UAE grew by 7.6% YoY in 2022, almost double the growth reported in 2021, disclosed the Minister of Economy at the Investopia conference held in Abu Dhabi last week. UAE’s foreign trade grew by 17% YoY to AED 2.2trn (USD 599bn) in 2022.
PMI in the UAE inched up to 54.3 in February (January: 54.1, a 12-month low): in spite of strong growth in demand, new orders increased only the smallest degree since September 2021 while new export orders fell for the 3rd straight month. Input prices rose to the highest since July 2022, given the higher costs of raw materials and shipment fees.
UAE and Turkey signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement to promote bilateral economic and trade relations. The aim is to increase bilateral trade to USD 40bn in the next 5 years from USD 18.9bn recorded in 2022 (+40% YoY). Turkey is currently UAE’s 6th largest non-oil trade partner.
ADNOC increased the stake being offered in its gas businesses to 5% based on “significant investor demand” and the retail tranche was increased to 12% of the offering (from 10%). The share price was set at AED 2.37 (near the top end of the range), with ADNOC raising around USD 2.5bn from the IPO (orders of over USD 125bn were received, implying an oversubscription of over 50 times); listing/ trading will commence on the 13th of March.
Deposit growth in the UAE (an average of 9.8%) outpaced credit growth (4.5%) last year. Savings deposits grew by 1.7% YoY and demand deposits were up by 7% YoY in December. Loans to the private sector increased by 3.8% in 2022, while loans to the public sector surged by 15%. Personal loans for consumption accounted for 23%of total loans as of December 2022, followed by construction and real estate (18%) and government (12%). SME lending has fallen off pandemic-highs, down to AED 83.3bn disbursed as of December 2022.
The Wall Street Journal report that the UAE is considering leaving OPEC is not true, reported Reuters citing two sources with direct knowledge of the matter. Oil price had fallen almost USD 2 a barrel after the WSJ report was published.
Petrol price in the UAE increased by up to 1.4% MoM in March (following almost 10% hike in February) while diesel price fell by 7.1% to AED 3.14 per litre. This will be reflected in upcoming inflation readings (directly via transport prices and indirectly into other segments).
Budget airlines flydubai reported record profits of USD 327mn in 2022, up 43% YoY while revenues surged by 72% YoY to USD 2.5bn.
Egypt raised domestic petrol prices by more than 10% while keeping diesel prices unchanged in its latest quarterly review. The President announced a package of measures following the fuel hike including a rise in wages and pensions for civil servants to increasing the tax exemption allowance and increases to social safety net cash payments.
Qatar and Egypt are examining the possibility of setting up a joint investment fund. The two nations also signed a deal to remove double taxation on income and prevent tax evasion.
In a bid to save energy, Egypt will use daylight saving time this summer after a gap of 7 years. Starting from the last Friday of April, Egypt will set it clocks one hour forward.
Kuwait’s crown prince re-appointed Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf al-Sabah as PM, tasking him with nominating a cabinet. It has been more than a month since the government resigned.
PMI in Lebanon inched up to a 4-month high of 48.8 in February (January: 47.7): employment rose for the first time since July alongside price hikes – overall input costs rose at the fastest rate in over 2.5 years and output prices rose at the second-fastest pace on record.
Lebanon plans to triple import tariffs in local currency by adjusting the “customs USD rate (which remains substantially below the market rate) – the second time in 3 months – in a bid to “secure additional revenues”.
Lebanon’s Central Bank stated that USD would be sold at a rate of LBP 70,000 per dollar from the 2nd March, but the official exchange rate – re-valued on the 1st February- was still LBP 15,000. This announcement came after the exchange rate touched an all-time low of LBP 90,000 for the dollar in the parallel market.
Passenger traffic in Oman’s airports increased to 9.88mn in 2022: arrivals surged by 133% and departures by 109%. Indians, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis were the top travellers using the Muscat International Airports.
The earthquakes in Turkey caused about USD 34.2bn in direct physical damage in Turkey, equivalent to about 4% of its output in 2021, according to the World Bank. Reconstruction needs could “run as high as two to three times” the estimates of physical damage. Additionally, physical damage amounted to about USD 5.1bn in Syria.
Saudi Arabia’s PMI touched an 8-year high of 59.8 in February (January: 58.2), with new orders rising to 7 (the most since September 2014, and from January’s 65.3) and output up to 65.6 (from 63.6) amid employment rising at the second-fastest rate in 5 years. Input costs meanwhile increased, especially in services and construction.
Merchandise exports from Saudi Arabia grew by 6.4% YoY to SAR 342.4bn in Q4, largely due to the surge in oil exports (13.2% YoY to SAR 31.7bn). Compared to Q3 2021, exports fell by 14.5%. Imports meanwhile increased by 29.9% YoY and 5.6% QoQ to SAR 193bn in Q4.
Saudi Arabia’s Minister for Industry and Mineral Resources disclosed that up to 15 new factories using modern technologies were to be built: three advanced factories for manufacturing vital medicines and medical vaccines, four for assembling aircraft components, and eight for metal forming. The national strategy aims to produce up to 800k tons of specialized chemicals by 2035, and boost exports of advanced technology products six-fold.
NEOM Green Hydrogen Co. signed finance agreements with several financial institutions amounting to USD 8.5bn to finance its clean energy facility: the total investment cost is funded by a combination of long-term debt and equity.
Saudi Aramco has signed agreements with China’s Geely and France’s Renault to establish a new powertrain technology firm. The firm is expected to mainly focus on transmission technologies for internal combustion engines and hybrid engines as well.
Saudi PIF increased its stake in the Tokyo-based film and animation firm Toei to 6.03% (from 5%).
In the 5-year period spanning 2017-2021, the share of women in Saudi labour market jumped to 34.7% from 21.2% and the rate of their economic participation jumped to 37% from 17%, disclosed the Saudi Human Rights Commission President.
US and European equity markets posted strong gains last week even while bond yields were at multi-year highs (on rate hike expectations) while Asian stocks underperformed global peers. Regional markets were mostly positive, supported by the rise in oil prices, while Abu Dhabi gained ahead of the ADNOC gas IPO. Sterling gained against the greenback thanks to a post-Brexit Northern Ireland trade deal with the EU, while the dollar slipped from the 2.5 month high versus the JPY. Oil prices gained last week, recovering after Reuters reported that UAE was not planning to exit OPEC (as WSJ reported); gold price ticked up to USD 1,854 an ounce.
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