Dubai PMI jumped to 57.4 in October (September: 56.1), the highest reading since August 2022, on a surge in new orders. While sales growth was particularly marked among wholesale & retail firms and travel & tourism service providers, the only indicator that was lagging was employment, which stood at a 13-month low. Input prices increased to the fastest in 15 months while output prices were reduced (to maintain a competitive edge).
UAE plans to establish comprehensive economic partnership agreements with 27 countries and economic blocs representing up to 95% of global trade, disclosed the UAE minister of state for foreign trade. These partnerships are expected to raise non-oil trade to AED 4 trillion by 2031. Negotiations are currently underway with 13 nations and economic blocs.
Dubai approved the general budget for the 2024-26 fiscal cycle, with total expenditures of AED 246.6 billion. The Department of Finance expects to achieve an operating surplus of up to 3.3% of Dubai’s GDP during the 2024-2026 period. Spending for the fiscal year 2024 has been estimated at AED 79.1 billion, with salaries and wages constituting 26% of the total.
UAE’s ADNOC Drilling and Alpha Dhabi established an investment partnership – to invest up to USD 1.5 billion to acquire technology-enabled companies in energy and oilfield services.
Emirates Airlines reported a profit of AED 9.4 billion (+134% YoY) in H1 2023, thanks to a 19% surge in revenues (to AED 59.5 billion). The airline reported that an average 81.5% of seats were filled in H1, versus a share of 78.5% last year.
Economic licenses issued by the Department of Economic Development in Ajman grew by 11% YoY to 1,428 in Q3, with professional licenses accounting for the largest share (51%).
The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development and Jiangsu Provincial Overseas Cooperation and Investment Company signed an agreement to advance the development of industrial zones and attract more Chinese industrial investments. The focus is on manufacturers that specialize in solar, hydrogen, electric vehicles, healthcare, 3D printing, and petroleum equipment making.
Bahrain’s national origin exports fell by 24% YoY to BHD 943 million in Q3 2023 while imports dropped by 5% to BHD 1.4 billion. Imports originated from China (BHD 208 million), UAE (BHD 131 million), and Australia (BHD 128 million), with the top 10 nations contributing to more than two-thirds (69%) of the total value of imports. Saudi Arabia, UAE, and the US were top destinations for exports.
Egypt’s tourism minister expects the nation to meet its 2023 tourist arrival target of 15 million, stating that less than 10% of total bookings have fallen through since the war began. He disclosed that Egypt offered an extra USD 500 in incentives per flight landing in Sharm el-Sheikh to boost tourism.
The Suez Canal Economic Zone signed a USD 15.6 billion deal with Chinese entities to boost green hydrogen manufacturing. The agreement will result in the creation of about 9,000 jobs from 11 projects.
Kuwait is set to introduce a new corporate tax initiative, known as the “Business Profits Tax Law”: which would impose a 15% tax on the profits of a wide range of operating structures but excluding individuals, and micro and small enterprises. Currently, only foreign firms are subject to tax on profits and capital gains income. But effective Jan 1st, 2025, Kuwaiti MNCs (and government entities operating overseas) with revenues more than EUR 750 million will be subject to the proposed tax. This will enable Kuwait to join the OECD-G20 Inclusive Framework on base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) which other GCC nations are already members of.
About 1.4 million guests stayed at 3-5 star hotels in Oman during January-September 2023 (+27.3% YoY), raising OMR 154 million in revenues (+26.4%). A breakdown of guests’ origins indicates that domestic travel is very strong, with Omanis accounting for close to 40% of total guests in January-September (+6.9% YoY), followed by Europeans (+43.4% YoY to 295k persons). The Ministry of Heritage and Tourism aims for 11 million tourists by 2040.
The number of IPOs in the MENA region stood at 6 (-14% YoY) in Q3 2023, raising USD 523 million in funds (-66%), according to EY’s MENA IPO Eye. This brings the total this year to 29 IPOs raising USD 5.8 billion. Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul and Nomu were the most active exchanges for listing this year, and none of the non-GCC exchanges listed any IPOs this year.
The GCC’s interior ministers approved the unified GCC tourist visa, which will enable and streamline travel across the GCC. This is expected to become operational between 2024-25.
Start-ups in the MENA region raised USD 156 million in October (September: USD 63 million): this is, however, a sharp 76% YoY fall, according to Wamda. The number of deals rose to 51 in October (September: 36), with investments flowing into UAE (USD 90 million from 24 deals), Saudi Arabia (USD 51 million from 9 deals), and Egypt (USD 13 million from 9 deals). MENA’s total funding touched USD 1.9 billion in January-October, down by 36.6% YoY.
Industrial production in Saudi Arabia fell by 11.2% YoY in September (August: -12.2%), the fifth month in a row of declines, largely due to the plunge in mining & quarrying activity (-18.7% from August’s drop of 19.3%). In mom terms, IP rebounded in September, up by 0.8% (August: -0.3%). Manufacturing activity has been slowing, with its average dropping to 10.8% in January-September 2023 (vs 22.9% in January-September 2023). Separately, industrial permits issued rose to 174 in September (August: 136), bringing the total this year to 969. The volume of investments linked to the September licenses amounted to SAR 5.3 billion (USD 1.41 billion).
The Saudi Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources revealed that 38,988 certificates of origin had been issued in October (September: 34,745).
The Royal Commission for Riyadh City launched a new Special Economic Zones centre, which will be financially and administratively independent, to boost business competitiveness. The centre will oversee the development of special economic zones within Riyadh City.
A report from the Saudi Communications, Space and Technology Commission expects the Saudi space industry to reach an average annual value of USD 2.2 billion from 2023 to 2030, after recording USD 400 million in revenue last year.
Saudi Arabia has expanded its e-visa service for international investors to include all countries globally (from close to 60 nations trialled during the first phase). The e-visa can be used for multiple entries and has a validity period of up to one year.
Saudi PIF plans to invest SAR 20 billion directly in the southern region of Aseer near Yemen’s border on growing optimism that the war in Yemen is subsiding. Funds will be invested in two main projects – Soudah and Al-Wadi – as well as the expansion of Abha Airport.
Equity markets rebounded on Friday after Powell’s hawkish remarks on Thursday. MSCI’s global equities performance edged up while the Stoxx600 and FTSE closed lower. Regional markets were mostly higher on strong corporate earnings. The Swiss franc’s haven status has held strong since October 7th; the GBP closed 1.2% lower from the week before. Despite oil prices rising by 1%+ on Friday, Brent and WTI prices were down by 4% compared to the previous week. The gold price fell by more than 2%, posting a second week of decline.
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