- A booming population and megacities under construction, Saudi Arabia is investing to future-proof its water infrastructure. There is a total of 18 BN USD of active projects, 5 BN USD of which is currently under construction and a further 13.5 BB USD still unawarded. During 2021, it is expected that the country will spend an estimated 18 BN USD on water projects.
- The Saudi Central Bank and the Arab Monetary Fund (AMF) announced on Thursday the inclusion of the Saudi Riyal as a settlement currency in Buna, the regional cross-border payment system owned by the AMF. The National Commercial Bank (NCB) has been assigned as a settlement bank for the Saudi currency.
- Saudi Arabia achieved a trade surplus of 71 BN SAR (35.9 BN USD) in the first ten months of 2020, compared to a surplus of 338.86 BN SAR (90.31 BN USD) in the year-ago period. In October, the Gulf nation recorded the second-highest trade surplus since March and the fourth-biggest one this year at 16.36 BN SAR (4.36 BN USD), representing a yearly fall of 48.7%.
- In Egypt, the Ministry of finance is instituting a zero-tolerance policy on all large taxpayers that do not join the e-invoicing system by 1 July 2021, with plans in place to punish them and deny them basic services, benefits and incentives. The government had planned to have all large taxpayers join the e-invoicing system, which is currently running a trial phase of 134 companies, by May 2021.
- Egypt is planning to generate 300 MW of electricity from waste-to-energy (WtE) projects by 2025. This new capacity will largely be built and operated by the private sector as the electricity and environment ministries plan to issue tenders for WtE plants under a Build-Own-Operate (BOO) framework to spur private sector interest in the field.
- The Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah has approved the general budget for the Emirate of Sharjah of 6 BN AED (9.14 BN USD) for 2021. The budget has increased 12% compared to the final 2020 budget with the aim to achieve the strategic vision of the emirate in economic and social development.
- UAE is optimistic about a recovery in oil demand in 2021. Rollout of coronavirus vaccines and improvement in relations between the US and China are likely to increase the demand for oil. The OPEC+ alliance of oil producers has successfully mitigated the impact of reduced demand, and UAE hopes more producers would join in the future.
- With 1 points, Kuwait came 4th among the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and 5th regionally on the Middle East Economic Digest (MEED) magazine’s index for economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. UAE ranked 1st in the Gulf and in the region by 4 points, followed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia in the 2nd and 3rd places by 3.6 points and 3.5 points respectively.
- Britain and the EU have sealed a Christmas trade agreement, a new economic and security accord that both sides hope will allow them to rebuild their relationship after years of Brexit acrimony. The deal will come into force on January 1, guaranteeing tariff-free trade on most goods and creating a platform for future co-operation on issues such as crime-fighting, energy and data sharing.
- Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has formally invited leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) for the 41st group summit being held in Riyadh on January 5 next year. The commitment by Gulf leaders to hold the summit on an annual basis, and especially in these exceptional times, is a testament to the strength of the GCC, to their belief in their duty to the people of the Gulf, and their devotion to increasing cooperation and integration among member countries.
- EGX-listed companies must have at least one-woman member of their board of directors by 31 December according to the FRA decree. It is worthy to mention that almost half of EGX30 companies still had all-male boards.
- UAE stock markets have witnessed a downward performance by the end of Sunday's trading session. The benchmark index of the Dubai Financial Market (DFM) went down by 46% to close Sunday's trading session at 2,515.67 points. A total of 118.99 million shares were traded through 1,899 transactions valued at 103.05 MM AED (28.05 MM USD).
Note: All values are calculated by last Thursday.
- GFH Financial Group has acquired a majority stake in the UK-based Roebuck Asset Management, specialized in managing logistics real estate assets and commercial spaces. With the acquisition of Roebuck, GFH is enabled to expand its businesses in the UK and European logistics real estate sector and have strategic access to prime deal flow.
- Cleopatra Hospitals Group (CHG) has acquired 100% of Alameda Healthcare Group’s Egypt assets in a sale and purchase agreement that would see the two healthcare service providers merge their operations in Egypt. The transaction will see CHG control and operate Alameda’s facilities, which is expected to commence operations in H1-2021.
- Indian industrial chemical manufacturer TCI Sanmar Chemicals is planning to resume its 200 MM USD investment in its Egyptian operations next year. The investment will likely go towards expanding its production capacity of polyvinyl chloride and calcium chloride.
- Capital Link Developments has acquired a land plot in the New Administrative Capital to establish a new urban project with investments of more than 1 BN EGP. The project, which will feature residential, commercial, and administrative units, will be launched in H2-2021.
- Raya Holding for Financial Investments is negotiating with two companies willing to acquire its recycling subsidiary BariQ. The acquisition deal is expected to close before the end of 2020. The investment cost of the recycling subsidiary amounts to 180 MM EGP and its capital reaches 65 MM EGP.
- The number of registered licenses in the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) increased by 43% to 3,211 by the end of 2020. ADGM recorded a 193% jump in assets under management throughout 2020 to reach over 85 BN USD by the end of the year. This growth is across FinTech, regulation, sustainable finance, and arbitration in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
- L'azurde Company for Jewelry has submitted a request to the Capital Market Authority (CMA) for 145 MM SAR (38.64 MM USD) capital increase via a rights issue. The Tadawul-listed firm wants to increase its capital to 575 MM SAR (153.24 MM USD) from 430 MM SAR (113.59 MM USD) through issuing 5 million ordinary shares.
- Ayyan Investment Co. has appointed Aljazira Capital as a financial adviser to manage its deal negotiation process with Al Ahsa Medical Services Co’s shareholders to acquire their non-controlling stakes. Aljazira Capital will carry out all required procedures in case an agreement has been reached between Ayyan and Al Ahsa,
Sports and Culture
- Star drivers have begun arriving at the King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) on Sunday for the Dakar Rally ahead of the 2021 edition of the premier rally’s Stage One, which starts from Jeddah 3, 2021. The 2021 Dakar rally from Jan. 3-15 starts from Jeddah and crosses a distance of 7,646 km, passing through Bisha, Wadi Al-Dawasir, Riyadh, Buraidah, Hail, Sakaka, NEOM, AlUla, and Yanbu before reaching the finishing line in Jeddah again on Jan. 15.
- Emirates SkyCargo has transported the first batch of the COVID-19 vaccine, manufactured by Pfizer and BioNTech, to the UAE for the Dubai Health Authority (DHA). On 22 December, the vaccine was transported from Brussels on Emirates flight EK 182.