UAE Announces Ramadan 2024 Working Hours for Public and Private Sector…

UAE News:

The UAE has announced reduced working hours for the public and private sectors during Ramadan 2024. The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) announced a reduction of two working hours per day for private sector employees during the Holy Month of Ramadan.

UAE is forecast to grow by 5% in 2024, with non-oil growth projected at 4.7%, according to the Minister of Economy. He also disclosed that more than 73% of the economy now comprises of the non-oil sector.

Dubai government will sell a 24.99% stake in Parkin, a firm that operated about 179k paid parking spaces as of end-2023 and oversees public parking operations across Dubai. The IPO is expected to debut next month, and funds will go to the Dubai Investment Fund (Parkin’s sole shareholder).

UAE Federal Tax Authority set deadlines for corporate tax registrations, and will impose an AED 10k (USD 2700) fine on firms that miss the registration deadline.

Knight Frank’s “The Wealth Report” finds that luxury residential property prices in Dubai surged by 15% in 2023, in contrast to the falling trend in most major cities (such as London and New York – now 8% and 17% lower than their most recent peaks).

The UAE ranked 10th globally in the Brand Finance Soft Power Index 2024, for the second year running. The country was ranked 1st in “strong and stable economy” indicator, 3rd in “future growth potential” and 10th overall in both “internationally admired leaders” indicator and “affairs I follow closely” among others.

The DG of the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority disclosed that UAE airports welcomed more than 134mn passengers in 2023, with forecasts of 140mn this year. The 134mn passengers included 38mn arrivals, 37.8mn departures and 58.3mn transit passengers.

MENA News:

OPEC+ members confirmed the extension of the voluntary oil output cuts of 2.2mn barrel per day (BPD) into Q2: Saudi will cut voluntarily 1mn BPD through end-June while Russia will cut production and exports by an extra 471k BPD.

Egypt signed seven MoUs to develop green hydrogen and renewable energy projects in the Suez Canal Economic Zone. The projects are expected to see an investment of about USD 12bn during the pilot phase and another USD 29bn in the first phase of development.

Bloomberg reported that BP was planning to invest USD 1.5bn to develop gas projects and drilling in Egypt over the coming 3-4 years.

Kuwait will hold elections for the National Assembly on the 4th April, after the parliament was dissolved in mid-February. Applications for membership in the National Assembly are open from the 4th of March and will be accepted until the 13th of March.

Expatriates in Kuwait remitted a total KWD 33.35bn (USD 108.3bn) over the past 7 years, as per central bank data. In January-September, remittances fell by 29.67% YoY to KWD 2.979bn.

Oman climbed 39 positions to rank 56th globally in the 2024 Index of Economic Freedom, with its score rising to 62.9 out of a total 100. Among the MENA region nations, UAE tops the list (ranked 22), followed by Qatar (28), Bahrain (54), Saudi Arabia (69) and Kuwait (90) among others.

Qatar Investment Authority, with its “Fund of Funds” program, plans to invest over USD 1bn in venture capital funds internationally and regionally, revealed Qatar’s PM.

SMEs in Saudi Arabia grew by 3.1% QoQ to 1.3mn in Q4 2023, according to Monsha’at; of this 43.7% are based in Riyadh (571,298 SMEs) and employ over 3mn persons. The report also focused on the prospects for the gaming sector given the over 23.5mn gaming enthusiasts in the country; it is expected that 39k jobs will be created in the local gaming sector by 2030.

Office rents in Riyadh surged by 20.7% YoY in 2023, according to CBRE, because of the increased demand given various programs including the move of regional HQs to the country. Rents also increased in other cities in Saudi: Jeddah saw Grade A and B office rents rise by 19.7% and 1% respectively while in Damman and Khobar it was up by 7.4% and 7.2%.

The digital economy in Saudi Arabia contributed 14% to Saudi GDP in 2022, according to a recent report. The survey finds that nearly half of all establishments (48%) invested in cloud computing services with information and communication activities share the highest (68.3%). In terms of electronic purchases, 18.5% of firms placed orders for goods and services online: once again, information and communication establishments led this group (40.1%). Saudi restaurant sales surged by 13.66% to SAR 89.3bn (USD 23.8bn) in 2023, according to central bank data. The average transaction per operation witnessed a 9% decline to SAR 35 in 2023 (2022: SAR 38.4).

Saudi Arabia announced a new educational visa program “Study in Saudi Arabia” for attracting international students to enrol in Saudi universities.

According to the Vice Minister of Tourism, women account for nearly 45% of the total 925k individuals currently working in the Saudi tourism sector.

Saudi Arabia launched its bid to host the 2034 World Cup, and full bids are to be submitted in July. The 2030 tournament will be combinedly hosted by Morocco, Portugal and Spain.

Saudi Aramco completed the acquisition of a 100% equity stake in Chile’s Esmax Distribución, a leading downstream fuels and lubricants retailer.

Global News:

Equities markets were mostly up, with some touching record highs (including the S&P 500 thanks to a tech rally). The picture was more mixed in regional markets, as geopolitical tensions and oil market uncertainty weighed on performance. Dubai’s DFM index, which inched to a 9-year+ high, gained 3.1% during the week (the most since November). The dollar gained against the JPY (BoJ governor said it was too early to call inflation as close to meeting the BoJ’s target sustainably) while losing vis-à-vis the euro. Oil prices settled higher ahead of the OPEC+ decision while gold price nudged up to a 2-month high (+2% week-on-week to USD 2083.4).

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Nasser Saidi & Associates

Arabian Business