UAE continues to reveal its list of 50 new economic initiatives to boost competitiveness and aid diversification. Announced earlier today were plans to increase the number of Emiratis in the private sector – this includes incentives like a boost to their salaries, support for pension fund of employees and payments for children in addition to allowing government employees to take sabbaticals on 50% of salary to start their own business among others (plan is to spend AED 24bn towards this effort). Private sector employers are expected to increase their Emirati workforce by 2% each year over five years. This set follows last week’s initiatives which focused on investment in technology and green, freelancer and part-time work visas. An investment of USD 36bn in the Emirates Development Bank was also announced.
UAE’s Minister of Economy revealed that the country is estimated to grow by more than 4% this year – much more optimistic than the Central Bank’s December forecast of 2.5%. The country aims to attract AED 550bn (USD 150bn) in FDI in the next 9 years.
UAE will allocate USD 2.6bn for industrial and technology projects, according to a senior official from the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology. The plan is to raise national value added to AED 55bn by 2025 from AED 33bn currently.
Dubai PMI inched up to 53.3 in August (July: 53.2): there was a boost in consumer demand and the tourism sector gained, with its index rising to a 21-month high of 55.1 in August, thanks to the easing of travel restrictions. The output sub-index increased to its highest reading since September 2019, and the construction sector index rose to 53.3 in August (highest since July 2019).
DIFC reported a 59% YoY growth in new company registrations in the free zone in H1 2021, with about 492 new companies joining. Overall, there are 3292 active registered companies (+27%), allowing the centre to achieve one of the “2024 Strategy” targets of tripling in size (compared to 2014).
The CEO of Etihad revealed that the airline performed the strongest in July since the start of the pandemic: in July, just over 40% of its seats were filled vs just 24.9% over H1 2021.
On 9th September, more than 1.3mn persons used Dubai’s public transport facilities: the most since the beginning of the pandemic.
UAE allowed entry of all fully WHO-approved vaccinated persons as of 12th September, including from previously suspended countries in advance of the opening of Expo 2020.
According to New World Wealth, a research firm that tracks the wealth and the movements of millionaires, multi-millionaires and billionaires globally, Dubai’s population of high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs), rose to 54,000 in June 2021, up by 3.8 per cent from 52,000 last December – Zawya.
Bahrain reported a 65% YoY surge in cashless payments in August: about 11.3mn point-of-sale and e-commerce transactions were reported, with a total value of USD 743.7mn; this follows a total of USD 3.62bn in cashless payments in H1 2021 from 53mn transactions.
Lebanon formed a government following a year of political impasse – to remain in power for 8 months, till elections in May. It is PM Mikati’s third government and the fourth under President Aoun. Immediately after the announcement, the pound rose to its highest rate vis-à-vis the dollar to LBP 15k from LBP 19k the day before.
Lebanon is launching cash subsidy cards for over 500k families, which will provide each family with around USD 93 per month. The cash payments, estimated to cost USD 556mn, were approved by the Parliament in June, but with no sources of funding identified.
Occupancy rates in Qatar averaged 60% in H1 2021 (vs 55% in H1 2020); hotel accommodation grew by 7% YoY during this period while the average room rate increased by 16% to QAR 438 and revenue per available room increased by 24% to QAR 266.
Palestinian Authority pulled out of an agreement to provide funding from Qatar to the Gaza Strip “due to fears of legal prosecution and accusations that banks were “supporting terrorism”. Earlier in the week, QNA reported that Qatar had reached an agreement on a grant for reconstruction in the Gaza Strip and the opening of crossings into the enclave.
Prices of construction materials in Saudi Arabia surged to record levels in July 2021, ranging between hikes of 4% to 40%. The price of a ton of national 18mm steel rebar increased by 29.39% to SAR 3505.45 while Romanian wood posted the largest increase (+40.7%).
The demand for guarantees from SMEs in Saudi Arabia (via the Kafalah program) grew by 106% (compared to 2019) to more than USD 4bn, as the firms tried to survive through the pandemic. According to the Central Bank, the amount of credit disbursed to SMEs grew by 39.74% to SAR 188.42bn in Q1 2021.
Saudization programs will likely create 213k jobs for Saudis this year, disclosed the minister of human resources and social development.
Saudi Arabia removed the travel bans imposed on UAE, Argentina and South Africa, allowing citizens to travel to these nations starting from 8th September.
Renewed concerns over inflation dampened investor sentiment in the US, resulting in stocks posting their worst week in almost 3 months. In Europe, stock markets also ended in the red after ECB signaled a slowdown in bond purchases – Stoxx600 was down by 1.2% (steepest slide since mid-August). A call between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping eased tensions after trade negotiations remained unsuccessful; this helped China’s shares to rise (+3.5% in the week) and also lifted the overall MSCI World Index though the latter ended the week a tad lower. Among regional markets, 2 markets stood out: Tadawul closed at its highest level since January 2008 on Tuesday while Abu Dhabi closed at an all-time high on Thursday. The GBP fell after data showed a slowdown in recovery while the euro dropped by 0.6%. Oil prices ticked up on supply concerns after production delays continued following Hurricane Ida while gold prices ended lower.
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