Three ways the coronavirus could impact Middle East economies


Muslim pilgrims put on masks at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia’s holy metropolis of Mecca on February 28, 2020. Saudi Arabia suspended visas for visits to Islam’s holiest web pages for the “umrah” pilgrimage, an unprecedented go triggered by coronavirus fears that raises queries around the once-a-year hajj.

ABDEL GHANI BASHIR | AFP | Getty Photographs

Oil prices, tourism and funds marketplaces hit by the coronavirus can have an influence on Gulf economies, an analyst informed CNBC this week.

“For the GCC economies, we have recognized 3 channels of transmission of the COVID-19,” Mohamed Damak of S&P International Rankings reported, referring to the novel coronavirus that was 1st detected in China last calendar year. He spoke to CNBC’s “Funds Link” on Thursday.

The Environment Wellbeing Firm on Wednesday declared the virus a world-wide pandemic right after it unfold to additional than 110 countries and infected at the very least 121,000 individuals.

Iran, the worst hit Center Eastern nation, reportedly has close to 9,000 verified scenarios and around 350 fatalities, in accordance to the Affiliated Press. Countries this sort of as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Oman also have multiple instances of infection.

Below are 3 strategies Gulf economies can be impacted by the virus:

Oil charges

Oil is 1 of the “principal” export solutions of Gulf Cooperation Council countries, and prices have fallen significantly this week soon after OPEC and its allies failed to achieve an settlement to minimize output.

Crude futures plunged a lot more than 20% Monday immediately after Saudi Arabia said it would raise output and give discounts on its oil. On Thursday afternoon in Asia, Brent crude was down 6.01% at $33.64 a barrel, whilst U.S. crude traded at $31.15 a barrel, down 5.55%.

That is likely to be problematic for countries in the area, several of which depend intensely on oil revenues.

Damak extra that S&P World-wide Scores revised its value forecast from $60 a barrel to $40 a barrel for the calendar year. That determine is under the fiscal breakeven oil prices for all Middle East and North Africa oil producers, according to IMF data.

“And if you seem at the geographic distribution of exports, you can see for case in point that for Oman, a lot more than 53% of exports go to international locations where by we see scenarios of COVID-19 either significant or spiking,” he explained.

Journey and genuine estate

Paying by foreigners is also most likely to take a strike because of the coronavirus, notably in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The UAE appeals to far more than 17 million people each and every calendar year, Damak stated, and this yr it hopes to catch the attention of 25 million vacationers to Expo 2020 Dubai in Oct.

Saudi Arabia receives 20 million visitors each year, most of them for spiritual functions. The kingdom has quickly suspended entry to the region for the objective of Umrah and checking out the Prophet’s Mosque, an essential internet site for Muslims.

Damak stated, at this phase, it’s hard to inform if Expo 2020 and the pilgrimage period — which starts off in July — will be influenced by the virus outbreak.

“If that ended up to be the circumstance, then definitely the economic impression on both equally Saudi Arabia and the UAE would be higher than what we currently count on,” he said.

On the genuine estate facet, he pointed out that Chinese buyers on your own contributed to 1% of genuine estate transactions in Dubai in 2018. But obtaining conclusions might be put off because of to the “psychological result” of the coronavirus even with slipping fascination fees, he said.

Funds markets

There has been “extreme volatility” in funds markets recently, and that may necessarily mean providers with “weak credit rating tales” will have trouble coming to the industry, claimed Damak.

“This signifies that Bahrain, Oman and perhaps also some corporates in the UAE will possibly obtain it a minimal little bit much more complicated to get to the market this year.”



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