Inflation in Dubai inched up to 4.9% yoy in February, after easing the month before to 4.6%. The uptick in February was largely due to higher costs of food (6.3% in February from 5.5% in January) and housing & utilities (4.9% from 4.4%) while transport prices eased significantly (4.4% in January-February vs an average of 22.13% in 2022). Recreation (22.63% in January-February vs 23.4% in 2022) and restaurants & hotels (4.4% from 6.5%) costs have also eased this year compared to 2022.
Abu Dhabi’s Hub71 tech ecosystem raised AED 4.5bn collectively in venture capital for over 200 startups and created more than 900 jobs by end-2022. In 2022 alone, 9 of the 51 startups onboarded by Hub71 each raised more than AED 36.7mn in funding.
UAE aims to secure 50% of some basic food requirements from local farms and producers by end-2023, with the objective of increasing this to 100% by 2030, revealed the Minister of Climate change and environment.
Bilateral non-oil trade between the UAE and Pakistan grew by 30% YoY to AED 25.7bn in 2022. At an official meeting to plan trade and investment cooperation, it was disclosed that UAE is Pakistan’s leading investment partner in the region and fifth globally, as of end-2021.
The UAE Central Bank launched its digital currency implementation strategy, signing new deals with cloud computing company Group 42 Cloud and financial digitization provider R3. The first phase, to be done in 12-15 months, will see the soft launch of mBridge (to facilitate real value cross-border central bank digital currency transactions).
Oman and the Etihad Rail Company have invited construction bids to undertake civil works for the 303-km railway network connecting Sohar to Abu Dhabi.
Egypt’s Suez Canal revenues surged by 40% YoY to USD 2.08bn in Q1 2023. The Suez Canal Authority also disclosed a 19% increase in ships to 5,534 and 16% increase in net tonnage to 320mn.
Egypt’s Suez Canal economic zone and Abu Dhabi ports will partner to develop projects in the ports within the zone, according to a statement by the former.
The IMF, in its concluding statement of the Article IV Mission, stated that “Lebanon is at a dangerous crossroads, and without rapid reforms will be mired in a never-ending crisis”. Though a staff level agreement was signed almost a year ago, Lebanon has yet to meet the conditions to secure a full program. The need for a market-determined exchange rate was stressed by the IMF, while also stating that the revised banking secrecy law needs to be amended again to “address outstanding critical weaknesses”.
Lebanon’s Central Bank governor on Tuesday revealed plans to sell unlimited amounts of USD to stop the devaluation of the LBP in the parallel market that could mean a depletion of remaining international reserves. A new rate of LBP 90,000 per dollar was set on the central bank’s exchange rate platform (from 70,000 on the 1st of March.
Rakiza infrastructure fund, backed by PIF and the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, disclosed that it had raised USD 1bn to invest in 3 projects in Oman – a 30% stake in telecom firm Omantel’s passive tower assets, a majority stake in Khazaen Fruit and Vegetable Central Market, and an estimated 31% stake in the Oman International Container Terminal in the Port of Sohar – and is close to signing several deals in Saudi Arabia.
Healthcare spending in the GCC is estimated to touch USD 135.5bn in 2027, up by 5.4% per year from 2022, according to report from Alpen Capital. While UAE is expected to post the highest CAGR, at 7.4% per year, Saudi and UAE together will account for close to 80% of GCC healthcare spending in 2027.
The Foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia and Iran have agreed to a bilateral meeting in the month of Ramadan. The two ministers have spoken twice by phone and preparations will be underway to reopen embassies and consulates.
The number of investment funds in Saudi Arabia grew by 25% YoY to 941 in Q3 2022, revealed the CMA; public funds reached 255 (Q3 2021: 256) and private funds stood at 686 (a year ago: 495).
Saudi Arabia issued 46 new mining licenses in January 2023, down 33% MoM, according to the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources. There are 2,230 valid mining licenses as of end-January, with building materials quarry licenses at 1,331.
Saudi Venture Capital launched a USD 80mn “Investment in Fintech VC Fund” in partnership with the CMA and the Financial Sector Development Program. The Saudi VC market had captured USD 987mn in funding in 2022 (+72% YoY).
India and Saudi Arabia plan to create an “investment bridge” for accelerating pending bilateral investment projects and facilitating investors. Opportunities for bilateral investment exchanges were discussed in areas including renewable energy, pharmaceuticals and food security among others.
Saudi Arabia has hosted over 120mn persons at events in the past 4 years, according to the chairman of the General Entertainment Authority.
Real estate rental deals in Saudi Arabia almost doubled to SAR 76bn (USD 20.2bn) in 2022, with commercial rent transactions accounting for 53.8% of the total. Riyadh (with its 470k residential units and 181k commercial units) saw the highest number of rent deals valued at SAR 24.7bn, followed by Jeddah (SAR 17bn) and Makkah (SAR 4.9bn).
NEOM Airlines will be ready to fly by end-2024, giving passengers “a completely different travel experience” with its “futuristic and efficient” service, according to the CEO.
Banking stocks have taken a beating since the SVB and Credit Suisse saga, with contagion fears presenting itself towards end of last week as shares of lenders like Deutsche Bank took a tumble. US markets ended gaining as companies in tech sector performed well this month, while Asian markets ended in the red. Regional markets were mixed with oil prices and banking stability affecting investor sentiment; Egypt and Saudi Arabia posted the biggest weekly gains. Amid the volatility in equity markets, there was a strong demand for safe-haven assets: JPY rose to a seven-week high of 129.65 per dollar and gold price inched higher. Oil prices slipped to a 15-month low last Monday before recovering; Brent and WTI gained by 2.8% and 4.3% compared to the week before.
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