Across Wall Street, this year’s bleak expectations for banker bonuses are rapidly proving true, as a slump in deal-making ends the industry’s war for talent and firms regain the upper hand in setting pay.JPMorgan Chase & Co, Bank of America Corp and Citigroup Inc are all weighing plans to cut bonus pools for their investment bankers by as much as 30%, according to people with knowledge of the internal deliberations. Some firms are planning to give low performers no reward at all. The proposals are still under discussion and could change in coming weeks, the people said.Such are the early snapshots of the industry’s year-end bonuses after corporate deal-making and sales of new securities waned amid 2022’s market swoon. Investment-banking revenue across the five biggest US banks plummeted 47% - a whopping $18.8bn decline - in the first nine months. At Goldman Sachs Group Inc, even traders who reeled in more aren’t immune to bonus cuts.For legions of bankers and traders, their annual bonuses can stretch into millions of dollars and is many multiples of their annual salary. Wall Streeters spend months banking on their bonuses to pay for tiny private schools, luxury vacation homes and private-club memberships.Less than a year ago, employers were locked in a vicious bidding war for talent, with some firms forgoing firings almost entirely as they struggled to maintain adequate staffing. Dismissals restarted a few months ago and now, with a growing number of Wall Streeters freshly unemployed, banks have more leverage to keep a lid on pay. Many employees lack other viable options.“Star performers will be looked after,” said Anthony Keizner, a managing partner at the executive search firm Odyssey Search Partners. “But as opposed to highly compensating some bankers and letting go of others, it seems like the more common strategy will be to cut bonuses more broadly.”Representatives from JPMorgan, Citigroup and Bank of America declined to comment.It’s not all doom and gloom. Rates and commodities traders have helped propel fixed-income trading revenue to $53.7bn across Wall Street, the second-best performance on record.At Bank of America and Citigroup, that means executives may hold bonus pools for traders around last year’s levels, some of the people said. And executives at those banks are discussing rewarding top rates, currencies and commodities traders with higher pay packages.Goldman is set to break with rivals by reducing the bonus pool for traders by a low double-digit percentage, people with knowledge of the matter said earlier Friday. The firm is under particular pressure to limit pay after spending more than forecast on an expansion into consumer banking. Executives dialled back that campaign in October.Four months ago, Goldman also stood out when it signalled plans to resume periodic culls of underperformers. But since then, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and Barclays Plc have followed suit.In recent months, job-cutting holdouts have qualified their assurances, with Bank of America saying there’s no plans for firings “at this stage.” But the common practice of culling of underperformers is expected to resume next year, the people said.“Some people are going to be let go,” Morgan Stanley chief executive officer James Gorman said on Thursday at the Reuters NEXT conference. “We’re making some modest cuts all over the globe. In most businesses, that’s what you do after many years of growth.”On Wall Street, bonuses and other incentives are notoriously volatile as the industry cycles through booms and busts. In the final months of the year, banks grade their workers’ performance and set bonus pools that they can share, with the most generous portions for rainmakers.The outlook for banker bonus pools has been dimming for months.Typical deal advisers may see their bonuses drop as much as 20%, while awards to their counterparts in underwriting plunge 45%, compensation consultant Johnson Associates Inc. estimated last month.“This is going to be a more difficult compensation season,” Jefferies chief executive officer Rich Handler and President Brian Friedman warned their employees this week, “just like it will be for every firm in our industry.”This year, banks including Citigroup, Bank of America and Barclays are considering giving dozens of their lowest performers no bonus at all - known as getting “zeroed out,” or receiving a “goose egg,” “doughnut” or “bagel.” At Goldman, the number of bankers getting nothing could surpass 100.A Barclays spokesperson declined to comment.Bonus snubs are often a precursor to a firing but also sort of a dare: If a company wants to lower headcount it can throw out a bunch of them and see if enough people get the message to speed up attrition.Or, with terminations at other firms on the rise, some managers may bet that recipients will keep showing up to their desks, cheaply.“Where else are these bankers going to go?” Keizner said. “The banks want their teams to stick around because when things turn back around the banks don’t want to find themselves understaffed and scrambling again.”Indeed, some smaller firms may resist their normal urge to snap up talent with the outlook on Wall Street now so uncertain. Evercore Inc, for example, is limiting replacement hires for those bankers who leave.The lower payouts to bankers may not inspire much sympathy outside finance.In New York City, the securities industry’s overall bonus pool will decline 22% from last year, when the average payout was $257,500, according to estimates from the state’s comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli.That would still be more than four times higher than what a typical private sector employee earns in the city.
The Group of Seven is set to impose a price cap on Russian oil that’s well above where it now trades. If there was ever any doubt what the premise of the cap was, it’s now clear: the US and its allies want Russia’s crude to keep flowing.European Union ambassadors backed limiting the price of Russian oil, a key source of income for President Vladimir Putin’s war machine, at $60 a barrel after fraught talks that dragged into the night more than once. Crucially, that’s above the $50 that Russia’s flagship Urals grade already trades at, according to data from Argus Media.“The key point in our view is the signal that the G7 seeks to keep Russian oil on the market,” said Joel Hancock, an analyst at Natixis. “The market has shifted to a view that Russian crude oil exports will remain more resilient than previously expected and largely unaffected by the price cap.”Now, Moscow’s reaction will be key. Russia has opposed the measure, and threatened to stop production in response. But on Thursday Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the cap was irrelevant, the strongest hint yet of a possible softening. With such a generous cap, buyers and sellers can easily claim it’s just business as usual.“We don’t care what the price cap will be. We’ll negotiate with our partners directly,” Lavrov said. “And partners who continue working with us won’t look at those caps.”The G7 has mostly decided to stop its own imports of Russian crude so the move is aimed squarely at other big buyers such as China, India and Turkiye. Those countries have not signed up, but the US hopes they will use the threshold as a bargaining chip. Crucially, if they don’t buy below the threshold, they won’t be able to access European insurance and shipping.The plan, driven by the G7, comes at a time when Europe is fighting high inflation and at risk of a recession. Companies and households are reeling from exorbitant energy bills triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the Opec+ alliance is keeping a tight rein on supply. As governments spend billions to stave off a backlash from voters, increased economic risks are now being taken into account in political decision-making.“The price cap will encourage the flow of discounted Russian oil onto global markets and is designed to help protect consumers and businesses from global supply disruptions,” US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement on Friday, after the G7 announced its endorsement of the $60 level. She added that even if countries buy outside the cap coalition, it will “enable them to bargain for steeper discounts on Russian oil and benefit from greater stability in global energy markets.”The EU sanctions agreed earlier this year had initially shocked many in the market for being so strict. The idea was to ban companies from providing insurance to transport Russian oil anywhere in the world. It would have meant even Chinese and Indian customers would have had to find their own insurance from December 5.The US argued that the sanctions risked provoking a spike in oil prices that would have been ruinous for the world economy, and also potentially end up even benefiting Putin. The price cap was a kind of off-ramp - those services would be available but only for oil sold under the designated level. The idea was to limit revenues but keep the oil flowing to the global economy.“We think the number at $60 a barrel is appropriate” to balance limiting Moscow’s ability to profit and ensuring supply meets demand, John Kirby, spokesman for the US National Security Council, said on Friday, adding that the cap can be adjusted going forward.Some in Europe saw the US plan as a way to water down sanctions, and Poland led a group of countries pushing for the cap to be closer to production costs. Shipping nations wanted a more generous level, and the discussions were often fraught as countries’ interests didn’t always align.For its part, Ukraine said the level should be set as low as $30.“Given that Urals is currently traded far below the level of the cap, in principle it could be a good deal,” said Jorge Leon at Rystad Energy.A complicating factor is that oil is priced very differently in Asia. There, the key ESPO grade is trading at over $70 a barrel. It’s not clear if all that crude will end up under the cap or not.When the price cap was first floated as an idea, many thought it unworkable without key buyers such as India and Turkey on board, or extraterritorial penalties to deter breaches and incentivise adoption.Now it looks like the US can claim some kind of victory if Russia does sell under the ceiling. Washington also argues that if Russian oil is already trading at a deep discount, the threat of the price cap can take some of the credit. For its part, Poland, after long negotiations, has secured some extra conditions, including a review mechanism going into next year.Still, there remain questions over enforcement, as the EU has watered down its rules, and there are no secondary sanctions to add teeth. A spat over insurance in Turkiye could still pose problems. And the Kremlin’s reaction remains a big unknown.
The US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC) is keen to enhance its promotion of Qatar among American companies, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in 2023, an official has said.The council has been busy visiting different cities and states in the US this year and is expected to cap 2022 with the release of a print version of its report ‘50 Years of Partnership: The State of Qatar and the United States of America’, said USQBC managing director and treasurer of the board Mohamed Barakat.In 2023, Barakat said USQBC intends to double its efforts to promote Qatar by organising more events that would highlight specifically what the country has to offer to American companies.“The Investment Promotion Agency Qatar (IPA Qatar) has joined USQBC, so there would be more events across the US to promote Qatar and to promote the opening of potential manufacturing operations in Qatar.“We will also try to attract small and medium companies by engaging more with SMEs in their own cities and states in the US. There will be a lot of that as we build on these initiatives in the pipeline,” Barakat told Gulf Times.He said, “The upcoming year will not only witness many events but also one or two congressional delegations to Qatar similar to what we did in 2021, including trade missions that we could perhaps tie in with a specific event that is happening in Qatar, such as ‘Expo 2023 Doha’ or other activities.“These events will continue to highlight how USQBC could help companies and how the council could assist in building on this relationship. We will continue our collaboration with the US and Qatari embassies, and with visiting delegations to reach out to more cities; it’s similar to a roadshow but it’s more sector-specific and promoting engagements.”According to Barakat, USQBC is also looking to publish many reports, especially on specific sectors that put emphasis on investment opportunities in both the US and Qatar. He said the council will also work on increasing its membership next year. After USQBC president Scott Taylor’s visit to Qatar last September, several Qatari and American companies were added to the council’s roster of members, Barakat noted.On USQBC’s operations in both Washington, DC and Qatar next year, Barakat said: “USQBC will continue at the same level as we had done in 2022. There will be some engagements for the ‘Expo 2023 Doha, Qatar’. We plan to work with more potential companies or perhaps build a trade mission related to the event.“While there is nothing clear yet, we want to see if we can bring a delegation, which will be very helpful to American companies to engage and find common ground during the event. It’s a big event, which is why it would be very helpful for American companies to be part of it considering that agriculture is a major sector that Qatar is focusing on.”Barakat noted that a post-World Cup Qatar would open opportunities not only in sustainability but also in tourism and tourism-related services, as well as other areas such as esports and gaming.“Qatar has built massive infrastructure that feeds into tourism and tourism-related services, so there would be a lot of focus on these sectors. By default, this would create another sub-sector, which is facilities management and operations.“These windows of opportunities will start opening up after the staging of a major event, such as the World Cup. And we will see how this could translate into potential future events that Qatar would be hosting. The idea of hosting major sports events in the country also opens opportunities in the area of esports and gaming; there would be a potential increase in focus on these areas, as well,” he stressed.He added: “USQBC maintains its regular engagements with companies specialising in ICT and telecommunications, as well as data centres, among others. And these engagements will keep on expanding. The council will work on making sure that the services actually fulfil the needs of a lot of these companies coming in.“Some of the bigger companies understand the market because they’ve been present for much longer, but second-tier and third-tier companies might need more hands-on and more tailored services to understand how to enter the market. USQBC is very fluid; we can immediately adjust to fulfil a specific need that companies require. We can adjust our services to cater to their needs and that allows us to operate in a better way.”
QNB Group was named ‘Best SME Bank in Qatar’ and ‘Best SME Bank in Middle East’ 2023 by Global Finance magazine. The awards highlight QNB’s effort to support SMEs to continue their day-to-day operations including working capital and trade products to expand their facilities. Global Finance magazine honoured the top performers among banks and other financial services providers, who showed excellence in the Small and Midsize Enterprises sector in the Middle East. These awards have become a trusted standard of excellence for the global financial community QNB has a dedicated center, which serves as a ‘One-Stop-Shop’ premises for SMEs. The bank offers wide range of SME products that are tailored to the needs of Businesses irrespective of the sector. With QNB, SMEs can also bundle several SME products together to obtain a complete solution for their banking requirements. SMEs can also apply for a quick loan and if eligible access these funds within a matter of days, which is one of the fastest loan origination process in the MENA region. QNB Group, currently ranked as the most valuable bank brand in the Middle East and Africa, is proud to be the Official Middle East and Africa Supporter of the FIFA World Cup 2022.™ Through its subsidiaries and associate companies, QNB Group extends to more than 30 countries across three continents providing a comprehensive range of advanced products and services. The total number of employees is 27,000 operating through 1000 locations, with an ATM network of more than 4,700 machines.
Ahlibank has announced the launch of Google Pay as part of the bank’s commitment to providing more secure and easy payment solutions for its customers.Google Pay is a fast, simple way to pay with Google. It brings together everything customers need at checkout and keeps their payment information safe in their Google Account until they are ready to pay. Google Pay’s availability will enable Ahlibank customers to make contactless payments with their Ahlibank Visa debit and credit Cards added on Android devices in a faster, more secure, and more convenient way.Google Pay works everywhere contactless payments are accepted, allowing clients to conduct transactions on the go and make payments on sites, in applications, and in stores with their Android and wearable OS devices.Protecting the privacy and security of users is a top priority for Google Pay. Google Pay has been designed and developed around strong privacy principles of transparency, choice, and control. All payments are encrypted and contactless payments using cards in Google Pay are tokenised. Users are also required to verify each time they open Google Pay or tap to pay. Customers can make payments through Google Pay at several online, on-site, and in-store outlets around the world.Mohamed al-Namla, deputy CEO - Business Support, Services and Human Resources at Ahlibank, said: “Ahlibank is delighted to introduce Google Pay, a secure and reliable payment option, to our valued customers as part of our ongoing efforts to make daily transactions easier, smarter and more convenient for our card holders. We will continue to offer advanced banking technology to make transaction process easily accessible to our clients on the go.”Google Pay offers a virtual payment method for customers at different payment points p, which means customers do not need to touch physical buttons or exchange cash during transactions.Link Visa debit and credit cards to Google Pay is easy, fast, and convenient. To set up Google Pay on Android phones, customers should ensure their device has the latest software, then download the app from Google Play, and log in using their Google account.They can add their card by taking its picture or enter the card details manually, verify additional information, and accept the Terms and Conditions, and then enter the OTP and click submit.Following these steps, Ahlibank customers can now use Google Pay for their seamless transactions.To set up Google Pay on Android Watch, clients must make sure their device has the latest software. They should then download Google Pay from Google Play, open the Google Pay app on their watch, tap ‘Get started’ and follow the instructions on their phone to add a credit or debit card. This only adds a card to the Google Pay app on the customers’ watch but not their phones.To use the device for in-store purchases, cardholders must make sure their phone has NFC turned on.
Qatar National Bank (QNB) said that inflation has been driven by both demand and supply factors, often amplified by exogenous shocks or non-economic factors.QNB's weekly report said: "Elevated inflation has been a dominant topic throughout this year. Across countries, inflation has been driven by both demand and supply factors, often amplified by exogenous shocks or non-economic factors. On the demand side, it is mostly a product of excess consumption created by ultra-loose monetary and fiscal policies in advanced economies. On the supply side, it is negatively affected by supply-chain constraints, tight labour markets and the persistent lack of investment in extracting fossil fuels. Supply-side constraints have been recently magnified by the war in Ukraine, which caused a surge in energy and commodity prices in early 2022."It added high or chronic inflation is oftentimes a phenomenon experienced by emerging markets (EM). This is also true in times where inflation is a concern across the globe. This article sheds further light on the different drivers of EM inflation.The report said that the high level of inflation in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) this year is primarily due to their more direct exposure to higher energy prices caused by the War in Ukraine. Although energy prices have risen globally, it is more difficult for countries in CEE to substitute their energy away from gas, which has been cheaply supplied to them by Russia for most of the past decade. Going forward, we would expect high inflation in CEE to ease back, as base-effects cause energy price spikes to fall out of year-on-year comparisons.It pointed out that inflation in Latin America (LATAM) is more moderate due to several factors. First of all, the region did not experience the same monetary policy support with excessive liquidity injection throughout the pandemic. Secondly, several LATAM central banks prevented an upcoming inflationary cycle and front loaded interest rate hikes last year, when inflation was still nascent. This was in contrast to most major central banks, which were late to recognize the significance of the post-pandemic inflationary shock. Moreover, large components of global inflation are associated with commodities, particularly food and energy prices. As LATAM is itself a net commodity exporting region, it has benefited from higher revenues and incomes. More aggressive central banks and positive commodity revenues supported some LATAM currencies, preventing the spike in imported prices that EM countries experienced elsewhere. The outlook for inflation in LATAM is for a moderate easing of inflation, again mainly due to base effects, but also in the context of reduced political uncertainty with the conclusion of the presidential election in Brazil.It added inflation in Asia Pacific is the lowest for two main reasons. First, is the disinflationary impulse from the persistent weakness of activity in China. And second, the relative strength of Asian currencies, which typically benefit from relatively strong external positions and substantial reserve buffers. An additional factor that has helped keep inflation low in Asia is the fact that commodity exports have allowed Malaysia and Indonesia to reduce inflation via subsidies. Looking forward and assuming Chinese growth accelerates, as we expect, then we would expect Asian economies to experience stronger inflationary pressures. As a result, Asian central banks may need to follow the Fed's rate hikes more aggressively going forward.The report concluded by saying that inflation in Asia Pacific has been much lower than in Europe or Latin America. But we expect this divergence in inflation pressures across EM regions to moderate next year.
The US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC) managing director Mohamed Barakat called on the United States to benefit from Qatar's expertise in organising the 2026 World Cup events, pointing to the recent signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two countries to exchange expertise in this field.In an interview with Qatar News Agency (QNA), Barakat hailed the organisation of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 in terms of managing crowds and stadiums, in addition to the use of technology, adding that the US should benefit from all this experience in organising.He pointed out that one of the factors that characterise the 2026 World Cup, other than the fact that it includes 48 countries and three host countries (the United States, Canada, and Mexico), is that the matches will take place in different states, such as New Jersey, Atlanta or Los Angeles, and each of these places has different management patterns, as the metro in New Jersey is completely different from Los Angeles, so Qatar's experience in the field of transportation, especially the metro, will be beneficial, and the organising committees in each state will benefit from Qatar's expertise in this field, even in Canada and Mexico. He added there is also a lot of technical expertise that can be exchanged between the organisers.Barakat stressed Qatar's success in organising the World Cup events, expressing his admiration for what it has achieved.He described the malicious campaign targeting Qatar and its organisation of the World Cup as "unfair." He said the launch of malicious campaigns began years ago and those campaigns intensified a week before the start of the World Cup, even before the opening ceremony began and before anyone witnessed it, adding that they started talking about the championship as if it had happened and this indicates that some want to say something before they actually see it. He pointed out that success has already been achieved, especially in the 32-team group stage, which went smoothly. Heads of state and ordinary fans have experienced it firsthand and no matter what they do or say, it won't change what people see on the ground, he explained.When it comes to the truth, these people know that everything they write about organising this tournament is not accurate and exaggerated, including exaggerating the numbers and the construction of tournament facilities, he outlined.Barakat pointed to the reforms that Qatar introduced in the labour market, including the adoption of the minimum wage and the guaranteed payment system, adding that all of these things are unique in the region and Qatar now has a complete and comprehensive labour system but everyone is seeking more reforms.Commenting on the fifth strategic dialogue between Qatar and the US, the USQBC managing director indicated that the dialogue focused on the economic and trade aspects, which are two main aspects of the relations between the two countries, and also focused on supporting joint investments between the two sides. Barakat stressed that with each session of the strategic dialogue between Qatar and the United States, workshops are organised to ensure the removal of obstacles and difficulties that may appear, stressing that a lot of business opportunities between the two sides exist, especially with the end of the World Cup.US-Qatar Business Council Managing Director highlighted that Qatar has come a long way in terms of sustainability, especially in terms of facilities management, underlining that the tourism sector will also be one of the priority sectors for the American investor, especially after the great publicity gained by Qatar as a result of hosting the World Cup, which at the same time requires the completion of tourist facilities, and then new investments in this area, as he explained, there are also other sectors such as security, defence and energy, and joint industries.In this context, Barakat mentioned that the volume of trade with Qatar amounted to $6.8 billion in 2019, and the total Qatari investments in the United States currently amount to $250 billion.He said the State was keen to develop legislation and infrastructure to attract foreign investments, considering that the technical and knowledge exchange for the establishment of manufacturing facilities in Qatar to serve the region can expand in the future.He underscored the shift witnessed by Qatari investments in the public and private sectors, by going beyond the federal level to include the State, noting the role played by Qatari institutions in attracting American investments to Qatar.He concluded by saying underlining the role played by Qatari institutions, including the Investment Promotion Agency, Qatar Free Zones, the Qatar Financial Center, and many other agencies in attracting American investments to Qatar, clarifying that Qatar continues to develop tax incentives and business rules to attract more investments, adding that this role is also played by the US-Qatar Business Council in cooperation with the commercial attache offices.
US employers added more jobs than forecast and wages surged by the most in nearly a year, pointing to enduring inflation pressures that boost chances of higher interest rates from the Federal Reserve.Non-farm payrolls increased 263,000 in November after an upwardly revised 284,000 gain in October, a Labor Department report showed yesterday. The unemployment rate held at 3.7% as participation eased. Average hourly earnings rose twice as much as forecast after an upward revision to the prior month.The median estimates in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 200,000 advance in payrolls and for the unemployment rate to hold at 3.7%. US stocks opened lower and Treasury yields surged as investors anticipated a more aggressive stance from the Fed.“The net read is that the labour market is still far too tight and cooling only very gradually,” Mizuho economists Alex Pelle and Steven Ricchiuto said in a note. “It suggests that the economy is resilient and can handle more rate hikes and restrictive policy for longer.”Job gains were concentrated in a few categories, led by growth in leisure and hospitality, healthcare and government. Meanwhile, employers in retail, transportation and warehousing and temporary help services cut staff.The better-than-expected payrolls increase underscores the enduring strength of the jobs market despite rising interest rates and concerns of a looming recession. The persistent mismatch between the supply and demand for workers continues to underpin wage growth and has led many economists to expect businesses will be more hesitant to lay off workers in a potential downturn.That said, some sectors are beginning to show more notable signs of weakening. Many economists expect unemployment to rise next year – significantly in some cases – as tighter Fed policy risks pushing the US into recession.“The resurgence of average hourly earnings growth shows labour shortages are still pressuring inflation, pushing back against the idea – supported by a few Fed officials, as indicated in the November FOMC minutes – that wage growth is cooling fast. Given the slow adjustment in the labour market, Fed officials will likely have to raise their terminal-rate forecast from what they wrote down in the September dot plot, ” say Anna Wong and Eliza Winger, economists at Bloomberg.Fed Chair Jerome Powell said earlier this week that a moderation in demand for labour is needed to bring the jobs market back into balance, and the central bank has only seen “tentative signs” of that so far. He also noted the importance wage growth – and the labour market more generally – will play in determining the path of inflation.The jobs report showed average hourly earnings rose 0.6% in November in a broad-based gain that was the biggest since January, and were up 5.1% from a year earlier. Wages for production and nonsupervisory workers climbed 0.7% from the prior month, the most in almost a year. The pace of pay raises is inconsistent with the Fed’s 2% inflation target. This is the last jobs report Fed officials will have in hand before their December policy meeting, where the central bank is expected to step down the pace of interest-rate hikes to a still-aggressive half percentage point. Inflation data over the past month have indicated that price pressures are slowly cooling, but remain very elevated.The US jobs report is made up of two surveys – one of households and one of businesses. Similar to last month, the two data sets pointed in different directions. While the business survey showed strong hiring, that of households – which can be more volatile – indicated lower employment for a second month.The labour force participation rate – the share of the population that is working or looking for work – edged lower to 62.1%, a four-month low. Among those ages 25 to 54, it declined for a third month, led by women.While the unemployment rate fell for Asian and Hispanic workers, it was due in part to lower participation. A drop in the jobless rate for Black Americans was driven by lower participation among women while men saw outsize gains.Employed Americans who missed work because of illness rose to the highest since last year’s omicron wave.The average workweek ticked down for the first time since June. Within manufacturing, hours and overtime fell. That’s consistent with other reports of declining factory activity.Separate data have pointed to some cooling in labour demand. Job openings have eased and continuing claims for unemployment insurance have steadily climbed in recent weeks to the highest since February. And a November survey showed only 18% of small business owners plan to hire in the coming months, the smallest share since early 2021.
Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani has assured the capability of the country’s private sector to play a key role in achieving comprehensive economic development.Sheikh Khalifa’s statement came in the wake of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani’s speech during the 51st annual session of the Shura Council where he declared milestones and defined Qatar’s direction moving forward.“Qatar Chamber highly values and appreciates His Highness the Amir’s keenness to develop and maximise the private sector’s role in development, especially since it has seen great growth in recent years and has become a responsible partner of the public sector in implementing economic development projects,” Sheikh Khalifa stated in the latest edition of Al Moltaqa, the chamber’s economic magazine.According to Sheikh Khalifa, the chamber is certain that the private sector can play an important role in achieving comprehensive economic development, which is Qatar’s top priority.He said Qatar has been steadfast in fulfilling the requirements of comprehensive development “at all levels” in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030 “and its desired objectives.”Sheikh Khalifa emphasised that His Highness the Amir’s speech also focused on enhancing Qatar’s investment climate through amendments in legislation on foreign investment and by removing barriers that prevent FDI, as well as highlighting Qatar as a global incubator for FDI and improving the country’s investment environment.He said the Amir’s speech emphasises his keenness to bolster the contribution of the private sector in economic activity and to create more public-private partnerships (PPPs).Sheikh Khalifa reiterated the Amir’s call to allow GCC citizens to launch trade activities, including shipping services, advertising, stock trading, and company establishment, as well as the development of the energy sector and expanding gas production in the North Field.“All these directives confirm that the Qatari economy will see further development and growth in the coming years,” Sheikh Khalifa said, highlighting the Amir’s statements on a “QR47.3bn” budget surplus triggered by the increase in energy prices in the first half of 2022 despite speculations of a deficit at the beginning of the year.Sheikh Khalifa said: “His Highness the Amir’s speech showed the great interest he attaches to the national economy. His Highness emphasised the strength of the Qatari economy, which continued to grow in 2022 after a decline in 2020, with the preliminary data indicating a 4.3% GDP growth during the first half of this year, supported by a 7.3% growth in the non-oil sector – a large percentage amid the current international circumstances.”He added: “His Highness also stressed the importance of activating the provisions of the law regulating partnership between the public and private sectors in all related projects, especially in the health, educational, and tourism sectors.“His Highness further highlighted the In-Country Value Programme, which gives preference in tenders and bids to companies that further depend on the local economy to procure goods and services to the public sector.”
The GCC looks likely to remain an “outperformer in the global context” next year, Emirates NBD said although it expects the region’s average GDP growth to slow to 3.5% in 2023.The GCC countries have enjoyed a strong performance in 2022 on several fronts. The outlook for the GCC in 2023 also remains constructive.Emirates NBD expects economic growth in the region to come in at around 7% on a nominal GDP-weighted basis, the fastest in over a decade. This has largely been driven by double-digit growth in oil production across the region as the pandemic-related production cuts were fully unwound.“However the non-oil sectors have performed well too and we expect average non-oil GDP to reach 4.4% this year, similar to the growth rate achieved across the GCC in 2021, even as global growth has slowed this year,” noted Khatija Haque, head of research and chief economist at Emirates NBD.Domestic demand has continued to rebound from the pandemic and the recovery in global travel and tourism has also supported the non-oil sectors, particularly in the UAE.Expo 2020 contributed to strong growth in the UAE’s tourism and hospitality sectors in Q1, 2022, and the reopening of long-haul markets has seen visitor numbers rebound sharply from last year, although they remain around 15% below 2019 levels through September.The FIFA World Cup is expected to support demand in Qatar in Q4, 2022 even as the global economy has started to slow.The GCC budget performance has also improved significantly this year on the back of higher oil production and prices, as well as the broader economic recovery in the region, Emirates NBD noted.\"We estimate the average GCC budget surplus will reach almost 8% of GDP this year following seven years of deficits. While government spending has increased slightly this year, governments have so far been relatively prudent with their oil windfall, using budget surpluses to build up reserves, pay down debt and invest for the future, \" it said.The GCC countries have also provided financial support to other Mena countries that have faced current account shocks this year on the back of rising energy and food prices.“The outlook for the GCC in 2023 remains constructive,” it said.\"GDP growth will slow sharply as the 16% increase in oil and gas GDP that we saw this year is unlikely to be repeated, and further production cuts from Opec+ pose a downside risk to growth in this sector in 2023. Non-oil GDP is also expected to slow somewhat next year but is likely to remain relatively robust as governments continue to invest in strategic sectors and projects to diversify their economies.“Our baseline forecast is for oil prices to remain above $100/b next year, which will allow governments to maintain spending even as private investment slows,” Haque noted.There are headwinds to growth in the coming months, however. The tightening in monetary policy that we’ve seen in 2022 will continue to weigh on global economic growth in 2023 as central banks focus on bringing inflation down.Even with oil prices expected to remain relatively high, the region is not immune from slowing global growth, particularly given its position as a global trade and logistics hub.“Higher borrowing costs may deter private sector investment in the region and a strong dollar will also erode competitiveness, making the region a more expensive destination for both foreign investors and tourists,” Emirates NBD said.
Duty free sales at select GCC airports including Doha and Dubai are expected to grow by 65.5% y-o-y to reach $2.2bn in 2022, Alpen Capital has said in a report.By 2026, duty free sales in Qatar, UAE and Bahrain are further projected to reach $3bn, implying an annualised growth of 8.4% since 2022, Alpen Capital said in its report on ‘GCC retail industry’.It said the GCC nations have laid out strategic plans to promote the tourism sector as part of their long-term objective to diversify away from oil. This has led to investments in the development of tourism infrastructure, which includes expanding the airport capacity to complement the governments’ commitment towards the tourism sector. At the same time, the governments have been easing visa regulations to boost the number of tourist arrivals.Duty free operators are the biggest beneficiaries of the expansion of the tourism industry, as the resultant rise in passenger traffic potentially leads to increase in sales.Prior to the pandemic, international tourist arrivals in the GCC increased at an annualised growth rate of 2.8% between 2016 and 2019 primarily driven by the UAE (6.6% CAGR) and Kuwait (6.7% CAGR).Majority of the demand was generated by personal, leisure and religious travel followed by business and professional travel during the period. With 35.7% inbound tourist arrivals in 2019, the UAE led the GCC countries in terms of share of international tourist arrivals, followed by Saudi Arabia (28.6%), and Bahrain (15.6%).As a result of the Covid-19 led restrictions, GCC international tourist arrivals declined by 75% y-o-y in 2020. However, swift response to curb the virus through stringent policies and widespread vaccine deployment led to the crisis reach an endemic state. Consequently, tourist arrivals in the region witnessed widespread recovery in 2021, posting a 56.1% y-o-y growth compared to the end of 2020 to reach 27.7mn.At the same time, passenger traffic at international airports in Doha, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Bahrain have also grown since 2020.These factors have revived the region’s airport retail market, which was significantly hit during the pandemic.Between 2016 and 2019, duty free sales at Doha, Dubai and Bahrain airports grew at a CAGR of 3.3% and cumulatively accounted for 44.1% of the Middle East’s total sales.In 2020, duty free sales at these airports declined by 58.3% y-o-y and witnessed a revival of 11.5% y-o-y in 2021 to reach an estimated $1.3bn by the year-end.Share of the GCC duty free sales of the total Mena region during 2021 improved to an estimated 46.9% from 44.1% in 2016.Key Qatar Duty Free retail openings in 2021 included several luxury avenues, stand-alone airport boutiques, cafes and high-end brand stores among others130.In 2021, the Hamad International Airport was recognised as the ‘Best airport in the world’ by the Skytrax World Airport Awards, while also being named the ‘Best Airport in the Middle East’ and ‘Best Airport with 25 to 35mn passengers’.The airport was also recognised with awards for ‘Best airport staff’ in the Middle East and ‘Covid-19 airport excellence’ during the year, Alpen Capital noted.
Qatar's maritime sector saw a 1% gain in transshipment volumes in November 2022, as about 116,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) and more than 142,000 tonnes of general cargo were handled at the Hamad, Doha and Ruwais ports, according to the official data.The number of ships calling on Qatar's three ports were 269 in November 2022, which was 6.92% and 15.67% lower year-on-year and month-on-month respectively, said Mwani Qatar in a tweet.As many as 2,764 ships has called on three ports during January-November of this year."The maritime sector of Qatar has undergone a significant transformation in recent years,” Mwani Qatar had said in a tweet.Hamad Port – whose strategic geographical location offers opportunities to create cargo movement towards the upper Gulf, supporting countries such as Kuwait and Iraq and south towards Oman – saw as many as 133 vessels call on the port in the review period.The November also saw the inauguration of port community system “Mwanina” – an electronic platform that allows smart and secure exchange of information between persons concerned and the entities associated with the Hamad Port, thus helping improve and develop the importation and exportation operations and making them more efficient and less costly.The general cargo handled through the three ports stood at 142,680 tonnes in November 2022, which showed a 17.09% and 11.49% decline on yearly and monthly respectively in the review period.Hamad Port – whose multi-use terminal is designed to serve the supply chains for the RORO (vehicles), grains and livestock – handled 81,125 freight tonnes of bulk and 55,450 freight tonnes of breakbulk in November this year.On a cumulative basis, the general cargo movement through the three ports totalled 1.46mn tonnes during January-November this year.The three ports handled 6,939 RORO in November 2022, which registered a 34.4% and 4.19% increase year-on-year and month-on-month respectively. Hamad Port alone handled 6,712units in November this year.The three ports together handled as many as 73,138 vehicles during January-November 2022.The container handling through three ports stood at 115,968 TEUs, which showed 7.17% and 10.44% decline year-on-year and month-on-month respectively in November 2022.Hamad Port, which is the largest eco-friendly project in the region and internationally recognised as one of the largest green ports in the world, saw 113,895 TEUs of containers handled this November.The container handling through the three ports stood at 1.31mn TEUs during January-November this year.The container terminals have been designed to address the increasing trade volume, enhancing ease of doing business as well as supporting the achievement of economic diversification, which is one of the most important goals of the Qatar National Vision 2030.The building materials traffic through the three ports stood at 61,203 tonnes in November this year, which shot up 50.36% and 7.2% year-on-year and month-on-month respectively.A total of 470,854 tonnes of building materials had been handled by these ports during January-November 2022.The three ports had handled 17,381 livestock in November 2022, which showed 27.84% and 21.15% decrease on yearly and monthly basis respectively. The ports had handled a total of 166,741 heads during January-November this year.The Doha Port Redevelopment project, carried out to the port’s basin and quay, has contributed to boosting its capacity for receiving the world’s largest cruise ships as it received supersize floating hotels during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, which is currently underway."Qatar’s maritime sector is expected to witness another year of strong growth in light of the efforts taken by the authorities concerned to boost goods traffic at the ports, with expectations of supply chains improving during the next few periods," Mwani Qatar had said in its latest annual report.
Saudi Arabia’s central bank has stepped up the use of a mechanism to pump money into the financial system as it looks to tackle a liquidity crunch that has helped push borrowing costs for lenders to the highest in decades, according to people familiar with the matter.The latest intervention is relying on open market operations, the people said, transactions that allow the central bank to provide or drain short-term liquidity in exchange for securities from lenders.Unusually for a period of high oil prices, Saudi banks are facing a shortage of liquidity. A rapid rise in lending that’s not been matched by deposit growth has left banks clamouring for funding. Meanwhile, an expected influx of government deposits from soaring crude receipts has not materialised and a previous central bank liquidity injection provided only temporary relief.The monetary authority has stepped up its use of open market operations over the past few weeks to tackle the issue, the people said, asking not be named because the information is private. The effort by SAMA, as the central bank is known, helped stabilize the interest rate banks charge one another for loans, though it remains near a record high.SAMA didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.Policymakers are trying a new tack months after bank liquidity came under unprecedented pressure as an expansion of credit outpaced deposit growth and Saudi Arabia largely matched four successive 75 basis-point rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve to maintain its currency peg against the dollar.Around June, the Saudi central bank placed about 50b riyals ($13bn) as deposits with commercial lenders, Bloomberg reported at the time. The injection of funds at a discount to the three-month Saudi Interbank Offered Rate, or Saibor, eased liquidity conditions through the summer before they started to tighten again.The funding stress intensified last month, with the three-month Saibor peaking at a record of just under 6% in late October. It’s since dropped by nearly half a point even as Saudi Arabia followed the Fed again in November and raised its policy rates by 75 basis points.“Higher policy rates are partly to blame for the higher Saibor rates but a domestic liquidity squeeze is adding to the pressures,” said Farouk Soussa, an economist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. “Banks are competing strongly for market share through aggressive loan-book expansion which is happening at a rate that far exceeds deposit growth.”Saudi authorities are trying to assert control over the cost of money for banks because the liquidity crunch threatens to undermine the ability to fund the kingdom’s construction pipeline estimated at over $400bn over the next five years, part of an economic makeover to diversify away from oil.Fitch Ratings warned this month that lending growth risks decelerating next year if the central bank doesn’t step in with further liquidity support. Higher interbank rates can also ricochet across the economy by boosting the cost of borrowing for consumers and businesses.Pressure in the kingdom’s banking system has been building by a degree unmatched except during periods when oil prices were crashing or global crises like the credit crunch of 2008-2009. This year, by contrast, Saudi Arabia is on track to run its first budget surplus in about a decade after seeing revenues soar on the back of a rally in oil prices above $100 and higher production.Earlier this year, the government said it would hold billions of dollars worth of windfall revenue in a current account until the end of the year and only then decide how to distribute it.Saudi banks have tried to cope by raising capital in the market and tapping more interest-bearing deposits. Lenders including Al Rajhi Bank and Riyad Bank issued about $7bn in debt this year, an amount comparable to their counterparts in the United Arab Emirates but at a higher spread.The question is if the latest intervention will leave a more lasting mark on the local interbank market as the Fed delivers further rate hikes, with a plan to raise its benchmark by 50 basis points at its final meeting of the year on December 13-14.“The rising Saibor premium appears to be driven by strong demand so an injection of liquidity by SAMA will help,” said Tarek Fadlallah, head of Nomura Asset Management’s Middle East business. “But banks may need to additionally lure substantial private-sector deposits in order to maintain the current pace of lending.”
Chair Jerome Powell cemented expectations that the Federal Reserve will step down from its aggressive pace of tightening in December and presented a case for achieving lower inflation without tipping the economy into a deep recession.Just how high rates will go and how long policymakers will hold them there depends on how the economic data rolls in as officials fight the highest inflation in 40 years.But Powell, in a speech and question-and-answer session on Wednesday, offered guarded optimism that price pressures will slow, sending US stocks sharply higher as investors cheered the lack of a sharper-edged message from the Fed chief.His remarks, as officials prepare to enter their blackout period ahead of the Fed’s December 13-14 meeting, hardened bets they will downshift to a 50 basis-point rate increase after delivering four straight 75 basis-point moves.“Powell tried to walk a fine line between signalling a possible turning point and not sounding too encouraging for risk appetite,” said Derek Tang, an economist at LH Meyer in Washington. “His main goal was to pin down a message of no easing in 2023, a signal that got across. The market was encouraged because a longer-hold strategy means not hiking too much more,” Tang added.The Fed’s actions – the most aggressive since the 1980s – have lifted the target range of their benchmark rate to 3.75% to 4% from nearly zero in March. Powell said rates are likely to reach a “somewhat higher” level than officials estimated in September, when the median projection was for 4.6% next year. Those projections will be updated at the December meeting.“The time for moderating the pace of rate increases may come as soon as the December meeting,” Powell said at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “The timing of that moderation is far less significant than the questions of how much further we will need to raise rates to control inflation, and the length of time it will be necessary to hold policy at a restrictive level.”He noted that goods prices had decelerated and shelter inflation was also decreasing by some measures. On the other hand, service costs remain a challenge, particularly the cost of scarce labour to deliver them.“It will take substantially more evidence to give comfort that inflation is actually declining,” he said. “The truth is that the path ahead for inflation remains highly uncertain.”The data has shown “tentative signs” of moderating labour demand he said. But more cooling is needed, and his remarks imply that the Fed will continue to raise rates until the three conditions – further deceleration of goods prices, lower shelter inflation, and softening labour demand – fall clearly into place.When asked if the Fed could reduce inflation without tipping the economy into a steep downturn, Powell said he was optimistic that it could do so.
A rally in US stocks and bonds powered ahead after a speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Wednesday, but some investors believe a looming recession could cap gains in both asset classes.Though asset prices have been battered by the Fed’s rate rises this year, momentum has been on the side of the bulls in recent weeks.The S&P 500 has soared nearly 14% from its October low while yields on the 10-year benchmark Treasury, which move inversely to prices, are down at around 3.6%, from a 15-year high of 4.3% earlier this year.The immediate reaction to Powell’s speech on Wednesday showcased investors’ recently optimistic mood.The S&P 500 soared more than 3% after Powell said the Fed could scale back the pace of its rate increases as soon as December, although he warned there was little clarity on how high rates will ultimately need to rise as the central bank fights the worst outbreak of inflation in decades.Still, some market participants believe the weeks-long upswing in stocks and bonds is bound to fizzle, a fate that has met a handful of other rebounds this year.The S&P 500 is down 14.4% year-to-date.Upcoming employment and inflation reports — due on December 2 and December 13, respectively — could become near-term stumbling blocks if they fail to show that the rate rises the central bank has already delivered this year have sufficiently cooled the economy.US consumer prices rose less than expected in October, supporting the view that inflation was ebbing.Further ahead, some of Wall Street’s biggest banks are now forecasting that the Fed’s monetary policy tightening will bring on a recession next year.The inversion of the US Treasury yield curve — a signal that has preceded past downturns — has lent weight to recession predictions.Yields on two-year Treasuries recently exceeded those on 10-year Treasuries by their biggest margin since the dot com bubble.“Our view is that this is not an enduring rally,” said Jake Jolly, senior investment strategist at BNY Mellon. “The odds are there’s going to be a recession next year, and that’s going to pressure risk assets like equities.”Citi’s analysts wrote that the rise in risk asset prices on Wednesday was due to “hawkish expectations that had built up ahead of Powell’s remarks, the assurance of a slowdown to a 50bp rate hike pace, and the absence of a clear escalation of the hawkish message delivered at the early November FOMC meeting.”Their takeaway: Powell is shifting his focus to non-shelter service inflation, which will be more difficult to slow, “given still very-tight labour markets.” On Wednesday, Powell noted that key price measures for services remain high.Data released earlier in the day showed there were still about 1.7 job openings for each unemployed person.“Powell seemed to come today and express that they are confident that the brakes are working,” said Jake Schumeier, a portfolio manager at Harbor Capital Advisors, referring to the Fed’s spate of jumbo 75 basis point increases aimed at slowing the economy.Over the longer term, however, “the market seems positioned for a slowdown, so that will limit the upside once we get past seasonal trends at the end of the year,” he said.Among the banks predicting a downturn is Bank of America, whose analysts see a broadly flat S&P 500 as markets deal with “recession shock.”BlackRock Investment Institute said on Wednesday that while a recession is likely, “equity valuations don’t yet reflect the damage ahead.” They are also underweight long-dated government bonds, betting that central banks are unlikely to stop cutting rates in a downturn if inflation stays high.To what degree economic worries impact the market’s near-term bullish sentiment remains to be seen.The S&P 500 on Wednesday traded above its 200-day moving average for the first time since April, a move that some chart-watching investors view as a sign of short-term equity strength.In options markets, traders appear more preoccupied with not missing out on more gains in stocks than guarding against future declines.The one-month moving average of daily trading in bearish put contracts against bullish calls on the S&P 500 index-tracking SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust’s options is at its lowest since January 2022, according to Trade Alert data.
Elon Musk’s Neuralink Corp aims to start putting its coin-sized computing brain implant into human patients within six months, the company announced at an event at its Fremont, California headquarters on Wednesday evening.Neuralink has been refining the product, which consists of a tiny device and electrode-laced wires, along with a robot that carves out a piece of a person’s skull and implants it into the brain. Ongoing discussions with the US Food and Drug Administration have gone well enough for the company to set a target of its first human trials within the next six months, according to Musk.In typical fashion for an Elon Musk venture, Neuralink is already bounding ahead, aiming implants at other parts of the body. During the event, Musk revealed work on two major products in addition to the brain-computer interface. It’s developing implants that can go into the spinal cord and potentially restore movement in someone suffering from paralysis. And it has an ocular implant meant to improve or restore human vision.“As miraculous as that may sound, we are confident that it is possible to restore full-body functionality to someone who has a severed spinal cord,” Musk said at the event. Turning to Neuralink’s vision work, he added that “even if they have never seen before, we are confident they could see.”The goal of the brain-computer interface, known as a BCI, is initially to allow a person with a debilitating condition — such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or suffering the aftereffects of a stroke — to communicate via their thoughts. The company demonstrated that with a monkey “telepathically typing” on a screen in front of it. The Neuralink device translates neuronal spikes into data that can be interpreted by a computer. Musk’s hope is that the device could one day become mainstream and allow for the transfer of information between humans and machines. He has long argued that humans can only keep up with the advances being made by artificial intelligence with the help of computer-like augmentations.“You are so used to being a de-facto cyborg,” Musk said. “But if you’re interacting with your phone, you’re limited.”As has been the case with past Neuralink events, some of the things demonstrated by Musk and his team have already been accomplished in academic settings. The company’s critics have long accused Musk of overhyping Neuralink’s advances and over-promising what the technology will be able to do in the near future, if ever. Brain-machine interface technology has been researched and advanced by academia for decades. Musk’s entry into the arena, however, has spurred a wave of investment from venture capitalists into startups and helped push the field forward at a much more rapid clip.A couple of similar startups are ahead of Neuralink when it comes to human trials. Synchron Inc, for example, has been able to implant a small stent-like device into the brains of patients in Australia and the US. The product has made it possible for patients who were unable to move or speak to communicate wirelessly via computers and their thoughts. Onward Inc has also done breakthrough work restoring some movement in people with spinal cord injuries.The type of brain surgery proposed by Neuralink is far more invasive than that of Synchron or most other competitors in the industry. A patient must have a chunk of their skull removed and allow wires to be implanted into their brain tissue. Neuralink has been doing tests for years on primates to prove that the surgery is safe and that the implant can remain inside the brain for long periods of time without causing harm.Animals rights groups have been critical of the primates’ past treatment when Neuralink relied on a partner laboratory for some of its experiments. Neuralink brought its animal husbandry programme in-house years ago and has endeavoured to make it an example for others to follow.Neuralink’s advantage over its rivals is one of processing power. Musk’s bet is that the more invasive surgery coupled with greater computing capabilities will help Neuralink’s hardware achieve better results and restore more functions in humans than competing products.Musk’s company has already missed some of the billionaire’s ambitious timelines for placing the BCI implant in people. In meetings with his team over the past several months, Musk, being Musk, urged his engineers in blunt terms to work faster and harder. “We will all be dead before something useful happens,” Musk told his team during a recent product review meeting. “We need to step it up. We need to ship useful products.” During the same meeting, Musk expressed fear that advances in AI would outpace the work being done at Neuralink, rendering the company’s efforts worthless.Some of Neuralink’s main concerns with the BCI implant have been making sure that the robot can perform surgeries quickly and with minimal harm to the body. Musk foresees a day when people get brain implants as a quick outpatient procedure.The paralysis and ocular work only started relatively recently, and Musk has been pressing his teams to advance the state-of-the-art in the technology at a record pace.
The US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC) has ensured its support to realise the goals of the Qatar National Vision 2030, its president Scott Taylor told Gulf Times in the wake of the recently held 5th Qatar-US Strategic Dialogue.“USQBC will play a pivotal role in helping Qatar achieve its vision because we’re always on the ground both in Doha and in Washington, DC, listening and proactively engaging our members and new members to create commerce,” Taylor emphasised.Taylor explained that USQBC is engaging with different public and private sector agencies and entities, such as the US Chamber of Commerce, and working as a “very specific and bespoke organisation.”“We understand what the opportunities are by listening and specifically meeting with ministers and heads of agencies to understand what their goals are. We then get back to our members to help them thrive and understand what the government is looking for, as well as reach out to new businesses and see how they can participate, as well,” he said.Taylor also noted that USQBC is also fully supporting the initiative of the Embassy of the United States in Qatar in providing American small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) access to the Qatari market.“Ambassador Timmy T Davis is very supportive of the Qatar National Vision 2030. He specifically speaks about supporting SMEs and having them come here and do commerce with Qatari businesses, as well as forge people-to-people relationships.“Obviously, that’s where the USQBC could come in and play a significant role in connections, in corporate diplomacy, and in making sure businesses from Qatar and the US have the ability to operate in both countries, as well as supporting the US and Qatari embassies and the businesses on the ground,” Taylor said.On USQBC’s participation in the strategic dialogue, Taylor said, “The US and Qatar are celebrating 50th year of diplomatic relations, and the relationship between these two countries will be a very pivotal one in the next century.“The underpinning of our relationship is defence and national security, but it is also commerce, as well. And this is where corporate diplomats like the USQBC come in. The US is going to be very supportive of the Qatar National Vision 2030 and commerce, through our support, will help fulfil those goals.”Taylor said USQBC is looking forward to participating in strategic dialogue-related workshops next year.“We still don’t have the specifics of that workshop but USQBC will be partnering with the US embassy and entities and ministries here. I’m not sure what the framework exactly looks like but it’s something that we want to be intimately involved with,” he stressed, adding that sectors of interest would include sustainability, climate change, defence and national security, energy and energy security, healthcare, education, and tech.He said, “We have a broad base of members, which we can also increase and bring to the table, and we’re constantly speaking to businesses in both the US and Qatar, including the ministries and understanding their vision alongside the Qatar National Vision 2030. When you look at these sectors, they’re so broad but we’re going to be bringing a lot of tools to the table to help them achieve Qatar National Vision 2030.”Taylor also said USQBC was able to expand its membership base during his trip to Qatar in September this year.“The goal of that trip was to listen to the ministries and people working on the ground and understand their goals inside the Qatar National Vision 2030, as well as the opportunities for USQBC and how we can extend support.“The other part of the trip was to speak to potential members here who could join our council and not only add value to our membership but allow us to add value to them. This trip helped provide our new members quality leads to doing business,” Taylor added.
QNB Group presented match tickets to a number of Brazil fans to attend matches of the Brazilian team during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 hosted for the first time in the Arab world and the Middle East.QNB is the ‘Official Middle East and Africa Supporter’ of the World Cup.This special gesture from the bank provided a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” for Brazilian fans to support their national team on the field and enjoy the charming football performances of the Samba Stars, while the excitement over the tournament matches grows.This initiative comes within the framework of QNB Group's continued celebration of the World Cup through a range of entertainment programmes full of various events and activities in all the World Cup stadiums, adding a distinctive festive atmosphere that increased the enthusiasm of football fans who flocked in large numbers to the QNB pavilion in the fans' area.QNB also celebrated the arrival of the four Argentine fans Matias Villarroel, Silvio Gatti, Leandro Blanco and Lucas Ledezma, who arrived in Qatar by bicycles, on a journey that started from South Africa to support their national team during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, after cycling for over 177 days.“In recognition of their adventurous spirit and their role in inspiring millions of fans around the world, QNB offered them tickets to attend matches of the Argentine national team and a number of QNB and FIFA 2022-inspired gifts and keepsakes.Both teams’ fans will also get a unique chance to attend the last 10 minutes of the game from the pitch,” QNB said.Heba Ali al-Tamimi, QNB general manager (Group Communications) said, “QNB offers fans from all over the world an exceptional opportunity and we are proud to be here to inspire and motivate them to achieve their dreams during this wonderful tournament.“With the increasing enthusiasm and excitement during this stage of the tournament, we promise fans with more amazing surprises for unforgettable times of passion and pleasure.”
Reflecting the mood in the global markets and higher oil prices, ahead of the US Federal Reserve chief’s speech; the Qatar Stock Exchange Wednesday witnessed 126 points gain in the key index and QR8bn in capitalisation.Continuing the strong bullish phase for the second straight session, the 20-stock Qatar Index shot up 1.07% to 11,925.98 points, recovering from an intraday low of 11,756 points.The telecom, banking and real estate counters witnessed higher than average demand in the main market, whose year-to-date gains improved to 2.58%.The foreign institutions were increasingly net buyers in the main bourse, whose capitalisation saw QR8.11bn or 1.23% jump to QR669.5bn, mainly on mid and large cap segments.About 57% of the traded constituents extended gains in the main bourse, which saw a total of 0.13mn exchange traded funds (sponsored by Masraf Al Rayan and Doha Bank) valued at QR0.35mn changed hands across 11 deals.The Islamic index was seen outperforming other indices in the main market, which saw no trading of sovereign bonds.Trade turnover and volumes were on the increase in the main market, which saw no trading of treasury bills.The Total Return Index gained 1.07%, the All Share Index by 1.07% and the Al Rayan Islamic Index (Price) by 1.13%.The telecom sector index zoomed 2.37%, banks and financial services (1.58%), realty (1.45%), industrials (0.69%) and transport (0.21%); while insurance declined 1.96% and consumer goods and services (0.53%).Major gainers in the main market included Qatari German Medical Devices, Mannai Corporation, Qatar Islamic Bank, Qatari Investors Group, Barwa, QNB, Baladna, Widam Food, Industries Qatar, Mesaieed Petrochemical Holding, Ooredoo, Vodafone Qatar and Nakilat.Nevertheless, Qatar Insurance, Medicare Group, Qatar Industrial Manufacturing, Woqod, Gulf Warehousing, Qatar Electricity and Water and Milaha were among the losers in the main market. In the venture market, both Al Faleh Educational Holding and Mekdam Holding saw their shares depreciate in value.The foreign institutions’ net buying increased substantially to QR160.61mn compared to QR41.56mn on November 29.The Arab institutions turned net buyers to the tune of QR0.22mn against net profit takers of QR0.01mn on Tuesday.The Gulf individuals’ net selling declined perceptibly to QR0.44mn compared to QR2.02mn the previous day.The foreign individuals’ net selling shrank noticeably to QR0.04mn against QR2.33mn on November 29.However, the domestic funds’ net selling shot up significantly to QR109.75mn compared to QR34.02mn on Tuesday.The local retail investors’ net selling zoomed considerably to QR36.64mn against QR2.41mn the previous day.The Gulf institutions’ net profit booking expanded drastically to QR8.1mn compared to QR1.26mn on November 29.The Arab retail investors were net sellers to the tune of QR5.88mn against net buyers of QR0.48mn on Tuesday.Total trade volume in the main market more than doubled to 238.16mn shares and value more than tripled to QR1.49bn on 20% surge in deals to 20,130.Trade volumes were seen doubling to 0.08mn equities and value soared 74% to QR0.59mn on 69% jump in transactions to 54.
Airbus has revealed that it is developing a hydrogen-powered fuel cell engine. The propulsion system is being considered as one of the potential solutions to equip its zero-emission aircraft that will enter service by 2035.Airbus will start ground and flight testing this fuel cell engine architecture onboard its ZEROe demonstrator aircraft towards the middle of the decade. The A380 MSN1 flight test aircraft for new hydrogen technologies is currently being modified to carry liquid hydrogen tanks and their associated distribution systems.“Fuel cells are a potential solution to help us achieve our zero-emission ambition and we are focused on developing and testing this technology to understand if it is feasible and viable for a 2035 entry-into-service of a zero-emission aircraft,” said Glenn Llewellyn, VP, Zero-Emission Aircraft, Airbus. “At scale, and if the technology targets were achieved, fuel cell engines may be able to power a one hundred passenger aircraft with a range of approximately 1,000 nautical miles. By continuing to invest in this technology, we are giving ourselves additional options that will inform our decisions on the architecture of our future ZEROe aircraft, the development of which we intend to launch in the 2027-2028 timeframe.”Airbus identified hydrogen as one of the most promising alternatives to power a zero-emission aircraft, because it emits no carbon dioxide when generated from renewable energy, with water being its most significant by-products.There are two ways hydrogen can be used as a power source for aircraft propulsion. First, via hydrogen combustion in a gas turbine, second by using fuel cells to convert hydrogen into electricity in order to power a propeller engine. A hydrogen gas turbine can also be coupled with fuel cells instead of batteries in a hybrid-electric architecture.Hydrogen fuel cells, especially when stacked together, increase their power output allowing scalability. In addition, an engine powered by hydrogen fuel cells produces zero NOx emissions or contrails thereby offering additional decarbonisation benefits.Airbus has been exploring the possibilities of fuel cell propulsion systems for aviation for some time. In October 2020, Airbus created Aerostack, a joint venture with ElringKlinger, a company with over 20 years of experience as both a fuel cell systems and component supplier. In December 2020, Airbus presented its pod-concept which included six removable fuel cell propeller propulsion systems.Long touted as a sustainable fuel, hydrogen is now gaining serious traction as a possibility for aviation, and already tests are underway to prove its effectiveness.Commercial airline jets using hydrogen would emit only water, and initial tests suggest they can be just as fast as traditional planes, carrying more than a hundred passengers per flight over thousands of kilometres. A recent report on the potential of hydrogen-powered aviation said such planes could enter the market as soon as 2035.In today’s aircraft, wings are where the fuel is stored, and they are in no way large enough to store the hydrogen that would be needed for a long flight. Hydrogen planes of the future could have extra-large fuselages, but more likely they will be what’s called blended wing, in which the planes are shaped like large triangles. This would not only allow them to store more fuel, but also reduce fuel consumption to make the aircraft aerodynamics even better.Planes using hydrogen would emit only water, and initial tests suggest they can be just as fast as traditional planes, carrying more than a hundred passengers per flight over thousands of kilometres.Most of the world’s hydrogen today is produced by reforming methane from natural gas – a fossil fuel – which produces carbon dioxide. Efforts are underway to develop green hydrogen by using an electric current from a renewable source to convert water into oxygen and hydrogen and reduce emissions in its production. If that is possible, along with no emissions from the planes themselves, aviation could become a green form of travel.There are significant challenges that remain.If Europe were to fully achieve the environmental benefits of hydrogen-power – for example, for air travel, the production of clean – or green – hydrogen needs to be dramatically scaled up. Clean hydrogen is produced from water using an electric current from a renewable source, rather than from fossil fuels. Today only a tiny fraction of hydrogen used in Europe is categorically “clean.”Hydrogen is a high-potential technology with a specific energy-per-unit mass that is three times higher than traditional jet fuel. Airbus notes that, if generated from renewable energy through electrolysis, given the fact it emits no CO2 emissions, it will enable renewable energy to potentially power large aircraft over long distances but without the undesirable by-product of CO2 emissions.The reality is this: For now, we are still years away from commercial hydrogen aircraft becoming a reality, though. The refuelling infrastructure doesn’t exist yet and hydrogen is more expensive and difficult to store onboard than kerosene-based fuel. But the journey to a greener, cleaner era of flying is well underway.The author is an aviation analyst. Twitter handle: @AlexInAir