Dubai PMI slipped to 51.6 in May from the 17-month high of 53.5 in April, with both output and new orders declining by 3.8 points while input prices picked up for the 4th month in a row. Construction posted an increase, likely a boost ahead of the Expo event scheduled to start from October.
Dubai’s foreign trade grew by 10% YoY to AED 354.4bn in Q1 this year, and up 5% versus Q1 2019. Exports grew by 25% YoY to AED 50.5bn while imports grew by 9% to AED 204.8 and re-exports were up 5.5% to AED 99bn. China continues to be the largest trade partner (+30% to AED 44bn), followed by India (+17% to AED 35bn) and the US (AED 15.4bn).
Dubai aims to reduce government procedures for doing business by 30% in the next 3 months to lower costs and support business activity.
Property sales in Dubai touched a 4-year high of AED 11.11bn (USD 3.02bn) in May, the highest value since March 2017. Sales were up 324% YoY while the number of property transactions surged by 205% to 4429. Separately, Dubai’s biggest listed property developer Emaar reported a 250% jump in property sales to AED 10.5bn in January-May 2021.
Signs of recovery in UAE’s restaurant industry: Network International disclosed a 1% drop in overall dine-in spending in Q1 2021, with the “Quick Bites” category (consisting of fast food, street food, food trucks and bakeries) posting the highest growth in dine-in PoS (+~20%).
Data collection is getting a boost from the launch of 10 statistical surveys from the Statistics Centre Abu Dhabi. This includes among others the quarterly economic survey, foreign direct investment survey, R&D survey, environmental survey and labour force survey.
Abu Dhabi plans to invest AED 22bn (USD 6bn) over the next five years in its cultural and creative industries to create new jobs, attract talent and drive growth; this follows funding of AED 8.5bn in the sector during the past 5 years.
Listed (since 2015) real estate firm Damac’s founder is making an AED 935.4mn (USD 255mn) offer to buy out minority shareholders to take the firm private. The company’s board is set to meet this week to appoint a committee to review the offer.
Abu Dhabi requires a “green pass” on the Al Hosn app to access shopping malls to public parks and beaches to gyms, as part of the emirate’s strategy to combat the pandemic.
The World Bank’s latest Global Economic Prospects forecasts MENA region to grow by 2.4% this year and 3.5% next year, thanks to higher oil prices and vaccine-driven recovery in oil-exporting nations.
Egypt’s Ministry of Finance imposed a 14% VAT on all online delivery services.
Saudi Arabia topped the startup investment market in the MENA region in May: it accounted for USD 47mn out of the region’s total USD 110mn from 35 deals, according to Wamda. Egypt and UAE came 2nd and 3rd, raising USD 32mn and USD 28mn respectively. By sector, B2B e-commerce (USD 37.6mn), fintech (USD 18.5mn), logistics (USD 10mn), education (USD 6.9mn) and tourism (USD 6mn) were the most popular.
Saudi Arabia’s Citizen Account Program deposited SAR 9bn (USD 506mn) into the accounts of 10.4mn beneficiaries for June; the average support for one family stood at SAR 1,054. Total compensation paid since the launch of the initiative stands at SAR 97.7bn.
For the second year, Saudi Arabia will restrict Hajj pilgrimage to citizens and residents in the country, given the pandemic; only 60k pilgrims will be allowed in.
The Shoura Council has asked the Real Estate General Authority to study a proposal to allow non-resident foreigners to own real estate in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia will extend the validity of residency permits, exit and re-entry visas till July 31st for expats stranded abroad due to the travel ban.
Most stock markets moved up to new highs in spite of the higher inflationary readings across the globe on hopes of continued accommodative stances from major central banks: the MSCI (Morgan Stanley Capital International) all-world index set a new intraday high, S&P 500 reached an all-time record close, FTSE (Financial Times Stock Exchange Group) closed at the highest level since end-February 2020 and near to the 15-month high set in May. Regional markets were mostly up, as oil prices gained; Egypt continued to slump, dragged down by Commercial International Bank. The euro posted its biggest weekly decline since end-April and the sterling was down on a potential delay to the 21st June reopening in the UK. Brent crude rose to its highest level since May 2019 and gold prices fell by 0.7%. While stock markets reached new heights, government bond prices increased, and yields fell. The G7 meeting sealed an agreement about a corporate tax plan (of at least 15%) and is also expected to announce a “green belt and road” infrastructure plan. With vaccination rates rising, the pace of economic recovery is expected to increase – though inequitably; it could be worthwhile to note however that the Delta variant is causing concerns in the UK (43.8% are fully vaccinated) where the 21st June reopening may be delayed.
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