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Wednesday, February 08, 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.
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.    

Newly expanded three-level HIA terminal has added 125,000 square meters to the world-scale airport with five new contact gates, 22 bus gates and improved access and services on 12 existing remote aircraft stands.  Pictures: Thajudheen
Qatar
New terminal adds 125,000 square meters to Hamad International Airport

* The new facility has added five new contact gates, 22 bus gates and improved access and services on 12 existing remote aircraft stands   Newly expanded three-level HIA terminal has added 125,000 square meters to the world-scale airport with five new contact gates, 22 bus gates and improved access and services on 12 existing remote aircraft stands. HIA will therefore continue to operate within a single expansive terminal of 725,000 square meters (previously 600,000 sqm), so passengers can “seamlessly” transfer from one area to another. The newly expanded area will have a brand-new expansive transfer hall- ‘Transfer-C’, which means HIA will now have three transfer halls within the terminal. According to Hamad International Airport, ‘Transfer C’ will ensure minimum connection time for transfer passengers arriving at the North Plaza of the airport and will deliver “unprecedented” levels of security, customer service and efficiency. On November 10, Hamad International Airport opened the newly expanded terminal as part of its ‘Phase A’ expansion, which means the state-of-the-art airport will now be able to cater to 58mn passengers annually. HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani inaugurated HIA’s newly expanded terminal and toured the facility. He was also briefed on HIA’s capacities in terms of receiving incoming and departing passengers, as well as the modern systems used. The Central Concourse project is the extended area of the airport terminal, located at the North Plaza of Hamad International Airport. The focal point of the Central Concourse is the Orchard, which consists of an indoor tropical garden, water feature, retail and F&B, under a grid shell roof. The transfer facility will have some 14 security lanes, a Central Image Processing Room for centralised security inspection and analysis and a transfer hall capacity approximately 5,600 passengers every hour. New scanner features mean passengers do not require passengers to remove either liquids or larger electronic items from their bags. Up to six passengers can load their items into trays at the same time, for faster passenger processing. The new facility incorporates passenger boarding pass scanners prior to screening which will electronically ‘tag’ each passenger’s belongings to boarding card to ensure the belongings are tracked. Once passengers remove their possessions from the tray, the system scans the tray to ensure no items are left behind. The system also incorporates a shoe screening capability conducted in only a few seconds without the need for passengers to remove their footwear. HIA said Orchard is integrated with the existing terminal, so passengers can seamlessly transfer from one area to another. Therefore, the Hamad Airport will continue to operate within a single expansive terminal. The Orchard is connected to the South Plaza (Lamp Bear Area) of HIA via the passenger train and accessible by passengers. It takes 90 seconds to connect the North and South plaza stations (and vice versa). The two stations can also be accessed by travellators, buggies etc. Extensive flora, include more than 300 trees and 25,000 plants and shrubs sourced from sustainable forests from around the world. The designers have developed a column free, long span 85m grid shell roof with performance glass to control and filter the light required to maintain a rainforest with mature trees. The newly expanded terminal houses HIA’s second airport hotel - ‘Oryx Garden’ that will come in handy for passengers during their stopover flights in Doha.

HIAu2019s u2018Orchardu2019 u2014 an indoor tropical garden that has sourced 300-plus trees and 25,000 plants from sustainable forests around the world. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Qatar
HIA Phase B expansion to increase passenger capacity to 70mn annually

Hamad International Airport (HIA) ‘Phase A’ expansion will cater to 58mn passengers annually, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive HE Akbar al-Baker said yesterday. He noted that ‘Phase B’ of expansion, which is set to commence in early 2023 will further increase capacity to more than 70mn passengers annually. The newly expanded terminal encompassed a total of nine projects, which includes Central Concourse – The Orchard, retail & F&B, Oryx Garden Hotel and North Plaza Lounges, Al Mourjan Business Lounge, Remote Transfer Baggage Facility (RTBF) building and system, Virtual Air Traffic Control Tower, Western Taxiway and Stand Development works, Western Fuel Farm and Midfield Fuel Farm expansion works and Cargo Bridging. With sustainability at the core of HIA’s plans, the airport has managed to have four of the expansion projects achieve a 4-star rating under the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) from Gulf Organisation for Research & Development (Gord). This includes the Orchard, Oryx Garden Hotel & north plaza lounges, Al Mourjan Business lounge – the Garden and the Remote Transfer Baggage Facility. HIA Phase B expansion will increase capacity to more than 70mn passengers and include new concourses and cargo terminal. New Concourses: a 95,000sq m plus extension of Concourses D & E to fulfil the final expansion of the passenger terminal connecting to the Orchard and converting adjacent remote aircraft stands to contact gates. A new western Satellite Concourse of approximately 300,000sq m converting the 34 remote aircraft stands to contact gates with an automated people mover connection to passenger terminal.  New Cargo Terminal 2 (CT2) will be a dedicated transfer cargo facility designed to handle 3.3mn tonnes per annum. It will be located on a 300,000sq m plot beside the existing Cargo Terminal in the HIA Midfield Area with a built-up area of circa 240,000sq m divided over three material handling floors and four office floors.

HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani and other dignitaries at the inauguration of the HIA expansion yesterday.
Qatar
PM inaugurates newly-expanded HIA terminal

Hamad International Airport (HIA) has opened the newly expanded terminal as part of its ‘Phase A’ expansion, which houses the second airport hotel and ‘Orchard’ – an indoor tropical garden that has sourced 300-plus trees and 25,000 plants from sustainable forests around the world. Consisting of ‘one expansive’ terminal, the airport will welcome passengers with facilities and services curated for all ages. The expansion now enables travellers to ‘seamlessly transfer’ from one area to another, ‘exploring the wonders that HIA has to offer with its infused warmth and hospitality’. HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani inaugurated the expansion of HIA yesterday. He toured the new passenger terminal and was briefed on its capacities in terms of receiving incoming and departing passengers, as well as the modern systems used, the official Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported. He was also briefed on the various facilities and equipment and the related development in all operational processes in order to receive travellers, Qatar’s guests, and fans of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior was accompanied by a number of ministers and senior officials.  The expansion is in line with the expected flow of visitors and fans for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. It will facilitate aircraft movement and air control, in conjunction with the requirements of operational intensity during the World Cup, which is only a few days away. This will enhance the opportunities to meet the increasing demand for individual travel and air freight, QNA added. From discovering new flavours with exquisite fine dining to exploring the depths of the art collections and luxurious shops – the airport continues to actively enrich travellers’ experiences with tranquillity and profound culture. According to HIA, the airport’s expanded operations will greatly reduce waiting time, thanks to the new transfer hall on concourse C (Transfer Hall C) – the level of security, customer service and efficiency will allow passengers to smoothly arrive and depart the award-winning airport. In the expanded terminal, Qatar Duty Free is offering world-class retail and F&B options with more than 65 retail and dining outlets spread across its three levels. F&B options at the HIA expansion includes over 20 cafes and restaurants offering delicious local and global cuisines for an ultimate dining experience. To Page 2 The retail and F&B offer at the expansion features many world firsts and exclusives, including a ‘Fendi Boutique’ with the first ‘Fendi Café’ in an airport, and the first ‘Ralph’s Coffee Shop’ in an airport. The North node also houses the world’s first ‘Oreo Café’ in an airport. The enhanced retail offer also includes an unrivalled selection of luxury boutiques, including the first Dior Boutique at HIA, only FIFA Shop in the world, Thom Brown (only store in an airport), largest Ray Ban store (in an airport), and a lineup of prestigious brands such as flagship Louis Vuitton Boutique, Gucci, Burberry, Tiffany and Co., and Bvlgari. Passengers travelling through HIA will be able to explore hundreds of curated experiences all under one roof, surrounded by a true architectural and tropical masterpiece. As part of the overall expansion, HIA has launched the second airport hotel within its transfer area, the ‘Oryx Garden’ hotel. Located in the north plaza, the 100-room hotel focuses on sustainability, with rooms ranging from king to twin, as well as suites strategically located moments away from the boarding gates. To enhance the overall experience at the Oryx Garden Hotel, guests can use the passenger train to visit the near-by Oryx Airport Hotel in the south plaza should they want to use its ‘Vitality Wellbeing Spa and Fitness Centre’. The centre features a 25-metre swimming pool, gym, spa and squash court. As part of the expansion project, HIA has four brand new lounges for passengers to relax and unwind, namely ‘Al Mourjan Business Lounge- The Garden’, ‘Al Mourjan Business Lounge- North’, ‘Platinum and Gold lounge- North’ and ‘Silver Lounge – North’. Addressing a media event at the newly expanded terminal, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive HE Akbar al-Baker stated, “We are very pleased to be launching the expansion of Hamad International Airport, an airport that has truly grown to become the ultimate example of a successful, sustainable global facility. “HIA continues to impress with its innovative planning, execution and investment – enhancing its position as the preferred hub for global travellers and reinforcing HIA’s position amongst the top leaders of this industry. The opening of our newly expanded terminal further connects the growing number of travellers to all corners of the world, enriching people’s experiences and proudly representing the State of Qatar’s rich culture and prestige.”   Commenting on the expansion, HIA Chief Operating Officer Badr Mohamed al-Meer said, “We are immensely proud to officially launch our airport expansion. Our growth plan will see us welcome over 58mn passengers annually – offering global travellers the best services the industry has to offer. “Through the expansion, we have upgraded our facilities and offerings – creating the ultimate destination for passengers. From world-class services to endless F&B and retail offerings, the expansion further strengthens our ambition as we look towards maintaining our status as the best airport in the world.”

Hamad International Airport
Qatar
HIA ‘Phase B’ expansion to boost passenger capacity to 70mn annually

•    Newly expanded terminal caters to 58mn passengers annually     Hamad International Airport (HIA) ‘Phase A’ expansion will cater to 58mn passengers annually, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive HE Akbar al-Baker said on Thursday. He noted that ‘Phase B’ of expansion, which is set to commence in early 2023 will further increase capacity to more than 70mn passengers annually. The newly expanded terminal encompassed a total of nine projects, which includes Central Concourse-(The Orchard, retail & F&B, Oryx Garden Hotel and North Plaza Lounges, Al Mourjan Business Lounge, Remote Transfer Baggage Facility (RTBF) building and system, Virtual Air Traffic Control Tower, Western Taxiway and Stand Development works, Western Fuel Farm and Midfield Fuel Farm expansion works and Cargo Bridging. With sustainability at the core of HIA’s plans, the airport has managed to have four of the expansion projects achieve a 4-star rating under the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) from Gulf Organisation for Research & Development (GORD). This includes the Orchard, Oryx Garden Hotel & north plaza lounges, Al Mourjan Business lounge- the Garden and the Remote Transfer Baggage Facility. HIA Phase B expansion will increase capacity to more than 70mn passengers and include new concourses and cargo terminal. New Concourses: a 95,000sqm plus extension of Concourses D & E to fulfill the final expansion of the passenger terminal connecting to the Orchard and converting adjacent remote aircraft stands to contact gates. A new western Satellite Concourse of approximately 300,000 square meters converting the 34 remote aircraft stands to contact gates with an automated people mover connection to automated people mover connection to passenger terminal. New Cargo Terminal 2 (CT2) will be a dedicated transfer cargo facility designed to handle 3.3mn tonnes per annum. It will be located on a 300,000m2 plot beside the existing Cargo Terminal in the HIA Midfield Area with a built up area of circa 240,000m2 divided over three material handling floors and four office floors. Ends    

High oil prices should result in strong government surpluses in 2022-2023, at about 13% of GDP in 2022 and 6% in 2023.
Business
55% year-on-year rise in Qatar’s hydrocarbon revenue estimated in 2022: S&P

S&P estimates a 55% year-on-year rise in Qatar’s hydrocarbon revenue in 2022, with non-hydrocarbon revenue also buoyed by the additional economic activity associated with the World Cup and recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic. High oil prices should result in strong government surpluses in 2022-2023, at about 13% of GDP in 2022 and 6% in 2023. The general government balance includes the central government's budgetary position, and small deficits of about 0.2% of GDP at the social security system level. In the first six months of 2022, the fiscal surplus was recorded at QR47bn, compared with a budgeted deficit of QR8.3bn for the year, S&P said in its ratings upgrade report. On November 4, S&P Global Ratings raised its long-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings on Qatar to 'AA' from 'AA-' and affirmed its short-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings at 'A-1+'. The outlook is stable. As S&P oil price estimates fall to $55/b, it expects a deficit of about 4% of GDP on average in 2024-2025. “We expect government revenue to continue to be largely driven by gas production and oil prices. We also expect government expenditure to remain broadly flat, at about 30% of GDP over 2022-2025. During the four years to 2019, expenditure averaged about 35% of GDP. “Our expectation of additional expenditure restraint over the forecast period through 2025 largely relates to our assumption that government spending on capital projects of about 10% of GDP in 2022 will decline to about 7% of GDP by 2025, given that many large infrastructure projects will have been completed, such as Doha's new metro and tram system.” According to S&P the government intends to reduce its overall debt-to-GDP ratio and to rebalance the share of foreign currency debt in the total, aiming for 50%, down from 58% in 2021. “We expect the government's debt-repayment strategy to reduce total general government debt to 27% of GDP by 2025, from 49% in 2022. “The government will repay the debt from cash surpluses partly accumulated from past Eurobond issuance. The government's net asset position will remain a rating strength, averaging 110% of GDP over 2022-2025.”

Cargo is unloaded from a Korean Air Lines Co freight plane arriving from China at the company's cargo terminal at Incheon International Airport in South Korea. Air cargo demand has softened and declined in the recent months due to multiple headwinds around the world. High inflation levels and the increasing fear of an economic recession have had a negative impact on the global flows of goods and services.
Business
Multiple headwinds soften global air cargo demand

Beyond the Tarmac Air cargo demand has softened and declined in the recent months due to multiple headwinds around the world. High inflation levels and the increasing fear of an economic recession have had a negative impact on the global flows of goods and services. In addition, the ongoing war in Ukraine still affects cargo capacity, with a number of important air cargo carriers directly impacted. As most of the world’s regions recover from the pandemic, post-pandemic consumer spending habits are likely to lean towards vacation travel more than home shopping via e-commerce, International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in a recent report. The most recent data on global goods trade show that trade maintained a similar year-on-year (y-o-y) growth rate at 5.2% in September. This stable trade performance is a positive signal to the world economy. Any easing of Covid-19 restrictions in China including factory reopening will support the global trade recovery. However, most of the uptake in trade since this year has benefited maritime, which has been growing in line with the global trade. Air cargo growth slightly narrowed the gap, with a one percentage point increase in its relative performance compared with the previous month. The Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) of new export orders – historically a leading indicator for air cargo shipments – remained below the critical 50 line, suggesting continued contractions across the board. The shrinking in international export demand extended into September for US, Japan and South Korea, IATA noted. Meanwhile, China contracted for a third month in a row, signalling the impact of the country’s Covid-related restrictions on air cargo activities. Regarding Germany, the PMI decreased for the 7th consecutive month since March, marking the largest contraction since mid-2020. The global PMI contracted for a third month in a row to its lowest level in two years, weighing upon outlook for air cargo demand in the near future. Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometres (CTKs), fell 10.6% compared to September 2021 (-10.6% also for international operations), but continued to track at near pre-pandemic levels (-3.6%). Capacity was 2.4% above September 2021 (+5.0% for international operations) but still 7.4% below September 2019 levels (-8.1% for international operations. Year-on-year inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the G7 countries was 7.7% in September, a 0.2 percentage point (ppt) increase from the August level, remaining at a decade high level. Inflation in producer (input) prices, however, continued to slow down for a second month, to 13.7% in August. Oil is an important contributor to producer prices, and a major cost to airlines directly. The Brent crude oil price decreased further in September and continues to stabilise at a level of around $88.2 per barrel. The jet crack spread remains unusually wide at around $42 per barrel, though it has come off its high of $64 per barrel set in June. Middle Eastern carriers experienced a 15.8% year-on-year decrease in cargo volumes in September 2022. This was the worst performance of all regions and a significant decline compared to the previous month (-11.3%). Stagnant cargo volumes to/from Europe impacted the region’s performance. Capacity was down 2.8% compared to September 2021. And Asia-Pacific airlines saw their air cargo volumes decrease by 10.7% in September 2022 compared to the same month in 2021. This was a decline in performance compared to August (-8.3%). Airlines in the region continue to be impacted by the conflict in Ukraine, labour shortages, and lower levels of trade and manufacturing activity due to Omicron-related restrictions in China. Available capacity in the region increased by 2.8% compared to 2021. “While air cargo’s activity continues to track near to 2019 levels, volumes remain below 2021’s exceptional performance as the industry faces some headwinds,” points out Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General. At the consumer level, he noted that with travel restrictions lifting post-pandemic, people are likely to spend more on vacation travel and less on e-commerce. And at the macro-level, increasing recession warnings are likely to have a negative impact on the global flows of goods and services, balanced slightly by a stabilisation of oil prices. “Against this backdrop, air cargo is bearing up well. And a strategic slow-down in capacity growth from 6.3% in August to 2.4% in September demonstrates the flexibility the industry has in adjusting to economic developments,” Walsh said.

Gulf Times
Business
Oil market may remain tight amid softening demand, weaker global economic activity and uncertainties: NBK

Oil market may remain tight even as oil demand softens amid weaker global economic activity and uncertainties, National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) has said in a report. Oil prices recovered in October, boosted by the Opec+ decision to cut production by 2mn barrels per day for 14 months effective November. Opec+’s announcement has helped put a floor on prices and, in tandem with expected supply shortfalls and moderate supply gains from Russia and non-Opec countries including the US, respectively, the market should remain tight even as oil demand softens amid weaker global economic activity, it said. International benchmark Brent crude ended the month trading at $94.8/barrel, posting a first monthly gain, of 7.8% month-on-month, in five months. US crude marker West Texas Intermediate closed the month up almost 9% at $86.5. October’s oil price recovery occurred despite concerns about the health of the global economy amid aggressive central bank monetary tightening, surging consumer prices, the destabilising conflict in Ukraine and relatively weak Chinese economic activity, NBK said. The latter has been aggravated by repeated Covid-19 mobility restrictions and a property sector downturn. The International Monetary Fund‘s (IMF) October World Economic Outlook forecast that world GDP growth would slow from 3.2% this year to a downwardly revised 2.7% in 2023. There is a 25% chance that year-ahead growth could drop below 2%. “The outlook for the oil market is mired in uncertainty,” NBK said and noted while oil demand is softening in line with weakening global economic growth, it is the supply side that has the greatest potential to spring surprises. The impending EU oil embargo on Russian seaborne crude and refined products could lead to the shutting-in of substantial volumes of Russian supply — even after barrels are diverted at a heavy discount to Russia’s largest customers China, India and Turkiye. In tandem with Opec+ supply cuts, the market is expected to tighten in 2023, with stock draws expected from mid-2023 onwards. The IEA sees the ‘call on Opec’ in 2023 higher than the group’s likely production during the year, especially in the absence of higher Iranian or Venezuelan supply. “We expect risks to oil prices to be on the upside,” NBK added.

Gulf Times
Business
Qatari banks' external debt expected to drop by 8% this year: S&P

Qatari banks external debt is expected to drop by 8% this year, S&P said and noted there may be a broad stabilisation over the next couple of years. This, S&P said will be due to many factors including high oil prices that should result in stronger domestic deposit growth than was seen over the past few years. S&P also expects Qatari banks financing needs to ease as several large infrastructure projects are delivered. New central bank rules, it said have increased reserve requirements for short-term non-resident deposits and the weight of non-resident deposits in the calculation of bank's liquidity coverage and the net stable funding ratios, which will deter banks from using external sources to grow their balance sheets further. According to S&P, risks related to Qatar's high level of non-resident deposits previously materialised in 2017, when $22bn - the equivalent of 14% of 2017 GDP and about 20% of total external liabilities - left the Qatari banking system after a group of Arab and African states imposed a blockade on Qatar. “We understand that most of the deposits were withdrawn when they matured, and that around one-third of them related to the boycotting nations. The authorities - mostly the QIA - compensated the Qatari banks by providing about double the amount of funds that had left the system, namely, $43bn, or 27% of 2017 GDP,” S&P noted. Beyond the risks stemming from banks' short-term external funding profiles, the financial system coped well with the pandemic and the subsequent withdrawal of forbearance measures. “We expect credit losses will remain elevated in 2022, at around double their pre-pandemic rates of 50 basis points (bps). Rising interest rates should support profitability and bolster already strong levels of capitalisation.” Like other countries, inflation has increased in Qatar and S&P expects the consumer price index to increase by 5.5% on average in 2022. Amid rising inflation, the QCB increased the repurchase rate by 300 bps since the beginning of the year to 4% following the rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve. S&P anticipates an acceleration in GDP growth this year as non-hydrocarbon sectors such as tourism, transport, and construction benefit from Qatar's hosting of the FIFA World Cup, which is expected to bring in about 1.2mn tourists. Economic growth thereafter is likely to be relatively soft through 2025. Government investment, much of which is outside the hydrocarbon sector, will gradually decline, with major infrastructure projects nearing completion. S&P forecasts that GDP growth will accelerate toward 5% in 2022 as Qatar hosts the FIFA World Cup, before moderating toward 2% in 2023-2025. Qatar's ambitious plans to increase LNG capacity should boost GDP growth over 2026-2027, after which growth should moderate with production plateauing at the new higher level beyond 2027. “We do not expect significant policy shifts over the forecast period through 2025, and we expect improved regional co-operation to continue,” S&P said. S&P recently raised its long-term sovereign credit rating on Qatar to 'AA' from 'AA-', assigned a stable outlook, and affirmed the country’s 'A-1+' short-term rating.

According to the ratings agency, high oil prices should result in strong government surpluses in 2022-2023, at about 13% of GDP in 2022 and 6% in 2023.
Business
Qatar government surplus of 13% of GDP seen in 2022, driven by sharp increase in revenue: S&P

* High oil prices will support Qatar’s strong fiscal and external balances in 2022-2023, ratings agency said in a report High oil prices will support Qatar’s strong fiscal and external balances in 2022-2023, S&P Global said as the ratings agency expects a general government surplus of about 13% of GDP in this year, driven by a sharp increase in revenue. S&P noted that Qatar's current account will remain in a very strong surplus in 2022-2023, supported by higher prices for its gas exports. The current account and fiscal deficit, it said will weaken over 2024-2025 because it assumes oil prices will decline to $55 per barrel. “We expect lesser reliance on short-term banking sector external funding will help reduce the country's external liquidity needs somewhat,” S&P said. Qatar derives about 40% of its GDP, 80% of government revenue, and 90% of exports from the hydrocarbon sector. This makes the country's credit profile vulnerable to volatility in oil prices, to which most of its long-term gas contracts are linked. S&P forecasts are based on the expectation that the Brent oil price will average just above $100/b for 2022, $85/b for 2023, and $55/b for 2024 and thereafter. According to the ratings agency, high oil prices should result in strong government surpluses in 2022-2023, at about 13% of GDP in 2022 and 6% in 2023. The general government balance includes the central government's budgetary position, and small deficits of about 0.2% of GDP at the social security system level. In the first six months of 2022, the fiscal surplus was recorded at QR47bn, compared with a budgeted deficit of QR8.3bn for the year. “We estimate a 55% year-on-year rise in hydrocarbon revenue in 2022, with non-hydrocarbon revenue also buoyed by the additional economic activity associated with the World Cup and recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic. As S&P oil price estimates fall to $55/b, it expects a deficit of about 4% of GDP on average in 2024-2025. The implementation of value-added tax is a possibility during 2023-2024, but may be delayed amid current inflationary pressures. “We expect government revenue to continue to be largely driven by gas production and oil prices. We also expect government expenditure to remain broadly flat, at about 30% of GDP over 2022-2025.” During the four years to 2019, expenditure averaged about 35% of GDP. S&P expectation of additional expenditure restraint over the forecast period through 2025 largely relates to its assumption that government spending on capital projects of about 10% of GDP in 2022 will decline to about 7% of GDP by 2025, given that many large infrastructure projects will have been completed, such as Doha's new metro and tram system. The government intends to reduce its overall debt-to-GDP ratio and to rebalance the share of foreign currency debt in the total, aiming for 50%, down from 58% in 2021. “We expect the government's debt-repayment strategy to reduce total general government debt to 27% of GDP by 2025, from 49% in 2022. The government will repay the debt from cash surpluses partly accumulated from past Eurobond issuance. The government's net asset position will remain a rating strength, averaging 110% of GDP over 2022-2025,” S&P said. S&P projects that the current account will maintain a surplus of 23% of GDP on average over 2022-2023, before moderating to about 3% of GDP over 2024-2025, in line with its oil price assumptions. The high level of assets accumulated within the sovereign wealth fund, the QIA, will continue to support Qatar's strong external position. “We estimate that, on average, Qatar's external liquid assets will surpass external debt by about 80% of current account payments in 2022-2025,” S& P said.

Gulf Times
Business
Low-cost LNG supplier Qatar to remain in 'relatively strong competitive position' : S&P

* Qatar's revenue stream will be significantly enhanced by North Field expansion, whereby Qatari liquefied natural gas production capacity is expected to increase by 64% As a low-cost LNG supplier, Qatar will remain in a “relatively strong competitive position” even after 2030, although demand is likely to peak in the mid-2030s, with increasing use of renewables in the energy market having a gradual impact on demand for hydrocarbons, S&P Global noted in its ratings upgrade. S&P recently raised its long-term sovereign credit rating on Qatar to 'AA' from 'AA-', assigned a stable outlook, and affirmed the country’s 'A-1+' short-term rating. In its overview, S&P noted Qatar's debt interest costs as a share of government revenue have fallen, and therefore it expects them to remain low because the government is repaying maturing debt. Additionally, the government's revenue stream will be significantly enhanced by the North Field expansion, whereby Qatari liquefied natural gas production capacity is expected to increase by 64% (by 2027). “The upgrade reflects structural improvements in the Qatari government's fiscal position. The government's strategy of paying off maturing debt, will sustainably reduce debt-servicing costs to below 5% of general government revenue over 2022-2025,” S&P said. Higher gas production related to the North Field expansion, expected to come onstream from end-2025, should further increase Qatari government revenue. Qatar remains one of the largest exporters of LNG globally. Between 2025 and 2027, the government plans to increase its LNG production capacity by about 64%, from 77mn tonnes per year to 126mn tpy. The strategic pivot away from Russian gas, particularly by European economies, suggests there will be a ready market for the additional Qatari gas. In its forecast, S&P said, “We assume that LNG production levels will be largely flat until 2025, but increase by about 30% over 2026-2027, on the assumption that the full increase in capacity will take some time to be fully utilised." S&P said it expects "strong" non-hydrocarbon sector growth as Qatar hosts the FIFA World Cup from November 20 to December 18, which will support an economic expansion of about 5% in 2022. After the tournament, S&P has forecast real GDP growth will average about 2.5% over 2023-2025 as gas production levels remain broadly stable and non-hydrocarbon sector growth normalises around 4%. The country's strong general government net asset position remains a credit strength and it expects it to increase over the period to 2025, supported by investment returns on Qatar's sovereign wealth fund, Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), assets, and the government's repayment of maturing external debt. Averaging about 150% of GDP in 2022-2025, Qatar Government's large liquid assets provide it with a strong buffer to mitigate the economic effects of external or financial shocks.

Qataru2019s fiscal balance has been forecast at 9% of GDP this year and 9.3% in 2023 by Oxford Economics
Business
Qatar’s inflation to moderate to 2.1% in 2023 from 4.3% this year: Oxford Economics

Qatar’s inflation will moderate to 2.1% in 2023 from 4.3% this year, researcher Oxford Economics has said in a report. 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. GCC central banks hike rates are in line with the US Fed, Oxford Economics said an noted the US Fed hiked its policy rate by 75bps (0.75%) at its latest Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting. The GCC central banks quickly followed suit – Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, and Bahrain mirrored the rate hike, and their policy rates now stand at 4.5%, 3.9%, 4.5%, and 4.75%, respectively. Qatar has increased their deposit and repo rates by 75bps and lending rate by 50 bps. Higher interest rates will increase borrowing costs, albeit at a slower pace. “GCC countries could see a cumulative increase in interest rates of 425bps in 2022, which will likely weigh on the non-oil GDP of the region. We expect growth in non-oil GDP in the GCC region to be 4.9% in 2022 and then ease to 3.4% in 2023,” Oxford Economics said. In an earlier report, Emirates NBD noted inflation in Qatar has slowed this year but remains high relative to other GCC countries at 4.8% year-on-year (y-o-y) in August. Housing and food inflation has accelerated in recent months but has been offset by lower healthcare and transport costs. Recreation and culture prices have risen sharply however as the sector rebounds from pandemic-era deflation. However, we do expect annual inflation to slow to under 4% by year end, bringing average CPI to 4.5% this year, up from 2.3% in 2021. Money supply growth has accelerated to 12.4% y-o-y in August, the fastest growth since 2018, largely on the back of increased FX deposits. Private sector credit growth has slowed to 6.6% y-o-y in August from a peak of 9.7% y-o-y in February this year. Government and public sector credit growth has declined on an annual basis after double digit growth in 2021, falling to -13.6% y-o-y in August. Qatar’s budget has benefitted from the surge in oil and natural gas prices this year, with oil and gas revenues up 67% y-o-y in H1, 2022. Other revenues have also increased sharply this year, with top line revenue up 58% y-o-y in H1. Expenditure growth has been more restrained at 13% y/y, focused on capital spending projects. Current spending and wages and salaries have increased 11-12% y-o-y in H1, 2022. “We expect the budget surplus to widen to over 10% of GDP this year, rising slightly to 12% of GDP in 2023 on the assumption that oil and gas prices will remain high,” Emirates NBD said.

Travellers queue at the Ailitalia and Air France-KLM flight check in desks at Charles de Gaulle Airport in France. Passengers seek convenience when they plan their travel and when choosing where to depart from. Their preference is to fly from an airport close to home, have all booking options and services available in one single place, pay with their preferred payment method and easily offset their carbon emissions, a recent survey by the International Air Transport Association reveals.
Business
Passengers seek ‘ready-to-fly’ experience at airports amid global air travel recovery

Beyond the Tarmac As air travel is fast returning to normal, post-pandemic, passengers seem to want improved convenience throughout their trip. They clearly see technology as key to improving the convenience of airport processes. Passengers seek convenience when they plan their travel and when choosing where to depart from. Their preference is to fly from an airport close to home, have all booking options and services available in one single place, pay with their preferred payment method and easily offset their carbon emissions, a recent survey by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reveals. Obviously, travel during Covid-19 was complex, cumbersome and time consuming due to government-imposed travel requirements worldwide. The devastation that pandemic caused on countless industries was apparent from demand destruction, company closures, revenue and job losses around the world. The aviation industry was one of the hardest hit. During Covid-19, an estimated 95% of the population was told to stay home, and avoid unnecessary trips. That meant almost nobody flew! Passengers want convenience when they plan their travel and when choosing where to depart from. Their preference is to fly from an airport close to home, have all booking options and services available in one single place, pay with their preferred payment method and easily offset their carbon emissions, IATA noted. Proximity to the airport was passengers’ main priority when choosing where to fly from, according to 75% of survey respondents. This was more important than ticket price (39%). Travellers were satisfied being able to pay with their preferred payment method which was available for 82% of travellers. Having access to planning and booking information in one single place was identified as being top priority. 18% of passengers said that they offset their carbon emissions, the main reason given by those that did not was not being aware of the option (36%). “Today’s travellers expect the same online experience as they get from major retailers like Amazon. Airline retailing is driving the response to these needs. It enables airlines to present their full offer to travellers. “And that puts the passenger in control of their travel experience with the ability to choose the travel options that they want with convenient payment options,” said Mohamed Albakri, IATA senior vice-president (Financial Settlement and Distribution Services). In terms of travel facilitation, most travellers are willing to share their immigration information for more convenient processing. Some 37% of travellers said they have been discouraged from travelling to a particular destination because of the immigration requirements. Process complexity was highlighted as the main deterrent by 65% of travellers, 12% cited costs and 8% time. Where visas are required, 66% of travellers want to obtain a visa online prior to travel, 20% prefer to go to the consulate or embassy and 14% at the airport. Some 83% of travellers said they would share their immigration information to speed up the airport arrival process. While this is high, it is slightly down from the 88% recorded in 2021. Nick Careen, IATA’s senior vice president (Operations, Safety and Security) said: “Travellers have told us that barriers to travel remain. Countries with complex visa procedures are losing the economic benefits that these travellers bring. Where countries have removed visa requirements, tourism and travel economies have thrived. “And for countries requiring certain categories of travellers to get visas, taking advantage of traveller willingness to use online processes and share information in advance would be a win-win solution.” With regard to airport processes, the survey noted that passengers are willing to take advantage of technology and re-thought processes to improve the convenience of their airport experience and manage their baggage. Passengers are willing to complete processing elements off-airport. 44% of travellers identified check-in as their top pick for off-airport processing. Immigration procedures were the second most popular “top-pick” at 32%, followed by baggage. And 93% of passengers are interested in a special program for trusted travellers (background checks) to expedite security screening. Passengers are interested in more options for baggage handling. 67% would be interested in home pick-up and delivery and 73% in remote check-in options. 80% of passengers said that would be more likely to check a bag if they could monitor it throughout the journey. And 50% said that they have used or would be interested in using an electronic bag tag. Passengers also see value in biometric identification, the survey reveals. Some 75% of passengers want to use biometric data instead of passports and boarding passes. Over a third have already experienced using biometric identification in their travels, with an 88% satisfaction rate. But data protection remains a concern for about half of travellers. “Passengers clearly see technology as key to improving the convenience of airport processes. They want to arrive at the airport ready-to-fly, get through the airport at both ends of their journey more quickly using biometrics and know where their baggage is at all times. “The technology exists to support this ideal experience. But we need cooperation across the value chain and with governments to make it happen. And we need to continuously reassure passengers that the data needed to support such an experience will be safely kept,” noted Careen.

Total assets of Qatar banking sector increased by 0.4% month-on-month by 0.4% this year up to September to reach QR1.835tn, according to a report from QNB Financial Services
Business
Qatari banks' total assets scale up to QR1.835tn in September

Total assets of Qatar banking sector increased by 0.4% month-on-month (MoM) by 0.4% this year up to September to reach QR1.835tn, QNB Financial Services (QNBFS) has said in a report. The sector’s total loan book declined by 0.4% MoM (-0.2% in 2022) in September to QR1,213.6bn and deposits went down by 0.8% MoM (-0.9% in 2022) in the same month to QR965.1bn. Loans decrease in September was mainly due to a drop by 2.1% from the public sector. Deposits decline that month was due to a contraction both in non-resident and public sector deposits, QNBFS noted. The public sector mainly caused the credit decline (down 2.1% MoM in September). As deposits moved down by 0.8% in September, the loans to deposits ratio (LDR) rose to 125.8% compared with 125.2% in August. Domestic public sector loans moved lower by 2.1% MoM (-6.5% in 2022) in September. The government segment (represents nearly 31% of public sector loans) fell by 6.8% MoM (-23.7% in 2022), while the semi-government institutions’ segment dropped by 7.6% MoM (+2.2% in 2022). However, the government institutions’ segment (represents nearly 64% of public sector loans) loan book increased by 0.8% MoM (+3.9% in 2022). Total private sector loans moved up by 0.5% MoM (+3.7% in 2022) in September. The services segment and real estate mainly contributed toward the private sector loan growth for September. Services (contributes nearly 29% to private sector loans) increased by 0.7% MoM (+5.4% in 2022). The real estate segment (contributes nearly 21% to private sector loans) went up by 0.7% MoM (+5.7% in 2022). General trade (contributes nearly 21% to private sector loans) gained 0.5% MoM (+1.1% in 2022), while consumption and others (contributes nearly 22% to private sector loans) moved down marginally by 0.01% MoM (+4.5% in 2022) during September. Outside Qatar loans went down by 1.8% MoM (-8.9% in 2022) during September. Public sector deposits declined by 1.3% MoM (+12.5% in 2022) for September, resulting in the overall drop in the Qatar banking sector deposits. Looking at segment details, the government segment (represents nearly 27% of public sector deposits) fell by 15.1% MoM (-13.5% in 2022). However, the government institutions’ segment (represents nearly 58% of public sector deposits) moved up by 5.1% MoM (+23.7% in 2022), while the semi-government institutions’ segment went up by 4.0% MoM (+37.1% in 2022). Private sector deposits increased by 0.5% MoM (+7.9% in 2022), QNBFS said. On the private sector front, companies and institutions’ segment went up by 1.0% MoM (+14.4% in 2022), while the consumer segment rose marginally by 0.01% MoM (+2.4% in 2022). However, non-resident deposits continued its downward spiral and went down by 2.8% MoM (-27.4% in 2022) in September 2022, QNBFS noted. An analyst told Gulf Times that “both the drops relate directly to the government.” “On the Loans side we can see that government overdrafts have come down, which could mean they stopped using short-term funding. On the deposits side again it could be that government is drawing down on its deposits to make payments related to 2022 FIFA World Cup. I think either way the government has a lot of flexibility in funding,” the analyst added.

Commercial Bank Board Members officially opened the new branch at a ceremony attended by key dignitaries, and top executives including Group CEO Joseph Abraham. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Business
Commercial Bank opens state-of-the-art branch at Hamad Port

Commercial Bank has opened a new state-of-the-art branch at Hamad Port. This strategic location plays an instrumental part in the vision of the State of Qatar, and Commercial Bank plays its part in serving the community and businesses that thrive off this development. Commercial Bank Board Members officially opened the new branch at a ceremony attended by key dignitaries, and top executives including Group CEO Joseph Abraham. Commenting on the new branch opening, Abraham said: “Commercial Bank continues to maintain one of the largest branch networks in the country. Our new branch at Hamad Port further reinforces our long-term commitment and expertise in international trade and will support increasing trade between Qatar and the rest of the world, as well as the wider Qatar National Vision”. The new CB branch will provide the customers with a wide range of services. Shahnawaz Rashid, executive general manager and head (Retail Banking), said: “We look to make banking easier for our customers which can mean serving them digitally with speed and reliability or by meeting them in person to assist with complicated transactions and advice. Both we aim to do seamlessly. “The new Hamad Port branch comes as an important step forward in our plan to make banking services widely available for our customers. This new branch will provide both retail and corporate customers with a full range of services to ensure that our benefits reach customers in our society”. Commenting on the new branch opening, Nayef al-Beshri, assistant general manager and head (Branch Network), said: “Commercial Bank has maintained its leadership position through its presence in the most strategic locations across Qatar. The new Hamad Port branch represents a key addition to the Commercial Bank’s expansionary network plan, which is based on targeting the important sectors, of which the transportation sector is one of the most important. “Today, under the umbrella of Mawani Qatar, we aspire to be an effective link between importers, exporters, shipping companies and customs clearance from our customers by providing a full range of services and unique features that meet their banking needs. “This new branch will provide unique banking services to our individual and corporate customers as well as the latest and largest digital banking lobby that will allow our customers to benefit from the 24x7 self-service machines. We look forward to providing more innovative services through a distinctive and modern branch network”. Commercial Bank said it continues to expand its wide branch network to enhance its leading position among the financial institutions in Qatar.

Commercial Bank Group CEO Joseph Abraham. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Business
Qatar economy to benefit from North Field expansion, economic diversification projects: Joseph Abraham

North Field expansion and many other economic diversification projects will drive the national economy beyond 2022, noted Commercial Bank Group CEO Joseph Abraham. The North Field expansion, construction on both the offshore and the onshore components, will provide a boost to the economy, Abraham said in an interview with Gulf Times Monday. He noted Google Cloud has opened its first data centre in the Middle East in Qatar. “I think this shows the diversification of the economy and the continuing international links that Qatar will be expanding,” Abraham noted. He also highlighted Qatar’s emergence as a major international sporting centre. Qatar is hosting the world’s largest sporting event - the 2022 FIFA World Cup from November 20 to December 18. The 2023 Asian Cup football tournament will be held in Qatar. Qatar has also signed a deal to host Formula One from 2023. Asked whether the country’s real estate sector will be able to keep momentum, Abraham noted: “I think definitely. The country’s real estate sector has adjusted over the last few years. On residential, I think we are seeing an upside and many of the policy initiatives that the government has done like residency, will encourage further investments, particularly in the residential (segment). On Commercial Bank’s new branch opening at Hamad Port, the CEO said: “This shows our commitment to support Qatar National Vision 2030 and the country’s trading partners.” He said the Hamad Port branch will have the full capability to provide excellent service to all segments of Commercial Bank customers including retail. “We are grateful for the support we have received from Mwani Qatar and its CEO Captain Abdulla al-Khanji. “At Commercial Bank, our name says it all. We support trade, economic development. Hamad Port is the epitome of Qatar’s global linkages. Record volumes testify this. As Qatar is hosting the FIFA World Cup, we believe this is the opportune time to support Qatar National Vision 2030.” Abraham also said Commercial Bank would continue to open more branches across Qatar. “We are looking to open a branch in Lusail City next year,” he said.