S&P revised the outlook for Ras Al Khaimah to "positive" on upcoming projects, including the USD 3.9 billion Wynn Al Marjan Island, while affirming the emirate's A-/A-2 sovereign credit ratings.
The UAE launched an initiative to reskill and retool its workforce to adapt to AI challenges, with the Minister of State for AI also stating that "if someone is a year or two from retirement and has no interest in retooling, they have the option of retiring early." Separately, UAE's G42 partnered with OpenAI to push AI adoption in the UAE and other countries in the region.
Mubadala Capital raised its stake in Brazilian ethanol producer Atvos, after acquiring a 6.85% stake from the holding company that controls Atvos. Mubadala already had a direct stake of 31.5% in the company.
The UAE's pension scheme allowed the nation to climb two places to be ranked 23rd among 47 nations tracked in the Mercer CFA Institute Global Pension Index for 2023.
The Cairo Peace Summit condemned the Israel-Gaza conflict but fell short of reaching an agreement calling for an end to the violence. While Arab leaders call for an end to the attacks, Western nations called for humanitarian relief efforts; senior US and Israeli officials were absent at the summit. Since then, there have been signs of a possible escalation, with statements and warnings coming from various parties, amid fears of escalation and spillover to other countries and parties. The GCC pledged USD 100 million in emergency aid for the Gaza Strip early last week.
Bahrain attracted USD 295 million in direct investments into the Information and Communication Technology sector during January-September 2023, disclosed a senior official at the EDB (Economic Development Board) during a conference. Having gone into 10 local and international projects, the investments are expected to create over 1,600 jobs in 3 years.
Saudi Arabia and Oman signed an agreement to improve nuclear and radiation safety and protection and to use the technologies for peaceful purposes.
Qatar agreed to another 27-year gas deal, agreeing to supply Shell in the Netherlands (following a similar deal with France's TotalEnergies). QatarEnergy and Shell agreed to two sale and purchase agreements for 3.5 million tonnes of LNG a year, to start delivery from 2026.
GCC project awards surged 86% YoY to USD 41.8 billion in Q3 2023. The largest markets by project value were Saudi Arabia (USD 21.2 billion from USD 9.3 billion a year ago) and UAE (101.7% YoY to USD 15.5 billion), and together with Qatar account for 93% of overall projects.
The MENA banking sector posted a 30% YoY jump in net profits in H1 2023, according to EY, and net assets rose by 12.2%.
India and the GCC are likely to initiate free trade negotiations in early November, according to India's commerce ministry officials, after a chief negotiator was appointed on the GCC side.
Malaysia's PM proposed a free trade agreement between ASEAN and the GCC at a summit of the two blocs.
Saudi Arabia and Singapore signed 7 MoUs to facilitate investment opportunities and strengthen economic ties. Bilateral trade between the two nations surged by about 50% YoY to SAR 45.2 billion (USD 12.05 billion) in 2022. Cooperation will be explored across sectors, including infrastructure, transport & logistics, financial services, energy, digital economy, and tourism. SAMA signed an agreement with the Monetary Authority of Singapore to share information on fintech and innovation.
The office of the Philippines President disclosed that over USD 4.26 billion worth of investment deals had been signed between a Philippines business delegation and Saudi business leaders. This covers construction export and human resources services, among others.
Saudi real estate price index rose by 0.7% YoY in Q3, largely due to the increase in residential property values (+1.1%). Meanwhile, prices of buildings and villas declined annually by 0.9% and 3.8% respectively in Q3. Separately, the rental index increased by 22% YoY in September, with over 294,000 residential and commercial rental transactions registered.
Saudi Arabia's FII conference is underway, with around 300 Chinese "decision makers" in attendance, according to the organisers. Only 15-20 out of 6,000 participants cancelled attendance on safety aspects due to the Israel-Gaza conflict.
Equity markets' weekly loss can be traced back to multiple factors, including concerns about the broadening of the conflict in the Middle East, potential higher inflation, additional rate hikes, and the mixed earnings picture. The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) closed on Friday at the highest level since March 24 (but is not as high as when Ukraine was invaded last year), but closed lower on Monday. The benchmark 10-year US Treasury yields crossed 5% for the first time since July 2007 before tumbling. MSCI Asia ex-Japan and MSCI global emerging market indexes touched their lowest level since November 2022. Regional markets were mostly down, with DFM the worst affected (down by 5.4% compared to a week ago), while Egypt continues to soar as local investors rush to protect savings from high inflation and potential devaluation. The dollar touched the symbolic 150- mark versus the JPY but later recovered (partly due to a softer dollar). Oil prices saw a drop yesterday on diplomatic efforts in Gaza; gold prices advanced, closing near the USD 2,000-mark.
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