Non-oil trade in the UAE touched USD 281.28bn in January-September 2020. China, Saudi Arabia and India were the largest trading partners (together accounting for 28% of total trade) while gold topped the list of products traded (valued at AED 182bn).
Dubai PMI increased to 51 in December (November: 49), led by an increase in output and new orders. Though all sectors expanded, growth was fastest in the retail and wholesale category. Meanwhile, falling employment continues to be worrisome as is lower stocks of purchases and shorter delivery times.
One-year term deposits in the UAE, which account for 7.1% of all term deposits, grew by 34.7% YoY to AED 63.2bn as of the end of October last year.
The UAE issued a total of 9,913 new business activities licenses across all the Emirates during the first week of 2021. Separately, Dubai Economy disclosed that it issued 42,640 new licenses last year (+4.3%), alongside a 15% rise in license renewals.
About 97% of SMEs in the UAE adopted new forms of digital payment technology last year, according to Visa’s Back to Business report.
This compares to 83% globally. More importantly, 86% of these firms expect customers to continue the use of contactless payments even vaccines are rolled out to protect from the pandemic.
Bahrain has vaccinated almost 100k persons in less than a month, since the campaign started on 17th December.
The re-opening of the King Fahd Causeway will add USD 2.9bn to Bahrain’s economy, according to a top official of the Bahrain Economists Society.
Bahrain’s tourism industry suffered an estimated loss of BHD 1bn during the pandemic, losing almost 29k visitors per day. This is almost 5 times losses reported during the financial crisis period. Annual tourism levies collected during Q1-Q3 last year plunged to BHD 2.4mn from BHD 14.5mn in 2019.
SME’s in Egypt will benefit from some of the new tax incentives: this includes a simplified tax system according to the volume of sales or businesses. MSMEs will therefore have no need for purchase books, documents or invoices.
Jordan received the first shipment of the China-UAE Sinopharm vaccine, and will receive the Pfizer vaccine on Monday, after which these will be rolled out for the public from Wednesday.
Hotel revenues in Oman plunged by 61.4% to OMR 78mn (USD 202mn) until November 2020, with occupancy rates down to 26.4% (vs. 53.9% in the same period a year ago).
Saudi Arabia unveiled an ambitious “The Line” project, a zero-carbon city at NEOM which will house a million people and have no cars nor streets; the project, with infrastructure costs of between USD 100-200bn, aims to contribute 380k jobs of the future and SAR 180bn (USD 48bn) to domestic GDP by 2030. Later in the week, during a WEF online session, it was disclosed that Saudi Arabia would offer USD 6trn worth of opportunities to investors over the next decade.
MENA startups were granted USD 1.03bn in funds from 496 deals (+13% YoY) last year, according to MAGNiTT. Though e-commerce deals dropped (-23%), funding to the sector grew by 24% to USD 162mn while funding to the F&B and healthcare sectors more than tripled to USD 122mn and USD 72mn respectively. UAE topped the list in terms of total funding and number of deals (56% and 26% respectively), following by Egypt acquiring 24% of the number of deals and 17% of the total value of funds. Together, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt accounted for 68% of total deals last year.
Investment banking fees generated in MENA fell by 12% YoY to an estimated USD 1.2bn in 2020 – the 4th highest total since 2000, according to Refinitiv data. Debt capital markets saw a 10% increase in fees to a record USD 282.3mn last year.
Global stocks tumbled, erasing gains made earlier in the week, given weak economic data amid rising COVID-19 cases and deaths (94.5mn and over 2mn respectively) and stricter lockdown rules in China, France and Germany; among Asian markets, Nikkei ended Wednesday at its highest mark since August 1990. Regional markets mostly gained, though many indices weakened on Thursday given lower oil prices. Among currencies, a strong dollar emerged, while the Brent oil price slipped as concerns about demand recovery grew and gold price dropped by 1.2%.
Vaccine rollouts are picking up pace, with 34.48mn vaccine doses administered globally as of 16th January. India’s nation-wide vaccination drive saw more than 100k vaccinated on the first day, while Israel and UAE top the list in terms of dose administration rate – at 25.34 and 18.18 per 100 people respectively. With Biden taking over the US Presidency mid-week, faster COVID-19 responses and rollout of the proposed USD 1.9trn stimulus package are expected.
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