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Friday, June 21, 2024 | Daily Newspaper published by GPPC Doha, Qatar.
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 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’s real GDP growth has been forecast to grow 2.5% year-on-year, Oxford Economics noted.
Business
Qatar’s fiscal balance to GDP forecast at 5.9%; current account at 12.6% in 2024: Oxford Economics

Qatar’s fiscal balance as a percentage of the country’s GDP has been forecast at 5.9% this year, according to a report by Oxford Economics.The researcher has forecast Qatar’s current account (as a percentage of its GDP) at 12.6% this year.Qatar’s real GDP growth has been forecast to grow 2.5% year-on-year, Oxford Economics noted.The country’s inflation has been forecast to fall to 2.2% this year from 2.9% last year.According to Oxford Economics, the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for Saudi Arabia remained at 57.5 in December, indicating a strong expansion in non-oil activity.PMI is a measure of the prevailing direction of economic trends in manufacturing.Throughout 2023, the PMI indicated non-oil output increased every month, helped in part by an aggressive purchasing strategy by the Public Investment Fund (PIF). The fund spent $31.6bn in 2023, the most amount disbursed by any sovereign wealth fund worldwide as the government continued their push towards Vision 2030 goals.In the UAE, the PMI rose to 57.4, the second highest reading since June 2019. A resilient domestic market supported purchasing, sales, and new orders as cost pressures eased due to slowing purchase price inflation.The survey indicated that activity contracted in Qatar during December, with the PMI at 49.8, down from 51.5 in November. This was the first contraction since January 2023, when output adjusted following the World Cup, Oxford Economics noted.Following three months of relatively steady price rises, inflation in Turkey rose in December to 64.8% from 62% in November. Assuming the central bank (CBRT) remains steadfast in its fight to curb price pressures, we project inflation will fall below 40% by the end of 2024.But risks to Oxford Economics’ 2024 inflation estimate are skewed to the upside, given the likely fiscal loosening ahead of the local election.Elsewhere, inflation in Bahrain fell to -0.4% in November and Kuwait's remained steady at 3.8%.


As Qatar continues to diversify its economy, the financial services industry has a unique opportunity to drive sustainable development, says KPMG
Business
Successful green bond issuances help Qatar emerge as sustainable finance leader

Qatar is emerging as a leader in sustainable finance with successful green bond issuances, and poised to expand its market and attract diverse investors in the Mena region, a new report has shown.Focusing on sustainable finance in Qatar will open doors to new markets and attract responsible investors who prioritise ESG factors, enhancing the industry’s reputation and competitiveness, KPMG said in its ‘Qatar Banking Perspectives – 2023’.As Qatar continues to diversify its economy, the financial services industry has a unique opportunity to drive sustainable development, it said.By integrating sustainable finance principles, developing innovative products, and fostering collaboration among stakeholders, the industry can shape a resilient and prosperous future.Embracing sustainable finance practices not only addresses global challenges but also enhances the industry’s reputation, attracts new investors, and positions Qatar as a leader in sustainable finance within the region.Qatar’s financial services industry’s commitment to sustainable finance will be pivotal in achieving both national and global sustainability goals, KPMG said.Sustainable finance offers a transformative approach to traditional financial practices, recognising the interplay between economic, social, and environmental factors.According to KPMG, for Qatar’s financial services industry, embracing sustainable finance is paramount for several reasons.Firstly, it aligns with Qatar’s commitment to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), contributing to a more resilient and inclusive economy.Secondly, it mitigates risks associated with climate change, resource scarcity, and social inequalities, safeguarding long-term financial stability.Qatar’s commitment to the Paris Agreement and the Qatar National Vision 2030 further emphasise the importance of focusing on sustainable finance.Embracing sustainable finance aligns with these ambitious national goals and underscores Qatar’s dedication to creating a more sustainable and prosperous future for its citizens and the planet.Green bonds and sustainable debt instruments have gained significant traction globally, KPMG noted. These financial products raise capital specifically for environmentally friendly projects, such as renewable energy infrastructure, energy-efficient buildings, and sustainable agriculture.Qatar has already made noteworthy contributions to this space, with recent successful green bond issuances from financial institutions in the country.These issuances mark important milestones, including the first green bond issued from Qatar and the largest green issuance by a financial institution in the Mena region.The successful subscriptions to these green bonds underscore the confidence of global investors in the solid financial fundamentals and strong performance of Qatar’s financial institutions.The use of proceeds from these green bond issuances for verified Eligible Green Projects further reinforces Qatar’s commitment to financing, as well as refinancing sustainable initiatives.As the momentum of green bonds in Qatar continues to build, the country has the opportunity to expand its green bond market and explore new avenues for sustainable financing.By encouraging the participation of various stakeholders and developing a favourable regulatory environment, Qatar can attract a broader range of issues and investors, according to KPMG.

Japan Airlines aircraft at Haneda Airport in Tokyo. Air transport still remains the safest mode of travel based on the number of flights and accidents recorded worldwide, although a Japan Airlines flight with hundreds of passengers erupted into a terrifying fireball as it touched down at Tokyo’s Haneda airport on Tuesday.
Business
Air transport remains safest mode of travel amid rising safety issues worldwide

Air transport still remains the safest mode of travel based on the number of flights and accidents recorded worldwide, although a Japan Airlines flight with hundreds of passengers.text-box { float:left; width:250px; padding:1px; border:1pt white; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 15px; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-left: 20px;}@media only screen and (max-width: 767px) {.text-box {width: 30%;}}**media[123032]**erupted into a terrifying fireball as it touched down at Tokyo’s Haneda airport on Tuesday.At Haneda, one of the busiest airports in the world, a Japan Airlines (JAL) Airbus A350 passenger plane had collided with an earthquake relief aircraft on the runway – killing five people – and the crew had just minutes to ensure all passengers were evacuated before flames consumed the entire plane.All 379 people on JAL flight 516, including eight children under the age of two, were safely evacuated – a feat that surprised aviation experts and has been described as miraculous by some on board.Meanwhile, of the 15 accidents reported in the first half of 2023, only one was fatal, according to the global body of airlines – IATA.With 18.2mn sectors flown in this period, air transport remains the safest mode of travel with 0.82 accidents per million sectors, noted Nick Careen, senior vice-president (Operations, Safety & Security) at the International Air Transport Association.The accident data from the first half of 2023, while it only represents six months, compares generally well with the rolling average of the past five years (2018-2022).In the Middle East, the region was tracking at 1.2 accidents per million flights (in the first half of 2023) —slightly higher than the global average. But it was tracking towards an improvement on the region’s full year 2022 performance, which was 1.3 accidents per million flights.At a recent media event, Careen said six regions saw improved safety performance in the first half of 2023 compared to 2022.In North America, there were five accidents in the first half of the year, all of which involved substantial damage to the aircraft but none of which resulted in a hull loss.These included a tail strike, ground damage, hard landing, in-flight damage (hail), and landing gear collapse.Asia-Pacific experienced two accidents in the 2023 first half, including the fatal accident mentioned above and a tail strike.Both regions’ first-half performance declined compared to the previous full year but were improved compared to the five year average.The first half of the year also saw an increase in accidents to IATA member airlines.But none of these accidents involved fatalities or a hull loss. The accident rate in the first half of 2023 exceeded the full year 2022 rate but was below the five-year average.“While the ongoing long term improvements in safety performance are encouraging, continuous efforts and vigilance are required to sustain and further enhance safety levels in the aviation industry,” Careen pointed out.“We can also be impressed by the industry’s safety record,” points out Willie Walsh, IATA Director General.This year marks 20 years of the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA). In September 2003, Qatar Airways was the first to join the IOSA registry.Today, over 400 airlines are on the registry. It is the global standard for managing operational safety.More importantly, it is clear that IOSA helps to improve safety. In 2022, IOSA registered carriers outperformed those not on the registry by a factor of four.“It is never ‘job done’ on safety. So, we are marking two decades of success by making IOSA even more effective with a transition to a risk-based approach.“Of course, IOSA is not the only global standard improving safety. We prevent future accidents by learning from accident reports.“But, of the 214 accidents in the last five years, only 96 final accident reports are available. This is an inexcusable violation of the Chicago Convention and a disservice to the safety of our passengers and crew. Governments and their agencies must improve.”Walsh noted IATA is creating the world’s most comprehensive database for aviation safety through its Global Aviation Data Management (GADM) initiative.“We don’t yet have a comprehensive picture of the Mena region due to limited contribution by airlines from this region. But by contributing, you’ll enable us to have the complete picture of safety performance and that in turn we enable you to analyse trends and events that may not yet be evident to you or highlight issues that appear specific to your area of operation.“A good example of this data at work is our analysis of GPS signal loss. We have numerous reports from carriers operating in the region on GPS signal loss, which could potentially be a result of GPS jamming or GPS signal interference. Knowing this from contributed data is helping our work with ICAO and others in finding solutions,” Walsh added.Aviation is incredibly safe around the globe. And the performance of the Middle East region’s carriers is no exception.The goal must always to be to improve. And at these very high levels of safety performance, the best way to improve performance is through detailed data analysis.Pratap John is Business Editor at Gulf Times. Twitter handle: @PratapJohn

Omar Mahmoud, partner and head (Financial Services) at KPMG in Qatar.
Business
Qatar's banks show remarkable agility despite global challenges in 2023: KPMG

Qatar's banks have showcased remarkable agility despite challenges such as surging interest rates, margin pressures, geopolitical uncertainties, and a complex credit environment, KPMG said in a report on Sunday.Steered by effective cost management, embracing digital transformation, and an unwavering risk-centric approach, banks have not just endured but thrived, preserving robust profitability levels, it said.In its 'Qatar Banking Perspectives–2023’ report, KPMG noted the past year has been one of rapid transformation for Qatar's banking sector.“We have witnessed the introduction of a range of regulatory enablers designed to facilitate the entry of new digital fintech players and support traditional incumbents in their shift to digital channels. Despite challenges such as rising interest rates, margin pressures, geo-political uncertainty, and a complex credit environment, Qatar's banks have demonstrated remarkable agility,” noted Omar Mahmoud, partner and head (Financial Services) at KPMG in Qatar.“By managing costs effectively, embracing digital transformation, and maintaining a risk-focused approach, banks have succeeded in preserving robust profitability levels.“The Qatar Central Bank has also played a crucial role in this journey, by strengthening governance, transparency, accountability, and regulatory reform. These efforts are instrumental in fostering a healthy financial ecosystem,” Mahmoud said.The report provides an overview of the dynamic landscape of Qatar's banking sector, its emerging trends, and the forces shaping its future.In this edition, the researchers explore key areas including digital innovation, regulatory changes, fraud detection strategies, and the growing importance of sustainable finance.“Our aim is to offer decision-makers an invaluable resource for assessing current trends and strategising for a resilient and prosperous banking future,” KPMG said.The past year witnessed unprecedented transformation in the sector, marked by the introduction of regulatory enablers designed to usher in new digital fintech players while supporting traditional incumbents in their digitisation, it said.

Qatar’s banking sector is set to see the advent of new products to support growth in priority sectors, expansion of trade and export finance for corporates, special finance for small and medium enterprises, and savings and investment products for expatriates. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Business
Qatar banks record overall growth in 2023; to see advent of new products to lift priority sectors

Qatari banking sector has had an impressive 2023 with local lenders recording a growth in their assets, overall loan book and deposits in the most part of the year.Qatari banking sector recorded a growth in its overall loan book and deposits in October, QNB Financial Services (QNBFS) said in a recent report.The sector’s total assets increased 1% MoM (up 1.8% in 2023) in October to reach QR1.93tn, QNBFS said.Total assets increase in October was mainly due to a gain by 1.2% in domestic assets and 2.5% in foreign assets.Assets grew by an average 6.9% over the past five years (2018-2022), QNBFS said and noted liquid assets to total assets was at 31.1% in October, compared to 31.5% in September this year.October recorded an increase in both the credit facilities offered and deposits held by the local banks.The overall loan book gained in October. Loans went up 1.5% during that month to reach QR1,275.6bn.Loans gain in October was mainly due to a rise by 3.1% in the public sector and 0.8% in the private sector.Loans moved up by 1.6% in 2023, compared to a growth of 3.3% in 2022. Loans grew by an average 6.7% over the past five years (2018-2022).Qatar’s banks registered the biggest quarter-on-quarter increase in net interest income (NII) and topline growth and the lowest operating cost within the Gulf banking industry during the third quarter (Q3) of 2023, according to Kamco Invest, a regional economic think-tank."Qatari banks recorded the biggest quarter-on-quarter increase in net interest income during Q3-2023 at 10.8%, followed by Kuwaiti- and the UAE-listed banks with growth of 6.9% and 5.5%, respectively. Saudi banks were next with a growth of 3.8%," Kamco said.Recently, the Qatar Central Bank (QCB) expressed its keenness to provide effective and valuable initiatives that help create an environment conducive to the growth of the financial technology sector in the country, as these platforms support the development of the financial sector and enhance the transparency, efficiency and ease of the borrowing process.Under this, the QCB issued instructions for the loan-based crowdfunding regulation in the country.This, the QCB said, is for the purpose of licensing and regulating loan-based crowdfunding activities and services in Qatar.All companies wishing to work in this field must apply to obtain the necessary licence from the QCB.Loan-based crowdfunding platforms are considered innovative financial platforms that enable borrowers in need of financing to communicate with various investors and obtain short-term financing.Borrowers, such as SMEs, who find it difficult to access traditional bank loans, can obtain the financing necessary for growth of their business and overcome the challenges that they may face with the expansion of their projects.Loan-based crowdfunding platforms represent an important opportunity for investors to diversify their investments and participate in supporting SMEs.Qatar’s banking sector will see the advent of new products to support growth in priority sectors, expansion of trade and export finance for corporates, special finance for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and savings and investment products for expatriates.Moreover, Islamic finance and ESG (environment, social and governance) products are also on the pipeline, according to the QCB.These figured among the important suggestions made by the QCB in the recently released third financial sector strategy as part of efforts to unlock the full economic potential of the country.The strategy, through which the central bank aims to enhance the financial sector's contribution to QR84bn in gross domestic product, highlighted the select growth areas within the banking pillar such as tailored financing, specialised advisory services and digital banking and payment solutions.The banking pillar suggested launching of new products to support growth ambitions in priority sectors, expansion of trade and export finance for wholesale and corporate segments, developing special financing programmes to support SME growth, offering savings and investment products for the expats to encourage them to invest in Qatar (mortgages and investment products) and providing a range of Islamic and ESG product offerings.The initiative should be to increase financial service solutions to fill gaps and broaden market offerings, including digital and virtual asset service solutions, and net zero transaction offerings, the strategy said.It suggested initiatives to implement targeted market infrastructure guidelines to foster the growth of the fintech industry and facilitate the digital transformation of the banking sector.For improving the financial stability and operational effectiveness, the QCB suggested initiatives to develop measures to enhance the banking system's resilience and establish cybersecurity and business continuity frameworks that adapt to changes in banks' business models, market trends and external risks.Majority of Qatari banks consider 'risks from cyber world' has 'high to very high risk', the QCB said in its Financial Stability Report.Vulnerabilities on account of ‘risk from fraud’ is also considered to be reckoned among high risk factors as opined by banks, the QCB said in its latest ‘Risk Perception Survey’ (RPS).The RPS was conducted among 16 banks including the Qatar Development Bank.The survey collected bank’s opinion on the level of risk on various risk factors. Seven risk factors are provided under ‘global risks’ while six factors are provided under domestic macroeconomic risks.The survey also sought bank’s opinion on various risk elements on ‘credit risk’, ‘liquidity risk’, ‘market risk’ and ‘operational risk’. The risk levels are captured through a five-point ‘Likert scale’ ranging from ‘very low’ to very high’.The responses received on each risk variables are converted into an index ranging from 0-100, where zero represents no risk and 100 represents very high risk as per the opinion of the surveyed banks.Meanwhile, Qatari banks actively participated in the Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund held in Marrakesh, Morocco in October, 2023.HE the Minister of Finance Ali bin Ahmed al-Kuwari participated in the reception of Qatari banks, which was held under the auspices of the QCB and in the presence of HE the Governor Sheikh Bandar bin Mohamed al-Thani on the sidelines of the Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund.

Ahmed Abu-Sharkh, country senior partner, KPMG Qatar.
Business
Majority of Qatar’s CEOs foresee growth in their organisations, industries: KPMG outlook

Majority of CEOs in Qatar have adopted a three-year growth strategy and are prioritising capital investment in buying new technology, and in developing their workforce’s skills and capabilities to support their growth and transformation, a new report has shown.“Despite ongoing challenges, CEOs remain optimistic and are taking a proactive approach to deliver positive outcomes,” noted ‘2023 Qatar CEO Outlook’ by KPMG.Economic outlook: Qatar's CEOs are optimistic about the growth of their organisations and industries, boasting an impressive 80% confidence for the next three years.ESG: Despite potential challenges Qatar's CEOs recognise the long-term benefits of ESG in enhancing brand, customer relations, and talent attraction. They view ESG not just as a trend but as a transformative force in corporate strategy.Talent: Qatar's CEOs are reassessing work environments, with 72% expecting a full office return and 24% considering hybrid models.Incentives for office return reflect a traditional mindset.Disruptive technology: CEOs consider generative AI to increase profitability, efficiency, and productivity with the majority of CEOs indicating that it poses a challenge to implement generative AI in their organisation.Against the backdrop of a complex and rapidly evolving environment, Qatar’s CEOs are facing numerous threats characterised by emerging/disruptive technology, cybercrime and cyber insecurity, regulatory concerns, and talent.The report also reveals that while acknowledging that an organisation’s reputation is closely tied to a trusted CEO, the majority of CEOs are still prepared to demonstrate strong personal integrity by taking a stand on politically or socially contentious issues, even if the Board was concerned about the risks of taking such a public stance, and are also prepared to divest a profitable part of the business that was damaging the organisation’s reputation.Ahmed Abu-Sharkh, country senior partner, KPMG in Qatar, noted: "We find CEOs navigating economic uncertainties with optimism, prioritising disruptive technologies like generative AI, and championing ESG governance.“Despite challenges from cyber threats to regulatory hurdles, their commitment to integrity and long-term strategic planning remains unwavering - ready to make bold decisions for the greater good, even in complex times.”According to the report, CEOs remain optimistic despite the challenges and uncertainty, and are concentrating their efforts on strategic, long-term planning and resisting the allure of reactive short-term leadership.

In 2024, Qatar Airways will add Venice, Italy in June, followed by Hamburg, Germany in July. These come on the back of recent expansion to the Qatar Airways winter schedule, which includes increased flight frequencies to key leisure destinations, including Amsterdam, Bangkok, Barcelona, Belgrade and Miami.
Business
Qatar Airways looks to maintain sustainable growth in 2024; national airline flies past another strong year

After registering solid growth in 2023, Qatar Airways is looking to expand further next year with new destinations and resumption flights, which will take the national carrier’s route network in excess of 170 destinations around the world.In 2024, Qatar Airways will add Venice, Italy in June, followed by Hamburg, Germany in July.These come on the back of recent expansion to the Qatar Airways winter schedule, which includes increased flight frequencies to key leisure destinations, including Amsterdam, Bangkok, Barcelona, Belgrade and Miami.Recently, Qatar Airways introduced an in-house application that enables its cabin crew to deliver personalised experiences to passengers. In the initial phase, the application offers real-time insights on flight information, and customer and service information.This allows cabin crew to view passengers’ profiles, including privilege club members and oneworld members, as well as all special service requests and preferences for a more personalised and integrated journey with the award-winning airline. The application also empowers them by providing access to up-to-date digital training materials.In the coming months, Qatar Airways will have reached the first milestone in this phase of digital transformation by providing cabin crew with more than 15,000 mobile devices. The airline will complete the roll-out of the new project in multiple stages, with plans to expand its scope to Hamad International Airport and overseas airports and lounges, integrating passengers’ unique itinerary and requirements across all touch-points.This month, the airline announced collaboration with renowned Qatari chef, Noof al-Marri, who will bring her exceptional talent and passion for Qatari cuisine to the airline's business class.Noof al-Marri joined the airline as the latest Qatari chef and will introduce a new era of Qatari culinary excellence in the sky.In November, Qatar Airways renewed its longstanding partnership with FIFA, extending through to 2030.The renewed collaboration will include the FIFA World Cup 2026, FIFA Women's World Cup 2027, and FIFA World Cup 2030, as well as youth tournaments starting with FIFA U-17 World Cup in IndonesiaThis month, Qatar Airways Group and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) signed a global partnership set to transform the fan experience at Asian football competitions in the coming years.The partnership will run until 2029. The package of rights also includes other key competitions such as the AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027, AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2026, AFC U23 Asian Cup Qatar 2024, AFC Futsal Asian Cup 2024, 2026 and 2028, as well as all AFC youth national team competitions during the period.Early this month, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Officer, Badr Mohamed al-Meer, who took over from HE Akbar al-Baker, following his retirement from the airline, announced a special package of benefits for Qatari retirees holding the official retirement card. This new offering is a tribute to the Qatari retirees for their dedication and service towards their country.From January 2024, all Qatari retirement card holders will be entitled to discounts on all Qatar Airways flights, with discounts of 25% for first and business class, and 50% for economy class tickets to over 170 destinations worldwide.This month the airline announced that al-Meer has been elected to the International Air Transport Association’s Board of Governors.The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is the trade association for the world’s airlines, representing some 320 airlines or 83% of total air traffic.Marking the start of environmental celebrations with EXPO 2023 Doha, Qatar Airways has introduced new menu items onboard sourced from local organic farms in Qatar. The airline’s latest delicious additions are available for passengers travelling from Doha until March 2024.In November, the airline announced its commitment as the Official Airline Partner of United for Wildlife (UfW), an initiative working to tackle the illegal wildlife trade and protect endangered species, founded by Prince William and The Royal Foundation of The Prince and Princess of Wales in 2014.That month, Qatar Airways commemorated its 10-year anniversary as a member of the oneworld alliance, alongside 12 of the world's leading airlines.During this journey, Qatar Airways has grown to become the alliance’s second largest member, by expanding its online network from 125 to 163 destinations and doubling its fleet from 125 to 259 aircraft.On November 1, Qatar Airways Group reported a net profit of QR3.73bn for the first half of fiscal year 2023/2024, which represented an increase of 113.8% compared to the same period last year (2022/2023).Qatar Airways total passenger count for the first six months ending September-2023 increased to 19.078mn, representing an increase of 22.5% compared to the same period last year.In October, Qatar Airways announced its agreement with Starlink to provide seamless, complimentary high-speed, and low-latency Wi-Fi to its global passengers, onboard specific aircraft and routes.With the spotlight on Doha as the first city in the Middle East and North Africa to host an A1 International Horticultural Exhibition, Qatar Airways Holidays launched (in September), flight-and-hotel packages with complimentary access to Expo 2023 Doha.In September, Qatar Airways announced a new codeshare partnership with Xiamen Airlines, the first Chinese airline to operate passenger nonstop flights from Mainland China to Qatar.Under the cooperation agreement, Xiamen Airlines will launch daily flights between Beijing’s Daxing International Airport and Hamad International Airport.In the same month, Qatar Airways’ Oryx One Inflight Entertainment debuted its new theme song ‘The Ascent’ by Dana Al Fardan, the Official Composer of Qatar Airways Group.In July, Qatar Airways, British Airways, and Iberia, the national carriers of Qatar, the United Kingdom, and Spain announced they are joining forces.Together, Qatar Airways and British Airways already operate the world’s largest airline joint business covering more than 60 countries.In July, Iberia joined the partnership in a move that will transform connectivity for global travellers.At the 2023 Paris Air Show in June, Qatar Airways unveiled the new Gulfstream G700 in the presence of Qatari and global dignitaries.Leading the industry with innovation, Qatar Airways introduced new ‘QVerse’ environments in June, allowing users to navigate their travel arrangements in an immersive digital experience prior to entering an airport.In May, Qatar Airways signed a deal with Shell to source 3,000 metric tonnes of neat Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) at Amsterdam Schiphol airport.It encompasses the existing jet fuel contract with Shell at Amsterdam, which will now see Qatar Airways using at least a 5 per cent SAF blend over the contract period for the fiscal year 2023-2024.In May, Google Cloud and Qatar Airways agreed to collaborate to set out the airline’s intention to explore leveraging Google Cloud’s data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to create superior customer experiences for its passengers.The month also saw Qatar Airways announcing a codeshare agreement with Air Seychelles, allowing passengers on both networks seamless travel to one of the world’s most exotic and unique destinations.In May, the national airline added a small number of Boeing 737-8 Max aircraft to its fleet, the first of which arrived in Doha on April 15 this year.At the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) conference in Dubai in May, the airline showcased its Formula 1 partnership. Qatar Airways garnered attention around the stand and offered ATM visitors a chance to drive its F1 simulator.In April, the national airline announced its plan to recruit over 3,000 cabin crew from diverse backgrounds, as part of the company's continued growth strategy.Qatar Airways drew major attention at the ITB Berlin 2023 in March, as it unveiled new destinations, and announced flight resumptions and frequency increases.In February, the national airline launched a new brand campaign in collaboration with Indian actor, Deepika Padukone.In the same month, Qatar Airways re-opened its ‘Premium Lounge’ at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), complementing the airline’s triple daily flights. Spanning over 1,000 square metres, the lounge is equipped with two dining areas and can accommodate more than 200 passengers.In February, Qatar Airways and Airbus reached an “amicable and mutually agreeable settlement” in relation to their legal dispute over A350 surface degradation and the grounding of A350 aircraft.In an industry first, members of Qatar Airways Privilege Club (QRPC) are now be able to collect and spend Avios at almost 200 outlets at Hamad International Airport in partnership with Qatar Duty Free (QDF).In another innovation, passengers at all departure points will be rewarded with Avios points upon check-in which will be credited up to 120 minutes before flights departure.Qatar Executive (QE), the private jet charter division of the Qatar Airways Group, experienced significant year-over-year growth in flight arrivals and departures at its exclusive Premium Terminal FBO (in January) during the completion of a historic FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.In January, the airline announced it signed a comprehensive codeshare agreement with Air Serbia, allowing passengers seamless travel to over 40 destinations when travelling on each other’s networks.In the same month, Qatar Airways became the second airline in the world to be IATA CEIV Lithium Battery-certified and Qatar Aviation Services, the first ground handling company to be certified globally.The certification aims to improve safety in handling and transportation of lithium batteries throughout the supply chain.

Workers connect a Total tanker truck to an Airbus A350 passenger plane, operated by Air France-KLM, during fuelling with sustainable aviation fuel at Charles de Gaulle airport in Roissy, France. SAF production has doubled this year and is expected to further grow and triple in 2024. But the global airline industry represented by the International Air Transport Association says even with that impressive growth, SAF as a portion of all renewable fuel production will only grow from 3% this year to 6% in 2024.
Business
SAF: Unlocking supply to meet demand remains challenge for airline industry

Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) production has doubled this year and is expected to further grow and triple in 2024..text-box { float:left; width:250px; padding:1px; border:1pt white; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 15px; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-left: 20px;}@media only screen and (max-width: 767px) {.text-box {width: 30%;}}**media[119970]**But the global airline industry represented by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) says even with that impressive growth, SAF as a portion of all renewable fuel production will only grow from 3% this year to 6% in 2024.This allocation, IATA says limits SAF supply and keeps prices high. Aviation needs between 25% and 30% of renewable fuel production capacity for SAF.At those levels aviation will be on the trajectory needed to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.“Until such levels are reached, we will continue missing huge opportunities to advance aviation’s decarbonisation. It is government policy that will make the difference. Governments must prioritise policies to incentivise the scaling-up of SAF production and to diversify feedstocks with those available locally,” noted Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.In 2023, SAF volumes reached over 600mn litres (0.5Mt), double the 300mn litres (0.25 Mt) produced in 2022. SAF accounted for 3% of all renewable fuels produced, with 97% of renewable fuel production going to other sectors.In 2024, SAF production is expected to triple to 1.875bn litres (1.5Mt), accounting for 0.53% of aviation’s fuel need, and 6% of renewable fuel capacity.The small percentage of SAF output as a proportion of overall renewable fuel is primarily due to the new capacity coming online in 2023 being allocated to other renewable fuels.The 3rd Conference on Aviation Alternative Fuels (CAAF/3) hosted by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) agreed a global framework to promote SAF production in all geographies for fuels used in international aviation to be 5% less carbon intensive by 2030.To reach this level, about 17.5bn litres (14Mt) of SAF need to be produced.“Governments want aviation to be net zero by 2050. Having set an interim target in the CAAF process they now need to deliver policy measures that can achieve the needed exponential increase in SAF production,” Walsh points out.According to industry experts, every drop of SAF produced has been bought and used. In fact, SAF added $756mn to a record high fuel bill in 2023.Some 43 airlines have already committed to use some 16.25bn litres (13Mt) of SAF in 2030, with more agreements being announced regularly.Projections are for over 78bn litres (63Mt) of renewable fuels to be produced in 2029. Governments must set a policy framework that incentivises renewable fuel producers to allocate 25-30% of their output to SAF to meet the CAAF/3 ambition, existing regional and national policies as well as airline commitments.Experts affirm that effective production incentives for Sustainable Aviation Fuel should support the following objectives:Accelerating investments in SAF by traditional oil companies, ensuring renewable fuel production incentives encourage sufficient SAF quantities, focusing stakeholders on regional diversification of feedstock and SAF production, identifying and prioritising high potential production projects for investment support and delivering a global SAF Accounting Framework.Approximately 85% of SAF facilities coming on line over the next five years will use Hydrotreatment (HEFA) production technology, which relies on inedible animal fats (tallow), used cooking oil and industrial grease as feedstock, IATA says.A recent IATA survey revealed significant public support for Sustainable Aviation Fuel.Some 86% of travellers agreed that governments should provide production incentives for airlines to be able to access SAF. In addition, 86% agreed that it should be a priority for oil companies to supply SAF to airlines.Pratap John is Business Editor at Gulf Times. Twitter handle: @PratapJohn

In November this year, QatarEnergy LNG delivered the 1,000th LNG shipment to the South Hook LNG Terminal at Milford Haven in the United Kingdom. The landmark delivery was made by the Q-Max LNG carrier ‘Mozah’, which already has another landmark achievement to its name: the 10,000th LNG cargo from Ras Laffan Port in 2006.
Business
North Field expansion project - a quantum leap in leadership of Qatar's global energy landscape

Qatar’s energy sector saw a quantum leap in October this year when His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani laid the foundation stone of the North Field expansion project, which will raise the country’s LNG production capacity from the current 77mn tonnes per year (mtpy) to 126mtpy by 2026.The project includes six mega trains, each with a production capacity of 8mtpy of liquefied natural gas, four of which are part of the North Field East expansion project, and two part of the North Field South expansion project, contributing a total of 48mtpy to the global LNG supplies.QatarEnergy is partnered in this global project by TotalEnergies, Shell, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Eni, Sinopec, and CNPC, whose contributions will play a pivotal role in ensuring the project’s success and achieving its goals by producing LNG that is the best in the world in terms of safety, reliability, and carbon footprint.In addition to LNG, the project will produce 6,500 tonnes per day of ethane gas, which will be used as a feedstock in the local petrochemical industries.The project will also produce about 200,000 barrels per day of liquefied petroleum gas (propane and butane), and about 450,000 barrels per day of condensates, in addition to large quantities of helium and pure sulphur.Speaking at the ground breaking ceremony, HE the Minister of State for Energy Affairs, Saad bin Sherida al-Kaabi, said: “On the local level, this project will have short- and long-term impacts that will be reflected across all sectors of the Qatari economy and will significantly enhance the country’s revenues.“This major expansion comes at a crucial time, as natural gas occupies a pivotal position in the energy mix in a world facing geopolitical turbulences and is in dire need of clean energy sources that are in line with the global environmental goals.”In October, QatarEnergy signed the following agreements with Eni, Shell and TotalEnergies.Affiliates of QatarEnergy and Eni signed a long-term LNG sale and purchase agreement (SPA) for the supply of up to 1mn tonnes per year of LNG from Qatar to Italy.Affiliates of QatarEnergy and Shell signed two long-term LNG sale and purchase agreements (SPAs) for the supply of up to 3.5mtpy of LNG from Qatar to the Netherlands.Affiliates of QatarEnergy and TotalEnergies signed two long-term LNG sale and purchase agreements (SPAs) for the supply of up to 3.5mn tonnes per annum of LNG from Qatar to France.In the same month, QatarEnergy was awarded a new exploration block offshore the Arab Republic of Egypt as part of the 2022 EGAS International Bid Round.In September, Qatargas changed its name to ‘QatarEnergy LNG’, emphasising a future vision for Qatar’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry.With a new name and logo, QatarEnergy LNG will continue to deliver on its commitment to safety, environmental protection, flawless project delivery and the reliability and efficiency of its production facilities.The landmark came as part of the increasing international recognition of Qatar’s role in meeting the world's growing need for energy, particularly natural gas – the cleanest of all fossil fuels.It also reflects QatarEnergy’s continued commitment to LNG as a critical source of energy for decades to come and a vital enabler of the energy transition.Earlier this month, QatarEnergy announced the successful integration of all marketing and marketing-related activities formerly managed by QatarEnergy LNG.This is a major move towards consolidating QatarEnergy’s position as a global energy leader and an important milestone to enhance the effectiveness of LNG marketing and sales from Qatar.In November, QatarEnergy LNG delivered the 1,000th LNG shipment to the South Hook LNG Terminal at Milford Haven in the United Kingdom.The landmark delivery was made by the Q-Max LNG carrier ‘Mozah’, which already has another landmark achievement to its name: the 10,000th LNG cargo from Ras Laffan Port in 2006.In October, QatarEnergy and Chevron Phillips Chemical Company (CPChem) announced they have secured $4.4bn financing for the Ras Laffan Petrochemicals project, a world scale integrated polymers complex in Ras Laffan Industrial City, Qatar.The senior debt financing package is comprised of commercial and Islamic facilities as well as Export Credit Agency (ECA) financing.The Ras Laffan Petrochemicals project is a joint venture between QatarEnergy (70%) and CPChem (30%) and is considered the largest petrochemical project in Qatar for which Final Investment Decision (FID) was announced in January this year.In September, QatarEnergy signed an agreement with South Korea’s HD Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) for the construction of some 17 ultra-modern LNG carriers.The deal, valued at QR14.2bn, marks the start of the second phase of QatarEnergy's LNG ship acquisition program, which will support its expanding LNG production capacity from the North Field LNG expansion and Golden Pass LNG export projects as well as its long-term fleet replacement requirements.Together with the 60 ships that were contracted for by QatarEnergy in the first phase of the programme, which will be built at Korean and Chinese shipyards, the agreement brings the total number of confirmed new LNG vessels to be delivered to QatarEnergy and its affiliates to 77, with more to follow.It was announced in July that Qatar will host the 21st International Conference & Exhibition on Liquefied Natural Gas “LNG 2026”, a preeminent world event in the LNG industry that showcases the continued growth and development of the sector worldwide.The hosting of this unique platform for the global LNG industry will coincide with the historic start-up of the North Field LNG expansion project and the commissioning of one of the largest Carbon Capture and Storage schemes in the world by Qatar - the world’s largest LNG producer.In June, QatarEnergy signed definitive agreements with China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), covering the long-term supply of LNG to China and partnership in the North Field East LNG expansion project (NFE).The two parties signed an LNG Sales and Purchase Agreement (SPA) for the delivery of 4mn tons of LNG per year from the NFE project to CNPC’s receiving terminals in China over a span of 27 years, marking the industry’s longest term SPA commitment.QatarEnergy celebrated (in June this year) the steel cutting of the first of its new generation of chartered LNG vessels to be constructed in a South Korean shipyard.Building upon an already successful global maritime initiative, QatarEnergy joined Samsung Heavy Industries, and JP Morgan Asset Management in a special ceremony on Geoje Island in South Korea to celebrate this milestone, which is part of QatarEnergy’s historic LNG Fleet Expansion Project.In the same month, QatarEnergy’s LNG trading arm, QatarEnergy Trading, entered into a long-term LNG Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA) with Bangladesh Oil, Gas and Mineral Corporation (Petrobangla) to supply about 1.8mn tons per year (MTPY) of LNG to Bangladesh for 15 years, starting in 2026.QatarEnergy entered into a farm-in agreement with ExxonMobil Canada in March this year for two exploration licenses offshore the province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada.Pursuant to the agreement, QatarEnergy holds a 28% working interest in license EL 1167, where the Gale exploration well and associated activities are planned.ExxonMobil Canada (operator) holds 50% while Cenovus Energy holds 22%. QatarEnergy also holds a 40% working interest in license EL 1162, while ExxonMobil Canada (operator) holds the remaining 60%.In March, QatarEnergy and Chevron Phillips Chemical Company (CPChem) marked the ground breaking of the Golden Triangle Polymers Plant in Orange County, in the US State of Texas, marking the beginning of construction of the $8.5bn world-scale petrochemical facility.In the same month, QatarEnergy announced a light oil discovery in the Jonker-1X deep-water exploration well drilled in the PEL-39 Exploration License, offshore Namibia.

In November this year, QatarEnergy LNG delivered the 1,000th LNG shipment to the South Hook LNG Terminal at Milford Haven in the United Kingdom. The landmark delivery was made by the Q-Max LNG carrier ‘Mozah’, which already has another landmark achievement to its name: the 10,000th LNG cargo from Ras Laffan Port in 2006.
Business
North Field expansion project - a quantum leap in leadership of Qatar's global energy landscape

Qatar’s energy sector saw a quantum leap in October this year when His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani laid the foundation stone of the North Field expansion project, which will raise the country’s LNG production capacity from the current 77mn tonnes per year (mtpy) to 126mtpy by 2026.The project includes six mega trains, each with a production capacity of 8mtpy of liquefied natural gas, four of which are part of the North Field East expansion project, and two part of the North Field South expansion project, contributing a total of 48mtpy to the global LNG supplies.QatarEnergy is partnered in this global project by TotalEnergies, Shell, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Eni, Sinopec, and CNPC, whose contributions will play a pivotal role in ensuring the project’s success and achieving its goals by producing LNG that is the best in the world in terms of safety, reliability, and carbon footprint.In addition to LNG, the project will produce 6,500 tonnes per day of ethane gas, which will be used as a feedstock in the local petrochemical industries.The project will also produce about 200,000 barrels per day of liquefied petroleum gas (propane and butane), and about 450,000 barrels per day of condensates, in addition to large quantities of helium and pure sulphur.Speaking at the ground breaking ceremony, HE the Minister of State for Energy Affairs, Saad bin Sherida al-Kaabi, said: “On the local level, this project will have short- and long-term impacts that will be reflected across all sectors of the Qatari economy and will significantly enhance the country’s revenues.“This major expansion comes at a crucial time, as natural gas occupies a pivotal position in the energy mix in a world facing geopolitical turbulences and is in dire need of clean energy sources that are in line with the global environmental goals.”In October, QatarEnergy signed the following agreements with Eni, Shell and TotalEnergies.Affiliates of QatarEnergy and Eni signed a long-term LNG sale and purchase agreement (SPA) for the supply of up to 1mn tonnes per year of LNG from Qatar to Italy.Affiliates of QatarEnergy and Shell signed two long-term LNG sale and purchase agreements (SPAs) for the supply of up to 3.5mtpy of LNG from Qatar to the Netherlands.Affiliates of QatarEnergy and TotalEnergies signed two long-term LNG sale and purchase agreements (SPAs) for the supply of up to 3.5mn tonnes per annum of LNG from Qatar to France.In the same month, QatarEnergy was awarded a new exploration block offshore the Arab Republic of Egypt as part of the 2022 EGAS International Bid Round.In September, Qatargas changed its name to ‘QatarEnergy LNG’, emphasising a future vision for Qatar’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry.With a new name and logo, QatarEnergy LNG will continue to deliver on its commitment to safety, environmental protection, flawless project delivery and the reliability and efficiency of its production facilities.The landmark came as part of the increasing international recognition of Qatar’s role in meeting the world's growing need for energy, particularly natural gas – the cleanest of all fossil fuels.It also reflects QatarEnergy’s continued commitment to LNG as a critical source of energy for decades to come and a vital enabler of the energy transition.Earlier this month, QatarEnergy announced the successful integration of all marketing and marketing-related activities formerly managed by QatarEnergy LNG.This is a major move towards consolidating QatarEnergy’s position as a global energy leader and an important milestone to enhance the effectiveness of LNG marketing and sales from Qatar.In November, QatarEnergy LNG delivered the 1,000th LNG shipment to the South Hook LNG Terminal at Milford Haven in the United Kingdom.The landmark delivery was made by the Q-Max LNG carrier ‘Mozah’, which already has another landmark achievement to its name: the 10,000th LNG cargo from Ras Laffan Port in 2006.In October, QatarEnergy and Chevron Phillips Chemical Company (CPChem) announced they have secured $4.4bn financing for the Ras Laffan Petrochemicals project, a world scale integrated polymers complex in Ras Laffan Industrial City, Qatar.The senior debt financing package is comprised of commercial and Islamic facilities as well as Export Credit Agency (ECA) financing.The Ras Laffan Petrochemicals project is a joint venture between QatarEnergy (70%) and CPChem (30%) and is considered the largest petrochemical project in Qatar for which Final Investment Decision (FID) was announced in January this year.In September, QatarEnergy signed an agreement with South Korea’s HD Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) for the construction of some 17 ultra-modern LNG carriers.The deal, valued at QR14.2bn, marks the start of the second phase of QatarEnergy's LNG ship acquisition program, which will support its expanding LNG production capacity from the North Field LNG expansion and Golden Pass LNG export projects as well as its long-term fleet replacement requirements.Together with the 60 ships that were contracted for by QatarEnergy in the first phase of the programme, which will be built at Korean and Chinese shipyards, the agreement brings the total number of confirmed new LNG vessels to be delivered to QatarEnergy and its affiliates to 77, with more to follow.It was announced in July that Qatar will host the 21st International Conference & Exhibition on Liquefied Natural Gas “LNG 2026”, a preeminent world event in the LNG industry that showcases the continued growth and development of the sector worldwide.The hosting of this unique platform for the global LNG industry will coincide with the historic start-up of the North Field LNG expansion project and the commissioning of one of the largest Carbon Capture and Storage schemes in the world by Qatar - the world’s largest LNG producer.In June, QatarEnergy signed definitive agreements with China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), covering the long-term supply of LNG to China and partnership in the North Field East LNG expansion project (NFE).The two parties signed an LNG Sales and Purchase Agreement (SPA) for the delivery of 4mn tons of LNG per year from the NFE project to CNPC’s receiving terminals in China over a span of 27 years, marking the industry’s longest term SPA commitment.QatarEnergy celebrated (in June this year) the steel cutting of the first of its new generation of chartered LNG vessels to be constructed in a South Korean shipyard.Building upon an already successful global maritime initiative, QatarEnergy joined Samsung Heavy Industries, and JP Morgan Asset Management in a special ceremony on Geoje Island in South Korea to celebrate this milestone, which is part of QatarEnergy’s historic LNG Fleet Expansion Project.In the same month, QatarEnergy’s LNG trading arm, QatarEnergy Trading, entered into a long-term LNG Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA) with Bangladesh Oil, Gas and Mineral Corporation (Petrobangla) to supply about 1.8mn tons per year (MTPY) of LNG to Bangladesh for 15 years, starting in 2026.QatarEnergy entered into a farm-in agreement with ExxonMobil Canada in March this year for two exploration licenses offshore the province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada.Pursuant to the agreement, QatarEnergy holds a 28% working interest in license EL 1167, where the Gale exploration well and associated activities are planned.ExxonMobil Canada (operator) holds 50% while Cenovus Energy holds 22%. QatarEnergy also holds a 40% working interest in license EL 1162, while ExxonMobil Canada (operator) holds the remaining 60%.In March, QatarEnergy and Chevron Phillips Chemical Company (CPChem) marked the ground breaking of the Golden Triangle Polymers Plant in Orange County, in the US State of Texas, marking the beginning of construction of the $8.5bn world-scale petrochemical facility.In the same month, QatarEnergy announced a light oil discovery in the Jonker-1X deep-water exploration well drilled in the PEL-39 Exploration License, offshore Namibia.

Commuters cross a road amid smoggy conditions in New Delhi (file). In its latest report, the Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development said as in 2023, remittances’ growth in South Asia is once again projected to be the highest among low and middle-income countries in 2024, even though it is projected to moderate to 5% in 2024 from 7.2% in 2023.
Business
New job creation in GCC for South Asian migrants may be constrained by low oil prices in 2024: KNOMAD

New job creation in the GCC for South Asian migrants in 2024 is expected to be constrained by low oil prices while the growth outlook in the region is positive, according to KNOMAD, a World Bank initiative. In its latest report, the Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD) said as in 2023, remittances’ growth in South Asia is once again projected to be the highest among low and middle-income countries in 2024, even though it is projected to moderate to 5% in 2024 from 7.2% in 2023. The overall projection for remittance flows to South Asia in 2024 is $198bn and is likely to be driven by three factors that represent a combination of host-economy and country-specific conditions: a slackening of growth and labour market conditions in South Asian migrants’ high-income host economies, uncertainty related to ongoing global conflicts as well as climate change, which may exacerbate labour market difficulties of South Asian migrants in all host economies, and migrants’ preference for informal over formal channels of money transfer for countries embroiled in economic crises. The remittance outlook for India for 2024 is strong, KNOMAD said. Growth in remittances is expected to moderate to 8%, taking remittance levels to $135bn in 2024. This trend will be shaped by labour market conditions and inflation in the main host economies for its high- and less-skilled migrants. The United States, United Kingdom, and Singapore alone account for 36% of India’s remittance flows. The economic growth outlook for 2024 is lacklustre for the United States and United Kingdom but significantly better for Singapore, while inflation is expected to decline in all three countries according to an IMF report. With unemployment rates edging up marginally in the United States and United Kingdom and declining in Singapore, remittance flows from India’s highly skilled migrants should be sustained in 2024 barring further fragmentation of commodity markets and geopolitical tensions spawning new global shocks. Growth in remittances to India will also hinge on developments in the GCC, as almost 29% of the flows originate from its mostly less-skilled migrants employed in the GCC countries. In 2024, economic growth is projected to recover in the GCC and inflation to drop even further from its already low level. Both factors bode well for remittances flows to India. In addition, mobile phones and digitalisation have revolutionised India’s fintech ecosystem, which has positive spillovers for Indian migrants and how they remit funds to India. After two years of double-digit growth, remittance flows to Nepal are projected to moderate and grow at 9%, reaching $12bn in 2024. While economic conditions in the GCC, the main destination for migrants from Nepal, Bhutan, and Maldives, are projected to be positive, low oil prices will restrain large-scale expansion in new hires, thus curbing growth in remittances. Remittances to Bhutan are projected to stabilise at $75mn (2023 levels). In Maldives, remittances are expected to fall to the pre-pandemic level of $4mn in 2024 due to mounting debt and fiscal challenges that erode migrants’ confidence and lead them to opt for informal channels of money transfer. Growth in formal remittances to Bangladesh is projected to remain flat on account of the lingering impacts of the recent balance of payment crisis that triggered exchange controls and led to parallel market exchange rate premia. Depreciation and exchange rate management policies have led migrants in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka to take advantage of the black-market premia and transfer funds through informal and formal channels, KNOMAD said. Remittance flows to Bangladesh are projected to remain at $23bn in 2024. Recovering after two years of a continuous and steep decline, remittance flows to Sri Lanka are expected to continue to increase to $6bn in 2024, although growth is projected to moderate to 11% from its peak in 2023. In Pakistan, low expectations of a return of positive economic growth as the IMF-supported programme takes effect, are likely to weigh on public confidence, leading remittances to decline by 10% and drop below $22bn in 2024, the World Bank initiative noted.

A busy hypermarket in Doha. FILE PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Business
Qatar’s food consumption may grow to 2.5mn tonnes by 2027: Alpen Capital

Qatar’s food consumption is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3% to reach 2.5mn tonnes by 2027, according to Alpen Capital.Although the country’s population is expected to grow at a relatively slower pace (0.8% CAGR) compared to the other GCC nations over the five- year period, the food sector is likely to be driven by a “revival” in the tourism industry, the researcher noted in its latest report.The country's tourism authorities have established ambitious goals to sustain and attract an increasing number of visitors each year following the successful completion of the 2022 FIFA World Cup as part of its long-term strategy.Some of the major international sporting events lined up to take place in the country over the next few years include the Formula 1, TP Tennis Competition, International Golf Championship, World Championship of Motorcycles, 2024 World Aquatics Championships, 2030 Asian Games, European Tour Golf and MotoGP, among others.“The government has also taken initiatives such as offering free visa to over 95 countries, and a 96-hour free transit visa is currently under evaluation to enhance the tourism industry,” Alpen Capital noted.Such initiatives and sporting events are likely to increase international tourist arrivals, which bode well for the domestic food industry.Moreover, the country’s GDP is expected to witness a 3.9% growth over the next five-years driven by accelerated reforms under the 3rd National Development Strategy that aims to boost productivity and promote economic diversification.Following the blockade imposed on the country in 2017, Qatar has ramped up its food production capacity while also developing alternative trade links for its food supply.The country had developed a ‘National Food Security Strategy’ (2018-2023) and is currently formulating the new Qatar National Food Security Strategy (2023-2030) that aims to improve self-sufficiency, strategic reserves, enhance international trade, and streamline the domestic market.Such initiatives are likely to improve the nation’s food security while boosting demand for home-grown produce, Alpen Capital noted.Consumption of vegetables and fruits is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 3.4% each between 2022 and 2027, the highest among all food segments in the country, followed by cereals and milk/dairy categories at 3.2% CAGR and 2.9% CAGR, respectively.On the other hand, consumption of meat is expected to report a growth of 2.8% CAGR, followed by ‘others’ at 1.7% CAGR over the five-year period.The overall per-capita consumption pattern in Qatar is expected to grow at a CAGR of 2.2% during the forecast period, Alpen Capital said.

A view of the Ras Laffan Industrial City, Qatar's principal site for the production of liquefied natural gas and gas-to-liquids (file).
Business
Qatar remains major global trans-shipper of LNG: GECF

Qatar remains the top LNG exporter among GECF member countries and figures among top three global trans-shippers of liquefied natural gas, according to the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF).The top three LNG exporters in November were the US, Australia and Qatar, GECF said in its latest monthly report.In November, global LNG exports saw a slight uptick, increasing by 1.5% (0.52mn tonnes) y-o-y to reach 34.76mn tonnes.The rise in global LNG exports was propelled by non-GECF countries, compensating for declines in LNG exports from GECF member countries and LNG reloads.In terms of the global market share, non-GECF countries led with 51.5%, followed by GECF member countries with 47.0% and reloads with 1.5%.In comparison to November 2022, the market share of non-GECF countries increased from 48.2%, while the shares of GECF member countries and LNG reloads decreased from 49.8% and 2%, respectively.The forecast for global gas production in 2023 indicates a slight increase of 0.7%., GECF noted.This rise is mainly expected in regions such as North America, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific, while Europe, Africa and the CIS regions may potentially witness a decrease in production. Non-GECF countries are anticipated to enhance their gas production by 2.5%, reaching a total of 2,395bcm.In this scenario of growth, the US is set to play a significant role, with a projected growth of 41 bcm over the previous year, largely due to increased associated gas production from shale oil fields.Additionally, the Middle East is expected to see a notable increase in gas production of approximately 18 bcm, with Qatar, Iran and Saudi Arabia being the primary contributors.In November, the global count of gas drilling rigs, indicative of upstream activity, saw a m-o-m rise of three units, bringing the total to 385 rigs.This was a decrease from the 400 rigs recorded in November 2022, showing a y-o-y drop of 15 units. The decline was primarily due to a reduction in gas rigs in the US.Conversely, the recent monthly increase was largely fuelled by the Middle East and Africa, where operational gas rigs rose by 4 units in each region.In October this year, the total volume of gas and liquids discovered amounted to 620mn barrels of oil equivalent (boe). Of this, natural gas represented the majority, accounting for 79% (84bcm), while oil constituted 21% (130mn boe).This marked a rebound from the record low in monthly discovered volumes in September (83mn boe). However, it still represented an annual decrease in volumes (compared to the 915mn boe discovered in October 2022).The cumulative volume of discoveries in the period January to October this year reached 4.2bn boe, compared to discovered volumes of 6.1bn boe for the same period in 2022.This resulted in an average monthly discovered volume of 420mn boe in the first ten months of 2023.The decline in discovered volumes in 2023 reflects the challenges confronting global exploration activity. Approximately 72% of the total discoveries were made offshore. In October 2023, some six new discoveries were announced, 5 of which were offshore.Asia Pacific held the major share in the new discovered volumes with 77%, followed by LAC and North America with 14% and 8%, respectively. No significant discoveries were reported in Africa and the Middle East, GECF noted.

Post the completion of the first five-year food strategy (2018-2023), Qatar is currently formulating the new ‘Qatar National Food Security Strategy’ (2023-2030) that aims to improve self-sufficiency, strategic reserves, enhance international trade, and streamline the domestic market
Business
Qatar records highest increase in domestic food production in GCC since 2016: Alpen Capital

Qatar recorded the highest increase (15.6% CAGR) in domestic food production in the GCC since 2016, driven by National Strategy for Food Security, Alpen Capital has said in a report.Total food production in the GCC region grew at a pace of 6.1% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) since 2016 to reach 16.4mn tonnes in 2021, it said.According to Alpen Capital, Qatar ramped up its food production capacity while also developing alternative trade links for its food supply.Post the completion of its first five-year food strategy (2018-2023), the country is currently formulating the new ‘Qatar National Food Security Strategy’ (2023-2030) that aims to improve self-sufficiency, strategic reserves, enhance international trade, and streamline the domestic market.GCC governments have taken various measures to improve food production, while ensuring food security in order to avoid shortages, Alpen Capital said in its report on ‘GCC Food Industry’.The region, which has historically relied on desalination of seawater and aquifers to meet their water needs, has also increased their focus towards setting up additional desalination plants while boosting investments in water-saving technologies for food production.In addition to increasing investments towards land agriculture, GCC governments have proactively introduced policy reforms while forging international collaborations to contain imports and ensure a steady supply of food through home-grown produce.The GCC food sector has become more self-reliant over the last decade, largely driven by various efforts undertaken by the governments to increase domestic food production, reduce food wastage, support research and development, and streamline logistics. Moreover, the various initiatives by regional governments to boost production through implementing organic farming and technology-enabled processes across the food value chain have aided growth over the past few years. Consequently, the region’s dependency on imports has declined.Food consumption in the GCC is expected to grow at a CAGR of 2.8% to reach 56.2mn tonnes by 2027 from an estimated 49mn tonnes in 2022.This growth is likely to be driven by an increase in population, rise in per capita income due to greater economic stability, and the rebound in tourism activities.Although the ongoing geopolitical concerns may weigh on the GCC food sector due to rising inflation and anticipated supply-chain vulnerabilities, the region’s high purchasing power is likely to support growth.Being the staple food of the region, cereals will continue to remain the most consumed food category. However, it is expected to witness a modest growth rate over the five-year period compared to the rest of the food categories.The vegetables food category is projected to secure the highest annualised growth rate while consumption of meat in the GCC is likely to record marginal gains as consumers turn health conscious amid the rising incidence of non-communicable diseases and growing demand for fresh produce and pesticide-free food with high nutritional value.

Passenger aircraft, operated by Emirates Airlines, on the tarmac at Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai. Airlines in the Middle East are expected to post profits of $2.6bn this year and $3.1bn in 2024 on higher revenues from good passenger load even as the region's international air connectivity already exceeding 105% of pre-Covid levels.
Business
Middle East airlines back above pre-Covid level; good passenger load drives profitability

Airlines in the Middle East are expected to post profits of $2.6bn this year and $3.1bn in 2024 on higher revenues from good passenger load even as the region's international .text-box { float:left; width:250px; padding:1px; border:1pt white; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 15px; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-left: 20px; }@media only screen and (max-width: 767px) {.text-box {width: 30%;} } **media[99388]** air connectivity already exceeding 105% of pre-Covid levels. Per passenger profit in the region is expected to reach $11.2 this year and $13.3 in 2024, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in a recent update. The region has clearly bounced back from the demand destruction caused by the Covid-19 pandemic with domestic and inbound travel reviving the region’s tourism economies. Ticket sales are fluctuating around the 2019 (pre-Covid) levels, the International Air Transport Association noted. The recovery in demand has been driven by large events in the region, according to Kamil al-Awadhi, IATA regional vice-president, (Africa and Middle East). The number of leisure visitors to the region in 2023 is expected to reach 33mn, compared with 29mn in 2019. When measured in dollar terms, the Middle East, GCC countries in particular, lead the way, in growth terms, with a 46% increase in inbound spend compared with 2019, noted the report produced in association with Tourism Economics, which was published to mark the opening of this year’s WTM London. The Middle East is also outperforming all other regions for domestic travel, which has grown by 176% since 2019, albeit from a low base. The success of the region’s recovery from the pandemic is driven by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar with their commitment to tourism showing signs of success. The report notes that some GCC countries are investing heavily in tourism infrastructure, viewing tourism development as a key strategy to diversify away from hydrocarbons reliance. Al-Awadhi emphasised that four priorities for airlines in the Middle East region are sustainability, passenger rights, clearing blocked funds and safety. The region is tracking in the first half of 2023 at 1.2 accidents per million flights—slightly higher than the global average but is tracking towards an improvement on the region’s full year 2022 performance which was 1.3 accidents per million flights. “Aviation is incredibly safe. And the performance of the region’s carriers is no exception. The goal must always to be to improve. And at these very high levels of safety performance, the best way to improve performance is through detailed data analysis,” al-Awadhi said. Through IATA’s Global Aviation Data Management (GADM) initiative, it is creating the world’s most comprehensive database for aviation safety. “We don’t yet have a comprehensive picture of the Mena region due to limited contribution by airlines from this region, but as more airlines contribute to the GADM, we will have a complete picture of safety performance and enable us to analyse trends and events that may not yet be evident. “A good example of this data at work is our analysis of GPS signal loss. We have numerous reports from carriers operating in the region on GPS signal loss, which could potentially be a result of GPS jamming or GPS signal interference. Knowing this from contributed data is helping our work with ICAO and others in finding solutions,” al-Awadhi said. Looking ahead, he said the priorities for the region’s airline industry is to see enhancement to the Contingency Co-ordination Framework, continue working with the States to ensure there exists an infrastructure that meets the needs of the airspace user with due regard to those of the provider; increasing access to more efficient and flexible routes through continued development of Civil Military coordination for the Flexible use of Airspace, further development of Free Route Airspace and Regional ATFM implementation.

Muhannad Mukahall, CEO and head (Corporate, Commercial and Institutional Banking – Qatar) at Standard Chartered.
Business
Strong credit outlook for Qatar seen on LNG expansion, strong public finances: Standard Chartered

Standard Chartered forecasts a strong credit outlook for Qatar as a result of its liquefied natural gas (LNG) expansion, strong public finances, robust balance sheet and positive ratings momentum.In its latest ‘MENA Credit Outlook 2024, Standard Chartered noted Qatar recorded a $11.5bn fiscal surplus during the nine months of 2023, approximately 4.9% of GDP, building on last year's 10.3% surplus, with public finances also set to improve further on rising LNG production.QatarEnergy's groundbreaking on the North Field expansion in October underscores the nation's efforts to increase LNG production, with several long-term offtake agreements already signed.This is in addition to a decline in government-funded capex following a period of elevated spending in the run-up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Standard Chartered estimates that, following a decline to 42% in 2022 from a high of 73% in 2020, Qatar‘s debt-to-GDP should fall further in 2023-24 as the government continues to use its sizeable fiscal surpluses towards debt repayment.Local banks’ foreign liabilities, historically a vulnerability of the sector, are also declining following regulatory directives by the central bank and slowing credit growth.After a sharp rise in 2018-21, Qatari banks’ foreign liabilities fell to QR655bn in September from a high of QR718bn in March 2022.The research also notes that any debt issuances by Qatar in 2024 will be opportunistic, as it is yet to issue Eurobonds since 2020, reflecting its deleveraging priorities.Muhannad Mukahall, CEO and head (Corporate, Commercial and Institutional Banking, Qatar) at Standard Chartered, said, "Qatar's strategic investments in LNG production and strong fiscal indicators reinforce our positive outlook for the nation’s continued economic growth in 2024.”

Ministers attending the 12th Arab Energy Conference, organised by the Organisation of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries in Doha on Monday. HE the Minister of State for Energy Affairs Saad bin Sherida al-Kaabi delivered keynote address at the conference.
Business
Al-Kaabi calls for greater investments in energy efficiency, low-carbon technologies

HE the Minister of State for Energy Affairs Saad bin Sherida al-Kaabi has called for greater investments in energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies in conjunction with adopting renewable energy sources.He also called for enhanced efforts to address challenges and achieve complementarity among Arab countries to support their economic growth.The minister was delivering keynote address at the 12th Arab Energy Conference, organised by the Organisation of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) here on Monday.Al-Kaabi noted Qatar has taken bold strategic decisions, investing tens of billions of dollars in the LNG industry, at a time when many doubted the feasibility of such investments.“Our decision at the time was based on a realistic understanding of market fundamentals and efforts to reduce global carbon emissions. As a result, we embarked on implementing our plans to raise our LNG production from the current 77mn tonnes per year to 126mn tons by 2026,” the minister said.Al-Kaabi stressed the “urgent need to formulate a realistic and scientifically based vision for a fair, balanced, and sustainable energy transition, and for helping the needs of about 1bn people around the world who have no access to basic electricity, which we all enjoy every day.”The minister also addressed the pivotal role of solar energy in the efforts to provide renewable and sustainable sources of energy in the Arab world.“There is no doubt that our Arab countries are well positioned to develop the use of solar energy, especially because of their geographical location that provides an abundance of solar energy.“Therefore, we have the responsibility to develop greater energy efficiency in the Arab world, in addition to strengthen legislative and regulatory frameworks to support a balanced energy transition.”The minister said: “The changes around us require that we give priority to addressing the energy security challenge and to strengthen our joint action and complementary efforts to support the economic growth of our countries.“While the global energy map is evolving in light of these changes, the State of Qatar stresses the importance of strengthening cooperation between Arab countries to secure a promising future for us and for the coming generations.”Al-Kaabi praised the role of OAPEC in organising the conference and in keeping an eye on global energy market developments and their repercussions on member states, in supporting efforts to develop the energy industry, and in adopting modern technologies that support a partnership between the various components of the energy mix towards a low-carbon future, stressing the State of Qatar’s support of all efforts to enhance Arab energy co-operation.The minister also thanked the State of Kuwait, OAPEC’s host country, for sparing no effort to ensure the success of the organisation’s work.The Arab Energy Conference is held every four years, and discusses topics related to Arab and international energy sources, petroleum industries, Arab cooperation in the field of electric power, energy demand management in the Arab countries, in addition to energy, environment and sustainable development issues.

Ali Sabry, Erika Mounyes, Victor Gao and Mesganu Arga Moach at a panel session at the Doha Forum Sunday, which was moderated by Gustau Alegret, journalist and anchor, NTN24. Picture: Shaji Kayamkulam
Qatar
BRICS to foster equality, economic development and achieve financial connectivity: Victor Gao

Intergovernmental organisation BRICS, which originally comprised Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, can still exist with or without the G7 Group of countries, noted Victor Gao, vice president of the Beijing-based Center for China and Globalisation (CCG), and chair professor of Soochow University.Gao noted, “This is because these member countries of BRICS want to have independence and equality. They want to have their voice heard at the international stage.”“China accounted for more 50% of BRICS economy to start with...when there were only five member states. China did not dictate terms to other BRICS members. All the five members operated in equality with each other. Now, we have 11 members in BRICS,” Gao said at a panel session at the Doha Forum Sunday.“I think this equality and independent decision making of each of the BRICS members will become even more important. And this will serve as a greater incentive for all the other BRICS applicants.“Because they see BRICS as a platform of equality...a platform where they can cooperate to the extent possible and really achieve greater efficiency.Gao noted, “Some 40 years ago, the size of Chinese and Indian economies was on par. Today, one China equals about six India. The fact that India is growing rapidly should be congratulated. Eventually, India will be among the top three economies of the world. I hope it will be quicker rather than slower.“It is expected that by the middle of this century, Chinese economy is will be double that of the United States. Chinese economy is still larger than the US by Purchasing power parity (PPP). In future, China will double the US economy, but I don’t think China will dominate any country.”He emphasised that BRICS is a framework for unity. “You can overcome diversity and differences of opinion sometimes to achieve a common goal. BRICS should not be caught in the framework of geopolitics for confrontation or conflict with anyone, but to promote what matters most– economic development, overcome adversities and achieve financial connectivity, currency cooperation specifically.“It will take a few years for financial connectivity. But don’t be surprised if one day there will be a major announcement for financial or currency cooperation within the BRICS framework,” Gao said.Sri Lanka's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ali Sabry, Ethiopia's State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mesganu Arga Moach and Erika Mounyes, chair, Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center Advisory Council also spoke at the panel session.