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This is a proud week for BXB as we sponsor Amir “The Prince” Albazi- the UFC’s first Iraqi male fighter, who is making his UFC debut on 18th July against Canadian Malcolm Gordon.
Amir’s story is remarkable. His family escaped war-torn Iraq and sought refuge in Syria, Kurdistan and then Sweden. He trained in martial arts in Sweden as a form of self defense, quickly excelling to competitive level. His journey through Bellator and Brave CF now takes him to biggest MMA stage of all. The UFC.
Adversity can present the greatest opportunities for self growth through the resilience it breeds. Resilience is one of the best by-products of adversity - a critical characteristic for all successful Entrepreneurs and Business Owners. We embrace the challenges, the haters, the naysayers as we know they serve only to elevate our game. We give our undiluted support to Amir and admire his spirit and strength to represent Iraqi’s all round the world and remind us that no challenge is insurmountable.
Dubai Government announced a further AED 1.5bn worth of economic stimulus measures including an extension of the halving of municipality fees, tourism fees as well as waiving fees charged to private schools for license renewals. The latest round increases the total stimulus from the Dubai Government to AED 6.3bn.
UAE’s Banking Sector can withstand any shocks, stated the Central Bank, based on stress testing results, the high capital adequacy ratio (16.9% as of end-March) and eligible liquid asset rate of 16.6% as of end-May.
Dubai’s DMCC (Dubai Multi Commodities Centre) Free Zone extended its “Business Support Package” to all registered companies till 31st August including waiver of penalties, 2-month rent holidays and discounts on license reinstatement fees and license issuance among others. Separately, DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre) announced that its Presidential Directive – which introduced new measures for employees and businesses related to their workforce – will end on 31st July.
S&P downgraded the ratings of 3 major Dubai-based real estate companies to +BB from -BBB – DIFC Investments (stable outlook), Emaar Properties (negative outlook) and Emaar Malls (negative outlook) – citing economic pressures due to COVID-19 amid lower oil prices. The rating firm, which expects Dubai’s GDP to shrink by 11% this year, also warned of fiscal risks arising from the performance of GREs (Government Related Entities) exposed to the pandemic (Emirates Group, DP World, Jumeriah Group etc.).
Tourists were permitted into Dubai from 7th July: with Emirates and Flydubai resuming flights to multiple destinations across the globe. Dubai Tourism’s Chief remained optimistic that related businesses would recover as “things normalize towards year-end”. However, a divergence was evident on the aviation front: Emirates continues to layoff pilots and cabin crew (the company’s President estimates a rise to up to 15% of total workforce, or 9k jobs) while a new budget airline Air Arabia Abu Dhabi (UAE’s 5th airline) will begin operations from 14th July (initial flight to Egypt’s Alexandria).
All business tenants in properties owned by Dubai Developments Group will be exempt from paying rent for six months, up from three months previously. An estimated 1500 businesses are likely to benefit from this move.
UAE plans to conduct over 2 million COVID-19 tests in the next two months, focusing on employees in the services and government sectors.
Route 2020, the 15-km extension of the Dubai Metro, leading to the Expo 2020 site will open to the public in September.
Egypt’s parliament approved a law to waive late payment interest and penalties on taxes (including VAT). 90% of the fees will be waived if taxes are paid within 60 days from the date the law comes into effect. Separately, the Egyptian Tax Authority decided to extend the decision of unfreezing assets in tax disputes until end-September: taxpayers can pay 1% of due taxes to unfreeze their assets.
Egypt’s tourism investments are likely to decline by 28.8% to EGP 5.2bn in the fiscal year 2020-21, according to the minister of planning and economic development. Private investments’ share is estimated to fall to 84% vs 90% a year ago.
Investment in metro projects in Egypt will continue: the plan is to implement 22 projects by 2024 at a combined cost of EGP 512bn (USD 31.92bn).
Egypt set 11-12th August as the date for inaugural elections for a new second parliamentary chamber; results will be announced on 19th August.
Given the COVID-19 outbreak and impact, Oman’s Tax Authority announced suspension of fines for non-submission of declarations and accounts for fiscal year 2019 as well as additional tax due to non-payment of income tax for last year till September 2020. Payments can also be rescheduled or made in instalments.
Qatar awarded 9 new contracts for road and infrastructure development projects worth QAR 3.6bn (USD 981mn) to local companies.
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources issued 118 new industrial licenses in June: employing 5609 persons, the factories have a total capital of SAR 2.18bn.
Saudi Arabia will proceed with plans to double the size and population of Riyadh in the next decade: the government has already committed USD 266.6bn for ongoing and new projects as part of total investments of around USD 800bn over the next decade.
FDI into Saudi Arabia increased to SAR 469.7bn (USD 125.25bn) in Q1 this year – its highest annual and quarterly levels since 2007 – rising for 9 consecutive quarters.
Unemployment in Saudi Arabia fell in Q1 to 11.8% from 12% the quarter prior, unlikely to have captured the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gold production in Saudi Arabia increased to its highest level in 2019: rising 5% YoY to 12.35 tonnes. With more than 323 tonnes of gold, Saudi Arabia also has the largest gold reserves among Arab states.
Non-Saudi residents will account for 70% of this year’s Hajj pilgrims, with priority given to those aged between 20 and 50 who do not suffer from chronic diseases, who have not performed Hajj before and those who show a negative COVID-19 test.
Saudi Arabia will extend the validity of final exit visas for expats at no charge, while extending the validity of expired residency visas, visit visas and entry visas for residents stuck abroad for 3 months free of charge.
MENA’s startups secured USD 659mn in funding in H1 this year from 251 deals, with UAE receiving the largest share of funds (59% of total, but down 3% YoY) and Egypt the largest number of deals (25% of total), according to Magnitt’s MENA Venture Investment Report.
M&A activity in the Middle East and Africa totalled 130 deals valued at USD 59.8bn in H1 this year, according to Mergermarket. With 15 deals, M&A in the energy, mining and utilities sector reached USD 32.1bn in H1, surpassing all annual totals in this sector in MEA.
Most global stock markets closed positive last week (except for FTSE (Financial Times Stock Exchange) which closed 1% down in spite of the extra stimulus) as the virus count continued to rise and ahead of the Q2 earnings season. Chinese shares touched a 5-year high after state media called on local investors to pour money into markets; daily turnover soared by nearly 80% compared to a week ago. Regional markets were mostly up, with Oman and Abu Dhabi down by 0.5% week on week. Safe-haven assets were in demand: US Treasury yields dipped to their lowest levels since late April while yield on the 10-year German Bund touched -0.5%; the yen rose against the dollar; gold prices hit a 9-year high, rising 1.3% versus a week ago. Oil prices increased on news of IEA (International Energy Agency) raising its oil demand forecast, with WTI (West Texas Intermediate) unchanged and Brent up 1% from the prior week. Economic data improves across the globe: reiterating the need to be aware that the “recovery” is still far below the pre-COVID-19 numbers. With the WHO (World Health Organization) reporting record daily surge in global COVID-19 confirmed cases, it is time to reassess any cautious optimism related to recovery.
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Welcome to Business Exchange Bureau Blog!