Almost Half of Qatar’s Traditional Investor Base Has Cut Ties With the Country

Banks in the world’s wealthiest nation per capita will need to offer more yield if they tap the market as almost half of their traditional investor base has cut ties with the country.

Qatar National Bank QPSC, Commercial Bank QSC and Doha Bank QSC are considering funding options that include loans, private placements or dollar bonds, people familiar with the plans said. But investors and analysts say the lenders will have to pay more to compensate for the region’s political risk to drum up interest.

Read More: QNB Is Said Among Qatari Lenders Seeking Funding Amid Spat

Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations severed relations with Qatar two months ago accusing it of supporting extremist groups, a charge it denies. That led to a drop in foreign deposits in June, the steepest in almost two years, and a record jump in the three-month Qatar Interbank Offer Rate.

Here’s what analysts and investors had to say about borrowing costs for Qatari banks planning to tap the market:

  • While borrowing costs will rise, “the assumption of government support means yields won’t rise that much,” said Max Wolman, a London-based senior investment manager who helps oversee $11 billion in emerging-market debt at Aberdeen Asset Management Plc.
    • There could be interest from some Asian investors, given they were involved in some of the recent Middle East sovereign deals.
    • “If they look attractive from a yield perspective we could buy them. Currently we are very underweight Qatar” because the yields weren’t attractive
    • Looking at QNB’s dollar-denominated bonds due September 2021, the yields peaked at 3.8 percent and are currently around 3.1 percent, “so I would say a five-year at 3.5 to 3.75 percent would be attractive.”
  • Even if they offer “200 basis points over midswaps, I would not lend to them at this rate, as it will not cover for the risk of further deterioration,” said Marina Davies, a London-based senior credit analyst at Pioneer Investment Management Ltd., a company of Amundi Group that oversees over $1 trillion globally.
    • “Basically, we are talking not only about the price, but about the availability of such funding, as so far the banking system seems to be having capital outflows.”
    • “For now, if they don’t manage to raise money, the authorities will provide it as they have been doing until now. The short-term debt of the banks is significant, and it does not seem to be renewed. The sovereign is plugging it for now, but providing just enough foreign currency to compensate for the outflows.”
    • “However, we don’t know how liquid the sovereign funds are, and we can expect that the asset quality of the banks may deteriorate. Therefore, I believe the current levels don’t reflect the credit risk of this system.”
  • The risk premium demanded by the market has already gone up, after Moody’s Investors Service lowered their outlook on Qatari Banks, said Rami Jamal, a money manager at Amwal LLC in Doha, which oversees around one billion riyals ($270 million) in assets.
    • “Pricing thus becomes dependent primarily on the currency and the tenor of the debt. If QNB is looking to raise debt for five years in U.S. dollars, for example, the market will not accept anything below 3.50-3.75 percent range.”
    • “QNB has plenty of short-term funding maturing in the next two years.”
  • Asian investors could help Qatari banks keep yields on offerings relatively low, according to Zurich-based Philipp Good, who helps manage about 9 billion Swiss francs ($9.4 billion) at Fisch Asset Management AG.
    • “My best guess is that they find partners who give them money at a very low premium to current market prices.”
    • “Asian investors are still keen to put money into the Middle East and I do not doubt that they will get the money at similar spreads” as previous sales.
    • “I would expect no additional premium from where the market is today. Repricing has taken place already.”
  • Deterioration in the economy and possible further downgrades of Qatar’s long-term debt will drive local institutions to pay higher spreads as a result of the risk premium, said Tariq Qaqish, the managing director of the asset management division at Mena Corp. Financial Services in Dubai.
    • “In the short term, psychology will pay a big role in pricing new debt issues as investors are uncertain of the magnitude of the problem and, most importantly, the length.”
    • “As deposits decline and the average loan-to-deposit ratio rise, I expect most banks to tap the market and to pay a risk premium of 15-20 basis points.”

Qatari bank bonds maturing this year:

Issuer

Bonds

Maturity

Amount due (in $ million)

QNB 13 Aug. 26 – Dec. 27 382
QIB 1 Oct. 10 750
QIIB

Source:-bloomberg

1 Oct. 18 700

 

Has Israel’s security apparatus failed?

The latest attacks against Israeli forces and settlers in Jerusalem and the West Bank have once again exposed the cracks in the Israeli security apparatuses, experts and analysts say.

“Israel watches over the Palestinians in minute details; their lives and their movements. But this surveillance does not work all the time. There are loopholes. Such attacks are difficult to predict, and what happened at al-Aqsa is proof of that,” Elia Zureik, a writer and researcher on colonialism and surveillance, told Al Jazeera.

“The attacks are relatively infrequent, and still, they cannot be controlled, in one of the most advanced countries in the world. They have not managed to escape them,” Zureiksaid.

Over the past two years in what has been termed the Jerusalem Intifada (uprising), Palestinians – mostly acting on their own – have carried out routine attacks, largely against Israeli soldiers in the occupied territories. The attacks are widely seen by Palestinians as acts of armed resistance to oppression.

Since the uprising started, some 285 Palestinians have died in alleged attacks, protests and army raids. Simultaneously, Palestinians have killed 47 Israelis in car-ramming and knife attacks.

The majority of the attempted attacks have not resulted in Israeli casualties, and have ended with the killing of the Palestinian attackers. But recently, two Israeli guards were killed outside the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem in a shoot-out with three Palestinian citizens of Israel, who were shot dead. A few days later, three Israeli settlers were stabbed and killed by a Palestinian in the illegal settlement of Halamish in the occupied West Bank.


READ MORE: Israeli measures at al-Aqsa will ‘increase Palestinian resistance’


Despite the increased presence of Israeli forces in Palestinian neighbourhoods, and despite the state’s advanced security systems, Israel has not been able to control such sporadic attacks, raising questions about the effectiveness of the state’s security apparatus.

Hani al-Masri, director of the Palestinian Center for Policy Research and Strategic Studies, Masarat, said that while Israel uses all measures to “spy on Palestinians – including mobile phones, social media accounts and all technologies, as a superior intelligence agency”, there are “loopholes in the system” when Palestinians carry out successful armed resistance operations.

“Thousands of Palestinians enter Israel on a daily basis without permits. This means that there are thousands who manage to break through the Israeli security system. So when there is a will, there is a way,” Masri told Al Jazeera.

Since its controversial inception in 1948, the state of Israel has prioritised security above all else. Sixty-nine years into its existence, Israel markets itself as a model for hi-tech security and defence systems, exporting its products worldwide.

By framing itself as a vulnerable state facing an existential threat, the state uses the pretext of security to control the more than six million Palestinians living within its borders and under its occupation in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

Mainly through the Shin Bet, the state’s internal security service, and its army, Israel operates one of the most advanced security apparatuses in the region. The Shin Bet and the Mossad espionage agency have an annual budget of $2.4bn.

Some of the methods Israel uses to surveil and control its Palestinian population include the “Big Brother” law, which allows Israeli police access to communications data on citizens; CCTV cameras; wiretapping; mistaarivim, or undercover Israeli units trained to assimilate with Palestinians for intelligence gathering; collaborators; and biometric identification cards.

“In the old days it used to be just wiretapping the phone, but nowadays it’s more elaborate – they use things like drones today. They can also track down the signals from cellphones that Palestinians make and go after them, and they have an army of informers that spy on Palestinians in Israel itself and in the [occupied Palestinian territories],” said Zureik.

“In some Palestinian towns, this has become a joke; Palestinians know exactly who these spies are – they know them by name – and they would give them false information. So it doesn’t always work out the way Israel wants it to.”

In the 1970s and 1980s, Zureik added, Israel began using Palestinian women from Israel. “They could produce pictures to show the women in comprising positions and blackmail them for prostitution to turn them into collaborators. Also, for Palestinians to get a teaching position today, they must first get clearance from the Shin Bet. Almost all governmental institutions in Israel have an ‘Arab section’ purposed for monitoring the Palestinians in Israel and collecting information about them.”


READ MORE: Jerusalem cameras ‘more dangerous than metal detectors’


In the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israel uses both direct and indirect forms of control over the more than three million Palestinians who live under its military rule. This includes checkpoints, colour-coded license plates, nightly raids of Palestinian homes, and a heavy military presence.

Using social media, Israel also monitors Palestinians and arrests them for any material it considers “incitement”. Between 2015 and 2016, Israel arrested more than 400 Palestinians in the West Bank and Israel for online content, mainly on Facebook. One such case was that of Dareen Tatour, who was arrested after posting a poem on Facebook that called on Palestinians to resist Israeli oppression.

Sami Shehadeh, an activist in Jaffa, said he used to be called in on a yearly basis for questioning.

“There is complete control over our lives – over our expression of national identity, economic control, education system and our curriculums,” Shehadeh told Al Jazeera. “People are checked whenever they enter public buildings such as malls, schools, municipality buildings, and Palestinians get searched more extensively than Israelis.

“Israel is a militarised society and its security is implemented in every aspect of our lives,” he added. “We’re not treated as a people with a national identity – we’re treated as a religious minority. Therefore, we do not study the history of Palestine in schools, and all subjects are taught in Hebrew. They strip us of our identity to try and control our minds.”

Israel also coordinates with the Palestinian Authority, a Ramallah-based semi-governmental body that governs parts of the West Bank, to foil attacks.

Still, loopholes remain. Despite the presence of dozens of military checkpoints between Israel, East Jerusalem and the West Bank, some can only be crossed by car. Soldiers do not always stop each car to search it and check the IDs of the passengers, as some of the roads are used by settlers as well. This means that Palestinians can bypass the system and get into Israel, although they face imprisonment if caught.

And while the separation wall splits East Jerusalem and Israel from the West Bank, Palestinians have found ways, albeit dangerous, to climb over the wall – mainly to find work and a better chance at living.

Additionally, though it is generally difficult to obtain weapons in the West Bank, Palestinians have resorted to smuggling and manufacturing their own. In Israel as well, a black market for weapons is thought to be where the Palestinian citizens of Israel found their guns.

But Ofer Zalzberg, a senior analyst for Israel/Palestine at the International Crisis Group, says the fact that most of the Palestinians who carried out attacks over the past two years were unaffiliated to any particular movement makes it “much harder to collect intelligence about them”.

“Security measures cannot be 100 percent foolproof, especially when attackers are willing to sacrifice their lives,” he told Al Jazeera.


OPINION: Palestinians have a legal right to armed struggle


Though Israel denies that the occupation and violence Palestinians face on a daily basis in the occupied territories is the main driver of attacks against its forces and settlers, analysts and locals say the attacks will continue as long as the oppression of Palestinians lives on.

“Security measures, no matter what they are, cannot prevent resistance, and this has been proven over the course of the years; it is not mere speculation,” Masri said. “We’re talking about anger on a national level – these sentiments of injustice do not stem from certain political/religious ideologies, they exist on a national level. Those who resist demonstrate the will of the majority of the Palestinian people”.

Shehadeh agreed: “These attacks are sporadic and there cannot be a security solution to them. If there is a solution, it will have to be a political one – one that needs to provide us with justice and equality.”

Source:-aljazeera.

I Have Anxiety, and This Household Activity Has Helped Me SO Much

“Clean house, clear head” rings so very true with me. As someone who is at a constant war with their anxiety, I’m always seeking healthy, straightforward ways to face my mental health head-on. My whole life, I’ve been what people jokingly called a “neat freak,” a trait that I got honestly from my mom. I’m the person people roll their eyes at when I genuinely say that I like to clean. Still, I never realized the value of cleaning beyond a spotless home until I skipped my Saturday morning ritual after a long week and discovered how off-balance I felt.

If you suffer from extreme anxiety, you know the feeling of panic that comes over you when things just don’t feel right and you don’t know how to fix them. It’s easy for your whole world to feel off-kilter if just one element of it is disrupted, but cleaning your home can actually help your mental state right itself and restore balance. When I clean my house from top to bottom, I go into a quiet (and private) zone where I let all of my anxieties take the back seat to the task at hand. It’s restorative for me, and best of all, I’m left with a sparkling house when all is said and done. Here’s how cleaning can help your anxiety.

Cleaning is like meditation.

Nothing helps clear my head of all my frantic thoughts more than putting on music to block everything out and allowing myself to get into the complete cleaning zone. By concentrating on a simple task, I’m able to drown out anxiety by doing something productive and basic. If you’re able to focus on your task and force all other negative thoughts out, cleaning can truly have a similar effect for some that meditation does.

It sets you up for a better day or week.

Coming home from a stressful day of work to house full of clutter, dirty dishes, and cat hair forming Texas-sized tumbleweeds of hair can cause me to feel like I may unravel completely. My home is my sanctuary and safe zone, so when I return to find it clean and clutter-free, my mind is more at peace. Spending time over the weekend to give your home a deep-clean can have a major effect on your anxiety, because it takes away a potential element of stress that may be the final straw on a particularly anxiety-ridden day.

It keeps you active.

Although exercise can help anxiety, it’s not always for everyone. Unfortunately for me, the more anxious I am, the less prone I’ll be to exercise, which can be a vicious cycle. However, cleaning your home is a way to do light exercise, keep your heart rate up, and allow your body to release endorphins, all without having to step foot in a gym.

It yields tangible results.

Anxiety can cause you to be completely overwhelmed. There are times when I feel like there is so much to do, I end up getting stuck on how to start, and I get even less done because of my inability to get past feeling like I’m drowning in unfinished tasks. Cleaning is a simple to solution to this problem. In scrubbing down the bathroom sink or vacuuming the floor, you’re able to see tangible results. The manifestation of your hard work is right before your eyes, and this physical evidence of your efforts can be an extreme comfort for an anxious mind.

[source:-popsugar]

‘Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered’ Standalone Release Has One Big Problem

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered is finally getting a standalone release.

Credit: Activision

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered is finally getting a standalone release.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered is finally getting a standalone release. The game drops on PS4 next Tuesday for $39.99.

That’s not a huge surprise. The standalone release was leaked as recently as last week. The game lands on June 27th, roughly 9 months after the release of Infinite Warfare.

Remastered Controversy

Modern Warfare Remastered is easily one of the most controversial video games in modern gaming. The remaster of one of the genre’s biggest classics is a controversy machine that just won’t quit.

At first, the controversy was largely centered around Activision’s decision to bundle the game in with Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare’s Deluxe release. Basically you could get the game for $20, if you were willing to drop $60 on Infinite Warfare. There was no other way to buy it.

It was still a pretty good deal, and I think people were overreacting a bit at the time. It’s not that out of the ordinary to have some kind of bundle deal, and I figured (rightly) that the game would eventually get a standalone release. That way gamers who didn’t want Infinite Warfare could eventually buy it, though probably not at the $20 bundled price.

Then came the DLC. Yes, Activision decided that it would be a good idea to sell both extra maps and micro-transactions in a remastered version of a nearly-decade-old game. This is where I started to crack. I mean, I think that all Call of Duty DLC maps should be free, across the board, but that’s especially true for a remaster. This started to feel less like a cool remaster and more like a cash grab, and you could see many in the community feeling the same way.

[Source”pcworld”]