UAE Announced a New 10-year Blue Residency…

UAE announced a new 10-year visa for individuals who have made “exceptional contributions and efforts in the field of protecting the environment”.

UAE Announced a New 10-year Blue Residency…

UAE News:

UAE announced a new 10-year Blue Residency visa for individuals who have made “exceptional contributions and efforts in the field of protecting the environment” including fields such as green technology and boosting air quality.

Revenues collected from VAT and excise taxes in the UAE reached AED 173.6bn since its implementation till the end of 2023, revealed the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Finance. Of this, VAT revenues collected at the state and federal levels stood at AED 159.57bn and AED 47.87bn respectively.

The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) reported a 25% YoY increase in the number of licensed firms to close to 800 in 2023. DFSA also reported a 50% increase in number of applications and received more than 40 domestic fund registration applications. Separately, the DIFC disclosed that more than a dozen wealth and asset management firms joined in April, taking their total number to 370+.

Dubai road toll revenues grew by 8% YoY to AED 562mn (USD 153mn) in Q1 2024, from 122mn revenue generating trips through the 8 toll gates in the emirate. Road toll operator Salik expects revenue-generating trips to increase by 4-6% YoY this year.

Dubai-listed Amanat Holdings is planning for a potential IPO of its education platform. The education platform includes Middlesex University Dubai, a special education and care services provider in Saudi Arabia (Human Development Company) and a UAE-based privately-held education company Nema Holding.

Visitors into Dubai grew by 10.9% YoY to 5.18mn in Q1 2024: this was 9.1% higher compared to Q1 2019. At the end of Q1 2024, there were 152,162 hotel rooms (+2% YoY) across 832 establishments (+2% YoY) in Dubai. Hotel occupancy rate at 83% was a tad below that in 2019 and revenue per available room in Q1 2024, at AED 527, was lower than the previous Q1 high of AED 534 in 2022.

Emirates airline reported a sharp jump in full-year profit to AED 17.23bn (USD 4.69bn) in 2023 (+62.5% YoY), ferrying 51.9mn passengers as seat capacity rose by 21.4% and despite operating costs rising by 8%. Staff will receive a bonus equivalent to 20 weeks’ salary. Emirates Group’s annual profit surged by 71% to AED 18.7bn, allowing it to pay Investment Corporation of Dubai a dividend of AED 4bn.

UAE citizens with at least 3 years of experience in the private sector will be given priority in federal government jobs, according to a Cabinet decision. Separately, it was revealed that around 96k citizens were working in the private sector as of end-2023, up 170% from 2021.

MENA News:

India signed a 10-year deal with Iran to develop and operate the port of Chabahar. The long-term agreement was signed between Indian Ports Global Limited (IPGL) and the Port & Maritime Organisation of Iran and will see investments to the tune of USD 370mn over time.

Kuwait’s newly formed government headed by Sheikh Ahmad Abdullah Al-Sabah has been sworn in with the Oil, Finance and Foreign Ministers unchanged.

Kuwait’s Beyout Investment Group (BIG) Holding plans to float a 30% stake on the Kuwaiti stock exchange. The firm, which provides manpower solutions and manages real estate projects, will be the first potential listing in two years (expected to debut next month).

Kuwait and Oman signed 4 MoUs in the fields of direct investment, metrology activities, diplomatic studies and training; another MoU was also signed between the Oman Investment Authority and the Kuwait Investment Authority.

Qatar will sign more long-term LNG contracts this year, after securing 25 million tons of long-term LNG sales in the last 12 months, revealed the CEO of QatarEnergy.

In its concluding statement following the IMF Staff visit to Qatar, the IMF noted that post-World Cup growth normalization continued in Qatar: growth is expected to clock in at 1.75% in 2024-25 and in the medium-term growth is to average around 4.5% as a result of both LNG expansion plans and implementation of the Third National Development Strategy.

The travel and tourism sector in Qatar is expected to contribute QAR 90.8bn to GDP (or 11.3% of GDP) this year, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (2023: QAR 81.2bn or 10.3% of GDP). The sector added 20300 new jobs last year, taking the total to 286k – this is expected to rise to more than 334,500 jobs in 2024.

The Arab League Summit’s Bahrain Declaration called for convening an international conference to resolve the Palestinian issue as well as for “international protection and peacekeeping forces of the UN in the occupied Palestinian territories” until a two-state solution is implemented.

FDI in the Middle East and Africa region, measured by number of projects, grew by 19% YoY to 2658 in 2023, according to FDI Intelligence, roughly 16% of global FDI projects. Capital investment however fell by 6% to USD 249.8bn. Versus pre-pandemic 2019, number of projects and investment were up by 46% and 111% respectively. Renewables was the region’s top sector in 2023 by value: however, investment was down by 21% YoY to USD 100.9bn. Dubai was the world’s top location for “greenfield” FDI for the third consecutive year, with 1070 projects (more than double that of Singapore, 2nd globally, with 442 projects). Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and US National Security Adviser met to review “the semi-final version of the draft strategic agreements between the two countries, which are almost being finalised”. The agreement reportedly includes US security guarantees and civilian nuclear assistance while discussions also focused on the need for a two-state solution.

The Saudi minister of investment disclosed that UK was the second largest foreign investor in Saudi Arabia, with USD 16bn in investment stock in the 6 years till 2023Economic ties between the nations remain strong: bilateral trade between UK and Saudi climbed by a third since 2018, there were an estimated 14k Saudi students in the UK between 2020-23, and Saudi recorded over 165k visitors from the UK in Q1 2024.

Saudi PIF’s subsidiary Seven merged with Qiddiya to boost the Saudi entertainment sector: Seven will remain part of the PIF and continue with its plans to build 21 entertainment destinations in 14 cities, investing more than SAR 50bn, across Saudi. 

Global News:

Major equity markets gained, with timing of the interest rate cut remaining the major talking point and driver of expectations across markets: while S&P 500 and Nasdaq were up by 1.5% and 2.1% last week, MSCI’s global index was near a record high close. Regional markets were mixed with Dubai’s DFM falling the most – by 2.5% – on losses in real estate / property and utility stocks. The dollar had its worst day this year on Wednesday amid signs of persistent but easing inflation in the US; GBP posted a weekly gain of 1.4%. Oil price rose last week, with Brent moving up after 3 weeks of dips, on expectations of higher demand ahead of the OPEC+ meeting in early June. Meanwhile, other commodities benefited from China’s stimulus measure: gold price rose, as did silver (to a 11-year high) and nickel (to the highest since August 2023).

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