The first phase of UAE’s economic recovery plan – with 15 initiatives – is more than 46% complete, according to the Ministry of Economy. Implemented initiatives include amendments to the bankruptcy law, allocation of grants and incentives to tourism establishments, promotion of FDI through amendments to the commercial companies law, amendments to the commercial transactions law and the decriminalization of cheques without balance, reduction of fees and taxes on the tourism sector, enhancing the flexibility of labour market and the comprehensive targeted economic support plan among others.
UAE non-oil private sector activity contracted in November: PMI stood unchanged from October at 49.5, on weak demand. While new orders increased at a slower pace, employment fell at the slowest rate since November. Business confidence fell, with respondents providing a negative outlook for the next 12 months for the first time since data were collected in April 2012.
Amendments in the UAE allowing for full ownership of businesses will lead to more than a 3-fold increase in the number of companies in the UAE to 1M over the next decade, according to the Ministry of Economy. Separately, Dubai Economy’s Director General expects the reforms to create more jobs and investments are estimated to rise by 35%.
Abu Dhabi is planning to resume all economic, cultural, tourist and entertainment activities within two weeks, it was revealed last week.
The UAE government received an Aa2 rating in creditworthiness – the highest sovereign rating in the region – with a stable outlook from Moody’s.
Bilateral trade between UAE and UK touched USD 5.5bn in January-August 2020 and UAE’s non-oil export to the UK accounted for nearly USD 500mn (+25%). UK accounts for 16% of the total FDI balance in the UAE as of end-2018 while UAE’s direct investments in the UK accounted for USD 2bn by end-2018.
About 9 in 10 companies in the UAE expect to be profitable by the end of 2022, according to the HSBC Navigator survey, versus a global average of 81%. Around 18% expect to be profitable by end of this year.
Bahrain allocated BHD 19M towards housing loans to 600 Bahrainis this year: this includes construction loans, as well as loans for the purchase of plots and renovations.
Egypt received its first shipment of the Sinopharm vaccine, to be distributed free of charge, with priority for medical staff and people with chronic diseases.
Egypt’s central bank will extend support to the tourism sector until the end-2021. Not only will any requests for postponement of bank entitlements be accepted for a maximum period of three years, but the validity period of the retail loan initiative for those employed in the tourism sector will also be extended for a year.
The Al-Anba daily reported that more than 90% of SME owners in Kuwait were unable to pay rents or salaries, given the impact from COVID-19; most SMEs were operational in the storage, aviation and tourism sectors.
Lebanon President’s counterproposal to the 18-member Cabinet lineup proposed by PM-designate Hariri will likely result in further delays to the formation of a government and thereby the reform process.
Imminent subsidy cuts in Lebanon are likely to amount to a “social catastrophe”, if no safety net is created, warn officials. For now, only USD 800M remains to allocate towards subsidies – which will last for another two months even with subsidy rationing.
Oman announced a visa-free entry for nationals from 103 countries, in a bid to boost tourism into the nation. This will allow visitors with a confirmed hotel reservation, health insurance and a return ticket to visit for a period of 10 days.
Talks with Qatar are progressing well, according to officials from both the UAE and Saudi Arabia. This follows Kuwait’s statement the week before that a resolution was underway.
Saudi Arabia issued over 400k tourist visas in 6 months between September 2019 - March 2020. About SAR 160M has been provided in loans to support the tourism sector.
Saudi Arabia’s Education Minister disclosed that the nation was ranked first in the Arab world and 17th globally for Saudi universities’ efforts to publish research on COVID-19, accounting for 1.8% of global research production.
Equity markets in the US declined, as new stimulus talks dragged on with a consensus unlikely to be reached before Christmas; pan-European Stoxx was down after 5 weeks of gains and MSCI World declined by 0.5%. Regionally, most markets were down while the UAE markets gained on news of the Sinopharm vaccine’s efficacy and potential resumption of activities in Abu Dhabi within the next few days. The dollar index gained; while sterling slipped on prospects of exiting EU minus a trade deal. The Chinese yuan is on its longest expansionary streak since 2014. Oil prices faltered after hitting USD 50 a barrel during the week on demand worries, and gold price gained.
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