UAE residence visas will no longer undergo the stamping procedure when renewed or issued, Dubai residents have reported. The UAE visa will directly be linked to an individual’s Emirates ID rather than a passport with the nation’s sticker, which details the residency and its validity.
The UAE launched 11 clean energy projects worth AED 159bn (USD 43bn) in 2022, according to the Minister of Energy and Infrastructure. UAE’s clean energy production totalled 7,035.75MW in 2021, with its contribution to the total energy mix reaching 19.63% in 2021 (renewable energy was 12% and peaceful nuclear energy at 7.55%).
UAE-based Masdar and ADNOC are undertaking a joint feasibility study with BP to explore the production of sustainable aviation fuel in the UAE alongside other products like renewable diesel and naphtha, using municipal solid waste and renewable hydrogen. The region’s “first commercial-scale production capacity in Abu Dhabi” can be expected if the results of the study are positive, according to Masdar.
UAE-based companies will be required to attest import invoices with a value of AED10k and above from the 1st of February onwards. The attestation will be done electronically and will cost AED 150 per invoice. Exemptions are applicable to personal imports, imports from the GCC and those into free zones among others.
Real estate transactions in Dubai touched a record high of AED 528bn (USD 143bn) in 2022, up 76.5% YoY. More than 86k residential transactions were registered, much higher than the previous record of 80k in 2009. Furthermore, Dubai also saw the completion of 55 real estate projects (+57% YoY) worth AED 11.9bn (+8%) last year and a further 350 projects are currently being developed.
Egypt’s Central Bank disclosed that foreign investors transferred more than USD 925mn into the forex market in the period 11-13 January after the currency depreciated sharply.
Egypt signed a USD 1.5bn financing agreement with the International Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) to fund commodity imports including grains and petroleum, reported CNBC Arabia. This follows a similar agreement last year and brings the total ITFC financing amount to USD 14.5bn so far.
Iran’s currency fell to a record low against the dollar on Saturday: the dollar was selling for about 447,000 rials on Saturday (vs 430,500 the day before).
Project deals in Kuwait surged by 688% YoY to KWD 383mn in October-December, following a near 20-year low in Q3, according to a report from the National Bank of Kuwait. For the full year 2022, the total value of awarded projects was down by 46.6% YoY to KWD 832mn – the second lowest reading since 2005.
Lebanon needs to pay arrears, a minimum of some USD 1.8mn, to regain its voting rights at the UN. This is the 2nd time in 3 years that voting rights were lost due to unpaid contributions.
Oman’s oil and gas drilling firm Abraj Energy Services is planning an IPO, with an aim to list up to 49% of its shares on the Muscat Exchange in March. The firm is the largest drilling contractor in Oman, with a market share of 30%.
International arrivals in the Middle East climbed to 83% of pre-pandemic numbers last year, according to the UN World Tourism Organisation.
Hotel pipeline activity in the Middle East saw an uptick at the end of 2022: according to STR, about 238,635 hotel rooms were under contract in the region in December, up 1.1% YoY. The bulk of the construction is taking place in Saudi Arabia (17.1% of the total) and the UAE (11.5%).
The Saudi Crown Prince launched the Events Investment Fund, which will conceptualize, finance, and oversee the development of more than 35 venues by 2030. According to the Saudi Press Agency, the fund aims to deliver its first asset by 2023.
SAMA has reduced the minimum paid-up capital for finance firms specialized in supporting SMEs to SAR 50mn(USD 13.3mn): this is expected to attract more investors into the SME sector and more SME-specialised finance companies.
The CEO of NEOM disclosed that nearly 20% of infrastructure works in NEOM had been completed, with works progressing as per schedule.
Saudi Arabia remained China’s largest source of crude oil in 2022 (87.49mn tonnes of crude, on par with 2021), followed by Russia (+8% to 86.25mn tonnes).
Saudi Arabia’s National Development Fund approved financing and support worth over SAR 135bn (USD 36bn) in 2022: this includes financing agreements for NEOM’s green hydrogen production plant and Saudi electric car company CEER among others.
Saudi Arabia’s Human Resources Development Fund (Hadaf) disclosed that it supported 400k Saudis to get private sector jobs in 2022 while more than 1.49mn persons benefitted from training and guidance programs.
Real estate prices in Saudi Arabia increased by 1.6% YoY in Q4 2022, thanks to an uptick in residential property values (+2.6% YoY).
Saudi Arabia reduced the cost of comprehensive insurance for overseas Umrah performers by 63% to SAR 87.
Global equity indices rose sharply, though posting losses for the week as investors focused on the earnings season and remained cautious about upcoming Central Bank meetings; regional markets were mixed, with Egypt continuing with losses. On the currency front, the USD gained against the yen on BoJ’s remarks about continuing with the ultra-loose monetary policy, while the euro gained ground (on falling gas prices and easing recession fears) while sterling slipped towards the end of the week on weak retail sales data. Oil markets gained for the 2nd consecutive week, thanks to expectations of rising Chinese demand for oil in addition to potential slowdown in the pace of Fed’s rate hikes as well as the Russian price caps. Gold price also gained last week, with the price rising to a 9-month high before closing lower.
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