at an Air France Industries hangar at Orly Airport in Paris. The air transport industry handles more than 1.25mn shipments of dangerous goods per year. To handle them safely, the industry must further improve compliance with global standards.
Business
Airlines in fire-fighting mode to mitigate dangers posed by dangerous goods’ shipments

Beyond the Tarmac The air transport industry handles more than 1.25mn shipments of dangerous goods per year.The growth of e-commerce and proliferation of lithium batteries in global supply chains are two indicators that the number of dangerous goods shipments will grow. To handle them safely, the industry must further improve compliance with global standards.The carriage of lithium batteries and other potentially dangerous goods on air transport continues to present a significant safety risk.In March this year, for example, Qatar Airways diverted a New Delhi-Doha flight to Karachi in Pakistan following the detection of smoke in the cargo hold. The incident is thought to have been caused by lithium batteries.Unless remedial action is taken, the risk caused by the transport of lithium batteries will only increase. This is due to the accelerating rate of improvement in the energy density of a battery. Consumers are demanding more from their battery life and capability, and manufacturers are working hard to deliver.Regulations cannot match this pace of development, rarely proceeding at anything other than a glacial pace.“This issue is not getting the attention it deserves,” said Andres Bianchi, CEO, LATAM Cargo, at the 78th IATA AGM in Doha in June. “It is my first concern from a safety perspective,” Bianchi noted.A four-step process will go some way to mitigating the danger. The first step is creating awareness. The lithium battery market is growing 30% annually, bringing many new shippers into air cargo supply chains. But compliance with existing regulations is difficult as they are complex and can be hard to understand.This creates an evolving risk of undeclared or misdeclared shipments.The aim is to help shippers understand the potential risk and whether there are dangerous goods in what they are trying to ship.The second step is appropriate standards, processes, and regulation. IATA has called for the development of outcome-based, harmonised safety-related screening standards and processes for lithium batteries. This would support the safe transport of lithium batteries and provide an efficient process for compliant shippers of lithium batteries.

Fireworks surround a large replica of the World Cup trophy before the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group A match between Qatar and Ecuador at Al Bayt Stadium on November 20, 2022 in Al Khor, Qatar. Photo by Michael Regan - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images
Qatar
Qatar Airways celebrates historic opening of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is officially underway and Qatar Airways, as the official airline of the journey, is marking the month-long tournament with special football-themed experiences at the stadiums and at fan zones across the country.World-class sports infrastructure, a five-star airport expansion and a host of fun-filled tourist attractions and cultural experiences also await the 1.5mn fans expected to attend the event.Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive HE Akbar al-Baker, said: “The countdown is complete, and after more than a decade, our dream of bringing the world together has truly come alive. We have witnessed a spectacular opening ceremony, one that is truly worthy of honouring the greatest show on earth."We have 63 more matches ahead of us and I am sure every single one of them will be an unforgettable experience. We are excited to give the world a taste of Arab hospitality and share our passion for connecting the world through travel and sport.”Qatar’s national airline recently launched a FIFA World Cup campaign anthem on board flights arriving in Qatar and dedicated it to fans everywhere.“C.H.A.M.P.I.O.N.S.” sung by internationally acclaimed singer Cheb Khaled and superstar DJ Rodge has already received millions of views across the airline’s official channels.For the duration of the tournament, the Qatar Airways fleet is carrying the FIFA World Cup decal on 120 aircraft.The specially-branded aircraft include 48 B777s, 31 B787s, 21 A320s, 12 A330s, and eight A380s. Three specially-branded Boeing 777 aircraft are hand-painted in FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 livery.Upon arriving to any of the eight stadiums on match day, guests are invited to enjoy various interactive and family-friendly games at Qatar Airways’ stands.Football fans staying in Qatar during the tournament are invited to visit the Qatar Airways Skyhouse, located at the FIFA Fan Festival at Al Bidda Park, which is situated along Doha’s beautiful Corniche. The Skyhouse has a zipline experience, a Neymar Jr. interactive challenge, a swing photo booth and a QVerse virtual tour of Qatar Airways’ award-winning business class. Global music acts and local artists will be also be joining the line up to entertain fans at the fan zone.Qatar Airways has also partnered with social media platform 433 ‘The Home of Football’ for the duration of the tournament, and will be broadcasting post-match analysis featuring football legends.In 2017, Qatar Airways announced its partnership with FIFA as the Official Airline. The alliance has gone on to connect and unite fans globally, with “The World’s Best Airline” also sponsoring numerous football tournaments such as the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017, the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, the FIFA Club World Cup, and the FIFA Women's World Cup.

More than a million visitors are expected to arrive in Doha through HIA and Doha International Airport, which have made elaborate arrangements to receive fans arriving in the country for the “greatest sporting spectacle” on earth.
Business
 Busy time at HIA; 400 flights arrive on World Cup kick-off day

Qatar’s main gateway to the world - Hamad International Airport (HIA) - has started seeing a huge influx of passengers, mostly fans for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.Qatar Airways said: “It is a busy day at HIA with almost 400 flights arriving today.”HIA chief operating officer Badr Mohamed al-Meer told a media event in Doha at the weekend that HIA was expecting to receive approximately 44,000 arriving passengers a day and upwards of around 900 aircraft movements daily over the next month.More than a million visitors are expected to arrive in Doha through HIA and Doha International Airport, which have made elaborate arrangements to receive fans arriving in the country for the “greatest sporting spectacle” on earth.Curated for all departing passengers, passenger overflow areas at both the airports have commenced operations.Both the facilities, the first of their kind in the world, will be available to departing passengers round-the clock until December 31.While the passenger overflow area at HIA has the capacity to accommodate 24,000 passengers a day, Doha International Airport (DIA) will be able to handle 12,000 departing passengers a day.Set to offer fans “extended memorable experiences and seamless connectivity” throughout both airports, the passenger overflow areas will only be accessible for passengers arriving at HIA and DIA more than four hours and up to eight hours prior to their scheduled departure flight time – regardless of the airlines in which passengers are flying with.The passenger overflow areas at both HIA and DIA will be operating for 24 hours a day, seven days a week – and will include a variety of food and beverage options, retail stores, gaming areas, football pitches for children, quiet areas, luggage storage, a lost-and-found desk, flight information screen, a free Wi-Fi activation area and more.Departing passengers can access the overflow area at HIA by taking a shuttle bus from the airport’s metro station.Similarly, they can go back to the HIA terminal using the shuttle service.Passengers arriving at HIA can take the Metro Red Line directly into central Doha from HIA T1 metro station.Passengers can buy a travel card from any station. Until December 23, ticketholders can use their digital Hayya Card and the Hayya to Qatar 2022 app, available for iOS and Android, for free travel on the metro.Fans arriving at HIA have access to a direct shuttle bus service to and from the fan villages at Barwa Madinatna, Barwa Barahat Al Janoub and the cruise ship hotels at Doha Port.This 24-hour service runs every 15 minutes, until December 22.On the other hand, passengers arriving at DIA can take the Metro Gold Line directly into Central Doha. The National Museum Metro Station is located some 800mts from the airport (DIA) arrival terminal.For return journey, fans from abroad have been advised to take the Red line to Al Matar Al Qadeem Metro Station, which is located close to the airport departures terminal.

Gulf Times
Business
New developments significantly increase quality of Qatar's retail space in Qatar: Alpen Capital

New developments have significantly increased the quality of retail space in Qatar, Alpen Capital said in a report.Qatar’s supply of organised retail space exceeded 1.5mn sq m of gross leasable area (GLA). The most recent retail developments in the country include Abu Sidra Mall and The Galleria, both of which opened partially but are yet to reach full capacity.While there has been an increase in leasing activity and lease renewals, the impact of the pandemic led to more than 600 retail units within Doha’s 20 largest retail malls being vacant, representing a vacancy rate of approximately 20% by the end of 2021.The second half of 2021 saw an increase in leasing activity in City Centre Mall, Doha Festival City, and Mall of Qatar. While some of the major malls witnessed strong footfall and maintained full occupancy during the year, increasing competition and the challenging retail environment affected the performance of others. There was strong growth in retail performance in many of Qatar’s major malls with retail spending in these developments up by 10% to 20% y-o-y at the end of 2021.The opening of newer malls such as Place Vendome and the upcoming Commercial Boulevard, both in Lusail, are focusing on higher quality restaurants, entertainment, and leisure to complement their retail offerings.The recently opened Place Vendome, with a GLA of approximately 230,000sq m, is the third super-regional mall in Qatar after Mall of Qatar and Doha Festival City and the first major mall to open in Qatar since Tawar Mall in 2018.As of H1, 2022, supply of organised retail space within malls in Qatar reached 1.7mn sq m, reflecting an increase of 160% since 2015. Other upcoming retail developments in Qatar include Doha Oasis, 04 Mall, Waddan Mall, and the MENA District in Doha Port.Most of these projects are expected to complete during 2022, Alpen Capital said and noted: “Some of the busier malls have phased out rental incentives as footfall and retail spending continues to recover after the Covid-19 related restrictions have been eased.”

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive HE Akbar al-Baker at the media event yesterday as HIA chief operating officer Badr Mohamed al-Meer looks on. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Qatar
Qatar Airways, HIA and DIA ready to welcome World Cup visitors: al-Baker

Qatar Airways and the country’s two airports – Hamad International and Doha International — are all ready to welcome the more than a million visitors over the next one month to watch the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, Group Chief Executive HE Akbar al-Baker said on Thursday.Addressing a media event at the ‘Passenger Overflow Area’ at HIA last night, al-Baker said the facility is the first one of its kind for the biggest football event in the world.The passenger overflow areas at both HIA and DIA will be operating for 24 hours a day, seven days a week (until December 31) – and will include a variety of food and beverage options, retail stores, gaming areas, football pitches for children, quiet areas, luggage storage, a lost and found desk, flight information screen, a free WI-FI activation area and more.The passenger overflow area does not include check-in service desks, so travellers can either check-in online while at the premises or visit the check-in halls at HIA or DIA. The passenger overflow area at DIA will be able to welcome up to 12,000 departing passengers per day. On the other hand, HIA has the capacity to accommodate 24,000 passengers a day.“All our airports will be crowded over the next month because of the millions of visitors and VIPs who will be arriving in Doha to watch the World Cup. Next month, our airports will get busier as we are expecting many fans from countries that qualify for the Round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and final,” al-Baker said.“The passenger overflow areas will allow fans to experience the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 until the very end of their journey in Qatar. It will allow travellers to utilise their waiting time prior to their flights by enjoying exciting activities, which includes shopping, resting and watching football matches,” he said.

Workers connect a Total tanker truck to an Airbus A350 passenger plane, operated by Air France-KLM, during fuelling with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) at Charles de Gaulle airport in Roissy, France. SAF is currently expected to account for 65% of carbon mitigation in 2050.
Business
Incentivising SAF production provides fillip to aviation's net-zero carbon goals

Beyond the Tarmac The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) recently agreed to adopt a Long Term Aspirational Goal (LTAG) to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050. This important step aligns with both the objectives of the Paris Agreement, and the net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050 resolution agreed at the IATA annual general meeting last year.The significance of the LTAG agreement cannot be overstated, points out Conrad Clifford, IATA Deputy Director General. To achieve net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050, government policy support in key areas of decarbonisation is critical, he noted at an industry event in Bangkok.Achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 will require substantial and sustained investment and financing over the coming decades.One such area is in incentivising the production capacity of SAF. SAF is currently expected to account for 65% of carbon mitigation in 2050. It will be the largest contributor to future sustainability. But there are challenges.Airlines bought every drop of SAF available in 2021, and want to use more. They have committed to $17bn of forward purchasing agreements.The problem is the limited supply and high costs. In 2021, only 125mn litres of SAF were available on the market. That was less than 0.05% of the total fuel used.According to IATA, in 2021, irrespective of price (SAF is between two and four times the price of conventional jet fuel), airlines have purchased every drop of the 125mn litres of SAF that was available. And already more than 38 countries have SAF-specific policies that clear the way for the market to develop.Taking their cue from these policy measures, airlines have entered into $17bn of forward-purchasing agreements for SAF.In October 2021, IATA member airlines came together and took the monumental decision to commit to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. This commitment brings the industry in line with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C goal.Climate change is the greatest threat facing the societies and achieving net-zero emissions will be a huge challenge as the expected scale of the industry in 2050 will require the mitigation of 1.8 gigatons of carbon.“I urge governments in the Asia-Pacific region to look at stimulating SAF production. Government incentives for SAF could see 30bn litres of production capacity by 2030. This will also reduce the cost of SAF,” Clifford said and noted, “Japan and Singapore have demonstrated an exemplary approach to SAF. They actively involve the industry in their consultation process, and also promote domestic production of SAF. We urge other States to take similar steps, and to support the efforts to develop a global framework for a Book & Claim system for SAF.”Research has shown SAF can reduce emissions by up to 80% during its full lifecycle. More than 450,000 flights have so far taken to the skies using SAF, IATA data reveal.On its part the ICAO, launched its Assistance, Capacity-building and Training for Sustainable Aviation Fuels (ACT-SAF) programme in June.It will provide tailored support to countries on sustainable fuel development and deployment, and facilitate related partnerships and cooperation around the world.An increasing number of countries and international organisations are becoming actively involved in this programme, which recognises the key role to be played in this endeavour by sustainable fuels, and many more are expected to join in the coming months.To reduce the impacts of aviation on the global climate, countries, the industry, and all other relevant stakeholders have in fact been pursuing a basket of CO2 reduction measures through ICAO for many years now. This contributed to modern aircraft being 70% quieter and 80% more fuel-efficient than their early predecessors.“Achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 will require substantial and sustained investment and financing over the coming decades. We must furthermore assure reliable and affordable support and capacity-building for the many developing countries and States with particular needs, who will be depending on it to help play their part,” ICAO Council President Salvatore Sciacchitano said at the COP 27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, recently.National airline Qatar Airways said it is willing to promote SAF if the costs are affordable.Group Chief Executive HE Akbar al-Baker said: “As for me, I will be delighted to fuel my aircraft as much as possible, provided the SAF costs are affordable. Worldwide, there is a huge demand for alternate fuel – sustainable fuels.”In an earlier industry event in Doha, al-Baker had said: “Refining companies should provide adequate sustainable aviation fuel so that the airline industry could buy SAF and meet the emission targets even faster.”“Right now adequate quantities of SAF are not available. At Qatar Airways, we have contacted many refining companies, but they are unable to provide us the quantities of alternate fuel that we want.”Clearly, wider aviation industry is collectively committed to ambitious emissions reduction goals. Sustainable aviation fuel has been identified as one of the key elements in helping achieve these.Therefore, governmental support is essential to using sustainable aviation fuels to achieve the industry's climate goals.

Gulf Times
Business
Qatar’s wholesale and retail trade grew 2.3% between 2015 and 2020 to reach $ 26.7bn

* Qatar is second largest duty-free operator in GCC with revenues of $600mn recorded in 2022, an increase of 74.5% from the previous year   Qatar’s wholesale and retail trade grew at a CAGR of 12.3% between 2015 and 2020 to reach $ 26.7bn, accounting for 15% of the GDP, Alpen Capital has said in its latest report. High level of wealth coupled with rising population, an expanding tourism sector and high investments towards infrastructure development has positioned the country (Qatar) as a promising retail market in the GCC, Alpen Capital said in its ‘GCC retail industry’ report. According to Alpen Capital, Qatar’s organised retail space is currently going through a period of rapid expansion, credited to a strong pipeline of projects in the build-up to several global sporting and business events that are set to take place over the next few years. Qatar remains the richest country in the world with a GDP (PPP) per capita (at constant prices) of $95,273 (as of 2021). Qatar is also regarded as the world’s fastest-growing luxury market as the country’s state-owned investments arm (Mayhoola) holds a majority stake in several high-profile fashion brands including the Italian company Valentino and French company LVMH as well as landmark department stores Harrods and Printemps in London and Paris, respectively. Additionally, Qatar is the second largest duty-free operator in the GCC with revenues of $600mn recorded in 2022, an increase of 74.5% from the previous year. The wholesale and retail trade contribution to GDP has remained stable over the years, indicating the growing importance of the industry within the economy, Alpen Capital noted. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic causing business disruptions, Qatar’s retail industry fared well during 2020 as the majority of stores and malls were allowed to reopen by summer with a range of mandatory health guidelines in place. During this period, the country witnessed several changes in consumer behaviour, especially in terms of buying patterns, spending trends, payment solutions, and utilisation of e-commerce platforms. The use of e-commerce witnessed a significant boost as consumers were forced to stay at home and rely on online channels. As per the Ministry of Transport and Communications, about 60% of the consumers in Qatar signified a desire to shop online. This led to the country’s retailers to restructure their strategy to incorporate online sales platforms, Alpen Capital noted. Consequently, many retailers in Qatar have moved to a blended, omni-channel distribution strategy, which involves boosting and expanding their digital offerings while also maintaining a brick-and- mortar footprint. However, the phased easing of Covid-19 restrictions in 2021 resulted in an encouraging return to pre-lockdown footfall levels in most retail malls. Consequently, the country’s retail market is estimated to have recovered from the slowdown during the pandemic, due to overall economic activity improving during the first year of the pandemic while inflation remained in the negative territory. Recovery can be attributed to the government’s initiatives to contain the pandemic, changes to the visa regulations, and an increased focus towards tourism as the country gears up to host several mega events. In addition to the FIFA World Cup 2022, some of the major international sporting events lined up to take place in the country include the Formula 1, TP Tennis Competition, International Golf Championship, the World Championship of Motorcycles, 2024 World Aquatics Championships, the 2030 Asian Games, European Tour Golf, and the MotoGP among others. Apart from these, Qatar is also vying to host a variety of business forums and conferences as it seeks to establish itself as a business hub in the GCC. Moreover, it has been hosting several events in the run up to the FIFA World Cup 2022 – helping the industry recover from the lows of 2020. Consequently, tourist arrivals in the country increased by 5% y-o-y in 2021 while total travel and tourism spending revenues reached $16.5bn, contributing 10.3% to the country’s GDP – the highest amongst the GCC nations. “All these factors are estimated to have helped revive the retail industry in Qatar,” Alpen Capital noted.

Gulf Times
Business
Qatar economy able to maintain growth trajectory: QIIB CEO

Qatar’s economy has the ability to maintain growth with contributions from hydrocarbon as well as non-hydrocarbon sectors, noted QIIB CEO Dr Abdulbasit Ahmed al-Shaibei. Global rating agencies including Moody’s and S&P have upgraded Qatar’s sovereign ratings recently and maintained stable outlook. “All estimates indicate that Qatar will achieve growth this year, ranging between 4% and 5%. This is considered one of the best rates globally. This must be seen in the backdrop of economic crises we are seeing in some countries around the world,” the prominent Qatari banker said when asked whether the Qatari economy will slow down after the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. The North Field expansion will raise Qatar's production capacity of liquefied natural gas to 126mn tonnes annually, which is the largest project in the history of global LNG industry. “We are proud that our country will maintain leadership in the field of liquefied natural gas. For the Qatari banking sector, there are certainly key opportunities that can be tapped in areas such as project financing, which includes pipelines, infrastructure, tankers, storage containers, and processing plants. The Qatari banking sector is a reliable and important partner in various projects that drive the national economy,” al-Shaibei noted. Qatar’s focus on developing knowledge-based and tourism and aviation industries will contribute to its economic diversification initiatives, he said. As for tourism, al-Shaibei said, “It is a sector with great opportunities. Qatar has already become a global tourist destination thanks to phenomenal development in infrastructure, hospitality, and the leadership enjoyed by our national carrier – Qatar Airways. Efforts are being made to turn Qatar into a leading destination in medical tourism, as well as in higher education by attracting students from many countries.” On QIIB’s focus on the local market, he said there are “promising opportunities” in Qatar and the country would remain the bank’s "top priority". “As for external expansion, even if we focus on the local market, we will not neglect opportunities abroad if they are of low risks with potential for good returns. “Currently, we are proceeding with our investment in Morocco through Umnia Bank, which has expanded very well with some 48 branches in the kingdom. Recently, we signed a partnership agreement to establish the Takaful Insurance Company in Morocco in partnership between Atlanta Insurance Company, Moroccan Real Estate and Tourism Loan Bank – CIH and Qatar Islamic Insurance Company. On the Treasury Sukuk launched recently by the Qatar Central Bank (QCB), al-Shaibei said, “The monetary policy of the Qatar Central Bank is managed very wisely. Certainly, the issuance of treasury bonds is a positive matter and considered one of the important tools that enable us as Islamic banks to invest liquidity surpluses, if any.”

Dr Abdulbasit Ahmed al-Shaibei, QIIB CEO.
Qatar
Driven by digital banking, QIIB set to meet customer needs during World Cup: Al-Shaibei

 * QIIB CEO said 'detailed plan' drawn up to ensure 'smooth and uninterrupted' banking services during World Cup   Aided by “digital transformation”, QIIB is all set to meet the needs of customers and visitors to the country during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, according to CEO Dr Abdulbasit Ahmed al-Shaibei. “We launched many services within the framework of digital transformation, which constitute a qualitative addition during the World Cup, such as digital contactless payments of various kinds. These include payments through wearable devices ‘Fitbit’ and ‘Garmin’. We also launched digital wallets – Apple pay, Google pay and Samsung pay – which make online and mobile purchases easy,” al-Shaibei said in an interview with Gulf Times yesterday. In order to test the bank’s “ability to withstand the pressure on the services and the network” during the greatest sporting spectacle on earth, al-Shaibei noted, “We conducted stress tests through qualified and specialised companies, and these tests are an essential part of preparing for the World Cup.” The QIIB CEO said a “detailed plan” had been drawn up to ensure “smooth and uninterrupted” banking services during the World Cup. Al-Shaibei said, “To ensure that our fans and customers do not face any issues with regard to money transfer or accessing ATMs during the World Cup, we have made elaborate arrangements. In this respect, we are working closely with money transfer companies and those responsible for feeding the ATMs. “Our call centre is ever alert and is also fully ready to meet the needs of our customers and thousands of fans visiting the country during the World Cup. We are sure; God willing, Qatar’s banking sector is 100% ready to play its role in serving visitors to the fullest during the World Cup," the prominent Qatari banker noted. As an “integral part” of the country’s economic system, Qatari banks, al-Shaibei emphasised, “have a duty and great responsibility” in the success of the World Cup events. “This World Cup is one of the prominent titles that show the prestigious position of the State of Qatar at all levels under the wise leadership of His Highness the Amir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. “We at QIIB are ready to provide various banking services during the World Cup, to all fans; whether they are Qatar residents or guests coming from outside. Our role is to facilitate access to banking services for everyone, while they stay in our country. “At QIIB, we have made many preparations for the World Cup as is the case with all banks, in co-operation with the banking sector’s supervisory authorities, who have developed many plans in order to enhance the banking sector’s contribution to the success of the World Cup and provide us with all kinds of required support and assistance,” al-Shaibei noted. Highlighting some of the cutting-edge products and services that QIIB launched this year, he said, "Perhaps the most important thing we have done at QIIB this year is to enhance digital transformation in an unprecedented way. We have turned challenges associated with the pandemic into a golden opportunity to develop our work mechanisms. As a result, most banking services are available through our various digital channels. "Besides Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay, we also began issuing digital bank cards and Western Union services (for money transfer to international accounts). On the corporate side, we launched two new corporate branches in key locations - the first on Salwa Road and the second in the New Industrial Area."

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Business
Qatar fiscal surplus at 8.8% this year and in 2023: Oxford Economics

Oxford Economics sees Qatar government fiscal surplus at 8.8% this year and in 2023, before falling back to 7.3% in 2024. Credit ratings agency S&P upgraded its rating for Qatar and maintained stable outlook, following on from Moody's positive credit outlook change last week. This, researcher Oxford Economics noted, “reflects the shrinking debt burden as, like the rest of the region, Qatar's economy benefits from higher oil and gas prices, but also an expectation that government spending will moderate in the medium term after the World Cup. Qatar’s inflation will moderate to 2.1% in 2023 from 4.3% this year, Oxford Economics said. The country’s fiscal balance has been forecast at 9% of GDP this year and 9.3% in 2023 by Oxford Economics. The country’s current account surplus, according to Oxford Economics will be 16.8% of its GDP this year and 14.9% in 2023. Qatar’s real GDP growth has been forecast at 3.6% this year and 3.5% in 2023. On COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, it said the climate summit has also put the spotlight on climate action in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia has committed $2.5bn worth of spending on green initiatives, including support for renewable energy sources and clean hydrogen production, as the country aims to become a pioneer for climate change. The Arab Co-ordination Group also pledged $24bn by 2030 to fund the energy transition, climate resilience, and energy security in developing countries. Egypt and the UAE also made significant agreements on renewables. With Egypt as the host of this year's conference, the divide between the climate concerns of developing economies and developed economies will be more apparent. Egypt has noted it will steer the COP27 focus to adaptation and climate finance. These issues are more pressing for developing economies given their exposure to physical climate risks and budget constraints amid competing development demands. “We expect COP27 to build on the momentum generated by COP26, but progress has so far been underwhelming. Climate goals remain elusive, and current nationally determined contributions (NDC) pledges will likely lead to significant warming above industrial levels. “The key takeaway for the green transition is that it needs to be just and equitable if developing economies are to actively engage in the climate agenda, and developed economies need to take the lead. Our Sustainable Development Scenario for our Global Climate Service sees the policy burden fall more on advanced economies and those with large emissions,” Oxford Economics noted.