Dubai issued a new law governing unfinished and cancelled projects: a special tribunal will be set up to oversee the liquidation of unfinished and cancelled projects as well as the settling of related claims. The tribunal’s jurisdiction covers property disputes across the emirate, so cases over stalled projects cannot be filed at the DIFC Courts.
Dubai PMI slipped to 49 in November – the lowest since May – and from October's 49.9, with declines in output and sales growth. Despite the potential rollout of vaccines, business expectations for the year-ahead slipped into negative for the first time since the series began in April 2012.
The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development allows a 1-year extension to secure a ‘Tajer Abu Dhabi’ license even without an official business location. Around 14,613 ‘Tajer Abu Dhabi’ licenses have been issued since its launch in 2017 and the end of September 2020.
Dubai-based district cooling provider Empower plans to lower fuel surcharge on electricity and water for its customers. This is expected to benefit more than 140k customers and reduce district cooling charges by more than AED 48mn (USD 13mn) a year.
The value of exports of the Ras Al Khaimah Chamber of Commerce and Industry members totalled AED 671bn in January-September this year. Saudi Arabia topped the list of countries, in terms of numbers of certificates of origin, with 3,208 certificates covering goods valued at AED 582mn.
UAE ranked first in the Arab World in UNDP’s Human Development Report 2020, in a list topped by Norway, Ireland and Switzerland. UAE was ranked top in the Arab region for gender balance as well.
Trade with UAE’s emirates and Bahrain has been on the rise: Abu Dhabi-Bahrain non-oil trade touched to AED 41.83bn during the period from 2015 to November 2020 (with AED 3.83bn this year); Dubai’s trade with Bahrain stood at AED 5.37bn in H1 2020 while it grew by 170% in a decade to AED 16.37bn in 2019.
Egypt announced the allocation of EGP 1bn towards COVID-19 related spending and a vaccine roll-out plan; more restrictions were introduced to control the spread of the outbreak by prohibiting wedding ceremonies and cultural events, in addition to reducing the attendance of government employees workforce.
Tourists into Egypt are estimated to reach just 3mn this year, just 23% of numbers last year, and a rebound is unlikely before 2022. In 2019, 13mn tourists visited the country, with receipts reaching more than USD 1bn a month.
Calling it a preemptive step to avoid depletion of its foreign exchange reserves, Iraq devalued the dinar for the first time since 2003: the exchange rate is now set at 1,450 dinars per dollar, from a peg of 1,182 dinars.
The IMF expects growth in Iraq to decline by 11% this year – the worst contraction in 17 years; decline in oil revenues will widen fiscal and external account deficits to 20% and 16% of GDP respectively. (More: https://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2020/12/13/pr20372-imf-staff-completes-2020-article-iv-mission-with-iraq)
According to UNHCR, poverty rates in Jordan edged up during the COVID-19 outbreak: poverty rose by around 38 percentage points (ppts) among Jordanians, and by 18 ppts among Syrian refugees; this amounts to 1.5mn+ Jordanians and more than 76k Syrian refugees.
Kuwait approved a new cabinet that included new ministers of oil and finance. The re-appointed Prime Minister called for united efforts “and especially by the National Assembly” in moving forward, as the country is burdened by a fiscal deficit of USD 46bn this year.
Flights to and from Kuwait International Airport will restart from January 2021, including 34 “banned” countries; details of institutional quarantine will be revealed in a few days.
Oman’s registered SMEs accelerated by 12.9% YoY and 1.4% MoM to 47220 at end of October.
Digital shopping gains ground in Saudi Arabia: online stores accelerated by 171% to 36447 shops in the last 9 months, revealed the minister of trade. the number of supermarkets providing home delivery services increased from just 3 pre-pandemic to 14 afterwards.
Saudi Arabia plans to attract SAR 220bn in new investments in tourism by 2023 and more than SAR 500bn by 2030, disclosed the Minister of Tourism. The sector currently accounts for 4% of jobs in the country.
UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egyptian startups raised USD 16.5mn, USD 8.7mn and USD 6mn respectively in November, out of total USD 37mn invested in all MENA startups, according to Wamda.
The number of 5G subscriptions to reach 130m in MENA region by 2026, representing 15% of the total mobile subscriptions, according to a report by Ericsson Mobile Services.
US equities touched record highs last week, as discussions progressed on a stimulus bill and as the Federal Reserve pledged to remain accommodative. Emerging-market stocks and currencies posted a seventh weekly gain, the longest winning streak since January. Regionally, most major Gulf markets ended higher while Egypt fell the most in 2 months. The pound hit its highest level in 31 months during the week, on hopes that an EU-UK trade deal could be close, though it slipped after. Among commodities, gold price gained while copper topped USD 8,000 a ton, reaching a 7-year high on an expected surge in demand.
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