UAE has vaccinated over 40% of its population, according to a senior official; it was also disclosed that about half the elderly residents were also vaccinated. As of 20 February 2021, the UAE had administered a cumulative 56.15 vaccination doses per 100 people.
Banks in the UAE returned around AED 14.47bn from the Central Bank stimulus provided since March 2020.
Non-oil trade between the UAE and Africa accelerated by 10.3% YoY to USD 40.7bn in January-September 2020, stated the Minister of State for Foreign Trade ahead of a Forum launch.
Real estate transactions in Abu Dhabi surged by 28% to AED 74bn (USD 20.14bn) in 2020 from 19k property deals. Of this, value of mortgage deals stood at AED 44bn from 11k transactions.
Over 4,300 new licences for economic and commercial activities were issued in the first 15 days of February, according to the National Economic Register.
UAE is considering price caps on food items, given the soaring food prices globally amid supply chain bottlenecks. The Minister of Food and Water Security stated that caps could be placed on products like chicken and milk and would apply to both local and imported goods.
Dubai International Airport reported a 70% YoY decline in passenger traffic to 25.9mn last year; this includes Q1’s 17.8mn travellers. India remained the top destination country, with 4.3mn passengers, followed by UK (1.89mn), Pakistan (1.86mn) and Saudi Arabia (1.45mn). Despite the pandemic, Dubai retained the top spot globally in the total number of passengers handled, ahead of Heathrow (-73% to 22.1mn).
As part of its 2018-2023 five-year plan, UAE’s Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure is in the process of implementing 129 development projects worth approximately AED 11.8bn.
DMCC is home to more than 18k member companies, with 2,025 firms having joined in 2020 (given new incentives in light of COVID-19); number of Chinese firms increased by 20%.
Sharjah’s Electricity, Water and Gas Authority (SEWA) announced a 50% discount on the deposit amount of new consumption accounts for residential and commercial entities.
Stricter COVID-19 containment measures came into force from February 21 in Bahrain for 3 weeks: includes work from home policies for government entities, limitations on social gatherings, closure of gyms and sports halls as well as online schooling.
Bloomberg reported that Egypt is close to restarting its second LNG plant at the Damietta port. This will be the first shipment since 2012 and is thanks to the resolution of a long-standing dispute over supplies between the government and Union Fenosa Gas.
Egypt launched the first international tender for petroleum and gas exploration for 2021 in 24 areas in Suez Gulf, western desert and East and West Mediterranean.
The COVID-19 vaccination drive in Kuwait shows that 3.7 shots were administered per 100 people: however, only 18k expats were vaccinated compared to 119k Kuwaitis. The health minister stated that 850k citizens (who want to receive the vaccine) would be vaccinated within 3 months as long as supply is not disrupted.
Kuwait’s Central Bank reportedly extended its COVID-19 support measures until end-June.
The Lebanese pound fell sharply on the black market last week Thursday, as the political uncertainty drags on unresolved, trading near its record low against the dollar.
Saudi Arabia will stop giving government contracts to firms that do not have their regional headquarters in the Kingdom from 2024. Regulations are expected to be drawn up this year.
Inflation in Saudi Arabia increased to 5.7% YoY in January (December: 5.3%), given higher food (+12.3%), communication (+13.8%) and transportation (+9.6%) costs.
Saudi Arabia’s PIF increased its investments in US stocks to about USD 12.8bn as of end-2020 (end-Q3 2020: USD 7.05bn) including more than USD 3bn in three gaming companies. Separately, the sovereign wealth fund plans to establish a major airline company, operating in both domestic and international routes, reported Saudi Gazette.
Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for SMEs set up a Small and Medium Enterprises Bank – a digital lender, which will provide all of its products and services online – to bridge the financing gap for SMEs.
Another digital only bank is in the offing in Saudi Arabia: Al Moammar Information Systems Company disclosed to Tadawul that it would be a founding shareholder in a new digital Shariah-compliant bank in the country, contributing SAR 25mn to the bank’s capital.
Defence spending in the GCC is set to decline by nearly 10% to USD 6bn this year, and is likely to drop further to USD 89.4bn in 2022, according to global open-source defence intelligence agency Janes. In 2020, defense spending had increased 5.4% to USD 100bn.
Global equity markets were muted, as the fear of inflation debate continues to gain ground; Japanese stocks rose to a 30-year high during the week while Saudi Arabia’s stock market crossed the 9,000 mark for the first time since July 2019. The GBP hit USD 1.40, a near three-year high, given the pace of its vaccination program amid lockdown while the Turkish lira continues to rally (+6% in 2021). Brent oil price topped USD 65 (given the deep freeze in Texas) and saw some profit-taking, gold price fell and copper price surged to its highest in more than 9 years while Bitcoin hit a market cap of USD 1trn.
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