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IMF chief predicts growth for Mideast's oil-rich countries

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By The Associated Press
Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, 5:32 p.m.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — The head of the International Monetary Fund said on Saturday that the economies of the oil-rich countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council will continue to enjoy high growth rates, although at reduced rates.

Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the IMF, praised the GCC nations' management of oil prices and reserves, and lauded their financial contribution to the transition of Arab countries after the uprisings that have rattled local economies.

She said that while other Arab economies are challenged, the six nations of the GCC — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman — are enjoying growth that reached its highest level in eight years in 2011 at 7.5 percent.

An IMF official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with the organization's policy, said that after the GCC's strong performance in 2011, growth in the nations' non-oil sectors is expected to slow as fiscal stimulus eases, but to remain high by historical standards at around 6.5 and 5.6 percent in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

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