His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has launched the 'Golden Card' scheme to grant permanent residency benefits to investors, entrepreneurs, specialised talents, researchers, and outstanding students.
UAE’s plan to set up retirement funds for expats gains traction, as the Federal Authority for Government Human Resources disclosed holding a meeting with major firms regarding the system. The planned new system will include an enhanced gratuity scheme and a private sector savings programme, according to the authorities.
The Dubai Free Zone Council has agreed to the One Free Zone Passport Initiative – to allow firms to operate in multiple free zones on a single license. The Council members also approved requirement of an insurance policy instead of a bank guarantee for free zone-based companies, in a bid to ease the cost of doing business.
Unemployment in Dubai, according to the labour force survey by Dubai Statistics Centre on a sample of 3000 households (consisting half expats and half citizens), found that only 0.5% of the population were jobless while Emirati unemployment nudged up to 4% last year from 2.9% in 2016 (and only 36.5% of working age Emirati women were employed).
Real estate mortgages in Dubai exceeded AED 52.5bn in January-April 2019, according to the Dubai Department of Land and Property.
The UAE issued over 560k business licenses since the start of 2019, up 3.7% from end-2018, according to the Ministry of Economy. Dubai and Abu Dhabi together account for 70.3% of licenses till mid-May.Separately, Ajman reported an 18% YoY increase in new business licenses issued to 4831 in 2018; in addition, 25499 licenses were renewed.
Egypt plans to attract USD 10bn of investment into the petroleum sector in the coming financial year, according to the head of the oil chamber at the Federation of Egyptian Industries, on top of the USD 30bn already invested over the past 3 years.
Jordan’s exports to Iraq grew by 3.74% YoY to JOD 59mn in January-February, thanks to an agreement (including exemptions for Jordanian products and facilitating travel of trucks) signed early this year.
Oman plans to amend its current FDI Law to allow for 100% ownership for foreign companies as well as a reduction in the minimum capital required to invest.
Fitch warned that Qatari banks’ exposure to the domestic real estate market (thanks to an oversupply from World Cup 2022 preparations leading to falling prices) is an “increasing risk to asset quality”, while also highlighting the weakening of tourism (and occupancy rates) due to the regional boycott.
Saudi Arabia’s Special Privilege Iqama scheme, approved by the Shura Council and later by the Council of Ministers, will provide qualified foreigners residency benefits. The fee for permanent Special Privilege Iqama will be SAR 800k (USD 213,333) for one time while the one-year temporary iqama will cost SAR100k (USD 26,666), reported the Saudi Gazatte, citing informed sources.
MSCI added Saudi Arabia to its Emerging Markets Index last week; the 30 Saudi securities represent an aggregate 1.42% weightage in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia signed an authorised economic operator agreement, in an attempt to improve customs cooperation (notably reduce export and import costs) and thereby facilitate trade.
Global markets declined as the US-China economic wars intensified towards latter half of the week (Washington blacklisting Huawei, and announcement that the latest round of trade talks are “in flux”), though European stocks received some respite earlier in the week on the announcement of a delay in auto tariffs by up to 6 months. Though Saudi Arabia’s inclusion in the MSCI was cheered on Tuesday, rising geo-political tensions in the region left a negative impact on most exchanges in the region. The renminbi touched a new 2019-low while the pound was battered after the end of cross-party Brexit talks (and impact from May’s potential resignation). Gold prices steadied on risk sentiment while geopolitical tensions in the Middle East led to worries on potential supply disruptions and caused oil prices to close higher. Geopolitical tensions in the Middle East edged up after Saudi oil facilities were hit by drones and oil tankers were attacked off the Fujairah coast in the UAE (also showing the vulnerability of the Strait of Hormuz through which a fifth of oil production from the Gulf passes).
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