- 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.
- The 2019 Global Terrorism Index, which was presented at a forum in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday showed that UAE improved its ranking in the index by coming down to 130th rank among the 163 countries. The terrorism impact in the UAE is categorised as 'very low'.
- President Abdel Fattah El Sisi is in Berlin for Libya peace conference, which kicked off yesterday. A summit in Moscow last week failed to produce an agreement between eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar and UN-recognized Fayez Al Serraj after Haftar walked out on the talks.
- The listing committee of the Egyptian Exchange (EGX) approved increasing the Egyptian Gulf Bank’s (EG Bank) issued and paid-up capital by 390.61 MM USD from 365.36 MM USD. Shares of the capital increase will be listed as of the beginning of trading session on Monday, 3 February.
- Bank of America Merrill Lynch started its coverage of Saudi Arabia state oil giant Saudi Aramco with a 'neutral' rating, setting a price target of 36 SAR (9.60 USD) per share and saying its fundamentals were now "fully priced".
Note: Weekly values are calculated on Thursday of each week.
- Egypt is prime MENA target for inbound M&A in 2019 in terms of value; EFG Hermes tops Equity Capital Markets (ECM) league table for second year in a row. However, Egypt is accounted for one of the lowest regional shares of the M&A market in terms of volume, according to Refinitiv’s 2019 MENA Investment Banking Review.
- Egypt was the top market for investment from the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) for the second consecutive year, receiving 2 BN EUR in 2019. The funding to Egypt was directed towards 26 projects, most of which were in the private sector and the green economy to facilitate the country’s transition to renewable energy.
- Canal Sugar Company has awarded a contract to design and supply customized electricity distribution transformers to ABB. The company did not disclose the value of the agreement nor the timetable for its implementation.
- MBC Group has unveiled the all-new version of its video on demand (VOD) service, Shahid. It comes as the Saudi-owned broadcaster seeks to boost its original content to fend off growing competition from global players such as Netflix and Amazon.
- Al Motaqadimah Schools Company (MSC) has signed five cooperation and partnership agreements with the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) and Tatweer Buildings Company (TBC) with a total value of 2.9 BN SAR (772.89 MM USD).
- Saudi Aramco is currently planning to launch five major oil expansion projects, including four crude and one natural gas at its offshore oil fields to increase Saudi Arabia oil output. With the new expansion projects, Saudi Aramco will add 45 million barrels per day (bpd) more to its oil capacity.
- Dubai-based Sunset Hospitality Group revealed a very successful business performance in 2019, with revenue growth of 18%, strengthening its position as one of the leading companies in concept development and hospitality management.
- Emirates NBD has inked an agreement with the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) of Dubai Land Department (DLD) to act as a trustee for the account and provide banking services to jointly owned properties to protect owners’ interests.
Sports and Culture
- Liverpool beat Manchester United 2-0 at Anfield yesterday to collect their 13th straight Premier League win and move 16 points clear at the top of the standings. The first goal was scored by Virgil van Dijk marked a dominant opening 45 minutes for the Reds followed by Mohamed Salah’s goal guaranteeing Liverpool winning.
- Fatma Said signed a recording contract with international music label Warner Classics to release her debut album in 2020. The 29-year-old opera singer studied at the Hanns Eisler School of Music in Berlin and in 2016 was named a BBC New Generation Artist.