Abu Dhabi announced a AED 6bn supply chain financing initiative to support SMEs, funded by the Ghadan 21 SME credit guarantee scheme. The initiative, initially supporting the healthcare sector, will facilitate quick payment of SMEs’ receivables, hence reducing costs of working capital.
Sharjah attracted USD 220mn worth FDI into 24 projects last year and led to the creation of 1117 new jobs.
Saudi Arabia and Iraq were the UAE’s biggest export markets during January-September 2020, with trade touching AED 73.58bn (USD 20bn) and AED 36.5bn respectively. In total, UAE’s exports touched AED 460bn during the period till September 2020. The Dubai Chamber estimates UAE’s non-oil trade volume to grow by up to 12.9% this year.
Dubai Economy announced a 132% YoY surge in DED Trade licenses to 5,799 last year: this license supports freelancers and startups to conduct businesses online. A total of 9,949 licenses have been issued since this license was launched in 2017, of which 57% have been issued to women.
Foreign companies operating in the UAE grew by 3.5% MoM to 3209 in December 2020, according to the UAE’s National Economic register.
Prior to leaving office, the former President Trump added UAE to the list of nations exempted from a 10% tariff imposed on metal imports: this will come into effect from February 3rd. Other countries excluded from the tariff include Argentina, Australia, Canada and Mexico.
The UAE signed agreements with the US to purchase up to 50 F-35 jets, 18 armed drones and other defense equipment in a deal worth USD 23bn.
Bahrain attracted BHD 333mn (USD 885mn) in FDI last year and is expected to create more than 4,300 jobs over the next 3 years: this was announced following a board meeting of the Economic Development Board.
Bahrain approved a 3% increase for those who earn less than BHD 500 in pensions. This was part of 6 urgent steps approved by the Cabinet, which also included merging the public and private sector funds, halting annual pension increases, unless there is a surplus and decoupling salaries and pensions among others. Separately, an actuarial study is underway to include expats in pension funds.
Egypt signed an agreement to design and build its first high-speed rail network, to be completed within 2 years and at an overall cost of about EGP 360bn (USD 23bn).
The lockdown in Lebanon has been extended for two more weeks till February 8th. The Health Ministry has signed a deal to secure 2.1mn doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine, which is expected to arrive in batches in February. Furthermore, the Ministry is cooperating with the private sector to secure 2mn doses from Astrazenca and Sinopharm and signed up for 2.7mn doses via Covax.
Oman closed its land borders for one week starting last Monday, to curb the spread of COVID-19, with the option to extend for longer should the need arise.
Unemployment in Saudi Arabia dropped to 14.9% in Q3 from 15.4% the previous quarter, though higher than Q1’s 11.8%. The gap between male and female unemployment remained significant, with the former at 7.9% and latter at 30.2%.
Saudi Arabia launched a SAR 1bn (USD 270mn) closed joint-stock company Kidana to maintain, develop and preserve the holy sites.
Many nations are rescheduling administration of the Pfizer vaccine, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and UAE’s Dubai, given delays in supply as the company is upgrading its production capacity.
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and UAE remained among the top holders of US Treasury securities though holdings fell by 23% YoY to USD 137.6 in Saudi Arabia and by 8% to USD 36.8bn in the UAE, while in Kuwait holdings were up by 7%.
Equities across the globe ended the week in positive territory after posting record highs. in the US, it dropped on weaker earnings as well as potential for pushback in the Congress for President Biden’s spending plans; in Europe, markets were dragged down after weak economic data; Asian markets fell on profit taking and also given worries on China’s COVID-19 restrictions. In the region, markets were mixed: UAE posted weekly gains though higher Covid cases and new restrictions led to a drop later in the week. The dollar slipped, the euro and pound were higher by 0.7%, while bitcoin lost its charm, down 12.3% YTD – posting its worst weekly performance since early 2020 – as regulatory chatter increased. Oil prices fell after an unexpected increase in US inventories and worries of lower demand due to a second wave/ restrictions in China; spot gold prices gained.
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