- Saudi Arabia has been named as one of the world’s most transformative nations for advancing the economic role of women in society. The World Bank’s annual “Women, Business, and the Law” report has ranked Saudi Arabia top among 190 countries for its progress in applying reforms related to female involvement in economic development and entrepreneurship.
- Saudi Arabia has approved projects to build nearly 134,000 new houses in various areas within an ongoing program to increase house ownership by citizens. About 57,000 houses will be built in the Western Makkah city while nearly 28,000 units will be constructed in Riyadh and the rest in other cities.
- The Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) General Authority (Monshaat) has begun refunding government fees to some small and medium enterprises as part of a government fee recovery initiative after the service was previously limited to companies only.
- The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) left interest rates unchanged when it met on last Thursday. The CBE cited domestic factors such as inflation accelerating in December on the back of the dissipating favorable base effect and unemployment increasing slightly in Q3-2019, combined with macro headwinds such as volatility in international oil prices.
- Egypt GDP is expected to grow at 8% in 2020 and 5.3% in 2021, one of the highest in North Africa, according to the United Nations’ 2020 World Economic Situation and Prospects report.
- Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai announced new 2 TR AED (544 BN USD) target for Dubai non-oil foreign trade by 2025.
- Globally, Dubai is ranked 17th most expensive city, more affordable than Hong Kong, New York, Singapore, London, Zurich, Bangkok, Paris, Vienna, Sydney and Rio de Janeiroetc. Dubai offers a good consumer value for certain high-end goods and services, such as luxury jewellery, business class travelling and wedding banquets, according to Swiss bank Julius Bär's Global Wealth and Lifestyle Report 2020.
- Qatar dismissed the restrictions on leaving the country for nearly all migrant workers as part of its reforms answering accusations of exploitation especially in the run-up to the 2022 World Cup.
- Donald Trump has defied overwhelming global opposition by declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but insisted that the highly controversial move would not derail his own administration's bid to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Donald Trump's plan to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel is a "red line" for Muslims and could see him breaking off diplomatic relations with the country.
- Egyptian Parliament has approved the government-drafted Labor Syndicates Law, after months of heated debates about its articles, which was seen as an attempt to control syndicalist work and absorb it into the framework of the state.
- Kuwait Deputy Premier and Defense Minister, Sheikh Mohammad Khaled Al-Sabah, said that the visit of the US Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, contribute to boosting military cooperation between Kuwait and Washington.
- .TASI telecommunication sector has increased led by Viva and Ooredoo.
- .KWSE banking sector has declined led by Boubyan Bank and Ahli United Bank.
- .ADI real estate sector declined led by Aldar Properties.
Note: Weekly values are calculated on Thursday of each week.
- SODIC has signed a contract with Greater Cairo Water Company to connect 1000 houses to the fresh water network in Ezzbet Khair Allah. The project is planned to be carried out over one year and is fully funded by SODIC at an estimated cost of 1 MM EGP.
- Siemens, the German industrial group and Gas have signed agreements with Libyan state utility GECOL on the plants to build two gas-fired power stations in Libya, in a fillip for its struggling power division which is shedding staff as developed economies shift to renewable sources of energy.
- Dubai Emaar Properties, builder of the world's tallest tower, is in discussions with banks to obtain loan facilities worth 4 BN AED (1.01 BN USD) in partnership with Dubai Properties, another major developer. The loan should be used in projects including a shopping mall and a tower.
- The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) has signed two cooperation agreements with Hong Kong to enhance collaboration in financial technology (FinTech) innovation. The authorities will cooperate on information sharing and referrals of innovative businesses.
Sports and Culture
- Oman has declared a two-year moratorium on the harvest, sale, and export of abalone, a shellfish that commands top dollar in the markets of the Far East.
- The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) has reiterated its plans to rehabilitate the historical mountains of Makkah to pilgrims from different parts of the Islamic world to visit the sites.
- Uber paid 100,000 USD to a 20-year-old Florida man, who stole company data, to destroy the information and keep quiet about the breach.
- The Dubai Police has warned residents in the emirate that carrying white weapons such as knives, swords and batons can cause an imprisonment of one to three months, and a fine of 5,000 to 30,000 AED, or both.