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Pandemic Puts Major Deals in Egypt on Hold

The vulnerable nature of most North African economies has made it an attractive market for many Gulf lenders. During the last decades, almost all Maghreb countries have experienced major political unrest that has had a major impact on their financial services sectors while creating economic gaps. When the 2010s began, banks headquartered in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) projected international expansion in the Maghreb, which they regard as the western part of the Arab world, particularly Egypt. But when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, there was a decline in the drive into the Egyptian economy as talks to acquire more assets were placed on hold by some notable Gulf lenders. For instance, in May 2020, unfavourable market conditions necessitated by the pandemic forced First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) to put on hold the acquisition of Lebanese-owned Bank Audi of Egypt, a deal said to be worth about $700 million.