Dubai’s non-oil PMI climbed to 53.5 in April (March: 51), with both output and new orders growth at pre-COVID trends. Travel & tourism firms recorded the “most notable bounce in performance” and the employment sub-index also rose to 50.6 (from 49.7).
FDI into the UAE accelerated by 44.2% YoY to nearly USD 20bn (AED 73.45bn) in 2020, largely due to Adnoc’s various transactions (worth ~AED 62bn) including the monetization of some of its non-core assets and investments into a natural gas pipeline among others.
The Abu Dhabi government announced, via Twitter, the establishment of a council to review regulatory legislation for free zones and create a database for businesses using them.
Dubai’s real-estate sector is passing through a boom phase: according to Property Finder, a total of 4,832 property transactions worth AED10.97bn were undertaken in April, with off-plan transactions up by 12.9% MoM and hitting a 14-month high.
The Abu Dhabi government granted housing loans and exemptions worth AED 2.21bn (USD 600mn) to 1,656 Emiratis; the first disbursement this year was during Eid al Fitr.
The Ajman Free Zone reported a 33% YoY rise in new companies registered in Q1 2021. The education and technology sectors saw growth of 39% and 23% respectively, in line with the emirate’s vision statements.
The “Invest in Dubai” platform, which was launched in the beginning of February and enables integrated business setup, issued a total of 3,464 commercial licenses and licensed 485 activities. The average age of the investors was 37 years, with the 26-35 age group representing 37% of investments followed by the 36-45 age group at 35%.
According to the Emirates Tourism Council, UAE’s tourism sector is in a recovery mode, with average hotel occupancy close to 63% in Q1 2021 and the average length of stay in hotels up by 27.6% YoY to 4.3 nights.
The UAE has so far administered over 11.45mn doses, vaccinating over 73% of eligible groups and with plans to vaccinate 100% of all eligible groups by end of the year. Furthermore, the emergency use of Pfizer vaccine for the 12-15 age group has been approved.
Safe travel corridors are the way forward: UAE announced safe travel corridors with Bahrain, Greece and Seychelles meaning that vaccinated travelers will not be required to quarantine upon arrival.
About 65.1% of card transactions (both debit and credit) in Bahrain were contactless for the 4th consecutive month in April. Central Bank data also indicate that real-time electronic fund transfers surged more than four-fold in April.
After inbound flights were resumed on 1st July 2020 to three governorates, Egypt received more than 2.5mn tourists. Vaccination of tourism sector workers in two governorates – Red Sea and South Sinai – is expected to be completed soon.
Egypt’s Health Ministry confirmed the receipt of more than 1.7mn doses of AstraZeneca vaccine through the COVAX initiative (after having received 854k doses in April). The number of vaccine doses received total 5mn including multiple batches of Sinopharm.
Egypt’s minister of health disclosed that the first shipment of raw materials required for the manufacture of the Sinovac vaccine was received on 18th May. The aim is to produce 2mn doses of the vaccine by end-June.
Iraq, which completed nearly 81% of its preparations for linking with the GCC electricity network, will resume work on the common power grid (via Kuwait) as soon as a financing agreement is reached with GCC funds. Iraq expects work to begin within a month and the first phase of the project is estimated to supply Iraq with 500 megawatts of electricity by 2022.
Tourism in the MENA region will not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023, according to the IIF. Partial information for Q1 2021 shows that the number of tourist arrivals to the MENA countries stood at just 25% of what they were in Q1 2020.
The Saudi SMEs loan guarantee program ‘Kafalah’ helped 1621 businesses in Q1 2021, reported Al Eqtisadiah, with guarantees increasing to SAR 2.9bn (+150%) and financing reached SAR 3.6bn. Sectors that benefitted include wholesale and retail trade, construction, accommodation services, food, and manufacturing industries.
Saudi businesses that have not filed their excise tax returns for March and April by 15th May will have to pay a fine worth 5% of the amount for every 30 days of delay.
Saudi Arabia will supply full volumes of crude as requested by at least four Asian refiners in June, reported Reuters.
With Saudi Arabia’s travel ban lifted from 17th May, an online travel marketplace Wego reported a 52% rise in international flight searches and a 59% increase in international hotel searches. Egypt topped the list for the flight search destinations, followed by the Philippines, Morocco, Jordan and Turkey.
Most global equity markets closed the week in the red, as inflation worries added to investors jitters, in spite of the current spike being labelled transitory by central bankers and the Fed implying that there would be no immediate moves to tighten monetary policy. Many regional markets were closed for the Eid holidays and saw thin trade ahead of the holidays. Among currencies, the dollar weakened, and the pound gained (thanks to a more hawkish stance from the Bank of England). The rally in commodities continued: oil prices inched closer to USD 70 mark given continuing geopolitical risks amid global recovery prospects while the gold price was up by 0.6% from a week ago.
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