- The Central Bank of Egypt will terminate the foreign exchange repatriation mechanism for new portfolio investments starting on 4th December 2018. The repatriation mechanism was in place to reassure foreign investors that they could get US dollars out of Egypt at any point. The decision will be applied on any fresh foreign currency portfolio investments wishing to enter the local currency Egyptian T-Bills, T-Bonds market and the stocks listed on the Egyptian Stock Exchange.
- Egypt Suez Canal revenues reached their highest level of the year in October 2018, reaching 506.1 MM USD compared to 469.7 MM USD in September 2018. The Suez Canal is the fastest shipping route between Europe and Asia and one of the main sources of foreign currency for the Egyptian government.
- The Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC) and the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce (FECC) have agreed a joint strategy to boost economic cooperation between the countries. The joint plan also includes the promotion of Saudi tourism in Egypt and a mechanism to solve the problems experienced by investors in both countries, and to enable the participation of Saudi businesses in the Egyptian Investment Conference in February 2019.
- The average construction cost in Saudi Arabia is forecasted to increase at a marginally lower rate with 1.8% in the next 12 months started from November 2018 compared to 1.9% registered between Q3-2017 and Q3-2018. This is thanks to widely-divergent material price movements and aggressive project pricing in a less-than buoyant market.
- The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) announced that Italmatch Chemicals and the Saudi Development and Innovation Group (SADIG) signed a contract to establish an integrated phosphate complex worth 1 BN SAR. The complex will be established in Waad Al Shamaal City and Jubail Industrial City adding that SADIG has received the license to start its business in Saudi Arabia.
- In UAE, the annual inflation dropped sharply to 1.6% in October 2018 compared to 3.1% in September 2018 due to the faster drop in housing costs. Housing and utility costs fell by 5.2% y-o-y in October 2018 compared to 4.4% y-o-y decline in September 2018.
- In UAE, the Chairman of the Federal Tax Authority (FTA), issued a decision regarding the implementation of the Marking Tobacco and Tobacco Products Scheme to digitally track all cigarette products to guarantee compliance with excise tax requirements in the UAE will be launched on 1st January 2019.
- The Central Bank of the UAE commended banks and finance companies to create awareness to bank customers through media campaigns that a failure to update bank records by submitting their Emirates ID by February 28, 2019 would result in not being able to use ATM cards to withdraw funds or conduct direct debit transactions as well as stopping credit card transactions.
- Kuwait has sought to increase transparency and boost consumer confidence in digital banking by mandating all service providers register on a central e-payments system, a development that is expected to unlock growth in the market. The Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK) announced that all service providers, including banks, companies and institutions, has 12 months to standardize their e-payment transactions in accordance with the bank's approved standards.
- In Kuwait, the newly-elected parliamentary human resources development committee renewed demands tax expats' remittances, as it also recently expressed full support of imposing the policy of replacing expatriate public sector employees with citizens, resolving the unemployment issue, adjusting the demographic imbalances and imposing health insurance on visit visas.
- Qatar imports of transportation equipment increased by 20.25% y-o-y during the first nine months of 2018 in preparation for the 2022 World Cup. Qatar has imported equipment worth 37.82 BN QAR (10.48 BN USD) in the nine-month period ended September 2018, compared to 31.45 BN QAR (8.71 BN USD) in the same period in 2017. Imports of transportation and machineries represented 43.7% of Qatar total imports amounting 86.53 BN QAR (23.76 BN USD) in the period between January and September 2018.
- Jordan cabinet approved 9.25 BN JOD (13 BN USD) budget for 2019 as part of a reform of public finances to ease the country's record debt burden and stimulate economic growth hit by conflict in the region.
- Yemen Central Bank is waiting for deposits worth 3 BN USD from foreign sources, the deposits are expected to refresh Yemeni economy and its currency, the riyal, whose value has recently improved to 400 against the dollar, from a previous 800.
- UAE passport has become the strongest passport and now ranked first globally. This exceptional achievement on 1st December 2018, coincides with the 'Year of Zayed' and country's 47th National Day. The UAE passport holder can travel to 167 countries without the need for pre-visa requirements, which is 84% of the number of countries listed in the index. The UAE passport was on 27th position in December 2016, and now has attained first place globally in December 2018. This achievement mirrors the county's civilized face, respect and appreciation at the regional and international levels.
- Hundreds of Jordanians protested in central Amman in the first demonstration against a new, IMF-backed tax bill that parliament passed in November 2018. Around 300 people chanting anti-government slogans gathered near a parking lot where police had imposed a cordon to prevent them from marching to the office of Prime Minister Omar Razzaz.
- Head of the Telecommunications and IT Committee at the Egyptian Parliament submitted a memorandum to the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) to shut down the online game PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) in Egypt. This request aims to safeguard the citizens, mainly children, from any games or apps that pose a danger to the society.
- The Saudi Ministry of Justice has confirmed a time limit of 21 days on the acceptance of rights' claims made under domestic labor laws. A 21-day time limit was also set for complaints against the General Organization for Social Insurance regarding membership, registration and compensation issues. If a settlement is not reached in that period, the dispute is brought electronically to the labor courts through the Ministry of Labor and Social Development.
- .TASI real estate sector has declined led by Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Development.
- .QSI banking sector has significantly increase led by Qatar National Bank (QNB) and telecommunication sector led by Vodafone Qatar.
- .ADI telecommunication sector declined led by Etisalat and real estate sector led by Aldar Properties.
Note: Weekly values are calculated on Thursday of each week.
- Orascom Construction net profit witnessed an increase reaching 32.3 MM USD compared to 23.5 MM USD in Q3-2017. However, total revenues declined from 728.8 MM USD in Q3-2018 compared to 805.4 MM USD in Q3-2017.
- ALEXBANK opened a new branch at the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones' (GAFI) in Alexandria, within the framework of the strong cooperation established between ALEXBANK and the Ministry of Investments and International Cooperation, in particular with the GAFI, aimed at facilitating Investor's processes, improving the investment climate in Egypt.
- Sysmex Corporation, one of the global leaders in vitro diagnostics, launched their first subsidiary in Egypt with a vision to advance the diagnostics and healthcare infrastructure in Egypt. Affirming their commitment to improve the healthcare landscape, Sysmex will provide the Egyptian market with innovative and advanced clinical applications and best-in-class vitro diagnostic technologies, as well as an excellent training academy that will host and sponsor scientific workshops and clinical research studies.
- Despite the current challenging market environment in Saudi Arabia, Saudia Dairy and Foodstuff Company (SADAFCO) continues to strengthen its premium branded position and realize its financial goals. SADAFCO announced a net profit amounting 54 MM SAR (14.39 MM USD) in Q3-2018 which is higher by 4 MM SAR (1.06 MM USD) compared to Q2-2018, on the back of 4.6% higher sales.
- Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) has signed an MoU with six multinational suppliers. The suppliers include German conglomerate Siemens, Swiss technology firm ABB, US-Japanese manufacturer Elliott Group, two Japan-based engineering companies Yokogawa and Mitsubishi, and US manufacturer Emerson.
- India western state of Maharashtra puts land purchase for Saudi Aramco refinery on hold which worth 44 BN USD. This refinery was seen as a game changer for both parties offering India steady fuel supplies and meeting Saudi Arabia need to secure regular buyers for its oil. But thousands of farmers are refusing to surrender land, fearing it could damage a region famed for its Alphonso mangoes, vast cashew plantations and fishing hamlets that boast bountiful catches of seafood.
- Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) signed a revolving credit facility agreement with eight international banks worth 8.06 BN SAR (2.15 BN USD). The credit facility has been divided into two tranches: the first worth 5,918 MM SAR (1,578 MM USD), mature after three years, and the second worth 2,149 MM SAR (573 MM USD), mature after five years.
- In UAE, Emaar Development has partnered with Noor Bank to offer an exclusive, fast-track home financing program for UAE residents and international investors. Noor Bank will provide guaranteed shari'a-compliant home finance up to 5 MM AED (1.36 MM USD) for investors with extended tenor of up to 25 years covering 50% of the total value of off-plan property in Dubai at best in class rates.
- In UAE, Al Hilal Bank is the first Islamic bank in the world to leverage Blockchain technology for the resale and settlement of an Islamic Sukuk. Blockchain was used to transact a secondary market deal in Al Hilal Bank's 500 MM USD Senior Sukuk maturing in September 2023. This was the first time that Blockchain has been used worldwide to execute a Sukuk transaction.
- UAE telecoms operator Etisalat announced that it will offer free access to its super-fast 'UAE WiFi by Etisalat' network for 10 days to mark the 47th UAE National Day.All residents and international tourists can benefit from the promotion across major locations in the country including malls, cafes, beaches and parks from November 30 to December 9, 2018.
- Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) has been named the "Best Islamic Bank in Qatar" in the 11th edition of the Middle East Banking Awards presented by EMEA Finance, the leading finance magazine in Europe, Middle East, and Africa. The prestigious award marks QIB's strong financial performance and the successful implementation of its business strategy.
- In line with VIVA cash objective of accelerating Bahrain move towards a cashless society, and Alosra supermarket's commitment to provide its customers with options to maximize their convenience, VIVA has collaborated with the supermarket in Bahrain to offer convenient and secure cashless payments for customers in Bahrain. VIVA customers can benefit more when shopping at Alosra, one of the Kingdom's high-end grocery retailers, by receiving an instant 10% cash back through VIVA Cash at any of the seven Alosra branches in Bahrain, with a maximum cash back of 5 BHD. This offer valid until 8th of December 2018.
Sports and Culture
- Lewis Hamilton took his 11th win of the 2018 F1 calendar and sealed his 5th championship winning season in style at the Formula 1 2018 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. In a thrilling race that started with an-all Mercedes front row, Hamilton battled hard for the win, keeping the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel and the Red Bull of Max Verstappen at bay in the closing laps.
- Filmmakers from Qatar took the spotlight at the 6th Ajyal Film Festival, the annual cinema event by the Doha Film Institute, at the Red-Carpet Gala of the "Made in Qatar" presented by Ooredoo program.
- SEDCO Holding's Rowad Riyali, an Arabic financial literacy program for entrepreneurs, has won the Learning Technologies Award for Best Learning Technologies Project for Public and Non-Profit Sector, presented at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel in London, UK. The Learning Technologies Awards showcase some of the most recognizable, memorable and life-changing e-learning projects worldwide and are internationally recognized.