- The Egyptian government will double its spending on health allocating 73 BN EGP (4.6 BN USD) in 2019/2020 budget, suggesting that next year’s spending could increase reaching 146 BN EGP (9.25 BN USD).
- Egypt is working on a new plan to control population growth. Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly asked the ministers to come up with a new strategy to curb Egypt accelerating population growth as the number of Egyptians in the country surpasses 100 million in February 2020.
- Egypt decided to hold on USD-denominated eurobond issuances for the remainder of the current fiscal year 2019/2020 and will instead rely on green bonds, EUR-denominated eurobonds and sukuk in the coming period.
- Egypt Finance Ministry expects to reduce its debt-to-GDP ratio to 83% by the end of 2019/2020, aiming to beat the 89% target included in 2019/2020 budget. Moreover, the ministry expects that the economy will grow at 8% or 5.9%, up from a previous 5.6% forecast.
- Saudi Arabia inflation rate is expected to average 7% in 2020, according to a recent report by Jadwa investments. Noting that in December 2019, consumer prices in Saudi Arabia registered its first y-o-y increase by 0.2%.
- Jeddah Chamber is hosting the German-Saudi Liaison Office for Economic Affairs (GESALO) to enhance the bilateral relationship and promote trade between the two countries.
- The property market in Dubai may not see huge price decrease in 2020 despite the tens of thousands of new homes joining the market. Property experts suggest that home sale prices will either ease or rebound over the next several months due to positive market sentiment and an expected decline in new project launches.
- Job opportunities in UAE decreased significantly in the beginning of 2020, as companies cut jobs and business conditions in the non-oil private sector deteriorated for the first time in 10 years. Employment at businesses across the country fell at “one of the strongest rates on record” in January 2020, mainly due to cost-cutting strategies.
- The Kuwaiti government recorded a general budget deficit of 1 BN KWD (3.28 BN USD) in the first nine months of 2019/2020, representing 3% of the estimated 2019 GDP, against a surplus of 6 BN KWD (11.83 BN USD) in the same period a year earlier.
- The G20’s Employment Working Group (EWG) met for the first time under Saudi Arabia presidency of the G20. Noting that in 2020, the EWG will focus on three key priorities: Youth unemployment, transitional social protection and behavioral insights for a transitioning labor market.
- A passenger plane landing at an airport in Istanbul has skidded off the runway and broken into three parts, killing three people and injuring 180 others. The Boeing 737 was trying to land in heavy tailwinds and rain.
- The first leg of the government’s roadshow for Banque du Caire’s (BdC) upcoming IPO saw “large” investor appetite for the bank’s EGX debut from major investment funds in London, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The state-owned bank’s IPO could go to market by the end of Q1-2020 or the beginning of Q1-2020.
- Saudi Arabia stock market led most Gulf bourses lower after oil prices decreased with more than 6% at the end of last week, while oil giant Aramco fell for a 6th consecutive day. Oil prices posted their 5th straight weekly decline, as speculators backed away due to weaker consumption figures and expectations the coronavirus.
Note: Weekly values are calculated on Thursday of each week.
- The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and QNB Alahli have agreed 82 MM USD financial package to fund green and SME-led projects in Egypt. The package consists of a 17 MM USD loan provided through the Green Economy Financing Facility for Egypt, two loans worth 54 MM USD, and a 11 MM USD loan designated for small businesses.
- Raya Holding is announcing its new non-bank financial services aiming to set up three subsidiaries in H1-2020, including a microinsurance company, a financial and micro-leasing arm, and a third company for securitization. Raya is also issuing 600 MM EGP of securitized bonds in April 2020 handled by the Commercial International Bank (CIB), the National Bank of Egypt, Banque Misr, and Banque du Caire.
- The Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA) has asked for details on a bid by commodities and poultry trader Cairo 3A to acquire a major stake in the Egyptian Starch and Glucose Company’s (ESGC) before greenlighting the transaction. The acquisition would give Cairo 3A a larger share of the market but would not surpass ECA limits.
- Uber Eats is expanding its local footprint in Saudi Arabia, launching its delivery service across Makkah and Madinah, including major neighborhoods such as Al Shoqiyah and Al Awali in Makkah and Qurban and Sultana in Madinah.
- Al Rajhi Capital announced the distribution of 33.99 MM SAR (9 MM USD) in cash dividend to the unitholders of Al Rajhi REIT Fund for H2-2019. Dividends per unit will be 0.21 SAR (0.056 USD), representing 1% of the unit’s par value and 2.11% of the net asset value as of 31 December 2019.
- Tristar Group, the global integrated energy logistics company headquartered in Dubai, has signed a four-year contract with British Petroleum company (BP) to provide liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipping services for a value of 24 MM USD (88.15 MM AED).
- GFH Capital, a subsidiary of GFH Financial Group, has acquired a diversified US Hospitality Portfolio in partnership with Arbor Lodging Partners (Arbor) consisting of twelve premium branded select service hotels located in the U.S. states of California, Connecticut and New Jersey with an investment of approximately 250 MM USD.
- Abu Dhabi Airports has partnered with the Etihad Aviation Group (EAG) to begin training 17,000 employees to operate the new Midfield Airport Terminal at the Abu Dhabi Airport.
Sports and Culture
- For the thousands of Muslim athletes arriving in Tokyo for the Olympic Games later in 2020, organizers have arranged an appropriate place to pray in. There will be prayer rooms available at the currently under-construction athlete's village. Moreover, there will be a mobile mosque which is a fully equipped 48-square-metre prayer room that opens up on the back of a parked truck.
- The 39th session of the Arab Women’s Committee, which started yesterday 9th of Februray, declared Riyadh as the Capital of Arab Women 2020. Several ministers and senior officials representing the Arab countries as well as Arab and international organizations and women’s bodies participated in the two-day event.