- The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) is launching a new 50 BN EGP tourism support initiative. The initiative will be allocated in soft loans to finance the renovation and development of hotels and tourism facilities.
- Egyptian National Railways head Ashraf Raslan signed on Thursday a 1.02 BN EUR (18.28 BN EGP) financing agreement for the government's purchase of 1,300 railcars from Russia's Transmashholding, the biggest Russian company in the transport engineering industry.
- The House Planning and Budget Committee is discussing potential amendments to Article 8 of the Income Tax Act that would reduce income tax for low income earners and raises the income tax brackets for people earning up to 30,000 EGP a year.
- In Egypt, the Ministry of Electricity will soon launch a tender for a smart national control center in the new administrative capital. China's State Grid Corporation, Germany's Siemens, Switzerland's ABB, and France's Schneider Electric are among the companies competing for the project.
- Saudi Arabian non-oil growth is expected to reach 2.7% in 2019, amounting to an average of 2.4% in 2020-2022. It is worth noting that Saudi Arabia pledged to reduce oil production by additional 167,000 barrels per day (bpd) until March 2020.
- The Saudi government will not introduce new tax in 2020 before examining their respective social and economic effects on businesses, the economy's competitiveness, as well as the impact on exports and imports, according to the Ministry of Finance.
- UAE banks' exposure to the real estate sector increased by 40 bps in Q3-2019, presenting a concentration risk. Noting that the Pressure on UAE banks' profit margins is expected to continue into Q4-2020.
- UAE job market is headed for a much-needed job stability boost in 2020 following a series of restructurings and mergers that have pushed workforce hiring and compensation. However, UAE salaries are largely expected to remain broadly flat across most sectors.
- UAE Ministry of Economy has announced that the 10th edition of the Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) will be held from 24th to 26th March 2020, in Dubai. The tenth edition is themed, 'Investing for the Future: Shaping the Global Investment Strategies'.
- The Central Bank of Kuwait reported that Kuwait external debt increased by 20.2% in Q2-2019 reaching 19.348 BN KWD (63.87 BN USD) compared to 16.103 BN KWD (53.16 BN USD) in Q2-2018.
- Qatar sovereign wealth fund will invest about 450 MM USD in a power distribution company controlled by Indian billionaire Gautam Adani, the latest in a series of foreign investments in India's energy sector.
- President Abdel Fattah El Sisi stated during the Aswan Forum for Peace last week that he would reject the Personal Status Act currently being debated in the House of Representatives if it does not treat the Egyptian women fairly, according to Al Mal.
- US and Chinese trade officials have reached a preliminary trade agreement. The US agreed to suspend 15% tariffs that were set to take hold on 160 BN USD in Chinese goods, as well as reduce others already in effect. In return, Beijing has committed to importing at least 200 BN USD more in US goods and services over the coming two years.
- The EGX30 ended Thursday's session down 0.5%. EGX30's top performing constituents were Orascom Construction up 1.1%, Oriental Weavers up 1.0%, and EFG Hermes up 0.9%. Thursday's worst performing stocks were Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals down 5.8%, Juhayna down 4.8% and Qalaa Holdings down 2.3%.
- The general index of the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) declined by 8.6 points, or 1.17% reaching 5,036.46 points in a week. Market capitalisation went down to 516.32 BN AED (140.57 BN USD) over the week, compared to 516.41 BN AED (140.59 BN USD) in the previous week.
- Sarwa Capital closed the issuance of 1.8 BN EGP worth of securitized bonds backed by the portfolios of Contact Auto Credit and its affiliates. The issuance consists of three tranches with 13-month, three-year, and five- year tenors. All three tranches carry an investment-grade rating from the Middle East Ratings and Investors Service.
- Egyptian dental marketplace DentaCarts secured 450,000 USD from AUC Angels, Asia Africa Investment & Consulting, and 500 Startups in an investment round. The fund's purpose is to expand the startup's 10,000 product available on both its web and mobile app in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Kenya.
- Real estate investment firm Emerald hopes to win approval within two weeks from the Financial Regulatory Authority to go ahead with its initial public offering (IPO) on the EGX. The timing and share value will be disclosed after the FRA signs off on the IPO.
- Ezz Dekheila Steel's acquisition of 100% of Al Ezz Rolling Mills (ERM) has been implemented. Ezz Dekheila's mandatory tender offer (MTO) saw the company buying 100,000 ERM shares at 23.07 EGP a piece while the remaining 89.7 million shares went the share swap route with every 51 shares of ERM swapped for 1 Ezz Dekheila share.
- Saudi Electricity Co. (SEC) has awarded a Smart Metering project at a cost of 9.56 BN SAR (2.55 BN USD). The project will start on December 19, 2019 and entails installing and commissioning 10 million smart meters for consumers across Saudi Arabia.
- Saudi Arabia Etihad Etisalat Company (Mobily) signed a 7.6 BN SAR (2 BN USD) refinancing Murabaha Facility Agreement with Saudi banks. The credit facility's duration is 7 years and will replace an existing syndicate financing.
- In UAE, Floranow, a B2B floral marketplace, will get at least 3 MM USD in the new round of funding that is co-led by Wamda and includes Dash Ventures, Jabbar Internet Group, Sirocco Holdings, Adamtech Ventures, Zuaiter Holding Capital, HB Investments and angel investors.
- Al Arabiya Real Estate has signed an initial contract to sell properties in the Kuwaiti cities of Al Salmiya and Al Farwaniya for 4.17 MM KWD (13.7 MM USD). Al Arabiya posted a net loss of 1.21 MM KWD (3.9 MM USD) in the first nine months of 2019, declining by 20.6% from 1.53 MM KWD (5 MM USD) in the year-ago period.
Sports and Culture
- On the 26th of December, Oman will witness an astronomical event that last took place in the country more than a hundred years ago. Eclipse is expected to begin over Saudi Arabia and pass over parts of Bahrain, Qatar and UAE, after which it will enter Oman. The moon will literally overlap with the sun and create this phenomenon known as the ring of fire. The whole activity will last about two hours, but the full annular eclipse will last for two minutes or a little bit more than that.
- NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) held its second annual Ride for Zayed cycling event on Friday in honor of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Founding Father of UAE. This year second edition ride saw over 200 participants come together to cycle the 5 km and 10 km track on Hudayriat Island in Abu Dhabi.