- The Ministry of Finance is considering a tax on social media and search engine advertisements. It might also apply a tax on goods sold via electronic trade websites, given that the Value-Added Tax (VAT) does not apply to such goods. Although the tax is already approved by parliament, Egyptian Members of Parliament are pressuring the Ministry to officially impose it.
- Egypt will start to seek contracts with banks or international financial institutions to hedge against fluctuating global oil prices. Egypt estimated a price of 67 USD per barrel in FY-2018/2019 budget, while the current price of Brent crude is 74 USD per barrel.
- The Egyptian economy has achieved its best quarterly growth rate in eight years during Q3 and Q4 of the FY-2017/2018 reaching 5.4%. Investments and net exports were the main drives for growth, accounting for 74% of the growth, adding some sectors such as building and construction, telecom, mining and Suez Canal. Investments totaled 747 BN USD, growing by 41%, while the balance of payments achieved an 11 BN USD surplus in the first nine months of FY-2017/2018.
- UAE monetary base expanded by 1.1% reaching 354 BN AED (96.3 BN USD) in June 2018 compared to 350 BN AED (95.2 BN USD) in May 2018, this was mainly due to increases in banks' required reserves. From May to June in 2018, the multipliers of M1, M2 and M3 decreased from 1.43 to 1.40, from 3.73 to 3.67 and from 4.40 to 4.39, respectively.
- In Qatar, Barwa Real Estate Group announced an increase of 8% y-o-y in operating revenues in Q2-2018. Barwa stated that it achieved 804 MM QAR (220.8 MM USD) net profits attributable to shareholders of parent firm during H1-2018, compared to 912 MM QAR (250.5 MM USD) in H1-2017 which declined by 12%.
- Oman state budget deficit decreased in the first five months of 2018 as higher oil prices boosted export revenues sharply and a corporate tax hike took effect. The government deficit in the first five months of 2018 shrank to 1.10 BN OMR (2.86 BN USD) compared to 2.04 BN OMR in the same period in 2017.
- Oman Public Authority for Consumer Protection (PACP) recovered more than 400,000 OMR in H1-2018. The total amount of funds recovered as a result of consumer complaints exceeded 411,000 OMR.
- In Kuwait, Recent Civil Service Commission (CSC) statistics indicated that 2,342 job opportunities are available in public sector for highly qualified graduates; 1,400 for male and 1,370 for female, while the rest is unspecified. Statistics show 2,400 openings for the holders of Diploma, of which 780 are for male, 260 for female and the remaining is undetermined.
- The Trump administration has decided to unfreeze 195 MM USD in military aid to Egypt which was previously withheld because of concerns over Egypt human rights record. The decision to allow Cairo to use the previously blocked funds is intended to recognize Egypt response to specific U.S. concerns and in the spirit of strengthening the partnership with Egypt.
- The Trump administration pushes on creating a new security and political alliance with six Gulf Arab States (Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE), Egypt and Jordan, in part to counter Iran expansion in the region. The White House wants to see deeper cooperation between the countries on missile defense, military training, counter-terrorism and other issues such as strengthening regional economic and diplomatic ties.
- Saudi Arabia King Salman issued two royal decrees, concerning the city of Jeddah and the Ministry of Culture. In the first decree, King Salman ordered the appointment of Saleh Al-Turki as mayor of Jeddah province. The second decree appointed Hamed Fayez as deputy minister of culture.
- Egypt President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi approved a bill that could immunize senior military officers from future prosecution related to violence after the 2013 military overthrow of an elected but divisive Islamist president. The law grants senior military officers selected by el-Sisi rewards including immunity from investigation for unproven offenses and they are also privileged with "special immunities" like those granted to diplomats.
- A powerful typhoon teared Japan, prompting local authorities to issue early evacuation orders, with western areas recently devastated by floods and landslides. Typhoon Jongdari, packing winds up to 180 kilometers (110 miles), is forecasted to make landfall on the country's main island.
- .QSI industrials sector increased led by Aamal Company. Moreover, the banking sector increased led by Islamic Holding Group (IHG) and Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB).
- .ADI banking sector increased led by First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) and Union National Bank (UNB). However, the real estate sector decreased led by Aldar Properties.
- .DFMGI investment sector increased led by Dubai Investments. Moreover, the telecommunication sector increased led by Emaar Properties.
- Saudi Arabian Airlines continues to successfully implement the Hajj operational plan, which targets transporting more than 1.1 million pilgrims from different countries during the arrival and return stages.
- Al Rajhi Bank, Saudi Arabia second-largest lender by assets, reported a 17.7% rise in net profit amounting to 2.57 BN SAR (685 MM USD) in Q2-2018 compared to 2.18 BN SAR in Q2-2017.
- Saudi Arabian Mining Co (Ma'aden), the Gulf largest miner, posted a 45.3% jump in Q2-2018 net profit, due to a rise in sales of gold, alumina and ammonium phosphate fertilizer. The firm made a net profit of 517.8 MM SAR (138.1 MM USD) in Q2-2018, up from 356.5 MM SAR in Q2-2017.
- Egypt aims to raise 8 to 10 BN EGP (450 to 560 MM USD) from floating shares in state-owned companies in FY-2018/2019. The government is launching an IPO program that will offer minority stakes in dozens of state-owned companies over the next three to five years in areas such as petroleum, services, chemicals, shipping, maritime and real estate to help boost state finances. The first five state companies that will offer shares this year are; Alexandria Mineral Oils Company, Eastern Tobacco, Alexandria Container and Cargo Handling, Abou Kir Fertilizers, and Heliopolis Housing.
- UAE banks continued to perform with higher levels of profitability in Q1-2018, and liquidity is expected to remain healthy for the rest of the year. The deposits grew at a similar rate reaching 1.41% in Q1-2018 as loans and advances rose reaching 1.53%, resulting in a stable loan-to-deposit ratio (LDR).
- Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) announced plans to increase its capital base via a 1 BN AED (272 MM USD). The bank would increase its share capital through the issuance of 464 million new shares with a nominal value of 1 AED per share, but with each share issued attracting a premium of 1.16 per share, bringing the total value raised to 1 BN AED.
- Umniah Company, which is a leading Telecom Services Provider in Jordan, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Qatar Mobility Innovations Center (QMIC), based at the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), in a move to strengthen its commitment towards enhancing its business incubator, The Tank, and to provide high quality Internet of Things (IoT) based solutions and platforms.
- France-based Nexans, a leader in cables and cabling systems, has been awarded a major contract by Rexel to supply lead-free Hypron cables for Oman Liwa Plastics Industries Complex (LPIC) project. Nexans is playing a vital role in the LPIC project by providing a variety of instrumentation and fiber optic telecommunication cables that will be supplied via Rexel, a leading global cable distributor.
- Oman and the Republic of Korea signed an MoU on cooperation between the two sides to establish smart cities. The Forum aimed to develop a study on the importance of investment factors, projects and fields in relation to smart cities in the Special Economic Zone in Duqm (SEZD).
- In Kuwait, the National Mobile Telecommunications (Ooredoo) has reported a decline in profits in H1-2018 by 48% y-o-y amounting to 12.2 MM KWD in H1-2018 and revenues amounted to 341 MM KWD (1.1 MM USD), decreasing by 1% compared to H1-2017.
Sports and Culture
- Serena Williams has accused anti-doping authorities of "discrimination" because of the frequency with which she has been selected for random drug tests. The 23-time Grand Slam winner had previously described her treatment by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) as shocking and raised questions about the number of times she had been tested in 2018. Williams had already been tested on five occasions in 2018 while other American players had been tested once or not at all.
- In Egypt, the Minister of Environment, Yasmin Fouad, announced that the Red Sea resort city Sharm al-Sheikh will soon be announced as an environmentally friendly green city. The United Nations Development Program - Regional Bureau for Arab States (UNDP RBAS) decided to support the Environment Ministry to prepare and implement sustainable cities in Sharm al-Sheikh.
- Dubai-based Emaar Hospitality Group has reopened the historic Al Alamein Hotel in Egypt after a major facelift costing 1.5 BN EGP (83.5 MM USD), making it one of the finest resorts along the Mediterranean. Situated in the charming setting of Sidi Abdel Rahman Bay, the hotel's glamorous designs blend vintage charm with contemporary style, evoking a sense of nostalgia of the golden age of Egyptian music and cinema.