- The government of Sharjah has allocated a higher budget for 2020 as part of its plans to increase spending across several sectors. A 2% increase reaching 29.1 BN AED (7.9 BN USD) compared to 2019 budget makes it the largest in the history of the emirate. The funding will primarily boost the government’s investments towards the improvement of Sharjah infrastructure and fuel economic growth.
- Mortgage enquiries for lower priced properties in UAE have increased by 59% between 2018 and 2019, due to lower property prices and favorable interest rates. However, the trend is likely to continue in 2020 resulting in a potential increase in real estate transactions.
- The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) announced that Egypt annual urban inflation increased reaching 1% in December compared to 3.6% in November. The increase is in line with expectations on the end of a favorable base effect that resulted in a six-month disinflation spell between May-October 2019.
- According to the World Bank’s Global Economic Prospects 2020 report, Egypt economy is expected to grow reaching 9% in 2020/2021, with the growth rate set to accelerate to 6% in 2021/2022 and remain at that level throughout the following fiscal year.
- Egypt is expected to receive 15 million tourists in 2020, up 15% compared to 13 million in 2019, according to the World Tourism Organization (WTO).
- The gross domestic product (GDP) of Saudi Arabia is forecasted to achieve a growth rate of 9% during 2020 compared to 0.4% in 2019, according to the World Bank Global Outlook report.
- Major projects to tackle climate change underway in In 2020, five projects are underway in the Gulf in co-operation with the UN Environment Program amounted to a budget of 5 MM SAR (1.3 MM USD).
- The Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage (SCTH) announced that visitors can now use existing UK, US, and Schengen area country visas to obtain Saudi Arabia visitor visas at airport arrivals regardless of their citizenship. This is the latest step taken by Saudi Arabia to open its doors to tourists from different countries of the world.
- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pay a visit to Riyadh as part of a trip to the Middle East to further enhance bilateral cooperation between Tokyo and the region. Abe is visiting Saudi Arabia and UAE to explain Japanese plans to send Self-Defense Forces (SDF).
- State-owned oil company Saudi Aramco had exercised its "greenshoe option" to sell an additional 450 million shares, raising the size of its initial public offering (IPO) to a record 4 BN USD. Aramco initially raised a 25.6 BN USD, which was itself a record level, in its December IPO by selling 3 billion shares at 32 SAR (8.53 USD) a share. But it had indicated it could sell additional shares through the over-allotment of shares.
- First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) has started an auction process for a Dubai hotel operated by Shangri-La and owned by indebted construction group Al Jaber with a starting price of 700 MM AED (190.59 MM USD).
Note: Weekly values are calculated on Thursday of each week.
- Nissan and Toyota have requested the Egyptian government to exempt them from paying customs duties on imported production parts. It is worthy to mention that the Customs Authority began applying 0% customs rate on imported Turkish cars as agreed in the Egypt-Turkey Free Trade Agreement.
- The Arab African Bank granted credit facilities worth 200 MM EGP to Premium International for Credit Services to develop the company’s consumer finance portfolio.
- Ezdehar’s Egypt Mid-Cap Fund has acquired a majority stake in the meat products and cold cuts company Rich Food. The fund plans to purchase new equipment to increase the company’s production capacity, and open from seven and 10 new branches
- Egyptian AI furniture showroom app Furnwish earned an award for the best plans of innovation for the future from the Trend Investment Fund at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The award was accompanied with a cash prize of 10,000 USD.
- Avaya Holdings Corp., a global leader in solutions to enhance and simplify communications and collaboration, announced W7Worldwide Marketing Communications Consultancy Agency, as its new corporate communications partner in Saudi Arabia.
- Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB), the United Arab Emirates’ largest sharia-compliant bank, is moving ahead with the acquisition of Noor Bank whose board of directors has been reconstituted in order to implement the integration plan.
- Borouge, a leading UAE petrochemicals company that provides innovative, value creating plastics solutions, announced the establishment of a new marketing company in Egypt in order to meet the requirements of customers in the MENA region.
Sports and Culture
- Queen Elizabeth II and other senior British royals were gathering for a meeting Monday with Prince Harry in an attempt to solve the crisis triggered by his announcement that he and wife Meghan were stepping back from the royal frontline.
- Egypt claimed seven trophies out of 10 finals played during the 2020 Dunlop British Junior Open (BJO) squash championship, which took place in Birmingham from January 2 until January 6. Becoming BJO victor for the first time, Egyptian top seed Jana Shiha played three straight games, beating her three-time BJO champ opponent, Malaysia’s Afifa Azman, with scores of 11-7, 11-6, 16-14.