- The Suez Canal Authority announced that Egypt will reduce the tariffs on container ships and ferries coming from foreign ports to East Port Said for a period of one year. Vessels carrying less than 80,000 tons will have a 30% discount on port while those carrying more than that will receive a 40% discount. Vessels carrying more than 50 containers will be eligible for a discount of up to 60%, but both rates cannot be applied at the same time.
- The Egyptian Tax Authority (ETA) has recently notified e-commerce companies in the local market such as Souq.com, Jumia, and Olx, that they will be subject to the value-added tax (VAT). Some companies have already responded to the authority decision by adding 14% tax on sales. The e-commerce firms are obliged to pay the tax by the end of every month.
- Saudi Arabia crude oil exports increased by 7.5% y-o-y, or 506,000 barrels per day (bpd), in August 2018. Saudi Arabia exported 7.21 million barrels during August, up from 6.71 million in August 2017.
- Unemployment rate among Saudi Arabian citizens stayed at a record high of 12.9% in Q2-2018, as private companies remained unwilling to hire despite the rising in oil prices. Saudi economic reforms that was launched more than two years ago, are still having little success in creating jobs or developing non-oil industries.
- According to the World Economic Forum, the UAE ranked 27th out of 140 countries in its latest World Competitiveness Report 2018, which means that UAE macro-economic stability is the best in the world, this was due to the sustainable public finances. Regionally, the UAE maintained its status as the most competitive economy, followed by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait.
- Abu Dhabi GDP at current prices reached 232.7 BN AED (63.3 BN USD) in Q2-2018, up 15.3% compared to 201.8 BN AED in Q2-2017. Abu Dhabi oil GDP grew by 36.0% reaching 94.8 BN AED in Q2-2018, up from 69.7 BN AED in Q2-2017, constituting 40.7% of Abu Dhabi Q2-2018 GDP. Non-oil GDP increased by 4.4% reaching 137.9 BN AED in Q2-2018 compared to 132.1 BN AED in Q2-2017 constituting 59.3% of Abu Dhabi GDP at current prices in Q2-2018.
- Abu Dhabi construction cost index (CCI) increased by 3.2% in Q2-2018 compared to Q2-2017. The index increased from 96.1% in Q2-2017 to 99.1% in Q2-2018. Due to the importance of this statistical indicator (CCI), statistics centers in different countries consistently compile these indices, based on the prices of a group of building materials and construction services commonly used during the construction process.
- The Public Qatari Works Authority "Ashghal" has signed five construction contracts for planned infrastructure and citizens' sub-divisions projects in different areas. The projects' total value amounted to 2.7 BN QAR (741.5 MM USD), and it will serve around 5,195 land plots. Around eight projects for citizens' sub-divisions will be tendered before the end of 2018 in Al Kharaitiyyat, Ezghawa, Al Ebb and Leabib, Al Mashaf South and Jaryan Njeima.
- Kuwait trade surplus with Japan shrank 6.9% compared to 2017 reaching 46.5 BN JPY (414 MM USD) in September 2018, down for the first time in four months. Overall Kuwait exports to Japan grew 4.2% y-o-y to 64.3 BN JPY (571 MM USD) for the fourth consecutive month of expansion. Imports from Japan soared 51.6% to 17.8 BN JPY (158 MM USD), also rising for the fourth month. Middle East trade surplus with Japan surged 58.7% to 595.8 BN JPY (5.3 BN USD) in August 2018 with Japan-bound exports from the region jumping 35.4% from a year earlier.
- In Jordan, the Minister of Water and Irrigation Raed Abu Saud signed a number of agreements to implement main water lines and networks worth 167,000 JOD in Huishan, Umm Al Jimal, Um Batimah and Al Hodeib areas in the governorate of Mafraq. The projects will be funded through the Water Authority budget to improve water supply in these areas. The minister affirmed that these projects are scheduled to be finished within three months in 2018, with the lines being operational before summer.
- British citizens travelling to Saudi Arabia will soon be eligible for five-year multiple entry visas. An MoU has been signed between the governments of the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia, which showed that British citizens travelling to Saudi Arabia now can apply for longer-term visas than those habitually issued, which have previously lasted between three and 12 months.
- In Kuwait, the Director General for Residency Affairs in the Ministry of Interior, Major General Abdullah Al-Hajeri, has granted residency affairs departments in all six governorates to issue visit visas for one month to the parents of residents not below 60 years old. However, the decision did not cover the nationals of six countries (Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Yemen) that are currently on visa ban for security reasons.
- Nassib border crossing between Jordan and Syria opened to people and goods after being closed for three years, reopening a route that used to carry billions of dollars of trade for countries across the region.
- The international group that monitors money-laundering worldwide announced that Iran had to complete reforms that would bring it into line with global norms or face consequences until February 2019. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) had given Tehran until this month to bring its laws against money-laundering and funding of terrorism up to its guidelines. Otherwise, Iran risked being returned to a blacklist of non-compliant countries that makes foreign investors and banks reluctant to deal with it.
- .QSI banking sector increased led by Qatar National Bank (QNB) and Ahli Bank. Moreover, the real estate sector increased led by Mazaya Qatar Real Estate as well as the industrials sector led by Qatar National Cement.
- .ADI the banking sector decreased led by First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank.
- .DFMGI banking sector decreased led Al Salam Bank, Ajman Bank, and Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB).
Note: Weekly values are calculated on Thursday of each week.
- The Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) awarded Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJA) the "2019 Four-Star Major Regional Airline" honor for the second year in a row. The 2019 APEX Official Airline Ratings are based solely on an airline's passengers' feedback using the TripIt mobile app, the world's highest rated travel organizing app. RJA were categorized into global airlines, with a large number of wide-body aircraft covering the globe, major regional airlines, covering a significant region of the globe, and low-cost carriers.
- The Sixth of October Development & Investment Egyptian Company (SODIC) announced that its board of directors has agreed to launch a mandatory tender offer (MTO) on the shares of Madinet Nasr for Housing and Development (MNHD) through a direct share swap. This will allow MNHD to remain listed on the Egyptian Exchange (EGX). The swap ratio is preliminarily set at 2 shares of MNHD for one share of SODIC, provided that SODIC acquires a percentage not less than 51% of MNHD shares. The declared acquisition will be conducted through direct equity swap only.
- The French state-owned public transport firm RATP biggest foreign projects include Saudi Arabia capital Riyadh, a city of six million people with virtually no public transport. It won a contract for 12-year worth 1.7 BN EUR to start up a bus network and a 12-year, 2 BN EUR contract to operate two of six planned metro lines. RATP Dev will hire about 3,500 people in Saudi Arabia in coming months, of which 2,500 for the bus network, including 100 female drivers in a country where women were not allowed to drive until earlier this year.
- Riyad Bank, Saudi Arabia fourth-largest lender by assets, posted an 8.2% rise in Q3-2018 net profit reaching 1.17 BN SAR (311.9 MM USD), up from 1.08 BN SAR in Q3-2017.
- Sharjah Islamic Bank (SIB) has announced robust financial results despite economic challenges for the first nine months of 2018 reaching net profits at 397.7 MM AED (108.2 MM USD) compared to 360 MM AED (98 MM USD) during the same period in 2017 showing a 10.5% increase. Total assets of the Shariah-compliant bank reached 44 BN AED in September 2018 compared to 38.3 BN AED in December 2017, representing an increase of 14.9%.
- The Roads & Transport Authority (RTA), in coordination with Nakheel, has awarded a contract for the construction of three bridges leading to Deira Islands. The bridges, which link with the existing bridge crossing the water canal, consist of six lanes in each direction and will be built at cost of 447 MM AED (121.6 MM USD).
- The Business Registration and Licensing (BRL) sector of the Department of Economic Development (DED), issued 13,825 new licenses in the first nine months of 2018. Among the new licenses issued, 61.2% were Commercial, 36.4% Professional, 1.2% related to Tourism and 1.1% were Industrial.
- Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) continues to win prestigious awards that confirm its leading position in Qatar's and the region's financial markets. QIB took center stage at the annual Global Finance Magazine Awards, where it won the following six awards: Best Islamic Financial Institution in the Middle East 2018 award, Best Islamic Financial Institution in Qatar 2018 award, Best Global Islamic Financial Institution for Large Corporate 2018 award, Best Global Islamic Project Finance Provider 2018 award, Best Global Real Estate Deal of the Year 2018 award, and Best Global Sukuk Deal of the Year 2018 award.
- Turkey most wide-spread home improvement company Tekzen has signed a strategic partnership agreement with Al Meera Holding, the biggest retailer of Qatar. The aim of Al Meera is to create an additional trade volume up to 100 MM USD in the next 2 years, with giving priority to Turkish partners.
- Medicare Group posted a 104.9% y-o-y hike in profits in Q3-2018 reaching 7.5 MM QAR (2 MM USD), compared to 3.66 MM QAR (1 MM USD) in Q3-2017. Earnings per share (EPS) amounted to 1.45 QAR in Q3-2018, compared to 1.29 QAR in Q3-2017.
- Zain Kuwait, the country's leading digital service provider, announced that it has signed a partnership agreement with Microsoft to offer various cloud-based services to large enterprises and small-medium businesses across Kuwait, enabling them to drive digital transformation by better engaging their customers, empowering employees, optimizing operations and transforming their products and services.
Sports and Culture
- Dubai is currently the world's most cosmopolitan city, with foreign-born residents making up 83% of its population. Its residents come from more than 200 countries and speak more than 140 different languages. Following Dubai is Brussels, with a population that is 62% foreign-born; its inhabitants hail from approximately 140 countries and speak 86 different languages.
- The historic WWE Crown Jewel pay-per-view will feature a monumental one-night World Cup Tournament, featuring the top eight Superstars from Raw and SmackDown LIVE battling it out to determine the best in the world. The first Superstar announced for the groundbreaking competition was none other than 16-time World Champion John Cena, whose tremendous accomplishments over the years have certainly earned him a place in the contest.
- The first round of the Saudi Time Attack race kicked off on the Reem race circuit. The 16-category race is unique in its participation since anyone can turn up and join in. Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF) added that the target participants for this race are not necessarily professionals but rather enthusiasts, semi pros, amateurs, and beginners.