Dubai Scores Again as AC Milan joins Real Madrid, Barcelona, Man City, PSG and more in opening base in the Emirate…

Dubai has a goal to become a major hub for international football clubs setting up training academies.

Dubai Scores Again as AC Milan joins Real Madrid, Barcelona, Man City, PSG and more in opening base in the Emirate…

UAE News:

Dubai has a goal to become a major hub for international football clubs setting up training academies.

UAE and South Korea signed a trade agreement, that sees a sharp reduction in import duties (on more than 90% of all imports) alongside strengthened economic ties. The agreement will remove all tariffs on South Korean arms exports when it is ratified and the UAE will drop import duty on automobiles over the next 10 years. Additionally, about 19 business deals and agreements were signed in investment, energy, nuclear power, defence, technology, climate change and cultural exchange: this includes plans for South Korea to build six LNG carriers worth USD 1.5bn in a deal between ADNOC L&S, Samsung Heavy Industries and Hanwha Ocean.

According to a joint declaration, UAE and China have signed multiple cooperation agreements “aimed at strengthening bilateral relations in the fields of Belt and Road Initiative, investment and trade, science and technology, tourism, health, culture, statistics, higher education as well as Chinese language teaching, intellectual property, peaceful uses of nuclear energy, tolerance and coexistence”. This includes the establishment of the China-UAE high-level investment cooperation committee in addition to an MoU for intellectual property cooperation as well as a MoU on statistical cooperation.

The UAE industrial sector will receive an additional AED 23bn (USD 6.3bn) in funding, raising the total funding for the sector to more than AED 143bn, as the country progresses with its “Make it in the Emirates” initiative. ADNOC will contribute AED 20bn and Pure Health another AED 3bn, disclosed the Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology. Related plans announced to support domestic manufacturing included a new lending program worth AED 1bn for SMEs (in coordination with Emirates Development Bank) and competitive electricity prices for industrial firms in Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah.

Dubai’s sovereign wealth fund, the Investment Corporation of Dubai, posted 68% jump in net profits to a record high AED 60.8bn in 2023. This was largely due to its ownership of Emirates Airlines alongside holdings in Emirates NBD bank and Emaar Properties; about AED 10.4bn came from non-controlling interests. Profit from ICD’s transportation division surged 119% in 2023, while those from banking and other financial services rose 69%. ICD’s assets touched a record AED 1.322trn (+12% yoy) while revenues grew by 16% to AED 310.2bn.

Digital trade in the UAE is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 12.3% from 2023 to 2028, largely driven by the rise of “buy now, pay later” models (about 40% of consumers in the UAE rely on BNPL systems), according to a research paper. Findings also included that about 47% of the residents rely on credit cards (vs a global average of 18%).

ADNOC Distribution announced plans to expand its number of fast-charging stations for electric cars from 90 currently to 150-200 by end of this year and 500 over the next 5 years. The firm also plans to increase the number of its fuel stations in UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia to 1000 in 5 years from 840 currently.

Tourism sector in the UAE is expected to contribute AED 236bn (USD 64bn) to GDP in 2024, roughly 12% of GDP, and generate 833k direct jobs.

MENA News:

The World Bank has revised downwards its GCC growth forecast this year to 2.8% (from its previous estimate of 3.6% in April). Growth is however expected to rise to 4.7% in 2025, much higher than its April forecast of 3.8%, supported by recover in oil output alongside a robust non-oil sector growth. Fiscal surplus is forecast to narrow to 0.1% of GDP this year while current account surplus rises to 3.9%.

Egypt increased the price of subsidised bread by 300% to EGP 0.20 (USD 0.0042) starting June – this is the first hike in over 30 years. The raised price represents roughly 16% of the cost of making the bread, according to the supply minister.

Around 17,357 foreign nationals were granted work licenses in Egypt in 2023, up 30.2% YoY; of these permits, 7,973 were issued for the first time in 2023. Non-Arab Asian countries expats accounted for the largest share (6275 persons or 36.2%), followed by Europeans (34.4%), Arab (20.1%) and Americans (4.5%).

Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah was nominated as Kuwait’s crown prince, in a decree issued by the Emir. Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid had served as PM from 2019 until 2022.

Oman announced plans to launch a new low-cost airline: no specific details were disclosed by Oman’s civil aviation authority in the post on X. This follows reports that work is underway to design 6 new airports in the country.

The value of e-commerce sector in Oman hit USD 2.2bn last year, with electronics and media leading with a share of 32.9% of the total, followed by food and personal care (25%) and fashion (22.2%) among others. It was also revealed that 46% of initiatives from Oman’s National E-Commerce Plan were completed by end-2023.

Qatar signed double taxation avoidance agreements with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, with an aim to also prevent tax evasion.

Startups in Saudi Arabia accounted for more than 53% of total venture debt financing in the region, according to MAGNiTT. Saudi startups raised USD 400mn in 2023, up 602% YoY while the wider MENA region saw a total financing of USD 757mn in 2023, up 262%.

Point of sale transactions in Saudi Arabia touched SAR 11.2bn (USD 2.98bn) in the last week of May. Spending on beverage & food and restaurants & cafes accounted for the largest shares of 14.9% and 14.6% of total spending. Just over one-third of the PoS spending occurred in Riyadh (35.4%) while Jeddah followed (14.3% of total).

Financing to SMEs in Saudi Arabia grew by 20.4% YoY to USD 73.5bn in Q4 2023, according to report from Monsha’at, with credit to micro and small enterprises amounting to USD 6.7bn and USD 24.6bn respectively. The report also stated that banks in Saudi Arabia provided credit facilities worth USD 68.9bn to SMEs in Q4 2023, up 21.1% YoY. The report also highlighted that the fashion industry in Saudi Arabia is expected to grow by 48% from 2021-2025. The value of the fashion sector stood at USD 24.6bn in 2022, with the domestic industry worth USD 12.5bn.

Saudi Arabia issued its first maritime tourism licence to Jeddah-based Cruise Saudi. The ship can cater to 3,362 passengers and includes 20 entertainment venues across 18 decks. The cruises will begin in December with Red Sea trips, with stops on a private land, in Egypt and Jordan.

Global News:

Equities markets ended in the red last week though many indices rebounded on Friday (the month-end). Regional markets were also mostly down: Saudi Tadawul hit more than a 5-month low last week, Qatar’s exchange dropped to its lowest in almost 4 years while Dubai’s DFM touched a 6-month low and posted the highest monthly decline since October 2023. Abu Dhabi’s ADX, despite gaining 0.3% on the week, touched a 28-month low on Wednesday (29th May). The dollar index posted its first monthly decline in 2024 while the GBP reached a 21-month high against the euro. Oil prices fell ahead of the OPEC+ meeting (Brent and WTO down by 0.6% and 1% from a week ago) and while gold price fell from the previous week, it posted a fourth consecutive monthly gain.

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