- The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) will issue T-bills worth 17 BN EGP (950 MM USD) on behalf of the Ministry of Finance (MOF). The first tranche of T-bills will be offered through 91-day notes at 8.5 BN EGP (475 MM USD), while the second offering will be through 266-day notes at 8.5 BN EGP (475 MM USD). The issuance will be used to finance the budget deficit. Egypt debt instruments, especially T-bills, are attractive to foreign investors owing to their high yield. Egypt aims to issue 409.6 BN EGP (22.8 BN USD) T-bills and 101.6 BN EGP (5.67 BN USD) bonds in 2018/2019 in order to finance the general budget deficit of 511.2 BN EGP (28.56 BN USD) in 2018/2019.
- Egypt Minister of Trade and Industry Amr Nassar stated that Egypt exports increased reaching 22.6 BN USD in the first eleven months in 2018 compared to 20.4 BN USD during the same period in 2017. The Ministry expected that the country exports will jump 10.6% reaching 25 BN USD by the end of 2018 compared to 22.4 BN USD in 2017. He noted that there are some sectors which their exports increased in 2018, including: chemical industries, fertilizers, ready-made garments-clothing sector, engineering industries, electronics, medical industries, textiles, food industries, and books. The largest destinations who imported from Egypt during the current year comprise the UAE, Turkey, the US, Italy, Saudi Arabia, the UK, Spain, Algeria, and France.
- Egypt Minister of Planning, Monitoring, and Administrative Reform Hala El-Said has approved pumping 288 MM EGP (16 MM USD) over the coming period to develop Sohag and Qena governorates. Development program of the Upper Egyptian governorates is relying on two sources of financing, of which the first was World Bank's loan at a value of 8.9 BN EGP (500 MM USD), while the second was the Egyptian government's finance.
- The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) reported that Saudi Arabia foreign reserves increased by 2% reaching 1.89 TR SAR (504.27 BN USD) y-o-y in November 2018 compared to 1.85 TR SAR (494.4 BN USD) in November 2017. Moreover, SAMA noted that foreign cash and deposits abroad went up 12.1% amounting to 654.75 BN SAR (174.6 BN USD) in November 2018 compared to 583.91 BN SAR (155.7 BN USD) in November 2017.
- Saudi Arabia will establish two desalination water plants investments worth 4 BN SAR (1.06 BN USD) in the cities of Khobar and Jubail regions. Upon the completion of the two stations within 24 months, water production will surge 177% in the two regions, while energy consumption rate will reduce more than 80%.
- UAE real estate market has managed to remain stable in 2018 after overcoming the price correction wave and slowdown that began two years ago. Investment in commercial properties and ready-made unites was one of the key features of 2018 that in return has boosted a competition among investors regarding real estate promotions. In the same vein, the land plots in UAE were very attractive over 2018, propped up by freehold and long-term rental systems through flexible payment plans. Moreover, the increase in 2018 mortgages enhanced lending and financing policies in Dubai after reducing interest rate and raising financing limit.
- Qatar trade surplus surged 28.1% y-o-y reaching 16.19 BN QAR (4.5 BN USD) in November 2018. Exports also increased 19.1% registering 25.69 BN QAR (7 BN USD) in November 2018 compared to 21.57 BN QAR (5.9 BN USD) in November 2017. Hydrocarbon exports increased reaching 15.4 BN QAR (4.2 BN USD) in November 2018. Meanwhile, imports grew 6.4% reaching 9.51 BN QAR (2.6 BN USD) in November 2018 compared to 8.94 BN QAR (2.4 BN USD) in November 2017.
- Qatar has opened a permanent shipping line with its GCC neighbors; Oman and Kuwait on Monday, 24 December. In a 20-minute journey, the shipping operations will take place through Doha Hamad Port, Oman Sohar port and Shuwaikh port in Kuwait. With a capacity of 250 passenger rooms, the ship will transport both goods and passengers.
- Japanese imports of Kuwaiti crude oil surged 19.3% y-o-y in November 2018 reaching 8.57 million barrels, to register its highest level in seven months. Kuwait exported around 286 barrels per day (bpd) to Japan to remain the largest third supplier for the East Asian country after Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The Japanese agency further indicated that total imports of crude oil have fallen 6.2% y-o-y in the months before, reaching 3.12 million bpd. The Middle East crude oil exports represented 85.7% of total Japanese oil imports in November 2018.
- A large number of social media activists and followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are trending the #ThisisEgypt hashtag on Saturday 29th of December 2018 after the Giza tourist bus terrorist attack. The reason behind this is to support Egyptian tourism, publishing pictures of international celebrities in Egypt including Argentinian football star Lionel Messi, Hollywood actor Will Smith, US First Lady Melania Trump, and American actor and activist Danny Glover.
- UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) is currently assessing the situation at Syria Damascus International Airport in order to decide whether, or not, UAE carriers can resume flights to the city. GCAA reported that it would take all the necessary steps to ensure the safety and security of both travelers and jets flying to Syria Damascus International airport. In the same vein, the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation announced that the country's embassy in Syria had resumed operations. This move of reopening the UAE embassy comes as part of the UAE government's plan to reestablish ties between the two countries.
- Qatar has airlifted 24 armored vehicles to Mali, in a move it would help the countries of the African Sahel region combat terrorism. Qatar has increased its efforts in order to show that it is a force for good in international security since its Gulf Arab neighbors imposed a diplomatic and economic boycott on it in June 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorism.
- .TASI real estate sector decreased led by Saudi Real Estate company (Al Akaria).
- .QSI telecommunication sector decreased led by Vodafone Qatar and banking sector led by Qatar National Bank (QNB)
- .ADI banking sector decreased led by First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB). Moreover, the real estate sector decreased led by Eshraq Properties and Aldar Properties.
- .DFMGI banking sector decreased led by Emirates NBD, Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB), and Mashreq Bank. Moreover, the real estate sector decreased led by Emaar Properties, Emaar Malls and Drake and Scull International (DSI).
Note: Weekly values are calculated on Thursday of each week.
- Kellogg Company, the world's leading cereal company, and Bisco Misr, Egypt leading biscuits company and Mass Food company, signed a partnership agreement with the Food Banking Regional Network (FBRN), a non-profit organization that serves as an umbrella organization for food banks to eliminate regional hunger in the region. Kellogg Company has worked with the FBRN on several initiatives in Egypt over the last five years and is now developing a broader more strategic long-term partnership to promote nutrition education and nourish families, so they can flourish and thrive in Egypt and across the region.
- Egypt Ministry of Civil Aviation has announced a plan to upgrade EgyptAir's fleet by adding 45 aircraft. The first phase includes about 50% of the fleet and will start in March 2019. The first aircraft to join the fleet, out of six others scheduled to join the fleet until July 2019, will be the Boeing B787-900, known as the Dreamliner. In July 2019, 12 Airbus 220-300 aircraft, owned by Bombardier CS300 and later acquired by Airbus, will join the EgyptAir fleet, being one of the most promising models in the world. Starting January 2020 and until the end of 2020, 15 Airbus 320 Nuo, the latest of the Airbus 320, will also join the fleet.
- Saudi Arabian Oil Co, known globally as Saudi Aramco, announced establishing a wholly-owned retail subsidiary that would be responsible for its downstream business. Saudi Aramco Retail Company will be in charge of Saudi Aramco fuel retailing as well as creating a sustainable and profitable business that integrates across the hydrocarbon value chain.
- In Saudi Arabia, the potential merger between the National Commercial Bank (NCB) and Riyad Bank is expected to boost Saudi Arabia. If the merge is completed, the combination of the two Saudi lenders will help them in implementing more expansions, developing their banking services, and carrying over into growth pace.
- Saudi Real Estate Refinance Co has established a sukuk issuance program, which will allow the state-owned firm to issue up to 11 BN SAR (2.9 BN USD) riyal-dominated sukuk. The company has mandated HSBC Saudi Arabia as a lead manager. The company is planning to initiate a senior sukuk issue under the new program in accordance with the market's conditions.
- In UAE, Arabtec Holding (Arabtec) announced that it has won a 222 MM AED (60.4 MM USD) contract by Dubai Properties, a leading UAE master-developer. Under the contract, Arabtec Construction will build 352 villas in Dubai Properties Amaranta project in Villanova. Villanova is a residential project in Dubai land, located at the intersection of the Dubai Al Ain Road with Emirates Road. Arabtec unit will commence the project's construction works immediately and is scheduled to complete it within 20 months.
- Emirates Central Cooling Systems Corporation (Empower), the world's largest district cooling services provider, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Noor Bank to ease customer bill payments and to support the government initiatives on transformation to smart channels. Under this MoU, among the 85,000 customers of Empower, who have accounts or credit cards with Noor Bank can easily pay their bills without visiting Empower branches, through Noor Bank's website or smart application, with no extra charge.
- In UAE, Al Hokair Entertainment, one of the leading family entertainment organizations in the region, is now taking the next big leap into the VR space with UK headquartered VR experts, Immotion. With close to 91 active entertainment centers, under Al Hokair's key entertainment brand 'Sparky's', the group will now focus on implanting their centers with comprehensive virtual reality (VR) gaming zones by early 2019.
- Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) announced the relocation of its industrial area branch to a new location at Barwa Commercial Avenue. The new location has been chosen for its proximity to a wide range of governmental, private, and retail institutions. The branch will serve customers from Sunday to Thursday from 7:30 AM to 1:00 PM. The new branch is equipped with 24/7 ATM and Cash & Cheque deposit machine allowing customers to perform the majority of their daily banking needs at their own convenience.
Sports and Culture
- The Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah is seeking to gain a new Guinness World Records title in 2018, with its New Year's Eve fireworks gala. The work is occurring in the major event by Marjan, the developer that manages the show and Grucci, the New York-based fireworks company. The current Guinness record for longest straight-line fireworks display is 11.83-kilometre-long from the first fireworks station to the last. Ras Al Khaimah has added more viewing areas around Al Marjan Island as well as a wide choice of family-oriented activities.
- In Egypt, the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) showed an increase in divorce rates across Egypt governorates during the first eight months of 2018 compared to 2017. Cairo had the highest percentage of divorce certificates, estimated at 22,194 certificates, followed by Giza governorate's total of 12,596 certificates, and Alexandria with 11,592 certificates. The lowest percentage was in South Sinai with 134 certificates.
- Egyptian football player Ramadan Sobhi arrived in Cairo to rejoin Al Ahly club's football team for six months. Sobhi returned to Al Ahly on loan for six months, coming from the UK's Huddersfield. Al Ahly will transfer the money agreed on to Huddersfield club in return for the deal, after which Sobhi will officially ready to play for the team. He is expected to take part in the match scheduled on January 4th of December 2018 between Al Ahly and the Pyramids.