UAE PMI fell to 50.6 in February (January: 51.2), supported by output growth even as respondents commented on weaker demand trends in retail and services due to the re-introduction of restrictions. Though 12-month ahead expectations improved to a 5-month high, only 6% of businesses gave a positive outlook for the next 12 months period.
Abu Dhabi’s Industrial Sector contributed nearly 11% to the Emirate’s non-oil GDP and 6% to overall GDP in 2020. Total investments in the sector stood at AED 4bn (USD 1.01bn) last year, with 51 industrial facilities starting production in the Emirate.
The DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre) Employee Workplace Savings Plan, which was launched in February 2020, has so far registered 19,182 individuals working for 1,187 companies: about 75% of the assets in the savings scheme remain invested in the low/moderate growth fund – default fund of the Plan.
Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park, a research and development free zone, launched a new MEA Energy Innovation Hub targeting opportunities in energy and low carbon; a new focus area for innovation would be hydrogen.
About 18.1% of Bahrain’s population has received at least 1 dose of the COVID-19 vaccine (as of 5th March) after having launched the campaign on 17th December. The nation aims to vaccinate an additional 300k persons by end of this month i.e. at an average 10k persons a day.
Egypt needs to inject USD 20bn in investments to achieve sustainable development goals by 2030, disclosed the minister of planning and economic development. She also disclosed that the nation targets doubling of green projects by 2022.
Egypt launched the Closing Gender Gap Accelerator (in cooperation with the World Economic Forum) to advance women’s economic empowerment, in line with achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) related to gender equality and reduce the gender gap in the labour market. A dedicated SDGs fund will spend USD 3.3bn to implement 34 projects to close gender gap across sectors.
About EGP 3bn (USD 191mn) worth of projects are being implemented to digitize all government services in Egypt, according to the ministry of communications. About 45 digital services have already been launched.
The minister of tourism and antiquities stated that tourism in Egypt would return to pre-pandemic levels only by fall 2022. Separately, the initiative to support domestic tourism has been extended till 15th May: this includes reduced domestic airline prices to connect tourist cities as well as lower ticket prices to enter archaeological areas and museums.
Egypt’s car sales surged by 49% YoY in January to 20,700 units; however, in MoM terms, sales were down by 24%.
The COVID-19 vaccination rollout in Egypt has been extended to include the elderly and persons with chronic illnesses.
Kuwait started imposing a 5pm-5am curfew starting from 7th March in an effort to contain the COVID-19 cases.
The Lebanese pound hit a record low last week: dealers were buying the greenback for LBP 9,950 and selling it for LBP 10,000.
Lebanon needs to vaccinate close to 30k persons per day to reach herd immunity in a year, according to the head of the main government hospital (that is tackling COVID-19 cases). Only about 15% of eligible citizens had registered for the vaccine. Just above 60k doses have been administered (as of 5th March) since the inoculation campaign began on 14th February.
People aged 60 will be added to the vaccination target group in Oman from this week. According to the minister of health, the first Immunization Campaign covered 95% of its target segments vaccinated against COVID-19 – a total of 52,858 people. Separately, the nation has booked 200k doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The World Bank approved a second grant of USD 10mn to support job creation for Palestinians during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saudi Arabia paid the salaries of 349 workers employed by distressed firms last month: about SAR 60.5mn was paid in late salaries and end-of-service benefit.
Mixed performance across global equity markets: tech-heavy Nasdaq declined while in Europe, the Stoxx600 index gained on support for sectors likely to benefit from a bounce back. Regional markets were mostly up on the week, though both Egypt and Qatar ended in the red on selling pressures. The dollar strengthened, resulting in the yen touching a 9-month low and the Swiss franc falling to a 7-month low. OPEC+’s move to maintain oil supply restrictions through April along with Saudi Arabia’s voluntary cuts extension drove oil price up to near 14-month highs. Gold price dropped to below USD 1700, for the first time since June 2020.
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