Times of Trouble! 28 April 2023
The 2,049 real estate and properties transactions totalled US$ 2.94 billion, during the week, ending 28 April 2023. The sum of transactions was 172 plots, sold for US$ 430 million, and 1,877 apartments and villas, selling for US$ 1.15 billion. The top three transactions were for plots of land, one in Burj Khalifa sold for US$ 50 million, and the second in World Islands for US$ 46 million and the third in Madinat Dubai Almelaheyah for US$ 10 million. Al Hebiah Fifth recorded the most transactions, with fifty-four sales, worth US$ 47 million, followed by twenty-five sales in Madinat Hind 4 for US$ 10 million and twenty-one sales in Al Hebiah Third, valued at US$ 25 million. The top three transfers for apartments and villas were all for apartments, two located in Palm Jumeirah, valued at US$ 16 million and US$ 15 million, and the third in Al Ras for US$ 14 million. The mortgaged properties for the week reached US$ 1.35 billion, whilst eighty-two properties were granted between first-degree relatives worth US$ 36 million.
This week, Knight Frank posted that it was involved in the sale of a 24.5k sq ft plot of land in Jumeirah Bay for US$ 34 million – becoming the most expensive plot of land sold in the country, easily surpassing the previous record of US$ 25 million. The plot of sand sold for US$ 1,390 per sq ft and was bought by an overseas buyer who is expected to build a custom-built mansion on the plot; the previous owner was Umar Kamani, the 35-year-old founder of UK-based fashion retailer PrettyLittleThing.
In Q1, eighty-eight luxury homes, (classed as any sale of more than US$ 10 million), were sold for a cumulative US$ 1.63 billion; the three main locations for luxury homes continue to be Palm Jumeirah, Emirates Hills and Jumeirah Bay Island, accounting for 64% of the total; average transaction prices topped US$ 2.40k per sq ft. Little wonder then that Dubai has been ranked number four in the world in this housing sector, behind New York, Los Angeles and London, with every chance of improving its global position this year.
Danube Properties has launched its sixty-five floor, ultra-luxury tower Fashionz in partnership with FashionTV. Located in Jumeirah Village Triangle, and that location’s largest tower to date, the project encompasses over seven hundred apartments, with prices starting at US$ 232k. This is the Dubai-based developer’s second foray into the burgeoning branded residential sector, having allied with Aston Martin for its Viewz project in February. (It is reported that Dubai now is the global leader for branded residences). Last year, Danube launched five projects last year – Pearlz, Gemz, Opalz, Petalz, and Elitz – with 2k residential units and a development value of US$ 559 million, all of them having been sold out. Its latest development brings its total portfolio to include twenty-two projects and 10.7k units.
The latest launch this week is Mykonos Signature from Samaan Developers – a Greek-inspired and cruise ship-styled residential project, located in Dubai’s Arjan district. The US$ 82 million, 276-unit building is targeting the mid-luxury section of Dubai’s burgeoning property market and seen to be a cheaper alternative to staying in hotels; it will also house twenty-four retail units. Completion is expected to be in Q3 2025.This is the Dubai developer’s third project of the year, with another nine to be launched before the end of 2023.
Next week sees the opening of the four-day Arabian Travel Market 2023, featuring over eighty of the world’s top travel technology companies. Taking place at the Dubai World Trade Centre, and opening on 01 May, there will be more than 2k sq mt, of exhibition space, (a 54.7% increase in space compared to last year), dedicated to the technology sector. ATM 2023 will also include a brand-new Sustainability Hub, highlighting the latest environmentally responsible travel trends and innovations. The event, whose theme is ‘Working Towards Net Zero’, will explore the future of sustainable travel and will feature over twenty innovation-focused sessions and events, including the Tech Stage.
This week, DMCC hosted a successful China Business Day at Almas Tower, attended by over two hundred prominent figures from the Dubai-based Chinese business community. The event included a panel discussion, “Building business success in Dubai and the UAE”, with experiences from leading Chinese companies including representatives from China State Construction Engineering Corporation, Bank of China, China Mobile International Middle East & Africa, Dahua Technology, and Yingke & Shayan Legal Consulting. Mohammad Ali Rashed Lootah, President and CEO of Dubai Chambers, expressed his support for the event, stating that the UAE represents one of the strongest economies in the region and has emerged as a prominent global gateway for Chinese businesses. DMCC is home to more than seven hundred and fifty Chinese companies, accounting for over 12% of all Chinese businesses registered in the country.
A landmark this week sees the Dubai Metro carrying its two billionth passenger since it was opened in September 2009; over that period, the Red Line has transported 1.342 billion commuters and the Green Line a further 674 million. Its punctuality record – of 99.7% – is second to none, surpassing international safety standards and demonstrating exceptional operational efficiency. On a daily basis, its average 2022 daily ridership surpassed 616k riders in 2022.
Launched by the federal Ministry of Finance, a US$ 300 million Sukuk has been launched, represented by the Ministry of Finance (MoF) as the issuer in collaboration with the Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) as the issuing and paying agent. Mohamed bin Hadi Al Hussaini, Minister of State for Financial Affairs, noted that ”the T-Sukuk are Sharia-compliant financial certificates, and they will be traded to reflect the local return on investment, support economic diversification and financial inclusion, and contribute to achieving comprehensive and sustainable economic and social development goals,” The T-Sukuk will be issued initially in 2/3/5-year tenures, followed by a ten-year sukuk later, and will be denominated in UAE dirhams to develop the local bonds debt market and help develop the mid-term yield curve.
This week saw a further amendment to the upcoming Corporate Tax legislation, with the Ministry of Finance announcing that public benefit organisations, that contribute to the welfare of society, will be eligible for exemptions. These will include entities that focus on activities such as philanthropy, community services and corporate social responsibility. The Ministry added that “this implementing decision is designed to reflect these entities’ important role in the UAE, which often includes religious, charitable, scientific, educational, or cultural value”. The federal corporate tax, with a standard 9% rate on companies reporting a profit of US$ 102k+, will come into effect for businesses whose financial year starts on or after 01 June 2023. Existing free-zone entities are currently exempt from corporate tax.
In a bid to raise the awareness of their tremendous contribution to the global economy, the United Nations General Assembly has designated 27 June as the day of ‘Micro-, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises’. The world body estimates that MSMEs account for 90% of businesses, 60-70% of employment and 50% of global GDP. The number of such entities in the UAE is thought to be around the 557k mark, with aims to top one million by 2030.
In Q1, DP World posted a 1.4% hike in handling 19.5 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) across its global portfolio of container terminals, with gross container volumes increasing by 1.4%, year-on-year on a reported basis, and up 3.7% on a like-for-like basis; since the total global market was down 6.35%, this was an impressive return. A slight weakness in the European and American markets was offset by a strong return in Asia Pacific and India. In the quarter, Jebel Ali handled 3.5 million TEUs – up 2.3% year-on-year. On consolidation, its terminals handled 11.4 million TEUs in Q2 – up 0.7% year-on-year on a reported basis but down 1.3% on a like-for-like basis.
By the end of January, the gross assets of UAE banks amounted to US$ 996.7 million – 11.5% higher on the year. The gross assets of conventional banks operating in the country jumped 12.8% to US$ 830 million, accounting for 83.1% of the total, with Islamic banks, 5.6% higher, making up the balance. The total credit of conventional banks was 4.5% higher at US$ 402.5 while deposits and investments in conventional banks increasing by 15.2% to US$ 490.1 trillion and 12.9% to US$ 117.2 trillion respectively. For Islamic banks the figures showed increases of 3.1% to US$ 118.3 trillion and by 20.1% to US$ 46.6 trillion.
Q1 was a stellar quarter for Dubai’s largest bank – Emirates NBD, posting a record US$ 2.72 billion quarterly return and a doubling of profit to US$ 1.63 billion. The main drivers behind these impressive results included rising interest rates, higher margins, growing non-funded income and a lower cost of risk on significant recoveries, with impairment charges 66% lower. The profit was the highest ever quarterly one delivered by a local bank and the period saw the bank deliver its strongest ever quarter for retail lending with over 144k new credit cards issued and over US$ 2.18 billion of retail loan disbursements. Deposits grew by US$ 9.54 billion, including a US$ 5.18 billion increase in Current and Savings Account balances.
Dubai’s third biggest lender did not disappoint either, posting a 163.1% climb in Q1 profit to US$ 439 million, driven by lower impairments, down 58% on the year to US$ 26 million, and higher interest income, as Islamic financing more than doubled to US$ 474 million; fee and commission income rose about 64% to US$ 159 million. Mashreq saw its total assets grow more than 10% to US$ 54.77 billion, and loans and advances rise about 6% annually to US$ 24.82 billion, whilst customer deposits climbed 15% on the year to over US$ 32.70 billion.
The DFM opened on Monday, 24 April 2023, having shed 21 points (0.6%) the previous week, gained 53 points (1.5%) to close the week on 3,545, by 28 April. Emaar Properties, US$ 0.05 lower the previous week, shed US$ 3 to close the week on US$ 1.62. DEWA, Emirates NBD, DIB and DFM started the previous week on US$ 0.65, US$ 3.60, US$ 1.45, and US$ 0.41 and closed on US$ 0.68, US$ 3.84, US$ 1.51 and US$ 0.41. On 28 April, trading was at 161 million shares, with a value of US$ 113 million, compared to 183 million shares with a value of US$ 113 million on 19 April.
The bourse had opened the year on 3,438 and, having closed on 28 April on 3,545 was 138 points (3.1%) higher. Emaar started the year with a 01 January 2023 opening figure of US$ 1.60, to close the quarter at US$ 1.62. Four other bellwether stocks, DEWA, Emirates NBD, DIB and DFM started the year on US$ 0.59, US$ 3.54, US$ 1.55 and US$ 0.41 and closed the quarter at US$ 0.68, US$ 3.84, US$ 1.51 and US$ 0.41. On 28 April, trading was at 161 million shares, with a value of US$ 113 million, compared to 66 million shares, with a value of US$ 18 million, on 31 December 2022.
By Friday, 28 April 2023, Brent, US$ 4.87 lower (5.6%) the previous week, shed a further US$ 6.38 (7.3%) to close on US$ 80.25. Gold, US$ 63 (2.3%) lower the previous fortnight, gained US$ 5 (0.2%) to US$ 1,999 on 28 April 2023.
Brent started the year on US$ 85.91 and shed US$ 5.97 (6.6%), to close 28 April on US$ 80.25. Meanwhile, the yellow metal opened 2023 trading at US$ 1,830 and gained US$ 169 (7.7%) to close on US$ 1,999.
Oil giant ExxonMobil posted a doubling of Q1 profits, to a record US$ 11.4 billion, on the back of the increased demand for oil and gas, and the positive impact of its cost-cutting measures. It said shareholders would receive US$ 8.1 billion, including dividends and US$ 375 million in share buybacks. The US energy giant also confirmed that it had been the beneficiary of a US$ 3.4 billion after-tax reduction to exit Russia and that it was pursuing a case against the EU to try to stop the bloc imposing a new windfall tax.
Chevron did not do as well, only posting a 5% upward movement in Q1 profit to US$ 6.6 billion, noting that it had been subject to a US$ 130 million “energy profits levy”, or windfall tax, in the UK. Next week Shell and BP are both set to report their latest results next week.
Although it accounts for over 90% of all its EV sales, General Motors is to end production of its Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle later this year, with its emphasis moving to its shifts zero-emission production to trucks and SUVs built on a new battery platform. Last year, the largest US automaker sold 38.1k Bolt EVs in 2022, up 53.5% on the previous year’s production level; in Q1, the figure topped 19.7k. Prices for the vehicle start at US$ 26.5k which qualifies it for a US$ 7.5k federal tax credit. Last year, GM announced that it would invest US$ 4 billion in its Orion Township Assembly plant to produce Chevrolet Silverado EV and electric GMC Sierra using its next-generation Ultium EV platform. By 2024, it will see employment numbers triple and will produce – with its Detroit-Hamtramck and Orion plants – more than 600k electric trucks a year by late 2024, and one million EVs by 2025.
Boeing has managed to cut its Q1 loss to US$ 425 million from a massive US$ 1.20 billion a year earlier, attributable to a marked increase in aircraft deliveries; the plane maker had previously posted seven consecutive quarterly losses mainly because of quality control issues. Over Q1, revenue came in 28.0% higher at US$ 17.9 billion, on the quarter, but still down on pre-pandemic Q1 2019 levels. Boeing has a backlog totalling US$ 411 billion, including more than 4.5k commercial planes valued at $334 billion. In the first three months of 2023, it handed over 130 commercial jets (cf 95 a year earlier), as its commercial planes unit recorded a 60% increase to US$ 6.7 billion down to higher 737 and 787 deliveries. During 2023, it plans to deliver 400-450 of its 737, though “near-term deliveries and production will be impacted as the programme performs necessary inspections and rework”.
The US$ 68.7 billion deal that would see Microsoft acquire the US gaming firm Activision has been blocked by the UK regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority, in a move that saw a disgruntled Brad Smith attack the move being “bad for Britain” and marked Microsoft’s “darkest day” in its four decades of working in the country. Although the EU and US authorities had yet to make a call on the deal, it is now dead in the water because of the UK’s move, with the CMA noting that “Activision is intertwined through different markets – it can’t be separated for the UK. So this decision blocks the deal from happening globally.” The CMA said Microsoft already had a 60-70% share of the cloud gaming market and combining with Activision would “really reinforce… [its] strong position”. If the deal had gone through, it would have been the industry’s biggest ever takeover, and would have seen Microsoft owning popular games titles such as Call of Duty, Candy Crush and World of Warcraft. Microsoft has already indicated that the decision may have an impact on its future UK investment.
Following Bob Iger’s February’s announcement of a US$ 5.5 billion cost-cutting drive, Walt Disney announced that it had begun a second round of layoffs as part of an earlier announced restructuring expected to result in 7k job losses, (equating to 3% of the company’s 220k workforce). This comes at a time when the entertainment giant is struggling with slumps in both its traditional television and film business revenue figures, with its streaming unit continuing to post big losses. Its sports channel ESPN and film studios will bear the brunt of the job cuts, as Iger goes to work on streamlining its business.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has ordered a subsidiary of British American Tobacco to pay US$ 635 million, plus interest, after it admitted selling cigarettes to North Korea in violation of sanctions., between 2007 – 2017. The DOJ said BAT had also conspired to defraud financial institutions in order to get them to process transactions on behalf of North Korean entities, as Jack Bowles, the head of one of the UK’s biggest companies said, “we deeply regret the misconduct”.
Driven by factors such as the recent turmoil in the banking sector, a stabilisation of risk assets, as the US Federal Reserve almost ends its interest rate-hiking cycle, and improved profitability of crypto mining, Standard Chartered has opined that Bitcoin could top US$ 100k by the end of next year. In the first four months of 2023, the crypto currency has topped US$ 30k for the first time in ten months. The currency could benefit from its status as a “branded safe haven, a perceived relative store of value and a means of remittance,” and the fact that the EU is introducing its first set of rules to regulate crypto asset markets. Banks have got their forecasting wrong before – for example, in November 2020, a Citi analyst said that Bitcoin could climb as high as US$ 318k, but by the end of 2022, it closed 65% lower at only US$ 16.5k.
Trading in shares of First Republic Band was halted this morning, (28 April), after the stock collapsed 50%, with its share price now 97% lower YTD. A CNBC report, claiming that the lender was probably headed for receivership, under the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, did not help matters. Reuters also posted that that the triumvirate of the FDIC, the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve had commenced meetings with financial companies about a lifeline for the bank. The obvious concern is that of contagion and that a worsening of the situation of FRB could lead to a meltdown in the US banking industry, still breathing an air of relief after the collapse, as it recovers from the earlier demise of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank.
First Republic had experienced “unprecedented deposit outflows,” as customers pulled more than US$ 100 billion – equating to 40% of deposits – from their accounts in Q1, rattled by worries about the health of the global banking system. The bank announced that to strengthen its much-weakened balance sheet, it plans to cut costs by slashing payroll numbers by 25% whilst reducing short-term borrowing. In March, a group of major US banks, led by JP Morgan and Citigroup, injected US$ 30 billion into First Republic to avoid any risk of it failing, with a possible contagion impact on the banking sector. There was no surprise to see its share value slump by 20% on the announcement.
In Q1, embattled Credit Suisse posted that it faced outflows of US$ 69.0 billion before it was forced to merge with its main Swiss competitor UBS. The country’s second biggest lender noted that deposit outflows represented 57% of its wealth management unit and Swiss Bank net asset outflows in the three-month period and commented that the outflows “have moderated but have not yet reversed” as of 24 April 23.
Credit Suisse, which had already lost about US$ 123.8 billion of assets in Q4, said net income attributable to shareholders was US$ 13.98 billion in Q1, compared to a US$ 307 million net loss in the same period a year earlier and a net loss of US$ 1.56 billion in Q4 2022. Because of the ongoing impact of the merger, “Credit Suisse would also expect the investment bank and the group to report a substantial loss before taxes in Q2 2023”. At the time of the merger, the Swiss National Bank agreed to lend UBS up to US$ 112.45 billion to help it take over Credit Suisse, while Swiss regulator Finma erased US$ 19.12 billion worth of Credit Suisse’s bonds and scrapped the need for shareholders to vote on the agreement.
Following a year of disappointing revenue figures, tanking by up to 50% in Q1, and numerous failed turnaround plans, major US retailer, Bed Bath & Beyond has filed for bankruptcy protection, confirming that its three hundred and sixty stores and one hundred and twenty Buy Buy Baby stores, along with its websites, will remain open. Having failed to secure further financing, additional to the US$ 240 million from Sixth Street Specialty Lending Inc, the company made the filing “to implement an orderly wind down of its businesses while conducting a limited marketing process to solicit interest in one or more sales of some or all of its assets. It listed estimated assets and liabilities in the range of US$ 1 billion and US$ 10 billion. Only last month, it had notified the Securities and Exchange Commission filing in late March that it planned to sell $300 million worth of shares to avoid bankruptcy filing. Founded in 1971, Bed Bath & Beyond has seen its share value slump from around US$ 17.00 to US$ 0.30 over the past twelve months.
Prezzo has announced that it will close forty-six, (about a third), of its restaurants because of the impact of higher inflated prices for pizza and pasta ingredients and a doubling of energy prices in the past year. The closure of these loss-making stores could result in over eight hundred redundancies. The Italian restaurant chain confirmed that it plans to keep open its restaurants in busier shopping areas, such as retail parks and tourist destinations. Covid had forced Prezzo to go into administration in late 2020, to be bought out by private equity firm Cain International. Other restaurant chains have also been impacted by the cost of living crises, including “double-digit wage inflation”, and have previously announced store closures, including Frankie and Benny’s and Chiquito closing thirty-five restaurants last month.
Better late than never, the CBI, UK’s biggest business group, with 190k member firms, has confirmed that it failed to act, allowing a “very small minority” of staff to believe they could get away with harassment or violence against women; it has now dismissed a number of people. Even worse, it also admitted that it hired “culturally toxic” staff and failed to fire people who sexually harassed female colleagues. Furthermore, it said there was a collective “sense of shame” at “so badly having let down the…people who came to work at the CBI”. To make matters worse, and after receiving a report by law firm, the disgraced body wrote, “our collective failure to completely protect vulnerable employees… and to put in place proper mechanisms to rapidly escalate incidents of this nature to senior leadership…. these failings most of all drive the shame.” It also admitted to its members:
- It “tried to find resolution in sexual harassment cases when we should have removed those offenders from our business”
- The failure to sack offenders had led to a reluctance among women to formalise complaints
- This also allowed a “very small minority of staff with regressive – and, in some cases, abhorrent – attitudes towards their female colleagues to feel more assured in their behaviour, and more confident of not being detected”
- It failed to filter out culturally toxic people during the hiring process
- It promoted some managers too quickly “without the necessary prior and ongoing training to protect our cultural values, and to properly react when those values were violated”
- It paid “more attention to competence than to behaviour”
- It failed to properly integrate new staff
Even its former director-general, Tony Danker, who earned US$ 476k a year, acknowledged he had made some staff feel “very uncomfortable”, and had been the recipient of complaints of workplace misconduct but later apologised. There is no doubt that the CBI has lost the confidence of many of its members and the sooner it closes down, the better for all concerned.
Despite massive losses as a result of Western sanctions, it is reported that the one hundred and ten Russian billionaires added US$ 138.9 billion to their wealth over the past year, driven by high prices for natural resources. According to the Forbes Russian edition, there are twenty-two new additions this year, including oil and metals companies, with new additions having made their fortune in snacks, supermarkets building and pharmaceuticals. Over the year, their combined wealth topped US$ 505 billion, up 40.6% on the year, but US$ 101 billion lower than the 2021 figures. Andrei Melnichenko, who made a fortune in fertilisers, was listed as Russia’s richest man, with an estimated worth of US$ 37.65 billion, more than double what he was estimated to be worth last year. Over the year, Russia has ‘lost’ five billionaires – DST Global founder Yuri Milner, Revolut founder Nikolay Storonsky, Freedom Finance founder Timur Turlov, and JetBrains co-founders Sergei Dmitriev and Valentin Kipyatkov – with all five having renounced their Russian citizenship.
The US Commerce Department posted that the country’s Q1 growth slowed to 1.1% – a possible indicator that the economy may be slipping into a mild recession, and a surprise to many analysts who were expecting more like a 2.0% expansion; in Q4, growth came in at 2.6%. It was noted that the GDP figure “reflected increases in consumer spending, exports, federal government spending,” along with some forms of investment. These figures do not yet show the impact of the recent collapses of three medium-sized financial institutions including Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank – both of which provide finance to the technology sector.
Initial data from the HCOB Flash Eurozone PMI survey points to a 0.7 April rise to 54.4 – reaching an eleven-month high – and an indicator that the economy is heading in the right direction, with the caveat that growth in the bloc is very unevenly spread. For example, there has been a marked widening of the gap between the partly booming services sector, (and this despite the rampant inflation), and the weakening manufacturing sector. Since the beginning of the year, inflation has fallen from almost double-digit levels to 6.9% last month, but still way short of the ECB’s 2.0% target. Interestingly, although the IMF has forecast a “sharp slowdown” in economic growth this year. Germany is the only euro area country it now forecasts will enter recession this year, mainly down to the ongoing economic impact of the war in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, UBS expects the greenback to remain under pressure for the rest of 2023, attributable to several factors including a cooling labour market, (with last month’s US labour report showing a 236k increase in non-farm payrolls – the smallest since December 2020), slowing inflation, at 5.0%, the lowest in two years, and the possibility of rate cuts in H2, after another 25bp hike in May. At the same time the Swiss bank favoured the Australian dollar and Japanese yen to perform well this year, as well as predicting that gold could move 10% to around US$ 2.2k. It noted that the US dollar index is now only slightly higher than its recent one-year low and that it had lost 11% in value since September 2022.
Despite taxpayer massive handouts relating to energy bills and seeing borrowing costs rise, in line with rate hikes last year, the UK government was still able to borrow less than expected, (US$ 189.2 billion), in 2022; the total borrowing – the difference between spending and tax income – came in at US$ 173.3 billion, equating to 5.5% of the value of the UK economy and the highest percentage since 2014. Despite the Chancellor of Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, noting that borrowing was at “eye-watering sums”, some analysts see that this improvement will give “wiggle room” for possible future tax cuts.
Instead of admitting that taking earlier remedial action would have helped to dampen rising inflation, which had ballooned past the BoE’s 2.0% target early last year, Huw Pill , its leading economist, has come out to preach that people in the UK need to accept that they are poorer; otherwise prices will continue to rise, and that there was a “reluctance to accept that, yes, we’re all worse off”. Now because of this reluctance, the UK March inflation rate is still in double digit territory at 10.1%. Belatedly rates have gone from almost zero to near 5% which has made the cost of borrowing higher; this, allied with higher food bills and surging energy prices, has seen real wages slumping and businesses charging more, culminating in many workers asking for pay rises to help ease the pressure on budgets. It is slightly galling to hear these mandarins pontificating to the masses when “earning “US$ 237k plus” – more than seven times the average man in the street’s remuneration of US$ 33k.
The UK has not got a good track record when it comes to helping its citizens in troubled times overseas, and the current situation in Sudan is becoming a good illustration. Stories of their complete mishandling of the Afghan invasion in August 2021, and the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1991, spring to mind. At the first sign of trouble, last weekend, the Sunak government rescued twenty-four diplomats, and their families, in a “complex and rapid” operation. These were the first to be airlifted out of the country and, at the time, the number of UK citizens needed to be flown out of Sudan was at around 4k, but this figure was at the lower end of the spectrum. With a four-day ceasefire in place, it seemed that the remaining UK nationals could easily be flown out over the next seventy-two hours. By Wednesday, and according to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, a total of 536 people had been evacuated from Sudan on six UK flights, according to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office; this number had reached 1.6k by today. Maybe, the UK should have followed the German example, with its Foreign Minister noting that, “it was important to us that the [German] evacuation, unlike other countries, didn’t just involve our diplomatic personnel but all Germans on the ground and their partners.” What has happened this week is just a warning to all UK expats worldwide that they should not rely on the assistance of the UK government in Times of Trouble!