Bloomberg reported that the Abu Dhabi Exchange (ADX) was reaching out to state-run firms and family-owned companies to kickstart another stream of IPOs; various incentives were being offered to making these listings attractive including flexibility on the minimum stake size required for share sales and promising to reduce or forgo listing fees.
The Dubai Economy issued 15,475 new licenses in Q1 this year, up 18.8% YoY; of these licenses, 58% were professional licenses and 41% for commercial activities.
UAE’s free zones contributed about a third of commercial traffic and imports last year and more than half of all re-exports, according to the Minister of Economy. He also stated that about 80% of the first phase to support economic sectors has been completed.
The CEO of Dubai Tourism, in an interview, disclosed that while the Dubai emirate welcomed 40k visitors in July 2020, that number had jumped to 450k in March this year.
Dubai’s real estate sales touched 4,832 transactions (+4.2% MoM) worth AED 10.98bn (USD 3bn, +0.6% MoM) in April – the highest value in four years, according to Dubai’s official sales price index. The total number of properties sold this year reached 16,577 worth AED 36.12bn. Off-plan sales constituted 40% of total sales transactions in April.
Abu Dhabi’s ADNOC raised USD 64bn by issuing exchangeable bonds and additional shares to investors in its listed retail unit ADNOC Distribution.
UAE has been rated Aa2 stable in Moody’s annual credit analysis, though highlighted were a few aspects including “limited institutional transparency and the absence of public data on the composition of offshore assets and some aspects of the emirates’ public finances”.
UAE announced that COVID-19 vaccinations will be mandatory for people attending all “live events” from June 6 This follows a similar announcement from Dubai the week before.
Hotels in Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Dubai reported occupancy rates of 67.2%, 63.6% and 59.7% during the Eid holiday week (May 10-16), according to STR.
Bahrain’s Central Bank has instructed banks to postpone all loan instalments for individuals and companies by a further 6 months. Separately, a 2-week shutdown has been announced to contain the COVID-19 surge: during this period non-essential services will remain closed.
Around 80% of Bahrainis have been vaccinated with Sinopharm: with Saudi not recognising the vaccine (despite being WHO-approved), the country is in discussions to allow entry to these Bahrainis.
A draft law that would govern fintech in Egypt was given preliminary approval by the Parliament. The Financial Regulatory Authority will have supervisory power over fintech startups and will regulate the use of fintech to deliver non-banking financial services.
Revenues from the Suez Canal increased by 16% YoY to USD 551.5mn in April, with the number of ships passing through up by 4.8% YoY to 1,814.
Since the start of the year, 10 Egyptian startups have raised USD 55.3mn in funding, according to MAGNiTT, while four others obtained financing of less than USD 1m
Egypt will complete the local manufacture of 2mn doses of the COVID-19 vaccine within 6-7 weeks, revealed the Health Minister.
A USD 14mn reconstruction project in Iraq – of a major bridge that was destroyed during the war – has been awarded to an Egyptian company. Separately, an Iraqi official disclosed that there are about 6,225 stalled projects worth USD 90bn in the country, largely due to mismanagement and lack of funds in addition to the wars.
Entertainment activities in Saudi Arabia have been allowed to resume, at 40% capacity; those who are vaccinated will be permitted entry.
Hotel occupancies in Saudi Arabia stood between 20%-50% during Q1 this year, with Makkah and Madinah markets witnessing the steepest declines of 64% and 48% while Riyadh posted a 20% decline and Jeddah had the lowest 1% drop.
Saudi Arabia will resume the issuance of tourism visas for 11 countries from this Sunday, including visitors from UAE, Germany, US, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, UK, Sweden, Switzerland, France and Japan.
Stock markets across the globe gained, with China recording one of the highest gains since July. In the US, the spending plan proposed in the Biden budget boosted market sentiment even as data pointed to a jump in April inflation. Europe’s Stoxx 600 gained on the pace of vaccination and reopenings across the region. Regional markets were mixed, with Egypt’s market down by 4.6% (largely due to blue-chip) while Dubai gained for the fourth consecutive week, up 2.4% on property and financial stocks. Among currencies, the yuan advanced to its strongest since 2018. Oil prices inched closer to the USD 70-mark while gold price inched up by 1.2% crossing the USD 1900 mark (it is up almost 7.6% this month).
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