The UAE Cabinet, chaired by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, has approved the sectors and economic activities eligible for up to 100 percent foreign ownership. The decision aims to support the growth environment and to reaffirm UAE’s position in the global arena as a hub for investment. A total of 122 economic activities across 13 sectors were specified to be eligible for up to 100 percent foreign ownership including renewable energy, space, agriculture, and manufacturing Industry.
The UAE central bank, in its quarterly review, disclosed that GDP grew by 2.2% YoY in Q1 this year, with the non-oil economy rising 1.6% during the quarter.
Nine initiatives have been announced as part of Abu Dhabi’s three- year, AED 50bn “Ghadan 21” initiative: this includes an “Abu Dhabi Instant Licence”, an industrial tariffs initiative and vendor payments within 30 days to name a few. This also includes an SME financing scheme that provides guarantees to Abu Dhabi banks in case of defaults. The government will guarantee up to 75% of loan value extended to Abu Dhabi based SMEs run by UAE nationals and up to 60% for expat-run SMEs. The companies need to have been in business for at least 2 years.
Remittances from the UAE declined by 11.7% YoY to AED 38.41bn (USD 10.45bn) in Q1 2019 and around AED 25bn was transferred through money exchange companies. Indians accounted for 37.4% of total remittances followed by Pakistanis (10.2%), Filipinos (7.9%) and Egyptians (6%).
UAE’s Dubai and Abu Dhabi were listed as the 21st and 33rd most expensive cities for expats in the 2019 Cost of Living survey published by Mercer. Eight Asian cities were among the top 10 spots in the list topped by Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore.
Indian investments in Egypt exceeded USD 3bn, according to the Indian ambassador to Cairo, who also stated that bilateral trade between the two nations touched USD 4bn a year. Tourism has also picked up with the number of tourists more than doubling to 126k this year, from around 60k in 2014.
Egypt aims to raise the value of its textile exports to USD 12bn by 2025, according to the chairman of the Textile Export Council of Egypt. Currently, textile exports reach only around USD 3bn per year on average, tied down by lack of finances and training challenges.
Egypt’s military pensions will increase by 15% from July 1st: military pensioners will see a minimum pension increase of EGP 150 and the minimum pension will be raised to EGP 900.
Jordan’s minister of energy disclosed that work is underway to interconnect the electric power grids of Jordan and Iraq.
The World Bank approved a USD 200mn healthcare project in Jordan to support the delivery of critical primary and secondary health services to poor uninsured Jordanians and Syrian refugees.
Qatar is planning to invest USD 3bn in Pakistan, via deposits and direct investments, announced the state news agency.
Saudi Arabia officially launched its new special residency scheme for expatriates, with two options – one a permanent residency for SAR 800k and a 1-year renewable residency for SAR 100k. The residency option allows free movement for expats, as well as the ability to do business and own properties.
Global stocks advanced last week, supported by central banks’ monetary policy stances: S&P records its best June performance since 1955 while the STOXX 600 index posted its best H1 since 1998, China was up 20% and the MSCI world index was up nearly 15% this year. The positive meeting between Trump and Xi (including a shift in stance on Huawei and holding off on new tariffs) will restart trade negotiations, resulting in a likely recovery in the equity market. Stock markets in the region were mostly up, supported by the global rally: Saudi Arabia benefitted from the relaxed foreign ownership limits and Kuwait by the MSCI upgrade news. The dollar index fell vis-à-vis a basket of currencies; oil prices edged lower ahead of the OPEC+ meeting this week, but have surged by almost 25% this year; gold prices were up 8% this month – the biggest monthly advance in 3 years.
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