UAE’s Central Bank disclosed that 26 banks had availed 88% of the AED 50bn liquidity facility (with 17 banks drawing down 100%). Overall, more than 180k customers have benefitted, with the total deferral value estimated at AED 8bn.
In Ajman, around 1,884 economic establishments benefited from the exemption of license renewal fees.
Dubai allowed the resumption of more activities (including visits to public libraries, private museums etc.) as well as allowing children under the age of 12 and those above 60 to visit malls and other public areas. Social distancing measures remain in place as well as the recommendation of wearing face masks. However, a travel ban is still in place in Abu Dhabi (till Tuesday next week) for the 3rd consecutive week with permits required to enter the emirate.
Abu Dhabi refunded AED 8mn (USD 2.1mn) to 220 businesses, as part of the initiative to refund 20% of the annual rental value on their commercial property leases worth AED 1bn. About 8,000 business units currently qualify to apply.
Inflation in Dubai declined by 3.49% YoY in May, with utilities and transport costs down by 6.26% and 12.4% respectively while food and beverage costs were up 5.47%.
Abu Dhabi’s newly structured Musataha agreements will provide opportunities for private sector companies to develop land owned by government agencies.
Ship fueling activity in UAE’s Fujairah fell in May: ship refueling, or bunkering, volumes shrank to about 200k-300k tonnes, down from average volumes of about 700k-800k tonnes.
Islamic economy sectors in Dubai grew by 2.2% YoY in 2018, contributing AED 41.8bn (USD 11.38bn) to the emirate’s GDP.
Emirates airlines will be providing connections via Dubai for 40 destinations’ travellers, after the addition of 10 new cities from 20th June onwards.
Dubai announced it would allow tourists back from 7th July after a closure of more than three months to contain the coronavirus.
Bahrain’s cabinet agreed to add up to BHD 177mn (USD 470mn) to this year’s budget to tackle emergency expenses related to the COVID-19 outbreak.
A survey report titled “The Economic Impact of Coronavirus on Business Owners” which recorded responses from 1180 firms in Bahrain revealed that a majority expect the economic recovery to take at least a year while 59% expect a high risk of closure of business within the next 6 months. About 71% of businesses in the tourism and hospitality industry fear closure within the coming months while in education it is 63% and the lowest is in finance, insurance and tax (27%).
Bilateral trade between Egypt and China increased by 3.2% YoY to USD 3.2bn in Q1 2020; China’s investments in Egypt, however, declined during the period by 12% to USD 35bn.
Egypt Parliament approved an amendment to allocate 25% of seats to women, reported Egypt Today. Approval was also given to increase the presidential terms to 6 years from 4.
Jordan announced new measures to support its tourism sector: this includes potentially refunding bank guarantees (to the tune of JOD 30mn) submitted by tourism offices during this period, as well as a social security programme for tourism employees. Furthermore, service and sales tax imposed on hotels and restaurants will be halved to 5% and 8% respectively.
Effective 21st June, curfew in Kuwait will be eased to 10 hours, from 7 pm to 5 am. While the total lockdown on Hawally area has been lifted, its phase 1 of the 5-phase recovery plan will be extended for one more week. Kuwait has made wearing of masks mandatory and public sector employees will not be allowed to return to offices from this week.
Lebanon’s central bank governor stated that the daily volume of banknotes being injected into Lebanon’s markets averaged USD 4mn (last Monday-Tuesday), while assuring that the money was not from BDL’s reserves. However, its effectiveness is questionable, with black market exchangers selling the dollar for around LBP 5,100 on Wednesday.
The head of the Beirut Traders Association stated that as many as 50% of Lebanon’s shops and businesses could close by end-2020. He also revealed that 25% had already closed this year in Beirut alone.
JPMorgan expects Lebanon to contract by 14% this year, following declines of 6.9% and 1.9% in 2019 and 2018 respectively. The bank expects no quick agreement to be reached with the IMF given the ongoing uncertainty regarding debt restructuring plans and scope for structural reforms.
Though the lockdown in Oman has been lifted, restrictions are still in place on gatherings (of more than 5 individuals) on beaches and other public places.
Qatar Airways will layoff some pilots while others’ salaries could be cut by 15-25%. Bloomberg reported, citing an internal letter, that Qatari citizens were exempt from wage cuts.
Qatar Airways disclosed that Boeing and Airbus had been informed that it would not take delivery of new planes in 2020 or 2021. Orders to be delivered within the next 2-3 years will be pushed to nearly 8-10 years, with plans instead to shrink its fleet of around 200 jets.
Despite the rising number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, Saudi Arabia will initiate the 3rd phase of its recovery plan by opening most commercial activities from 20th June. Mosques in Makkah are also set to reopen with social distancing measures in place.
The Saudi Industrial Development Fund revealed a SAR 3.7bn (USD 1bn) stimulus package for industrial sector companies. Initiatives will include support for SMEs via deferring or restructuring loans and offering a line of credit to finance up to 3 months of operating expenses.
Business sentiment in the region seems to be waning: according to PwC’s COVID-19 CFO pulse survey, nearly 72% of CFOs in the region believe that the economy will take at least three months or more to recover from the pandemic, up from 66% five weeks ago. About 42% expect the recovery to take 6 or more months, compared to 37% globally though UAE is relatively more optimistic (33%).
IMD’s World Competitiveness report places UAE as top in the region and 9th most competitive globally. Saudi Arabia ranked 24th globally (up from 26th last year) and is the only Middle East nation to improve its ranking. Singapore topped the list, followed by Denmark, Switzerland and Netherlands.
Stock markets performed well last week despite the spike in COVID-19 cases as economic activity resumed with the easing of restrictions (& resurgence of cases in nations that had successfully “flattened the curve”) and given unprecedented liquidity support from central banks. Markets across Europe – Stoxx600, FTSE – gained on better than expected macro data as well as on expectations that the stimulus package would be passed soon. China’s stocks ended higher after Beijing pledged reforms and liquidity support. Regionally, most markets were up as economies gradually eased restrictions and kickstarted economic activity. UK pound had its worst week in a month against the dollar while the euro also edged down. Oil prices increased on reports of demand recovery while gold price was up almost 1% on safe-haven demand.
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