UAE issued a new decree – which goes into effect from 25th September – to enforce gender equality in private sector wages.
Economic growth in the UAE is forecast to contract by 5.2% this year, revealed the Central Bank’s latest quarterly review. Q2’s non-oil GDP is estimated to have dropped by 9.3% YoY following a 2.7% decline in Q1.
Non-oil trade between Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia amounted to AED 493.8bn over the past decade. This year, Saudi Arabia was the Emirate’s top trading partner accounting for 22.3% of total non-oil trade. Meanwhile, non-oil trade between Dubai and Saudi Arabia amounted to AED 500bn in the 2010-2020 period and AED 24bn in H1 this year.
Non-oil foreign trade between the UAE and the US exceeded USD 11bn in H1 this year; this follows bilateral trade value of USD 26.3bn last year.
UAE’s Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship has started issuing entry permits into the country including tourist visas; no new work permits are being issued for now. Residents need to obtain a negative PCR test result as well as self-isolate at home. Dubai was the only emirate permitting entry of tourists since 7th July.
Abu Dhabi announced more than AED 110mn in financial incentives to agricultural technology companies to start operations in the emirate.
Bahrainis facing financial constraints can submit documents to prove their status and benefit from a postponement of housing loan instalments, according to the Housing Minister. Separately, municipal fees were reduced for 155 Bahraini tenant families in August.
The manufacturing and extractive industries index in Egypt declined by 6.5% MoM to 97.39 in July. However, manufactures of motor vehicles and basic pharma products posted an increase of 8% and 3.9% respectively.
Ration card holders in Egypt had been allocated EGP 13bn under the presidential initiative to boost local consumption (which ends on 26th October).
The Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company is finalizing 6 new natural gas agreements worth USD 731mn. Currently, natural gas production stands at 7.2bn cubic feet of gas per day.
In a bid to attract more tourists, Egypt has cut fees on airlines’ landing and parking by 50%, and ground services by 20% for all companies operating in the Red Sea, South Sinai, and Marsa Matrouh airports.
US renewed a waiver for Iraq to import Iranian electricity for 60 days; this extension is much shorter compared to previous waivers lasting between 90-120 days.
Revenues from Jordan’s tourism sector fell by 63.7% YoY to JOD 819mn in January-July 2020, according to Central Bank data. Revenues were JOD 4bn last year.
Losses of restaurants and cafes in Jordan amounted to approximately JOD 20mn in the two weeks’ forced closure.
Kuwait was downgraded for the first time by Moody’s, lowered by 2 notches to A1 (the 5th highest investment-grade level), citing government’s “liquidity risks” as well as the “fractious relationship” between parliament and the government as a long-standing constraint. The rating firm projects that the country would require net sovereign issuance of up to KWD 27.6bn (USD 90bn) to meet funding requirements between the current fiscal year till 2023-24.
Kuwait’s National Assembly panel passed a draft law to reduce expat numbers in the country over the next five years, though without specifying related caps or percentages. It gives the government 6 months to determine the number of expats needed.
Kuwait’s travel restrictions will be fully lifted only after the vaccine is widely available in the country, according to the Deputy Director General for Kuwait Airport Affairs. Currently commercial flights do not exceed 30% of the airport’s normal capacity.
A survey of 159 companies and SMEs in Kuwait showed a drop in value of sales by a monthly average of 59%, a decline in profit margin by 66% as well as a decrease in average salaries & wages by 46%.
Lebanon’s PM designate resigned after a month, citing “concern for national unity”, after being unable to form a cabinet. The black market exchange rate reached around LBP 9000 for a dollar. Earlier, in a bid to end the stalemate in forming a government in Lebanon, it was proposed that an “independent” Shi’ite candidate be considered as finance minister, as a one-time exception. France had backed this proposal, but other political barriers were raised.
Oman will impose an excise tax of 50% on sweetened drinks from the start of October.
The Tax Authority in Oman has scrapped a previous ruling that required taxpayers to file a provisional return of income within three months and an annual return within 6 months of the end of the accounting year; instead, taxpayers are now mandated to file only one tax return within four months from the end of the tax year.
Oman’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry issued more than 3,000 import permits for cars and motorcycle shipments in H1 this year.
Expats with valid residency can re-enter Oman from 1st October subject to a test on arrival and quarantine for 14 days. International flights have been given the green light for resuming operations from October, but will be limited at the rate of 2 flights per week for each of its previous destinations. Oman Air will start operations within the country (Muscat to Salalah & back).
The value of contracts awarded in Saudi Arabia plunged by 83.2% YoY to SAR 11bn (USD 2.9bn) in Q2, as many project awards remained suspended during the outbreak. The total value slipped to SAR 56.2bn in H1 this year vs SAR 57.8bn, thanks to a strong Q1. Water (SAR 4.3bn), oil & gas (SAR 1.8bn), and real estate (SAR 1.7bn) accounted for 70% of awarded contracts by value.
About 38 government authorities in Saudi Arabia will be prepared for privatization within 24 months’ time, in addition to the education universities and specialist hospitals, reported Okaz.
Saudi Arabia will resume Umrah for citizens and residents at 30% capacity (~6k persons) as part of the first stage of reopening. Starting 4th October, each person will be given three hours to perform the Umrah.
International travel restrictions are slowly being lifted in Saudi Arabia: patients that require to travel abroad for treatments can now do so subject to meeting certain conditions set by the health ministry.
Stock markets ended in the red across the globe: in the US, equities fell for a fourth consecutive week despite a tech rally, while the resurgence of COVID-19 and renewed lockdowns spooked investors in Europe. In the Middle East, most equity markets were down, with the exception of Kuwait and Bahrain. Among currencies, the dollar posted its best weekly performance since April while the euro declined, and the yuan jumped higher following the entry of China government bonds into the FTSE Russell’s trillion-dollar World Government Bond Index (WGBI). Gold price ended 4.6% lower – the worst week in more than a month while oil prices were down by more than 2% as slowing global demand continues to be a worry.
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