- The Deputy Minister of Finance, Ahmed Kojak, clarified that Egypt will start repaying the first installment of the International Monetary fund loan of 2.75 BN USD starting from May 2021 to November 2026. The IMF loan helped the country's foreign reserves to rebound by receiving the first three tranches of the loan with a total value of 6.08 BN USD. The fourth tranche of 2 BN USD will be received after the program third review in June.
- The Egyptian government and the World Bank signed an agreement of 500 MM USD supporting Egypt Education Reform project, which aims to improve teaching and learning tools and conditions in Egypt. Egypt is focusing on expanding the use of digital resources by using modern technology for teaching and learning, assessing students and collecting data.
- The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) announced that Egypt Inflation rate has declined to 13.1% (y-o-y) in March 2018. On a monthly basis, inflation increased 1% in March to record 269.8 points, compared to 267 points in February. CAPMAS attributed the increase of inflation on a monthly basis to the rise of some commodities prices, including vegetables by 3.9%, meat and poultry by 1.6%, fish and seafood by 5.2%, and fruits by 1.8%.
- Egypt and Jordan signed an agreement to liberalize trade in services between Arab countries on the sidelines of the opening session of the Economic and Social Council of the Council of the Arab League of the 29th regular summit. This brings the number of signatories to ten Arab countries: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Oman, Morocco, Lebanon, Sudan, Yemen and Jordan.
- Qatar economy is expected to grow by 2.6% this year and 3% in 2019. It is worthy to mention that Qatar managed to overcome the consequences of the boycott by the four Arab countries; Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain and maintain a growing economy. Qatar banking sector maintained high liquidity and ability to provide funding options for Qatari firms, while some of the more developed companies in the country have already accessed international bond markets.
- Saudi Arabia has put on hold the privatization plans for King Khaled International Airport in Riyadh, which is considered the kingdom second biggest airport.
- As part of economic reforms, the country is launching a privatization drive raising about 200 BN USD, in addition to 100 BN USD by selling a share in the national oil giant Saudi Aramco.
- Kuwait plans to invest a whopping 34 BN KWD (113 BN USD) over the next five years to boost oil exploration and production activity both inside and outside the country.The country's consumption of natural gas is about 60% for refining and petrochemical sector while the remaining 40% is for power generation sector. Kuwait aims to raise the production of non-associated gas to nearly 500 million standard cubic feet per day by the end of 2018.
- The Dubai International Financial Centre, (DIFC) has announced three new strategic initiatives aimed at catalyzing economic growth in Dubai and enhancing its global status as a competitive business destination. The three initiatives focus on attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) particularly from south-east Asia, enabling Dubai Government entities to complete financial services within DIFC and facilitating the provision of financial products through Dubai.
- In 2018, Dubai inflation noted an increase by 0.61 points pushing consumer prices by 1.99% compared to the previous year which led to an increase by 5.9% in the cost of transportation.
- Oman is planning to invite bids to build an undersea natural gas pipeline between Sohar and Iran by May 2018. Eight consortiums from across the globe have already expressed interest in involvement with the project. The planned pipeline would connect Iran gas reserves to Omani consumers as well as liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants in Oman that would re-export the gas.
- VFS Global, the leading outsourcing and technology services specialist for diplomatic missions worldwide, opens Visa Application Centre in Muscat, the Omani capital, in partnership with German Embassy. VFS Global. The new visa centre will receive and process applications for Schengen visa to Germany as well as to Iceland, providing applicants with enhanced convenience in visa processing services and biometric enrollment formalities.
- The Syrian government retook this month eastern Ghouta, the biggest rebel stronghold near Damascus, putting the forces in by far their strongest position since the early months of the seven-year-old civil war.The United States, Britain and France launched a volley of air strikes against three Syrian targets in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons strike during the Ghouta assault.
- Abu Dhabi Ship Building Company (ADSB), a leading provider of construction, repair and refit services for naval, military and commercial vessels, has launched two 64-meter landing ships for the Kuwait Naval Force as part of a contract to build eight naval ships to support Kuwait military capabilities.
- UAE accused Qatari military fighter jets of coming dangerously close to the Emarati commercial airliner, less than 700 feet (210 meters), leaving just a few seconds to the captain to maneuver. The affected flight was identified, Emirates flight EK837 carrying 86 passengers to land in Bahrain. This marks the latest allegations between Qatar and the UAE over their flights and airspace being harassed by the other since diplomatic crisis between them in June.
- .EGX30 telecommunication sector increased led by Telecom Egypt and banking sector led by Commercial International Bank (CIB).
- .TASI telecommunication sector increased led by STC and Zain. In addition, banking sector increased led by National Commercial Bank (NCB).
- .ADI banking sector increased slightly led by Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB).
- .DFMGI real estate sector declined led by Arabtec and Emaar. In addtion, the banking sector declined led by Emirates NBD.
- The Cristal Group, one of the leading UAE based hospitality management companies in the region, has recently opened 2 properties in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Bayat Hotel by Cristal, the first 5-star hotel to open in the Southern Region in over 20 years, and Bayat Suites by Cristal, deluxe and modern serviced apartments.
- Siemens supports Iraq with upgrading one of its largest gas-fired power plants by adding 700 megawatts (MW) to the Rumaila Gas Power Plant, which currently has a power generation capacity of 150 MW. Siemens will supply one million Iraqis with clean and efficient electricity by ensuring an additional power supply which comes at no extra fuel requirement, figured in its highly-efficient SSt-500 steam turbines. There will be an increase in power plant efficiency to more than 50% by converting the facility combined cycle mode.
- Al Hokair Group at the UAE has announced the appointment of Mr. Omar Sami Samara as its Chief Executive Officer for Tourism and Development.
- Quid Pro Quo (QPQ) International will be launched in the UAE this week. QPQ is an innovative online networking platform that embraces three of the biggest trends of the future including sharing economy, artificial intelligence and blockchain principles. The state-of-the-art platform will cater for established business owners, entrepreneurs, SMEs, influencers and high-net worth individuals, to help them network and collaborate on investments.
- Bahrain Middle East Bank (BMB) signed two agreements with The Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC) in order to consolidate its trade financing activities, with specific emphasis to GCC and MENA countries. The first one is a Documentary Credit Insurance Policy (DCIP) and the second one is Bank Master Policy (BMP).
- Yorktown Partners, the private equity firm, is selling its Egyptian-focused oil and gas company Merlon International, expecting to raise up to 400 MM USD. The process is being managed by Citigroup and is expected to be finalized in July 2018.
Sports and Culture
- Mohamed Salah won the PFA Players' "Player of the Year Award" after a goal-laden, record-breaking first season at Liverpool. He beat off competition from Manchester's Kevin De Bruyne. This month Salah won Liverpool Player of the Month award six times and also became the first player to be named Premier League of the Month on three occasions.
- The first official fashion week was hosted in, Riyadh. The event was an opportunity to spotlight some of the female design talents emerging from the desert kingdom such as Arwa Al Banawi, Mashael AlRajhi, SWAF Designs and Reem Al Khanal.
- Qatar Elan Group is planning to sell Novo Cinema theatres in the UAE and Bahrain. Novo Cinemas transaction indicates that Qatari firms are looking to realize value from businesses operating in the boycotting countries, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt since June 2017.
- Netflix is nearly doubling its film production up to 8 BN USD in Europe, the Middle East and Africa with over 100 projects originating in the region in 2018. Netflix announces its first Arabic original series "Jinn", which will be filmed in Jordan later this year.