Dubai has announced a master plan for Palm Jebel Ali, which will see 80 new hotels in development twice the size of Palm Jumeirah. The development was announced by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who said it would include 110km of beaches. Palm Jebel Ali would be part of the emirate's ambition to be 'the most beautiful city in the world,' said Sheikh Mohammed.
The UAE and Malaysia have initiated discussions towards a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. Currently, the UAE is Malaysia's 17th trade partner globally and the second in the Middle East. Malaysian investments in the UAE are at USD 150mn, while UAE investments in Malaysia are USD 220mn, according to the UAE's trade minister.
UAE's Mubadala is set to acquire a majority stake in Fortress Investment from SoftBank Group. While the financial terms are not public, the Fortress management will own a 30% stake in the company, and Mubadala will own the rest.
Abu Dhabi-based firms have identified USD 2bn in investment opportunities in South Korea, according to a joint statement from Korea Development Bank and Mubadala Investment Co. This stems from the UAE's pledge to invest up to USD 30bn in South Korea, which was made during the President's visit to Abu Dhabi in Jan 2023.
A report from CBRE (Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis) stated that UAE's property market posted double-digit growth in sales and rental rates in Q1 2023. Average property prices in Dubai rose by 12.8% YoYear in Q1, versus 1.4% in Abu Dhabi, while rental rates were easing (in Dubai, it rose by 26.3% in March from February's 27.7%). However, prime office properties in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai posted higher occupancy rates, resulting in growth rates of 19.1% and 20.2% respectively.
Egypt will introduce new taxes next week on items including entertainment (5% tax on cinemas airing foreign films), foreign travel (EGP 100 + charges on duty-free purchases), luxury food items (10% customs tax), and leisure activities (20% tax on scuba diving) among others after having received Parliamentary approval yesterday. The taxes are expected to add USD 5bn annually to the treasury.
Iraq launched a USD 17bn Development Road project to connect the Grand Faw Port (a major commodities port on its southern coast) by rail and roads to the border with Turkey. This will shorten travel time between Asia and Europe and, if completed (by 2029, if work starts early next year), could potentially transform the country post-war.
An electricity grid interconnection between Jordan and Iraq will begin supplying Iraq on July 1st. The initial capacity will be 50 MW
Kuwait's June 6th legislative elections will go ahead after the Constitutional Court upheld the March ruling that the September 2022 election was void.
Lebanon is likely to be placed on a 'grey list' of countries following a preliminary evaluation undertaken by the MENA section of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Reuters reported that Lebanon was scored as only partially compliant in several categories, including anti-money laundering measures, transparency on beneficial ownership of firms, and mutual legal assistance in asset freezing and confiscation. The report will be published in June.
Oman's Sultan is in Iran for a 2-day visit, with bilateral discussions ranging from industry to 'defence and security affairs.'
Qatar Investment Authority committed up to QAR 1bn (USD 275mn) towards a permanent market-making program on the Qatar Exchange to support liquidity and attract more foreign asset managers to invest. It will be applicable over the next 5 years and will cover 90% of the listed market cap size. Separately, the CEO committed to investing GBP 10bn (USD 12.4bn) in the UK through 2027
Point-of-sale transactions in Saudi Arabia fell for the second week in a row (for the week ending May 20th), down by 7.3% to SAR 10.1bn. Sixteen of the 17 sectors posted weekly declines (only jewellery ticked up by 0.1%), of which the food and beverage sector posted the biggest drop (-8% to SAR 136.17mn).
The Riyadh municipality has launched more than 40 investment initiatives in Q2 2023, covering various sectors including industries and sports.
Saudi Arabia and Iraq signed multiple agreements to boost economic cooperation. Deals were signed to develop a special economic zone and to increase bilateral trade (which stands at USD 1.5bn in 2022). Saudi Arabia's investment minister disclosed that USD 1bn had been allocated for reconstruction projects in Iraq and USD 500mn to support bilateral trade. Saudi PIF (Public Investment Fund) created a USD 3bn investment unit for Iraq, looking for funding opportunities in infrastructure, mining, agriculture, real estate, and financial services among others.
Canada and Saudi Arabia agreed to restore full diplomatic ties and appoint new ambassadors. Saudi Arabia was the biggest export market in the region for Canada, with exports standing at USD 1.65bn in 2021 (more than 80% were transport equipment), while imports from Saudi (mostly oil and petrochemicals) were USD 2.4bn.
Equity markets in the US rose to a 9-month high on Friday, given strong economic data (e.g., durable goods orders, personal spending) and hopes of a deal raising the US debt ceiling. Stoxx touched an 8-week low and ended last week in the red. Chinese equities also declined, given the lower-than-expected post-Covid recovery phase. Regional markets were mostly down. Among currencies, the dollar gained for the third week in a row, while Germany's weak data (showing a technical recession) affected the euro. Turkey's lira fell to 20 against the US dollar for the first time (with Erdogan cruising into victory during the second round of voting). Oil prices ended the week higher compared to a week ago amid mixed messages from OPEC+ nations regarding supply, while the gold price edged lower."
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