A new law provides Abu Dhabi Accountability Authority the power to closely monitor, in real time, financial activities and spending in both government bodies and GREs – a significant move from being able to just review the financial results of such entities previously.
The normalization of UAE-Israel ties is estimated to bring business deals worth USD 300-550mn. Multiple deals have already been announced: ENBD signed agreements with Israel’s biggest lenders; DMCC’s Dubai Diamond Exchange and the Israel Diamond Exchange signed a deal to boost trade; DP World and Dubai Customs agreed to form trade links with Israel. Separately, it was disclosed by the UAE Minister of Economy that discussions are ongoing to include some Palestinian areas as part of the bilateral economic agreements.
Inflation in Dubai declined by 3.69% YoY and 0.32% MoM in August, as housing and utilities costs fell by 5.72% YoY alongside a drop of 13% and 15% respectively in transportation and entertainment costs; food and beverage prices were up by 2.81%.
The expansion of Khalifa Port Logistics, South Quay and Abu Dhabi Terminals is on track to be completed next year, disclosed Abu Dhabi Ports. The Ports also plan to halve its emissions with the use of a solar-panelled steel and aluminium container to allow in-row cooling, renewable energy and efficient space allocation.
Dubai reduced carbon emissions by 22% last year, cutting more than 14mn tonnes of emissions.
Bahrain will pay the electricity, water and municipal fees bills for its citizens for three months, while also encouraging banks to postpone loan repayments for those affected by the pandemic until end of this year in a way that “does not affect banks’ liquidity and financial solvency”. Separately, BHD17 mn (USD 45mn) was disbursed to eligible citizens benefiting from government subsidies on 15th September.
Bahrain-origin exports grew by 2% YoY to BHD 190mn (USD 501.1mn) in August; Saudi Arabia, US and Oman were the top 3 destinations, together accounting for 45.8% of the total value.
The Central Bank of Bahrain reported a nearly 8-fold surge in electronic real-time fund transfers for 2 months in a row.
The King Fahd Causeway linking Bahrain and Saudi Arabia has reopened, with PCR tests required either at the causeway or results from one conducted 72 hours before travel.
S&P warned that there is likely to be a deterioration in asset quality indicators in Bahrain, though it will remain “broadly manageable” in light of the Central Bank policies to support the economy during COVID-19.
Egypt signed three agreements worth USD 885mn with Arab funds to finance the Sinai Peninsula Development Program. The funds will support structural reforms, raise efficiency of the government’s management of public finance and help combat the COVID-19 outbreak.
Egypt is planning to invest EGP 60.6bn (~8.2% of total investments) into the development of petroleum, natural gas & mineral resources sector during the current fiscal year 2020-21.
While Egypt invested EGP 100bn in the educational sector in the past 6 years, a further EGP 40bn is needed to create 73k new classes to resolve overcrowding in public schools.
Jordan’s PM disclosed that the Jordan Investment Commission had received 139 new investment applications since the outbreak of COVID-19.
In-class education in Jordan’s schools has been suspended for 2 weeks from Thursday, in addition to closure of mosques, churches and popular markets, in a bid to contain the COVID-19 surge.
Land border crossings between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have been reopened, with a PCR certificate necessary for movement between the two nations. A 14-day mandatory home quarantine is also prescribed.
Lebanon’s PM designate is still in discussions to form a new government after failing to do so within the 15th September deadline; talks stalled after the PM proposed that 4 key ministries – Interior, Defence, Finance and Foreign – be rotated among the main religious sects.
UNICEF launched a cash grant program for Beirut blast victims – a one-off transfer of LBP 840,000 for eligible household members living in priority areas – with an aim of reaching around 80k children and vulnerable individuals.
Oman and India are in talks to establish an “air bubble”, revealed the CEO of SalamAir.
Saudi ports reported a 12% increase in containers to 664k in August; transshipments grew by 21% to 225k containers.
International flights resumed in Saudi Arabia on 15th September: entry is permitted to GCC citizens as well as non-Saudi passengers holding a valid visa, including exit and re-entry, residency permit (iqama), and visit visas to and from the country. Total lifting of the travel suspension (i.e. completely open borders) will be announced 30 days before 1st January.
At a closed-door OPEC+ meeting, the possibility of holding an extraordinary meeting in October was discussed in case oil markets weakened further. The meeting also called for compliance to OPEC+ cuts in light of overproduction in some nations (Iraq, Nigeria and UAE).
In a week dominated by Central Bank meetings and resurgence in COVID-19 cases, stock markets closed mostly down. In the US, Fed statements and lack of progress on a potential relief package kept investors concerned, while in the UK markets were tetchy on the back of the BoE announcement, alongside higher chances of new lockdowns. Asia bucked the trend, as Chinese stocks gained; the MSCI (Morgan Stanley Capital International) world index posted its first weekly gain in 3 weeks. Regional markets, with the exception of Oman and Abu Dhabi, rose last week. The Chinese Yuan Renminbi had its best week in 10 months after economic indicators signaled a recovery. Oil was mixed: it had gained earlier in the week as Saudi Arabia pressed OPEC counterparts to meet output quotas. A weaker dollar supported the gold price record a second consecutive weekly gain.
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