UAE will grant Emirati citizenship to expats who are “investors, specialised talents & professionals including scientists, doctors, engineers, artists, authors, and their families”. The skilled professionals would be nominated by government or royal court officials including the Cabinet, the executive council of each of the seven emirates, the rulers’ courts, or their crown princes. This follows previous reforms allowing for a 10-year residency visa, retirement visa, remote working visa, and residency visas for families of students.
A new public debt strategy was approved by the UAE federal government aimed at developing its market for local currency bonds; though a public debt law allowing for the issuance of federal bonds was passed in 2018, no UAE government debt has been issued yet.
According to the Index of Global Trade Health released by Tradeshift, the UAE supply chain activity saw trade volumes increase by more than 13% in Q4 2020 over a January 2020 baseline and nearly 30% from the lowest point.
Bilateral trade between Dubai and Israel touched AED 1bn (USD 272.2mn) during the September 2020 – January 2021 period. Dubai’s main imports from Israel include vegetables, fruits, diamonds, flat screens, hi-tech devices as well as medical and mechanical devices.
The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange plans to double its market capitalisation over the next three years. Over 2020, ADX’s market cap grew by almost 40% to AED 750bn.
Dubai revamped requirements to list local joint stock companies: all non-local companies are required to list their shares on DFM and Nasdaq Dubai if they generate more than half of their annual profits or revenues from activities in Dubai or if their total assets in the emirate amount to 50% or more of their entire assets. Non-local companies that generate less than 50% of revenues from Dubai are also eligible to list while foreign companies can list their shares in local bourses either in the form of a primary or secondary listing.
Closing the skills gap in the UAE can generate an additional 43k jobs by 2030 and allow the nation to gain USD 4.3bn in GDP (roughly 0.6% of GDP), according to a WEF report “Upskilling for shared Prosperity”.
Bahrain’s trade with the GCC, at USD 5.7bn in 2020, accounted for 25% of its overall global trade. Bahrain-origin exports grew by 12% YoY to USD 1.59bn while the overall trade deficit narrowed by 18% to USD 16bn. Saudi Arabia was the top importer of Bahraini goods (USD 320mn), followed by the US (USD 138mn) and the UAE (USD 135mn)
As COVID-19 cases picked up in Bahrain, with many cases showing the new variant, the nation stopped indoor dining and moved schools to remote learning for 3 weeks. The AstraZeneca vaccine, approved for emergency use, was delivered from India.
Bahrain officially launched operations at the new 207,000-sq-m passenger terminal last week; the terminal, implemented under the USD 1bn Airport Modernisation Programme, is anticipated to raise the airport’s capacity to 14mn passengers annually.
Egypt will offer more oil and gas blocks for tender in a new bid in the coming weeks, according to the minister of petroleum. Separately, the nation’s LNG export capacity is expected to increase to 12.5m tonnes in Q1 this year from up to 8m tonnes currently.
Iraq, which requested emergency assistance from the IMF (International Monetary Fund), is in discussions for loans worth USD 6bn; the news led to gains in the sovereign dollar-denominated bonds issued by Iraq.
Iraq plans to set up large oil and gas projects in the Southern Dhi Qar Governorate in partnership with foreign companies. Separately, the nation set a target to upgrade renewable energy production to between 20-30% of the total power output by 2027.
Tourism revenues transferred to the Treasury in Jordan dropped by 81% YoY in 2020, according to a study prepared by the National Academy for Tourism and Aviation.
Oman extended the close of its land borders for a week until 1st February.
Saudi Arabia is forecast to grow by 2.6% YoY this year, according to the latest IMF World Economic Outlook report released last week. This follows a 3.9% contraction in 2020.
Saudi Arabia unveiled the next phase of Vision 2030 last week. Among the plans included the PIF (Public Investment Fund) strategy for the next 5 years – this comprises USD 40bn of investment every year for the next five years, an investment of USD 800bn in new sectors over the next 10 years, a contribution of USD 320bn to non-oil GDP through companies in which it holds stakes and the creation of 1.8mn jobs by end-2025. Furthermore, PIF plans to double its assets to SAR 4trn (USD 1.07trn) by 2025. The Saudi Crown Prince also stated that a potential second listing of Aramco could be part of the plans to raise funds for the PIF.
A 5-year Riyadh strategy was revealed at the Future Investment Initiative conference: about USD 220bn will be invested to transform Riyadh to a global city by 2030. Highlighting that Riyadh represents about 50% of the non-oil economy, it was disclosed that the cost to create jobs in the city are 30% less than the other cities in the country while the cost of developing infrastructure and real estate was also 29% less. Going forward, the aim is to raise the residents to 15-20mn from 7.5mn currently.
Saudi Arabia extended its travel ban and border closures till 17th May from 31st March previously cited, given the delays in vaccine delivery. The country is expected to receive 3mn doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from India this week.
Equity markets across the globe felt the reverberations of the battle between hedge funds and speculative buying from Reddit retail investors over GameStop, as volatility ticked up. Wall Street had the worst week since October, while Stoxx and FTSE closed 3.1% and 4.3% lower. Asian markets were affected as well, with day-trading also affecting the Malaysian stock market. Meanwhile, as COVID-19 cases surpassed 100mn cases globally, and faced with delivery shortfalls, the EU announced export controls on vaccines produced within the bloc, which could derail global recovery. Regional markets were mostly down, tracking global market patterns. The dollar rose to a seven-week high against the yen while overnight offshore yuan borrowing rates hit their highest level since June 2017. Oil prices held steady in the last week and come February-March, Saudi will cut output by 1mn barrels per day. Gold prices fell and remain on track for the worst January since 2011.
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