Dubai PMI increased to 53.2 in July (June: 51), posting the quickest expansion since November 2019. Both travel and tourism and the wholesale and retail sectors picked up during the month, with businesses citing growth in demand and improving economic conditions. In line with rising demand, employment picked up, rising at the fastest pace since November. Despite rising input prices, companies continued to absorb costs in a bid to stimulate sales.
Abu Dhabi is planning to introduce a professional license allowing foreigners 100% ownership of businesses related to 604 activities including accounting, training, consultancy, beauty centres, computer and internet network companies. Such licenses will however require a local service agent who will be responsible for managing licensing requirements, according to the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development.
Dubai’s e-commerce business licenses surged by 63.05% YoY to 3,243 in H1 2021, according to Dubai Economy. While IT topped the list of licensed activities, followed by ready-made garments and ladies tailoring and design among others, male entrepreneurs accounted for 63% of licenses issued during the period.
Dubai Airports CEO disclosed that an estimated 56mn passengers are likely to pass through the airport next year. In H1 this year, 10.6mn passengers passed through Dubai International (-40.9% YoY) while it had handled 25.9mn persons last year and 86.4mn in 2019. Passenger traffic through the airport is expected to cross more than a million in the 12th-22nd August week) given the recent ease in restrictions and ahead of schools’ opening.
Etihad Airways halved its core operating losses to USD 400mn in H1 2021. Operating costs were reduced by 27% to USD 1.4bn in H1, supported by the grounding of its aircrafts. Separately, Etihad Cargo posted a 20% increase in tonnage compared to pre-COVID volumes.
Hot on the heels of the first sale of UAE’s blue ammonia cargoes to Itochu, it was announced that ADNOC and Fertiglobe agreed to sell blue ammonia to Japan’s Idemitsu for use in its refining and petrochemicals operations.
Abu Dhabi will restrict access to certain public spaces (including universities, public and private schools) only to vaccinated persons. Separately, Dubai has further relaxed restrictions: hotels can operate at full capacity while shopping malls and restaurants can operate at 80% capacity with a seating limit at 10 per table.
One person is dying of COVID-19 every two minutes in Iran, reported state TV early last week. With just under 4% of the population fully vaccinated, a new 6-day “general lockdown” will be imposed from Monday.
Iraq plans to increase oil production to 8mn barrels per day (BPD) by 2027, according to the country’s oil minister.
US plans to provide over 500k vaccine doses to Iraq under the global COVAX vaccine sharing program. This is part of the over 110mn doses donated by the US globally.
Iraq needs nearly IQD 34trn (USD 29bn) to build houses for citizens made homeless during the war, reported Alsabah daily.
Bilateral trade between Jordan and China rebounded this year, rising by 21.4% YoY to USD 2.004bn in H1 2021. Exports to China grew by 14.1% to USD 235mn.
Kuwait Petroleum Corporation qualified about 70 SMEs to work with the oil sector since the launching of ‘Badir’ initiative for the qualification and registration of SMEs in oil tenders. These SMEs are registered in 4 activities: manufacturing (11), supply (20), business contracting (19) and services (20).
Kuwait plans to vaccinate 70% of its population by the end of September, stated the PM at an event. According to the Health Ministry, more than 2.5mn citizens and residents have been vaccinated so far (accounting for 66% of the population).
The crisis worsens in Lebanon: the Central Bank announced an end to financing fuel subsidies, also revealing that more than USD 800mn had been spent on fuel in July.
Saudi Arabia, while expressing solidarity with Lebanon, explicitly stated that any assistance to the current or future governments was dependent on the rollout of “serious and tangible reforms”.
About 123k tourists visited Oman in June 2021, with Indians and GCC nationals accounting for 34.5% and 30.6% of the total.
Oman aims to vaccinate 320k students aged 12 and above ahead of the start of the new school year.
Oman has established a national hydrogen alliance including 13 institutions from the public and private sectors.
Foreign investor licenses issued in Saudi Arabia grew by 2.6% QoQ to 478 in Q1: this is the highest number since records began in 2005. Of these, almost one-fourth (114 licenses) were for the manufacturing sector while industrial investments in Q1 grew to almost USD 4.7bn – more than 4 times the invested amount last year. The construction sector saw 78 permits being issued.
Saudi Aramco reported a 4-fold increase in net profits in Q2, supported by higher oil prices and recovery in oil demand. The CEO stated that the company is on the lookout for potential deals to offer to investors (similar to the USD 12.4bn deal in June for its crude pipeline network) and is also looking to tap the hydrogen market (on this note, the Saudi Cabinet approved an MoU with Germany for cooperation in hydrogen projects).
Global stock markets – including S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial, Stoxx600, MSCI World – continued an upward trajectory posting new record highs thanks to stronger-than-expected earnings results. Meanwhile, surging COVID-19 cases in wider Asia-Pacific and regulatory crackdown in China cast a shadow on equities. Regional markets were mostly up: corporate earnings supported the uptick and Abu Dhabi gained the most, also hitting a record high early in the week (thanks to International Holding (IHC)). The dollar strengthened and the euro was down (inching near a 4-month low) for the second consecutive week. Brent was relatively stable around the USD 70-mark while WTI edged up slightly in spite of the IEA’s warning of slowing oil demand and gold price rose by 0.9%. With COVID-19 cases topping 206mn globally, the Delta variant continues to play havoc. In the US, cases and hospitalizations continued to rise among the unvaccinated, with the number of children hospitalized rising to a record high of just over 1,900. Southeast Asia continues to be bogged down by an increase in daily cases, resulting in the extension of lockdowns. The pace of vaccination makes a difference: Singapore’s relatively high rate (close to 60% fully vaccinated) is allowing it to ease restrictions albeit slowly. China meanwhile closed a terminal at the Ningbo-Zhoushan port (the 3rd busiest globally) after detecting a single case, a move that is likely to reverberate in further delays and rising shipping costs.
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