UAE launched “Operation 300bn” last week, with the aim of more than doubling manufacturing’s contribution to economic output to AED 300bn over the next 10 years (from AED 133bn currently) as well as increase the in-country value. Priority will also be given to R&D: volume of spending on R&D in the industrial sector will increase from AED 21bn, constituting 1.3% of GDP, to AED 57bn in 2031, raising the contribution to GDP to 2%. In addition to attracting foreign investment, the initiative will support over 13,500 SMEs, and support job creation while the use of advanced technology would be encouraged and dedicated financing would be made available to meet the target. Separately, UAE’s industrial exports stood at AED 84.2bn in January-October 2020, according to FCSA data.
A 5-year plan to raise the value of Dubai’s foreign trade to AED 2trn (from AED 1.4trn now) was approved last week. Dubai also announced a restructuring of the Dubai Chamber, forming three separate chambers: one for commerce, one for international trade and another for the digital economy.
UAE and UK agreed to invest GBP 1bn (USD 1.38bn) in Britain’s life sciences industry: Mubadala will invest GBP 800mn into the industry over the next 5 years, while GBP200mn will come from UK’s Life Sciences Investment Programme.
The UAE invested USD 10bn with the Indonesia Investment Authority (set up last month), to be used in strategic sectors like road and port infrastructure as well as tourism and agriculture.
Abu Dhabi’s Taqa announced its plans, as part of a new 2030 strategy, to spend AED 40bn in infrastructure development as it prepares to add about 27GW of power capacity by 2030 and expand its renewables portfolio.
Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority generated AED 8.47bn of trade or 10% of the emirate’s total trade in January-September last year. The number of registered companies in the free zone grew by 64% to 1800 during this period.
UAE improved its ranking, up 4 spots to 15th globally, in the latest edition of AT Kearney’s FDI Confidence Index US, Canada and Germany top the list.
As COVID-19 cases in the GCC increase, additional restrictions are being imposed: Oman announced a nighttime curfew from 8 pm to 5 am till 8th April as well as an extension of the evening ban on all commercial activities. Qatar issued orders to close leisure centres, gyms and swimming pools in addition to the reduction of capacity at malls and movie theatres.
Prices of fixed broadband in Bahrain plummeted by up to 47% between 2019 and 2020, while internet penetration stood at 137% last year and internet usage increased by 93% YoY, according to a recent TRA (Telecommunications Regulatory Authority) report.
Economic growth in Egypt is estimated to rise to 5.4% in the fiscal year 2021-22 from 3.3% estimated in 2020-21, revealed the Planning Minister.
The Suez Canal re-opened after the 400 foot long Ever Green ship was finally dislodged. The backlog of ships waiting to transit through should be cleared in around three days.
Egypt aimed to vaccinate 250k medical staff and eligible citizens last week, after having received a shipment of 300k doses, gifted from China.
The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency in Egypt injected EGP 9.1bn via 623,500 loans to women’s projects between July 2014 and late-2020, according to the agency’s Executive Director.
Iran and China signed a 25-year cooperation agreement. Though the details were not divulged, the pact includes ‘political, strategic and economic components. China was Iran’s top trading partner in the year ended 20th March: Iran’s exports to China reached USD 9bn and imports from China stood at USD 9.7bn.
Fitch maintained Iraq’s “B-” credit rating, but revised its outlook on sovereign debt to stable from negative, citing higher oil prices and smaller-than-expected decline in foreign reserves following the recent devaluation.
Jordan is planning to create a virus-free “golden zone” for tourists that will include Wadi Rum, Petra and the Dead Sea. Being vaccinated will be the necessary criteria for being allowed entry into this zone for tourists, local suppliers and tourism staffers.
The Cabinet in Jordan approved the Central Bank’s initiative to provide liquidity and financing for SME’s existing projects: the government will bear some of the loan interests on behalf of beneficiaries.
Kuwait has reduced the hours of its month-long night curfew to 11 hours (6 pm to 5 am) from 12 previously; furthermore, hotel quarantine has been replaced with home quarantine for travelers who have been vaccinated.
Lebanon plans to impose a 3-day shutdown during the upcoming religious holidays of Easter (in April) and Eid (in May). Night curfew has been extended from 10 pm to 3 am while shops and restaurants are allowed to open for 2 extra hours from Monday onwards.
Equity markets were mostly up last week (S&P posted the strongest gains in 3 weeks), with Asia ex-Japan the only major global index down from the previous week (the index hit a near 3-month low on Thursday). In the Middle East region, most indices were down with DFM (Dubai Financial Market) the worst hit (falling on ex-dividend stocks) while Egypt had to suspend trading after indices fell following the accident on the Suez Canal. Among currencies, the dollar rose to a 9-month high versus the yen during the week and the euro-dollar was lower given divergent COVID-19 outlooks. Emerging market currencies took a beating also given the near 10% plunge in the Turkish lira.
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