Author: Gordon Platt

BEARING GIFTS, QATAR’S EMIR VISITS GAZA

By Gordon Platt

Qatar’s emir pledged $400 million to rebuild and modernize the Gaza Strip, in the first visit by a head of state to the Palestinian enclave since a military offensive by Israel four years ago.

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani offered to build a new hospital, roads and housing in Gaza, which has been ruled by Hamas since 2007. Qatar has backed pro-democracy movements in the Arab world and has become a major financial supporter of Hamas since the group’s falling-out with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Hamas has loosened its links to Iran and moved closer to Egypt under its new Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi. Egypt opened its border crossing with Gaza to enable Sheikh Hamad’s motorcade to travel through.

Egyptian investment bank EFG Hermes plans to expand in Turkey, Iraq and Libya once its joint venture with Qatar’s QInvest is finalized. EFG Hermes expects to increase its assets under management by 50% in the next two years, as the joint venture gives it access to some of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the region.

Kuwait’s stock market fell to an eight-year low in early November, amid a political stalemate in the country. Protesters say proposed changes in the election law would give pro-government candidates an advantage in the December 1 parliamentary elections.

In the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi has tightened rules allowing state-linked companies to qualify for sovereign guarantees. The UAE capital, which bailed out Dubai with $20 billion of loans during its debt crisis, aims to curb excessive spending and to make it clear to investors that it will not be responsible for the debts of entities that lack specific government guarantees.