Dubai PMI increased to 46 in May (April: 41.7), as declines in both output and new orders softened; fall in employment was the slowest since February. Businesses revealed weak consumer demand and slow market response to the easing of restrictions.
In an interview with Bloomberg, UAE’s Minister of Infrastructure Development disclosed that economic recovery is likely to be U- or V-shaped while also stating that the country had a pipeline of AED 20bn worth federal infrastructure projects, including AED 7bn in state-sponsored housing programmes.
Abu Dhabi introduced a new initiative to allow for faster issuance of business licenses: the new e-contract and e-signature system will ease the process of obtaining a license for one-person and limited liability companies.
In line with the stimulus packages announced earlier, licensed businesses in Abu Dhabi – with activities listed as restaurants, entertainments and tourism (except hotels) – can now apply for a 20% refund on rents of commercial properties, according to the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development.
Fitch affirmed the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah’s long-term foreign-currency issuer default rating (IDR) at “A” with a stable outlook.
Remittances from UAE increased by 7.8% YoY to AED 41.4bn in Q1, with top destinations India (37.8%), Pakistan (11.4%), Philippines (7%), Egypt (6.6%) and the US (3.6%).
UAE continues to reopen: from 14th June, Dubai government entities will operate at 100% of their capacity while in Sharjah, around 30% of government employees will resume work from offices. Dubai World Trade Centre is planning to restart events and exhibitions in H2 this year.
Abu Dhabi’s hotels saw an increase in occupancy rates to 55.2% in May (April: 47.3%), according to STR estimates, though the average daily rate and revenue per available room were down by 26.2% (to AED 251.4) and 22.1% (to AED 138.88) respectively.
The value of real estate transactions in Dubai touched AED 20bn in Q1 2020, according to the Dubai Land Department.
Euromonitor estimates that consumer spending in the UAE will recover only by late 2021.
Airline woes continue: Emirates and Etihad airlines have extended pay cuts for staff until September. Emirates laid off over 1k employees last week; flydubai has extended indefinitely its reduced pay for employees, while also placing many pilots on unpaid leave for a year.
Bahrain plans to reopen schools in September, with classes in government schools starting on 16th September and administrative staff returning on 6th September.
Bahrain’s ruler increased monthly allowances by 20% for 11k orphans and widows sponsored by the Royal Humanitarian Foundation.
Egypt registered the highest daily rise in COVID-19 cases in nearly two weeks last Friday.
After opening to domestic tourists last month at reduced capacity, Egypt’s seaside resorts are planning to open for foreigners from 1st July. Public beaches and parks are to remain shut till end-June.
Kuwait Petroleum Corporation will stop hiring expats for the remainder of 2020 and 2021, while the number of special contracts for foreign workers would be cut.
Lebanon will reopen the Beirut International Airport for commercial flights from 1st July while private flights will resume on 24th June; traffic will be at 10% of capacity from a year ago. With the pound falling to 5,000 to the dollar last week from about 4,100 a week prior, to stem the flow Lebanon’s Central Bank will inject dollars into the market, disclosed the President. Earlier in the week, the Central Bank announced that a new electronic trading platform would be opened on 23rd June to unify the price of dollars on the parallel market.
Qatar will ease restrictions in 4 phases from 15th June: phase 1 will see some mosques reopening and few flights departing while phase 2 (starting from 1st July) will allow for partial reopening of restaurants; phase 3 (beginning of August) will permit resumption of flights from low-risk nations and reopening of malls while phase 4 will allow normal operations to resume in all mosques and expansion of flights.
Saudi Arabia reopened mosques 40 minutes before Friday prayers starting June 12th except for in Makkah and Jeddah. The country will also resume professional sports activities starting from 21st June.
Saudi Arabia’s trade surplus narrowed by 38.3% YoY and 32.5% QoQ to SAR 73.74bn (USD 19.64bn) in Q1 2020. Oil exports fell by 21.9% (to USD 40bn) and non-oil exports by 16.5% during the quarter while imports declined by 4.4%. China remained the top trading partner: top export destinations were China, Japan and India while import destinations were China, US and the UAE. In 2019, trade surplus had fallen by 25.5% YoY to SAR 439.43bn, as merchandise exports dipped by 11.2% to SAR 980.69bn and imports rose by 5.3%.
Trade between Saudi Arabia and the GCC nations (excluding Qatar) fell by 14% YoY to SAR 18.84bn (USD 5.01bn) in Q1 this year. UAE accounted for 65.3% of this volume, while Bahrain and Oman together clocked in almost 25%.
Dubai, ranked 23rd globally, is the most expensive city in the Middle East for expatriates, according to Mercer’s 26th Annual Cost of Living Survey 2020. Riyadh (31), Abu Dhabi (39) and Beirut (45) were other contenders in the list topped by Hong Kong, Ashgabat and Tokyo.
Renewed fears of the pandemic resulted in a sell-off on 11th June – all three major U.S. stock indices posted their worst day since mid-March; the Vix rose above 40, its highest close since 23rd April. S&P ended the week down 4.8% (the worst in 3 months) while European and Asian markets also closed lower versus the week before. Regional markets were mixed, with Dubai and Saudi exchanges the better performers. Demand for the dollar increased and major currencies fell vis-à-vis the greenback. Oil prices fell following 6 weeks of gains on concerns about excess supply (US crude inventories surged to a record high, disclosed the EIA) while gold price posted its biggest weekly gain since April.
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