In Egypt, the Social Fund for Development (SFD)
pumped 1.3 BN EGP finance for small projects in the
first 9 months of this year in the form of direct and
indirect finance through associations and banks. The
fund is aiming to register 1.630 BN EGP finance by
the end of the current year. SFD is seeking to sign
two contracts with Housing and Development Bank
(HDB) worth 60 MM EGP, which is to be divided
into one contract with 40 MM EGP and the other
with 20 MM EGP, along with Société Arabe Internationale de Banque (SAIB)'s
contract with 60 MM EGP. On the other hand, SFD has recently signed a contract
with National Bank of Egypt (NBE) estimated at 300 MM EGP by finance from
World Bank in order to finance the current account debtor.
Islamic banking operations in Oman have grown to account for over 4% of the
country's total banking assets in the past two years and could double that ratio by
2018, according to a study by Thomson Reuters. The sultanate introduced Islamic
finance at the end of 2012, becoming the last country in the six-nation Gulf
Cooperation Council to do so. Since then, two full-fledged Islamic banks and six
Islamic windows at conventional banks have opened their doors; they held a
combined 1.1 BN SR (2.86 BN USD) in assets as of June, or a 4.4% share of total
banking assets. The study estimates Oman's Islamic banking operations could reach 5
BN SR of assets by 2018, a 7% share of estimated total banking assets at that time. A
best-case scenario puts the figure at 7.1 BN SR, a 10% share.
The inflation rate in consumer prices for the first nine months of this year reached 3%
compared with the same period of 2013, according to the Statistics Centre Abu Dhabi
(Scad). The Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 3.7% in September 2014
compared to the same month last year. September also shows a 1% increase in the
CPI compared to August 2014. Meanwhile, the CPI increased 3.5% for the third
quarter of this year compared to the same time last year, and increase 1.6% in Q3
2014 compared to Q2 2014. The ‘housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels’
group accounted for the largest rise in the index during the first nine months of the
year, contributing 41.8% to the change. The contribution resulted from an increase of
3.3% in the prices of this group.
Dubai and Malaysia are considering a number of Shariah-compliant initiatives as the
emirate has the potential to become a hub for Islamic economy. Dubai has the
potential to be a hub of the Islamic economy and there are a number of exciting
projects which are being planned between Malaysia and the UAE. With Islamic
finance growing more than 50% faster than that of conventional finance, there is a lot
for them to share.
A Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC) labor market committee has put forth a
recommendation banning expats who have left the country on final exit visas from
returning to the Kingdom for work for a period of two years. This recommendation
was based on a similar successful measure taken by a neighboring Gulf country.
Officials expect that if this recommendation is implemented, it’s going to boost
nationalization in the business sector.
Total visitor arrivals to Qatar grew by 8% and the average hotel occupancy rate
increased by 7% in the first half of 2014, according to figures released by the Qatar
Tourism Authority (QTA). All key indicators of the tourism sector demonstrate
improvement and growth, showing that the tourism industry in Qatar is continuing its
strong performance, QTA has noted. According to the data, total visitor arrivals grew
by 8% in the first half, reaching 1.42mn. More than half a million GCC nationals
(536,264) visited Qatar during this period, representing around 38% of tourists. This
healthy growth demonstrates Qatar's transformation into one of the GCC region's top
business, family and leisure destinations.