Dubai launches a second package of economic growth initiatives to support SMEs …

UAE’s PMI dipped to a 28-month low of 53.4 in February

Dubai launches a second package of economic growth initiatives to support SMEs …

UAE News:
UAE’s PMI dipped to a 28-month low of 53.4 in February (January: 56.3), with new orders rising at their slowest rate since October 2016. The employment index fell to 47.5 in February – the steepest decline since the survey began – with 9% of respondents reporting lower mom headcount, and only 1.5% reporting increased hiring.
UAE experiencing deflation: prices contracted by 2.4% YoY in January (December: +0.4%); prices of the housing and utilities sector fell 5.08% YoY, as did transportation prices (-6.4%) while food and beverages prices also fell 1.09%.
UAE announced the allocation of AED 5.8bn (USD 1.57bn) for water and electricity projects in the northern emirates.
Dubai launches a second package of economic growth initiatives to support SMEs and Public-Private Partnerships: this includes payment of dues to SMEs within 30 days instead of 90, reducing the value of primary insurance for SMEs, reduction in the “performance insurance” rate to 5% from 10% on all supplies, allocating 5% of government capital projects to SMEs and the allocation of projects worth AED 1bn to PPP.
The DIFC welcomed 437 new companies in 2018 (+39%), taking the total number of firms to 2137; of the total, 29.2% are financial firms. Total workforce registered in the Centre picked up by 6% to 23,604 persons.
The contribution of the SME sector to UAE’s GDP is estimated at 53%, up from about 49% in 2018, according to a recent report from the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority. The aim is to increase this rate to around 60% by 2021.
The Dubai Airport Free zone Authority disclosed a 62% YoY pickup in non-oil trade to AED 146bn in 2018.

MENA News:
MPs in Bahrain approved an urgent proposal
to nationalize the public sector: the aim is 100% Bahrainisation of the public sector within 4 years. Currently, citizens account for 85% of public sector jobs.
Real estate trade volume in Jordan declined by 24% YoY to JOD 695mn in January-February 2019, announced the Department of Land and Survey.
Visitors into Petra increased by 68% YoY to 74,413 in February, as per data from the Petra Development and Tourism Regional Authority.
Kuwait’s listed companies won contracts worth USD 1bn in January-February this year, up 17% YoY. Majority of the tenders were awarded by 7 local authorities including the Kuwait Municipality, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Works.
According to Kuwait’s deputy PM, the country is in talks with Iraq to construct “border towns” and develop a Free Zone between the two countries.
Kuwait is planning to create a USD 10bn Kuwait-China Silk Road Fund to invest in Kuwaiti projects related to the Silk City and islands development as well as for strategic investments in China under the Belt & Road Initiative, reported Bloomberg.
Kuwait increased annual leave in the private sector to 35 days from 30 currently as part of a number of amendments to the labour law, to be applicable to both Kuwaitis and expats.
Tourism in Oman is expected to rise to 3.5mn, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5% between 2018 and 2023, as per Colliers International data (released ahead of the Arabian Travel Market 2019).
Saudi Arabia’s energy minister revealed that large quantities of gas was discovered in the Red Sea. He also confirmed that the Aramco IPO would happen within two years.
Total value of real estate loans to individuals in Saudi Arabia grew by 16% YoY to SAR 154.67bn (USD 41.24bn) in 2018. Of this, property loans given by banks touched SAR 141.36bn, up 16.4%.
Saudi Arabia’s housing minister expects investments in the real estate financing sector to touch SAR 60-80bn (USD 21.33bn) this year. Real estate financing touched SAR 4.7bn in January. He also stated that Saudi home ownership is expected to rise to 15k new households per month by 2020 from a little over 10k per month currently – growing between 6-7% annually.
Saudi Arabia’s Council of Ministers gave a green light to the issuance of new electronic visas within 24 hours for visitors who attend business attractions, concerts, and sport events. By 2030, Saudi Arabia is planning to inject about SAR 240bn in the recreation sector.

Global News:
Global equity markets had a rough week, on growth concerns and latest round of disappointing data (US non-farm payrolls, China’s exports, German industrial orders) amidst few updates on the US-China trade negotiations. Regional markets were mostly down, with the exception of Egypt (supported by blue-chips) and Kuwait. The dollar weakened, and the euro was close to a 21-month low versus the dollar, while the Swedish crown fell to a 16-year low on Riksbank’s cautious growth outlook. Oil prices fell as US supply surged, while gold price picked up on a weaker dollar towards end of the week.

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