An Egyptian fruit vendor waits for customers in Cairo. Muhammed Muheisen / AP Photo
An Egyptian fruit vendor waits for customers in Cairo. Muhammed Muheisen / AP Photo

Demand grows for IMF help in Middle East



The IMF is holding talks with Yemen about fresh financial aid, while US$4.8 billion (Dh17.63bn) loan discussions with Egypt are continuing as demand for the fund's assistance in the Middle East grows.
It comes as many economies rebound from last year's Arab Spring at a slower pace than previously forecast.
"A year ago the IMF and many people were underestimating how long it would take to get the stabilisation move towards a recovery phase," said Masood Ahmed, the director of the IMF's Middle East and Central Asia department.
"Two per cent GDP growth is not even keeping up with population growth in many countries and is certainly well below what is needed to address unemployment."
Growth among Arab nations in transition was forecast to rise from 2 per cent this year to 3.6 per cent next year, said the IMF. But "downside risks" remained, added Mr Ahmed.
Talks with Yemen over a possible loan had just started, he said. The IMF already agreed an interest-free $93.75 million loan to the country in April and extended $369.8m in funds in 2010 to help fill the budget deficit, ease poverty and support growth.
But it is Egypt where investors are most anxiously awaiting a funding agreement. A technical team from Washington arrived in Cairo last month to discuss a $4.8bn loan that Egypt requested to shore up finances dented by last year's popular uprising.
"Depending on when the discussions reach a conclusion we will be ready," said Mr Ahmed, as the IMF launched its latest regional economic outlook in Dubai.
Egypt's urgency for funds has risen as the government's reserves have dwindled from $35bn two years ago to $15bn now.
The IMF has asked Egypt to draw up a plan to narrow its budget deficit, which has swollen to 11 per cent of GDP. It has also told the government it wants the proposals to have broad political support.
But the government is facing public opposition to the deal. A rally has been planned for today by protesters opposing planned austerity measures linked to the deal and a perceived lack of transparency surrounding the process.
In response, the IMF is holding talks with civic leaders and business people to listen to their opinions, said Mr Ahmed.
"What we are not doing is trying to explain what the Egyptian authorities are doing, that's for them to do," he said. "What we are doing is explaining what the role of the IMF is, answering questions about the IMF, about our conditions, processes and how things work."
The IMF expects Egypt's growth to rise to 2 per cent this year, only marginally higher than last year's growth of 1.8 per cent.
Elsewhere in the region, the IMF is extending support to other economies reeling from regional instability and a slowing global economy. Mr Ahmed said the IMF had already provided $450m out of a $2bn loan it agreed for Jordan in August.
Higher global food prices, a weak outlook for trade this year and only a moderate rebound in tourist arrivals were also clouding prospects for oil importers, he said.
"The biggest challenge facing governments in the Arab countries in transition is how to manage the rising expectations of populations that are becoming increasingly impatient to see a transition dividend at a time when there are threats to near-term macroeconomic stability and the margin for policy manoeuvre is limited," he said.
tarnold@thenational.ae

The specs: 2019 Subaru Forester

Price, base: Dh105,900 (Premium); Dh115,900 (Sport)

Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder

Transmission: Continuously variable transmission

Power: 182hp @ 5,800rpm

Torque: 239Nm @ 4,400rpm

Fuel economy, combined: 8.1L / 100km (estimated)

MEDIEVIL (1998)

Developer: SCE Studio Cambridge
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation, PlayStation 4 and 5
Rating: 3.5/5

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

Mobile phone packages comparison
Company profile

Name: Maly Tech
Started: 2023
Founder: Mo Ibrahim
Based: Dubai International Financial Centre
Sector: FinTech
Funds raised: $1.6 million
Current number of staff: 15
Investment stage: Pre-seed, planning first seed round
Investors: GCC-based angel investors

Financial considerations before buying a property

Buyers should try to pay as much in cash as possible for a property, limiting the mortgage value to as little as they can afford. This means they not only pay less in interest but their monthly costs are also reduced. Ideally, the monthly mortgage payment should not exceed 20 per cent of the purchaser’s total household income, says Carol Glynn, founder of Conscious Finance Coaching.

“If it’s a rental property, plan for the property to have periods when it does not have a tenant. Ensure you have enough cash set aside to pay the mortgage and other costs during these periods, ideally at least six months,” she says. 

Also, shop around for the best mortgage interest rate. Understand the terms and conditions, especially what happens after any introductory periods, Ms Glynn adds.

Using a good mortgage broker is worth the investment to obtain the best rate available for a buyer’s needs and circumstances. A good mortgage broker will help the buyer understand the terms and conditions of the mortgage and make the purchasing process efficient and easier. 

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

Previous men's records
  • 2:01:39: Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) on 16/9/19 in Berlin
  • 2:02:57: Dennis Kimetto (KEN) on 28/09/2014 in Berlin
  • 2:03:23: Wilson Kipsang (KEN) on 29/09/2013 in Berlin
  • 2:03:38: Patrick Makau (KEN) on 25/09/2011 in Berlin
  • 2:03:59: Haile Gebreselassie (ETH) on 28/09/2008 in Berlin
  • 2:04:26: Haile Gebreselassie (ETH) on 30/09/2007 in Berlin
  • 2:04:55: Paul Tergat (KEN) on 28/09/2003 in Berlin
  • 2:05:38: Khalid Khannouchi (USA) 14/04/2002 in London
  • 2:05:42: Khalid Khannouchi (USA) 24/10/1999 in Chicago
  • 2:06:05: Ronaldo da Costa (BRA) 20/09/1998 in Berlin
The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl, 48V hybrid

Transmission: eight-speed automatic

Power: 325bhp

Torque: 450Nm

Price: Dh359,000

On sale: now

Super Saturday results

4pm: Mahab Al Shimaal Group 3 | US$350,000 | (Dirt) | 1,200m
Winner: Drafted, Pat Dobbs (jockey), Doug Watson (trainer).

4.35pm: Al Bastakiya Listed | $300,000 | (D) | 1,900m
Winner: Divine Image, Brett Doyle, Charlie Appleby.

5.10pm: Nad Al Sheba Turf Group 3 | $350,000 | (Turf) | 1,200m
Winner: Blue Point, William Buick, Charlie Appleby.

5.45pm: Burj Nahaar Group 3 | $350,000 | (D) | 1,600m
Winner: Muntazah, Jim Crowley, Doug Watson.

6.20pm: Dubai City of Gold Group 2 | $300,000 | (T) | 2,410m
Winner: Old Persian, William Buick, Charlie Appleby.

6.55pm: Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 Group 1 | $600,000 | (D) | 2,000m
Winner: Capezzano, Mickael Barzalona, Salem bin Ghadayer.

7.30pm: Jebel Hatta Group 1 | $400,000 | (T) | 1,800m
Winner: Dream Castle, Christophe Soumillon, Saeed bin Suroor.

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

Key developments

All times UTC+4

ABU DHABI'S KEY TOURISM GOALS: BY THE NUMBERS

By 2030, Abu Dhabi aims to achieve:

• 39.3 million visitors, nearly 64% up from 2023

• Dh90 billion contribution to GDP, about 84% more than Dh49 billion in 2023

• 178,000 new jobs, bringing the total to about 366,000

• 52,000 hotel rooms, up 53% from 34,000 in 2023

• 7.2 million international visitors, almost 90% higher compared to 2023's 3.8 million

• 3.9 international overnight hotel stays, 22% more from 3.2 nights in 2023

Cry Macho

Director: Clint Eastwood

Stars: Clint Eastwood, Dwight Yoakam

Rating:**

Pox that threatens the Middle East's native species

Camelpox

Caused by a virus related to the one that causes human smallpox, camelpox typically causes fever, swelling of lymph nodes and skin lesions in camels aged over three, but the animal usually recovers after a month or so. Younger animals may develop a more acute form that causes internal lesions and diarrhoea, and is often fatal, especially when secondary infections result. It is found across the Middle East as well as in parts of Asia, Africa, Russia and India.

Falconpox

Falconpox can cause a variety of types of lesions, which can affect, for example, the eyelids, feet and the areas above and below the beak. It is a problem among captive falcons and is one of many types of avian pox or avipox diseases that together affect dozens of bird species across the world. Among the other forms are pigeonpox, turkeypox, starlingpox and canarypox. Avipox viruses are spread by mosquitoes and direct bird-to-bird contact.

Houbarapox

Houbarapox is, like falconpox, one of the many forms of avipox diseases. It exists in various forms, with a type that causes skin lesions being least likely to result in death. Other forms cause more severe lesions, including internal lesions, and are more likely to kill the bird, often because secondary infections develop. This summer the CVRL reported an outbreak of pox in houbaras after rains in spring led to an increase in mosquito numbers.

Top investing tips for UAE residents in 2021

Build an emergency fund: Make sure you have enough cash to cover six months of expenses as a buffer against unexpected problems before you begin investing, advises Steve Cronin, the founder of DeadSimpleSaving.com.

Think long-term: When you invest, you need to have a long-term mindset, so don’t worry about momentary ups and downs in the stock market.

Invest worldwide: Diversify your investments globally, ideally by way of a global stock index fund.

Is your money tied up: Avoid anything where you cannot get your money back in full within a month at any time without any penalty.

Skip past the promises: “If an investment product is offering more than 10 per cent return per year, it is either extremely risky or a scam,” Mr Cronin says.

Choose plans with low fees: Make sure that any funds you buy do not charge more than 1 per cent in fees, Mr Cronin says. “If you invest by yourself, you can easily stay below this figure.” Managed funds and commissionable investments often come with higher fees.

Be sceptical about recommendations: If someone suggests an investment to you, ask if they stand to gain, advises Mr Cronin. “If they are receiving commission, they are unlikely to recommend an investment that’s best for you.”

Get financially independent: Mr Cronin advises UAE residents to pursue financial independence. Start with a Google search and improve your knowledge via expat investing websites or Facebook groups such as SimplyFI. 

SPEC SHEET: NOTHING PHONE (2)

Display: 6.7” LPTO Amoled, 2412 x 1080, 394ppi, HDR10+, Corning Gorilla Glass

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 2, octa-core; Adreno 730 GPU

Memory: 8/12GB

Capacity: 128/256/512GB

Platform: Android 13, Nothing OS 2

Main camera: Dual 50MP wide, f/1.9 + 50MP ultrawide, f/2.2; OIS, auto-focus

Main camera video: 4K @ 30/60fps, 1080p @ 30/60fps; live HDR, OIS

Front camera: 32MP wide, f/2.5, HDR

Front camera video: Full-HD @ 30fps

Battery: 4700mAh; full charge in 55m w/ 45w charger; Qi wireless, dual charging

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC (Google Pay)

Biometrics: Fingerprint, face unlock

I/O: USB-C

Durability: IP54, limited protection

Cards: Dual-nano SIM

Colours: Dark grey, white

In the box: Nothing Phone (2), USB-C-to-USB-C cable

Price (UAE): Dh2,499 (12GB/256GB) / Dh2,799 (12GB/512GB)

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

The specs

Engine: 3.8-litre twin-turbo flat-six

Power: 650hp at 6,750rpm

Torque: 800Nm from 2,500-4,000rpm

Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch auto

Fuel consumption: 11.12L/100km

Price: From Dh796,600

On sale: now

Top 10 most competitive economies

1. Singapore
2. Switzerland
3. Denmark
4. Ireland
5. Hong Kong
6. Sweden
7. UAE
8. Taiwan
9. Netherlands
10. Norway