Preliminary results from the Federal Statistics and Competitiveness Centre show the UAE’s economy shrank by 1% last year and non-oil gross domestic product contracted by 6.2%. GDP last year stood at almost AED 1.42trn at constant prices, with non-oil GDP making up just over AED 1trn of this.
Inflation in Abu Dhabi fell by 0.46% YoY in Q1: prices of food and beverages, as well as utilities, increased (by 1.4% and 0.3% respectively), while recreation costs plunged by 17.3%.
Dubai unveiled the Food Tech Valley: aiming to triple UAE’s food production, it will host R&D facilities, an innovation centre, a smart food logistics hub and areas for vertical farming. It is expected to “serve as a global destination for start-ups and industry experts in the food ecosystem”.
The UAE Central Bank’s Q1 2021 Credit Sentiment Survey showed strong demand for personal loans alongside a moderate rise in business loans in Q1; overall demand was for housing, personal and credit card loans – most significantly in Dubai.
The number of patents registered in the UAE reached 25,598 by the end-2020, while the number of live patent applications stood at 1,971.
One of Israel’s biggest energy companies plans to sell a 22% share of the offshore Tamar gas field to UAE’s Mubadala for an estimated USD 1.1bn. The Tamar field, which went online in 2013, is believed to hold more than 300bn cubic meters of gas.
Early evidence of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on companies: Dubai property developer Limitless disclosed a reduction of about 31% “in key asset values since year-end 2019”.
More than 60% of Bahrain’s adult population (estimated at 1.12mn) have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 47% have received both doses, according to a senior government official.
Trade between Bahrain and GCC grew by 6% YoY to USD 1.76bn in Q1. Bilateral trade with Saudi Arabia accounted for about 45% of the total trade (USD 789mn) and the UAE accounted for another 36% (+15% to USD 639mn).
Bilateral trade between Egypt and Jordan grew by 8.6% YoY to USD 616.3mn in 2020, with exports to Jordan up 12.2% YoY to USD 495.4mn while imports fell by 4.5%.
Tourism revenues in Egypt are expected to increase to USD 6-7bn this year, revealed the deputy tourism minister, with tourist arrivals anticipated to recover to 60% of 2019 levels.
Iraq’s crude oil exports from the southern ports averaged 2.7mn barrels per day in April, in line with its commitment to OPEC+.
According to the minister of planning, Iraq requires IQD 136trn (USD 93.19bn) to complete ongoing (6000+) projects; oil and electricity projects are the most in number.
Kuwait aims to vaccinate 70% of the target population within 2 months provided it receives the anticipated number of doses on time, reported Al-Qabas Daily.
The 2021-22 development plan in Kuwait envisions 132 projects with a combined value of around KWD 1.8bn (USD 6bn), reported Al-Anba daily, citing a government document. This also includes the construction of an “International Economic Zone” though related costs or location are not disclosed.
The highlight of last week was the Saudi Crown Prince’s TV interview, given the fifth anniversary of Vision 2030: he disclosed that discussions are ongoing to sell 1% of Aramco to a leading global energy company and sale to international investors could happen in the next one year or two; no plans were underway to introduce an income tax and that the VAT hike to 15% was temporary; a Budget Bureau has been set up to take over from the Finance Ministry’s budget setting role; a new Policies Office will be launched by end of this year; importantly, there was a softened stance regarding Iran.
Bloomberg reported Saudi Arabia is planning to establish a homegrown electric-car maker, in a bid to boost local manufacturing, with BCG as advisers.
Equity markets fell across the board last week, with only FTSE in the green among major markets, as economic data weighed in on sentiment (while the US seems to be on a strong recovery path, Q1 growth dipped in the Eurozone and China’s PMI fell below levels seen last year). Though Stoxx fell compared to a week ago, it was just below its all-time high while the MSCI’s world stocks gauge hit a historic high during the week. Regional markets were mostly subdued while Saudi Arabia ended the best performer (following an uptick on Wednesday, thanks to the Crown Prince’s views during a televised interview). The dollar posted its largest monthly fall since December at the end of April while the yen hit a 2-week low versus the greenback. Oil prices were at near 6-week highs on strong US data and a weaker dollar and gold was down by 0.5%. Meanwhile, copper and aluminium prices have been rallying, with the former above the USD 10k per tonne mark for the first time in over 10 years.
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