Breakfast Wrap: Arab Spring Funding, IMF Speaks Out, Bikinis Allowed

More than a year and a half after the beginning of uprisings across the Mena region, which toppled dictators and liberated societies, Europe’s development bank has made its first investments in Morocco, Jordan and Tunisia and said it was preparing to invest up to 200 million euros (160.9 million pounds) by the end of the year in the region.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) also soon hopes to get approval from shareholders for investments in Egypt.  It’s not clear who these “shareholders” are.

What is clear is that Egypt’s mountain of paperwork and bureaucracy puts it apart from other nations, who have had their funding signed off.  

Al Arabiya’s Carina Kamel spoke with EBRD’s Managing Director for the Middle East, Hildegard Gacek, who said funded projects for Egypt are expected to be approved in October.

“Egypt is in the process of finalizing its own internal documentation and the process is going very rapidly,” Gacek said, insisting that she’d come to Egypt the next day if she could.

It is a quiet reminder, that despite all the investments and aid that have been pledged to Egypt, the nation has deemed to be the most difficult to work with and the most politically complex.  

Another big international bank has been blowing its trumpet too.  The International Monetary Fund believes Syria’s civil war has so far had only a moderate impact on the economy of neighbouring Lebanon, and is more concerned about weak policy-making by the Lebanese government.

Rebel Economy thinks this is all very interesting, but would like to know what the IMF thinks of Syria’s economy?

The conclusions of a IMF fact-finding mission to Israel and Palestine also makes for alarming reading.   The Palestinian economy is heading for a further slowdown in growth and a spike in unemployment just as it faces a “high risk” of continuing social unrest, the IMF said in a report.

Nice quote from Oussama Kanaan, IMF mission chief for the West Bank and Gaza, who says the Palestinian Authority’s problems stem largely from the continuing curbs on Palestinian trade imposed by Israel and by the sharp fall in donor money, especially from the Arab world.

We can all relax now. Beach resorts to stay in Islamist-led Egypt, says tourism minister.

There has been a lot of controversy (in fact among the most highly publicised controversy) on whether Morsi and his government will ban bikinis and alcohol.  We’ve had many reassurances to the contrary but it seems journalists and readers are still interested in the same question.

So there you have it.  It’s not happening (at least for now…).

Javier Blas, the Financial Times’ Commodities King writes a report from Dubai saying another Kingdom, Saudi Arabia has offered has offered its main customers in the US, Europe and Asia extra oil supplies through the end of the year, in an effort to control rising oil prices.

The price of Brent, the global oil benchmark, has risen 33% from mid-June to a peak of $117.95 a barrel on Friday.

It is an interesting global power play where a few “great nations” make big decisions that impact normal people every day.

Recommended reading for Egyptophiles: An interesting, albeit vague piece from PIMCO’s Mohammed El Erian in the Cairo Review on how Egypt’s government should be more politically open, and an economic plan set out clearly.

“Political leaderships have an obligation to set out a concrete and realistic economic vision for the next three to five years”. 

Arabtec, Dubai’s largest listed contractor, made a second-quarter loss of 11.6 million dirhams ($3.16 million), its first quarterly loss since the emirate’s property collapse and debt crisis in 2009.

Project delays were to blame and the Arabtec’s chief financial officer said the company would bounce back soon as contracts in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi hit the bottom line.

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