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Qatar and Kuwait expected to witness surge in bilateral relations: Webinar

KUWAIT: Doha Bank hosted a virtual customer connect meeting recently on the theme “Bilateral and Synergistic Opportunities between Qatar and Kuwait.” Dr R Seetharaman, CEO of Doha Bank gave insight on Global economies. He said “According to IMF Jan 2022, Global growth is expected to moderate from 5.9 percent in 2021 to 4.4 percent in 2022. Advanced economies growth is expected to moderate from five percent in 2021 to 3.9 percent in 2022. Emerging economies growth is expected to moderate from 6.5 percent in 2021 to 4.8 percent in 2022. US fed expected to begin monetary tightening in March 2022.”

Dr R Seetharaman gave insight on Kuwait Economy and Qatar Economy. He said “Kuwait economy expected to grow by 4.3 percent in 2022. In 2022, Central Bank of Kuwait Open Applications for New Digital Banks in the Region.  Qatar- Kuwait trade exceeded QR 7bn in 2021. LNG deals have happened between Qatar and Kuwait in recent years. Qatar economy expected to grow by 4 percent in 2022. Qatar Budget 2022 is based at an average oil price of $55/ Barrel. Health, education, and infrastructure have been given thrust in Qatar Budget 2022. Qatar plans to boost LNG production to 126 million tons a year (MTPA) by 2027.”

Abdulaziz Yaqoub Al-Babtain, Ooredoo Kuwait Chief Executive Officer, spoke on “Telecom Roles in Kuwait during the Pandemics.” He said “Ooredoo Kuwait was acquired by Ooredoo Group, formerly known as QTEL the global financial crisis. This is one of the company’s most significant investments during that time which greatly contributed to Kuwait’s economy. Ooredoo is one of the largest leading Qatari communications companies in the State of Kuwait delivering mobile, fixed, broadband internet and corporate managed services. That being said, investments between Kuwait and Qatar are a great opportunity to turn both nations into investment hubs. We are hoping that this will materialize during 2022 as we are working towards hybrid investment models between Kuwait and Qatar. Furthermore, Central Bank of Kuwait has opened digital banking opportunities, which are very interested in. We are currently having discussions with local and Qatari banks, in addition to Fintech. Ooredoo Kuwait’s 5G rollout increased further during 2021. During the pandemic, we introduced new innovative digital solutions to our customers, we supported the government and community during the crisis, partnering with well-established companies, and more.”

Junaid Ansari, Head of Investment Strategy and Research at Kamco Invest, spoke on “GCC equity market performance and oil market.” He said: “Despite the record performance of GCC markets last year, we don’t expect a correction this year. However, gains are not expected to be as high as what we saw last year.2022 is expected to see higher dividend announcements for FY-2021. Investors need to time their entry and exit according to the dividend timelines. Given the current situation between Russia and the US, oil prices are expected to remain elevated in the near term. However, later this year or next year, with the likelihood of Iran coming back and OPEC+ adding additional production coupled with higher production in the US, we can see oil prices ease to around $75-80 per barrel.”

R Raghu CEO, Marmore MENA intelligence, The research arm of Kuwait financial center “Markaz” shared “Overview of Kuwait economy and banking sector and the impact of rising interest rates on banks, corporates and capital markets.” He said “The Credit growth rebounded in Kuwait in 2021 driven mainly by the retail segment. The Return of Equity (ROE) of Kuwaiti Banks that hit a low of five percent in Q4 2020 has been recovering. Net Interest Margin (NIM) of Kuwait Banks fell due to prevailing low interest rate environment and NPLs still remain well below 2 percent of the net total loans. The earnings of Kuwaiti Banks yet to reach pre- pandemic levels. Kuwait is moving towards cashless payments and hence digitization is a key strategic objective for Kuwaiti banks.  Most of the leading banks in Kuwait are involved in various digitization initiatives. Kuwaiti Banks are expected to have a positive impact from the rate hike while non-banks profitability might be affected due to rate hikes.” Najah Al-Sulaiman, Chief Country Manager, Doha Bank Kuwait Branch gave the vote of thanks and closing remarks.

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