US credit ratings agency Thomson BankWatch has bolstered its coverage in the Gulf with a positive sovereign risk rating for the UAE and a local currency credit rating for a local bank.

The ratings, announced on 17 September, follow assessments of banks in Qatar and Saudi Arabia earlier this year, which came in the context of growing interest in the Gulf on the part of international ratings agencies that previously did not cover the region (Banking, MEED Special Report, 28:7:96).

Thomson says that it gave the UAE a rating of A+ because of its large oil and gas reserves, rising non-oil income and relative openness to foreign investment. Constraining factors included the UAE’s vulnerability to oil price fluctuations, high public spending and subsidies, and the political risks associated with tensions between the GCC states, Iraq and Iran. The agency did not say whether the UAE had asked for the rating or not.

Thomson also rated Emirates Bank International, one of the top banks in the UAE.

It gave the bank its highest intracountry issuer grade of IC-A and its top short-term, local currency rating of LC-1 (see UAE)