Dubai’s non-oil private sector activity softened to 50.6 according to the latest PMI – the weakest since February 2016 – as output slowed (subdued by soft new business volumes) while construction, wholesale and retail sector PMIs fell below the 50-mark. Firms tried to boost sales through lowering output prices (for the 21st month in a row) while the rate of job losses was the strongest in the series’ 10-year history.
Dubai Economy’s Business Registration and Licensing department issued a total of 4,076 new business licenses in January, creating about 10k+ new job vacancies. No comparative data were provided.
Bloomberg reported that UAE’s biggest bank, First Abu Dhabi Bank, had terminated 100s of employees across multiple divisions. Separately, it was reported that Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank was planning to save ~AED 500mn (USD 136mn) by cutting jobs and closing branches.
Dubai’s prime residential market witnessed transactions of over 1,454 villas and 16,522 apartments in 2019, according to statistics from Luxhabitat. The volume of such transactions grew by 22% to AED 42.3bn in 2019, while the average price per foot fell by 3.72%.
UAE’s first floating solar power plant – a pilot facility with a capacity of just 80kW – will start producing electricity off the tiny resort island of Nurai “very soon”.
US agreed to extend a waiver for Iraq to import energy supplies (including gas) from Iran. The latest extension will be for 120 days.
Jordan launched 68 investment opportunities worth USD 4.5bn across various sectors; the tourism sector accounts for the largest share: investment volumes at USD 2bn from about 27 projects.
Lebanon’s flag carrier, MEA, which is 99% owned by the Central Bank, will not accept local currency any longer, only foreign currencies.
Cruise tourism in Oman surged by 43.6% YoY with the arrival of 283,488 tourists in 2019.
CEOs in Saudi Arabia are upbeat about the domestic economy while remaining concerned about the global growth outlook, according to a KPMG survey of 50 CEOs.
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund plans to have 1000 employees by the end of this year, from 700 currently.
Property prices in Saudi Arabia increased marginally by 0.5% YoY and 0.4% QoQ in Q4 2019, according to Jadwa Investment. The report also stated that credit to the private sector rose by 7% YoY in December, posting the highest rise since August 2016.
Tourists into Saudi Arabia are forecast to rise by 38% to 21.3mn by 2024 from 2019’s 15.5mn, driven by short city visits from GCC residents and business travellers, according to Colliers International.
In a report titled “The state of the pre-seed startups in MENA” launched by Wamda and the STEP conference, it was disclosed that only 32% of startups are currently registered and within those 60% are either in UAE or Egypt.
Stock markets in the US (S&P 500) and Europe (Stoxx 600) closed at record highs, as investors’ concerns about the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) eased. Even in China, stock markets are slowly recovering thanks to the various stimulus measures. Regional markets were mostly down, given the disappointing earnings season so far. The euro dropped to the weakest vis-à-vis the dollar in nearly 3 years while oil prices posted a weekly gain (the first since early-January), and gold prices closed near 7-year highs.
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