UAE, Israel, and US will establish a joint strategic vision for energy partnership: this collaboration would imply cooperation on various fields including “renewable energy, energy efficiency, oil, natural gas resources and related technologies, and water desalination technologies”.
Fuel prices in the UAE will remain unchanged for the 7th consecutive month in October.
Inflation in the UAE declined by 0.13% MoM and 2.59% YoY in August: higher prices in food, clothing, education and restaurants (among others) were more than offset by declines in housing and utilities, healthcare, transport costs.
Japan imported 18.143Mn barrels of crude oil from the UAE in August; oil imports from the UAE represented 24.8% of the total Japanese oil imports.
Remittances from the UAE amounted to AED 79.6bn in H1 this year, according to the central bank. India, Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt and the US accounted for the top receiving nations.
Ras al Khaimah’s manufacturing exports increased by 32% between 2017 and 2019 to AED 3.803bn. Saudi Arabia was the biggest importer from the emirate (26% of total industrial exports) followed by Kuwait (10%) and India (9%).
Dubai announced free parking for all electric cars registered in the emirate until 2022; but, this is not valid for electric cars registered elsewhere in the UAE. Currently there are around 1803 electric cars registered in Dubai.
UAE has resumed issuing entry permits into the country though work permits are not being issued at this stage.
GDP in Bahrain declined by 8.9% YoY in Q2: the non-oil sector plunged by 11.5% while the oil and government sectors grew by 3.2% and 0.1% respectively.
Bahrain’s government will continue to pay 50% of wages of citizens in private sector firms affected by COVID-19 during October-December. Separately, a 3-month waiver (starting from October) was announced on tourism establishments fees in the country.
The finance and national economy ministry highlighted some economic indicators that signal a recovery in Bahrain: the value of imports picked up by 88.1% MoM in August, hotel occupancy rates in four- and five-star hotels increased by 13.3% MoM and 17.6% in July and August respectively, the number of monthly real estate transactions ticked up by 19.1% MoM and 21.6% in July and August respectively.
Egypt’s finance minister disclosed that an initiative was underway for the payment of all overdue dues to exporters (in cash) at a 15% discount before the end of the year.
Three electronic payment companies in Egypt – Masary, Bee, and Aman – are considering IPO’s on the Egyptian Exchange next year.
Iran’s rial weakened to a record low against the dollar, breaching 300k for the first time on the unregulated market.
Jordan reopened mosques and churches last Thursday, but with social distancing norms in place. Restaurants were also allowed to restart dine-in services, but at 50% capacity.
Kuwait’s new ruler was sworn in after the death of his brother, who was known as an effective mediator in the region. The succession process has been smooth. Speculation of an imminent devaluation, which started circulating after the passing of the country’s ruler last week, was denied by the Central Bank (which also reiterated commitment to the dollar peg).
A new bill was submitted by Kuwait’s government to the Parliament, to support SMEs during the COVID-19 outbreak: this includes allowing banks to provide loans of up to KWD 25k to SMEs payable within 5 years.
The Lebanese pound has been falling versus the dollar on the black market, as the country’s troubles and uncertainties continue with the PM-designate stepping down, warnings by the Central Bank that it is running of reserves to subsidise essential commodity imports, and discussions with the IMF (International Monetary Fund) on hold till a new Cabinet is formed.
After having exceeded 1000 daily infections, Lebanon ordered 111 towns and villages into lockdown from 4th October to 12th October, to curb the COVID-19 outbreak.
Saudi Arabia’s oil exports fell by 46% YoY in July while non-oil exports fell by 8.3% YoY; merchandise imports plunged by 30.5% MoM to SAR 37.6bn, largely due to vehicles (-64.3%) and electrical equipment (-30.1%).
Vehicle imports into Saudi Arabia fell to the lowest level since 2015 in July, reported Bloomberg, after VAT was tripled. Imports of vehicles, aircraft, vessels, and associated transport equipment fell 64% YoY to SAR 3.9bn in July.
The unemployment rate of Saudi citizens increased to 15.4% in Q2 vs Q1’s 11.8%. About 400k Saudis and expats have quit the labour market in April-June, according to the General Authority for Statistics. Separately, average monthly salaries paid to Saudi citizens declined by 3.9% YoY to SAR 9970 as of end-Q2 while salaries to expats grew by 2.17% to SAR 4136.
A maximum 50% of Saudi citizens working in private sector firms affected by the pandemic will get a 3-month extension of support from the government via “Saned”, an unemployment insurance scheme.
Moody’s estimates that Saudi Arabia’s financing needs will more than double to around SAR 318bn (USD 85bn) this year from SAR 153bn in 2019. Of this, nearly half is expected to come from Sukuk issuances.
Saudi Arabia will enforce a mandatory 14 days between two Umrahs for pilgrims; so far 35k requests have been registered to perform Umrah.
OPEC pumped an average 24.38mn barrels per day (bpd) in September, up 160k bpd from August. While Libya and Iran are exempt from the OPEC+ supply pact, UAE posted the largest drop in production in September (compensating for previous months of oversupply). UAE’s shipments of crude and condensate fell to 2.43mn barrels per day in September, a decline of 480k bpd on August and the lowest since October 2018.
Airlines based in the Middle East recorded a 92.5% YoY decline in revenue passenger kilometers in July, one of the weakest outcomes of all regions, according to IATA; international demand remains weak, with passenger volumes contracting by more than 90% annually on all of the key routes – not very different from the crisis low in April. Before the end of the year, an estimated 1.7Mn people in the aviation industry (half of the 3.3mn in aviation and related industries) are expected to be out of employment.
Stock markets gained compared to the week before, though declining towards the end of last week: with Trump testing positive for COVID-19 and the next round of fiscal stimulus likely to be held up by political bickering (the House already approved the USD 2.2trn relief package) in the US, continuing Brexit negotiations and the latest wave of COVID-19 hitting record highs in many countries, investors are getting uneasy. In the region, most markets gained slightly though in Kuwait, the main index posted its biggest intraday fall on news of the Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah’s death. The pound fell on Brexit-related news, while the yen gained on its safe haven asset stance. Oil prices slipped below USD 40 a barrel last week (touching a 4-month low) on tepid demand alongside higher global crude oil output.
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