More than 3,000 start-ups have joined Dubai Startup Hub since its inception in 2016, with more than 7,000 start-ups benefitting from various programmes, initiatives and services under the platform, according to Hamad Buamim, the President and CEO of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Dubai issued 2599 new licenses in May, up 50% YoY, and creating 8,348 jobs according to the Dubai Department of Economic Development. Real estate, leasing and business services accounted for 35% of the new licenses issued, followed by trade and repair services (28.6%).
Abu Dhabi’s trade with the GCC grew by 7.7% YoY to AED 18.22bn in Q1; exports to the GCC increased 18% to AED 7.725bn in Q1. Saudi Arabia topped Abu Dhabi’s largest importers with AED 2.36bn in Mar (+22.8% YoY).
The newly enacted DIFC Employment law stipulates a minimum threshold basic salary of 50% of total salary: employers have 90 days from May 30 to correct all employment contracts or they can be held accountable at DIFC courts.
UAE’s Emirates Development Bank, whose direct lending to Emirati-owned and managed businesses touched AED 407mn at end-March this year, plans to “potentially double” the size of its SME financing portfolio this year, according to its CEO. The bank also plans to raise funds through a benchmark-sized sukuk next year.
The UAE has been ranked second in the world for largest token sales up to June 2019, accounting for more than a quarter of global funds raised in Q1, according to Coin Schedule.
The second phase of VAT rollout in Bahrain: businesses with turnovers exceeding BHD 500k have to register by June 20th, as VAT will apply to them from July 1st. VAT registration for companies with turnovers below BHD 37,500 is optional.
Bahrain’s MPs have called for a ban on expats in up to 35 different professions and to increase the minimum wage for Bahraini nationals by 83% to BHD 550 (USD 1,462.77).
Bahrain is one of the top 10 start-up ecosystems with the largest share of female founders: the 2019 Global Startup Ecosystem Report disclosed that 18% of start-ups in Bahrain are founded by women versus 15% in London and 16% in the Silicon Valley.
Egypt’s government has finished a draft law to grant residence to foreigners in return for purchasing a property: the bill has been submitted to the Egyptian parliament to be discussed and voted on.
About 20k expats in Kuwait have lost their residency status in the past three years following the process of linking the residence permit with educational level and scientific qualifications.
Fourteen government establishments in Oman have met their commitments towards SMEs and offered 10% of tenders and purchases to SMEs in 2018.
Saudi Arabia has delivered 45% of over 500 planned reforms, according to the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority. FDI inflows increased by 127% in 2018 and the number of registered new companies grew by 70% YoY in Q1 2019.
Saudi Arabia’s Alawwal Bank formally merged with Saudi British Bank (Sabb) to create the third-biggest lender by assets in the country. With a total asset base of SAR 257bn, the bank will have total revenues of SAR 10.9bn, more than a million retail customers and the second-largest corporate book by assets.
OPEC+ have agreed to hold their next meeting to discuss oil-output cuts on the first two days of July. Prolonging the cuts in oil production till the of the year would shrink inventories at a rate of about 500k barrels a day in H2. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Iraq are in favour of restraining production amid signs of falling demand.
Following rising geopolitical tensions, the Middle East oil shipping rates have surged: the rate for transporting 2mn-barrel cargoes from Saudi Arabia to China jumped to almost USD 26k a day last Thursday, more than double where they were at the start of June. Insurance companies have been charging at least USD 180k in premiums to go to the Gulf, versus about USD 30k earlier this year.
In a week dominated by central bank decisions and geopolitical tensions, the MSCI world equity index (which tracks shares in 47 countries) dipped towards the end of the week after touching a seven-week high. Government bond yields in the US and Europe remained near record or multi-year lows after the dovish statements from the central banks. Among regional markets, most rallied as oil prices increased, though Saudi’s Tadawul extended losses; Qatar touched a 5-month high. The dollar remained soft while vis-à-vis the dollar, the yen rose to a five-month high and the Swiss franc was edging towards yearly lows. Gold touched a 6-year high last week nearing USD 1400 while oil prices surged by nearly 5% after Iran shot down the US drone.
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