- Egypt Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr and German Ambassador Julius Georg Luy signed two agreements for technical and financial cooperation valued at 150.5 MM EUR. The first agreement accounted for 48 MM EUR would be used for developing the education sector, infrastructure, environment, agriculture, water, sewage, small and medium-sized projects. The second agreement accounted for 102.5 MM EUR would be used for electricity and renewable energy, energy efficiency, agriculture and various small and medium sized projects.
- The head of the Central Department of Agricultural Quarantine at the Ministry of Agriculture Ahmed al-Attar stated that citrus fruits and potatoes are the most exported types of crop in Egypt in 2018, pointing out that Egypt is ranked the second in citrus exports worldwide. Egypt has exported nearly 1.7 million tons of citrus since the beginning of 2018 until now, while it exported nearly 800,000 tons of potatoes in the same time period.
- Egyptian Military Production Minister Mohamed Saeed al-Assar signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the China Energy Engineering Group Corporation (CEEGC) for energy and infrastructure projects. According to the MoU, the National Organization for Military Production will cooperate with the Chinese company for the various stages of planned national projects, beginning with identifying these projects and collecting information on them, as well as contributing to obtain the necessary licenses and permits for implementation.
- Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC) is aiming to increase the Islamic economy contribution to its gross domestic product (GDP) to 10% by 2021 compared to its current record 8.3% in 2018. The move comes as part of the DIEDC's five-year strategy through which the center aims to boost three main sectors of the Islamic economy, including Sharia-compliant products and services.
- As Christmas approaches, millions of tourists from across the globe visit Dubai to indulge in its enchanting attractions. Indians topped other nationalities as Dubai lead visitors in terms of numbers, reaching almost 1 million in October 2018 compared to 957,700 in September 2018. Indians also topped other expats in UAE on the basis of number, reaching 2.7 million, which accounts for 30% of the country's residents. The UAE visitors from the UK came second, recording 502,900 in October 2018 compared to 538,200 in September 2018. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabian visitors came third, reaching 444,800 in October 2018.
- The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) has decided to raise its repo rate from 275 (2.75%) basis points to 300 basis points (3.00%). The reverse repo rate has also been increased from 225 basis points (2.25) to 250 basis points (2.50%) with immediate effect. SAMA policy rate adjustments are consistent with preserving monetary stability as the US Fed Reserve announced earlier its decision to raise interest rates by 0.25% to a range between 2.25% to 2.50%.
- In Saudi Arabia, The General Authority for Statistics (GASTAT) announced that Saudi Arabia population reached 33.4 million in H1-2018 compared to 32.6 million in H1-2017 which increased by 1.7% while Saudis reached 20.77 million, of which 10.57 million are males and the remaining 10.19 million are females. Meanwhile, the non-Saudi population reached 12.64 million, distributed over 8.66 million males and 3.98 females.
- Saudi Arabia expected that 2019 budget deficit will reach 35 BN USD, encouraged by a decrease in oil prices. The government expects non-oil revenues to increase reaching 313 BN SAR in 2019 compared to 287 BN SAR in 2018, while public expenses will hit a high record reaching 295 BN USD, which is considered the largest spending in Saudi Arabia history ever. On a related note, the Minister of Finance Mohammed Al Jadaan announced that Saudi Arabia gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to grow by 2.6% in 2019, compared to 2.3% in 2018.
- Qatari state budget for 2019 will witness an increase in public spending by 1.7% y-o-y reaching 206.7 BN QAR (56.7 BN USD), while a surge by 20.5% is expected in revenues reaching 211 BN QAR (57.9 BN USD). This means that the Qatari government expects 4.3 BN QAR (1.18 BN USD) surplus in 2019, compared to an estimated 28.1 BN QAR (7.7 BN USD) deficit in 2018. The increase in revenues is largely attributed to higher natural gas and oil prices.
- Governor of the Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK) and chairman of the Institute of Banking Studies (IBS) Mohammad Yousef Al-Hashel have announced that the institution will cooperate with Harvard Business School for the 10th year. The cooperation will be conducted through an executive education program for banking and finance executives in the GCC region held from 26th to 31 of January 2019 in Kuwait. In 2018, the program was conducted in Dubai and is planned to be held in Kuwait in 2019, titled "Leading Strategy Execution in Financial Services".
- After weeks of market volatility and calls by US President Donald Trump for the Federal Reserve to stop raising interest rates, the Federal Reserve instead hiked the nation's benchmark borrowing rate by 0.25% for the fourth time in 2018 to a range between 2.25% to 2.50%. In a news conference after the release of the policy statement, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell announced that the central bank would continue trimming its balance sheet by 50 BN USD each month and left open the possibility that continued strong data could force it to raise rates to the point where they start to brake the economy's momentum.
- President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi inaugurated a national development project on greenhouses at the 10th of Ramadan city. The project is the largest in the world and encompasses 100,000 greenhouses, which aims to maximize economic returns through the increased production of crops while minimizing the unit of area used for planting.
- Pakistan is planning to ease visa restrictions for visitors from 55 countries, including most European nations, in a bid to revive tourism that was devastated by Islamist violence. This procedure has been taken after what Portugal declared that Pakistan is a safe country for travel in December 2018, in addition to France that has relaxed its advisory on travel to the South Asian nation.
- .QSI real estate sector increased led by Barwa Real Estate. However, industrial sector declined led by Gulf International Services and Industries Qatar.
- .ADI banking sector increased led by First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB). On the other hand, the real estate sector declined led by Manazel Real Estate.
- .DFMGI real estate sector declined led by Emaar Malls and Emaar Properties. In addition, the investments and financial services declined led by DFM Company and Dubai Investments.
Note: Weekly values are calculated on Thursday of each week.
- Thomas Cook, one of the world's leading holiday companies, has signed a partnership deal with Orascom Development Holding to open two own-brand hotels in El Gouna, Egypt next year. As per the deal, Thomas Cook will open a 100-room waterfront Casa Cook hotel in a prestigious area of the Red Sea development. In addition, the holiday company will open a Cook's Club hotel in the heart of El Gouna.
- Egypt Supreme Council of Antiquities signed a contract with Orascom Investment Holding Company, allowing the latter to provide and operate visitor services around the Pyramids of Giza, while the council manages the archaeological area. The company will be responsible for such services as the marketing and promotion of the archaeological area at the new Fayoum Road entrance. Moreover, it will provide and operate 30 buses, and 20 energy-efficient vehicles, to transfer visitors from parking and supply 20 mobile toilets, a mobile medical center for visitors, and establish fast food and beverage services to locations designated for these services.
- Swissport, the international aviation services company, is working on setting its ground in Saudi Arabia in the cooperation with a variety of companies including the Dutch airline (KLM) and the Indian carrier IndiGo. The Swiss company signed new contracts to provide KLM with ground handling services in Dammam IndiGo services in Jeddah, Dammam, and Riyadh. Swissport has recently commenced operations with FlyDubai, Jordan Aviation, Fly Baghdad, and Sun Express for airport ground services at the port city of Jeddah, along with other deals to serve Fly Jordan and SalamAir of Oman at Muscat International Airport.
- In UAE, Noor Takaful, among the first Takaful insurance companies to be established in UAE, has reported significant double-digit percentage profit growth for 2018. With close to 300,000 members, Noor Takaful, a sister company of Noor Bank, provides ethical, Sharia'a compliant, innovative, unique and comprehensive Takaful (Islamic insurance) products aggregating close to 550 MM AED (149.7 MM USD) in business in 2018.
- In UAE, Al Hilal Bank announced a new initiative of Payments STP (straight-through-processing) according to their Digital and Operations transformation program. With STP, online fund transfers in AED (internet banking/ mobile banking) and inward fund transfers are now carried out almost instantly, adding speed and efficiency to the process.
- Apla, a technology company, regionally headquartered in Dubai and developing block chain solutions for governments and enterprises today announced its partnership with the Center for Good Governance (CGG) Hyderabad, Government of Telangana to deliver block chain infrastructure, application and services to government entities in India as well as in other regions in the near future. The partnership is part of the organization's strategic plan to continue to expand its regional presence in Middle East and South Asia.
- Dubai-based airline Flydubai is looking to expand in Europe through launching flights to new destinations including Budapest in Hungary and Naples in Italy. Budapest and Naples are important centers for commerce, trade and industry and are incredibly popular leisure destinations, especially during the summer. Becoming the first UAE carrier offering direct flights, Flydubai will operate five flights per week to Naples as of 4th of June 2019. Moreover, the budget carrier will schedule daily flights to Budapest starting from 27th of June 2019.
- Doha Bank announced opening its official representative office in Nepal. Nepal governor Chiranjivi Nepal said that Doha Bank's representative office would be "the catalyst to greater Qatar-Nepal bilateral cooperation" by offering help to the Nepalese financial system. Nepal government policy will continue to have greater trade and investment liberalization in order to facilitate the flow of funds.
- In Qatar, Mazaya Real Estate Development Company announced that it will study a merger deal with Al-Bandari Real Estate Company, one of the leading real estate companies in Qatar. The step comes in line with Mazaya's policy to join projects and transactions with a suitable income, enhancing the position of the company in the local market through the increase of assets. This will affect the earnings per share and benefit the shareholders positively.
Sports and Culture
- Qatar has revealed the design of Lusail Stadium as part of its preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Situated at the heart of the Lusail Marina, 15 km north from Doha, the stadium will be used for the opening and final matches of the 2022 World Cup. The 80,000-capacity venue will be the largest of eight stadiums set to be built for the one-month tournament.
- Egypt won the second place in the Arab Women's Studies Award for the "Survey of the Economic Cost of Gender-Based Violence in Egypt 2015", prepared by the National Council for Women in cooperation with the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) and the United Nations Population Fund. The Arab Women's Studies Award was received by National Council for Women President Maya Morsi and Social Solidarity Minister Ghada Wali.
- A talented young Emirati Amenah Al Muhairi, 10-year-old, recently won the title of 2018 Female Overall Slopestyle & Big Air Champion title in the UAE National Freestyle Snowboarding Championships which was held at Ski Dubai. Being a title holder at the age of 10 brings a fair share of pressure with it, and Amenah credited her family's guidance and support for keeping her grounded and helping her manage her school and athletic activities.