- Egypt exports of cotton are expected to rise by 18% in 2018/2019 to 1.3 million metric kantar (one kantar is equal to 45.02 kilograms) at a value of 150 MM USD. Egyptian cotton is being exported to India, which imports 50% of the cotton, as well as to China, Pakistan, Turkey, Brazil, and Bangladesh.
- Egypt launched new national manufacturing program that aims to bridge the gap in the country's trade balance between exports and imports. The program was launched in the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI) noting that non-oil imports rose in the first eight months of 2018 by 6 BN USD reaching 43.5 BN USD. Around 63% of these imports are for engineering, chemicals, and building products, which can be replaced with local industries, providing a decent competitor.
- Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Egypt non-oil economy fell in Q2-2018 to its lowest levels after the IMF-backed austerity plan began nearly two years ago. Egypt is counting on new private-sector investment to spur the economy and create jobs for its rapidly expanding population, but the austerity measures have reduced domestic demand and the incentive to invest. The country attracted 600 MM USD in non-oil FDI in Q2-2018, down from 956 MM USD in Q1-2018.
- UAE foreign sovereign wealth funds are expected to increase by 8.3% to reach 785.6 BN USD in 2018 compared to 725.4 BN USD in 2017. It is expected that the GCC nation's foreign sovereign assets to total 807.5 BN USD (2.96 TR AED) in 2019. In addition, the World Bank has forecasted that the UAE economy will grow at a robust pace in 2018 to hit 2% increase, 3% in 2019 and 3.2% by 2022.
- UAE signed a financial cooperation agreement worth 12.5 BN AED (3.4 BN USD) with Bahrain to support the financial stability of the country and stimulate its economic growth. The contribution will be managed by Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), the leading national entity for development aid. Emirates Islamic, one of the leading Islamic financial institutions in the UAE, announced that it is organizing a 'Recruitment Open Day' for UAE Nationals in collaboration with The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization (MoHRE).
- Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE deposited over 1 BN USD at the Central Bank of Jordan and committed 500 MM USD in budget support over five years as part of a 2.5 BN USD package to shore up Jordan struggling economy. The package also includes 600 MM USD in credit guarantees by the three Gulf countries that will help Jordan secure cheap World Bank credit and other financing for much needed infrastructure projects. Moreover, the three Gulf countries will sign an agreement to provide up to 10 BN USD of financial support to Bahrain.
- Saudi Arabia trade surplus grew by 86.6% y-o-y, reaching 269.97 BN SAR (71.99 BN USD) in H1-2018, compared to 144.67 BN SAR (35.85 BN USD) in H1-2017. Saudi Arabia merchandise exports jumped 32.5% y-o-y, reaching 526.32 BN SAR in H1-2018, compared to 397.1 BN SAR in H1-2017. Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced that Saudi Arabia will privatize more than 20 companies in 2019, helping the government strategy to diversify revenues away from oil. It aims to generate 35 BN SAR to 40 BN SAR (9 BN USD to 11 BN SAR) in non-oil revenues from its privatization program by 2020 and create up to 12,000 jobs.
- Qatar central bank sold 500 MM QAR (137.36 MM USD) of T-bills with maturities of three, six and nine months. It sold 200 MM QAR of three-month T-bills at a yield of 2.18%, 200 MM QAR of six-month at 2.48% and 100 MM QAR of nine-month at 2.75%.
- Jordan real state trade volume reached 3.96 BN JOD (5.58 BN USD) in Q3-2018, marking a 12% decrease compared to 4.49 BN JOD (6.3 BN USD) in Q3-2017.
- In Oman, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that Omanis can travel to Iran without a visa noting that the passports of citizens entering or exiting Iran will not be stamped. Considering the good relations between the two countries, the Islamic Republic of Iran have decided to neglect the visa requirement unilaterally for the citizens of Oman.
- Egypt toughens visa rules for Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. The regulations include providing a bank statement proving that citizens have no less than 2,000 dollar in their account, as well as a certificate verifying their occupation. Citizens of those three countries must also provide confirmations on airline tickets and hotel rooms, as well as a representative from a travel agency who must confirm the tourists' departure immediately after the end of their visit.
- Qatar International Court and Dispute Resolution Center (QICDRC) has participated in the 2nd meeting of the Standing International Forum of Commercial Courts (SIFoCC) which took place in New York. This year event focused on the important topics of enforcement, the role and value of specialist commercial courts, case management, technology in the courts, litigation funding by third parties and issues relating to arbitration.
- Bahrain has introduced a new bankruptcy law as it ushers in a number of new legal reforms aimed at attracting foreign investment inflows. The country has seen foreign investment increase rapidly over 2017 and wants to cement gains by boosting its corporate legislation and making it more business-friendly. The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) attracted a record 810 MM USD of investment during the first nine months of 2018 compared to 733 MM USD in 2017 as a whole.
- Saudi Arabia National Cybersecurity Authority has issued basic cybersecurity guidelines, which have been prepared to establish minimum standards to be applied in different governmental agencies. These guidelines are meant to minimize the risks of cyber threats to their infrastructures, networks, and systems.
- .QSI banking sector increased led by Qatar National Bank (QNB) and Doha Bank. However, the real estate sector decreased led by Mazaya Qatar Real Estate and Barwa Real Estate. In addition, the telecommunication sector decreased led by Vodafone Qatar.
- .ADI the banking sector increased led by First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) as well as the telecommunication sector increased led by Etisalat. On the other hand, the real estate sector decreased led by Eshraq Properties and Aldar Properties.
- .DFMGI real estate sector decreased led by DAMAC Properties, Arabtec and Emaar Properties. In addition, investments and financial services decreased led Dubai Investments.
- Sixth of October Development & Investment Company "SODIC", has received the 2018 award for Best Investor Relations in Egypt. The process to select the winners in the best practice category was run by Middle East Investor Relations Association (MEIRA) in collaboration with research company Extel and reflects the feedback of the investment community towards which SODIC is continuously committed to uphold the highest level of engagement and transparency.
- Telecom Egypt (TE) has signed an agreement with Talaat Moustafa Group Holding (TMG Holding) to launch new services for smart cities and digital communities. Upon the deal, both firms will provide current and future smart cities with the latest technologies in the telecommunication and information technology in order to turn Egypt into a regional hub for data and a main internet platform for smart solutions.
- Egypt has signed an agreement with three banks (Investment bank CI Capital, Jefferies bank, and Emirates NDB) to manage the sale of a 24% stake in state oil company Engineering for Petroleum and Process Industries (ENPPI) on the Egyptian stock exchange. The sale is part of a series of public and private share offerings expected over the coming months, including the first sales in state-owned companies for more than a decade. The government hopes the sales will help reduce its budget deficit and promote competition.
- Microsoft technology ecosystem and the growing popularity of cloud services will create more than 55,000 jobs in UAE by the end of 2022, according the International Data Corporation (IDC). IDC predicts spending on public cloud services in the UAE will almost quadruple over the next five years, from 439 MM AED in 2017 to 1.51 BN AED in 2022. Between the end of 2017 and the end of 2022, adoption of cloud services will create nearly 31,650 new jobs and the Microsoft technology ecosystem will add 23,800 jobs for a total of 55,450 in net job creation.
- In Dubai, Deyaar Development has generated 175 MM AED (47.6 MM USD) in revenues of its property projects from January 2016 to July 2018. The sales revenues come from three of Deyaar projects, namely: The Atria Business Bay, Central Park, and Moon Rose.
- Saudi British Bank (SABB) and smaller rival Alawwal Bank are merging to create Saudi Arabia third-biggest lender with a market capitalization of about 17.2 BN USD. The merger will create Saudi Arabia third-largest bank, increase its strength in corporate and retail banking, and provide unrivalled access to a global banking network to facilitate the flow of international investment capital into Saudi Arabia.
- The Saudi Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) has penalized three telecom companies. Penalties with a total value of 14 MM SAR (3.7 MM USD) have been imposed on Saudi Telecom Company (STC) that will pay the biggest fine of 12.47 MM SAR, while Mobily and Mobile Telecommunication Company Saudi Arabia (Zain) have been penalized with 1.56 MM SAR, and 296,000 SAR, respectively.
- Qatar Majda Group has won a deal to acquire the Tunisian state stake of the Zitouna Islamic Bank, worth about 130 MM USD. Majda group has made the highest financial offer, winning the state share in Zitouna Bank (67%) and Zitouna Takaful insurance (70%) for 131.64 MM USD. The deal shows the appetite of bigger Middle Eastern lenders for the Tunisian market, where authorities have allowed some Islamic banking products in order to attract foreign investments and Islamic cash-flows.
- Qatar Petroleum, on behalf of Qatar Petroleum for the Sale of Petroleum Products Company (QPSPP), has concluded 10 years sales agreement to supply Japan Marubeni Corporation an annual total of 1.2 million metric tons of Naphtha starting from October 2018. The agreements are the largest and longest to be concluded with Marubeni Corporation since both parties started their naphtha business together over three decades ago.
- In Bahrain, Kalaam Telecom, a leading managed solutions provider for businesses across GCC and international markets achieved Amazon Web Services (AWS) Standard Technology and Direct Connect Partner status. This achievement qualifies Kalaam to provide AWS cloud portfolio to its customers along with private and secure connectivity to AWS cloud from any part of the world.
- Turkish Airlines has announced its special fares promotion with 30% discount. Passengers from Qatar can now book a ticket for a price as low as 3,190 QAR if travelling from Doha to US or Canada. The offer is valid until 11 October 2018 as long as they are intending to travel during the period between 01 October 2018 and 31 May 2019.
Sports and Culture
- An Egyptian 14-year-old girl, Reem Ashraf managed on to break the world record for the longest dive, after staying under water for two days and seven hours. Ashraf made it into the Guinness World Record after she achieved the world's longest dive inside Gulf of Aqaba's waters in Sharm al-Sheikh for 55 hours. She broke the record name of Australian girl Christine Coyle, "38 years", who achieved dive of 15 hours under water.
- England Premier League is launching an esports competition, allowing fans to compete on behalf of their club at the popular 'FIFA' video game. All 20 Premier League clubs will have a live playoff round, giving two competitors, one for PlayStation 4 and one for Xbox One, a chance to advance to the ePremier League (ePL) Final. The final of the ePL will be held in London on March 28-29 and will be broadcast on Sky Sports in UK.
- Dubai iconic Burj Khalifa showcased special LED screenings to mark the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi. Consul General of India deeply appreciated the support of the Emaar and the leadership of UAE for organizing this special event and explained that this gesture was yet another manifestation of the strong friendly ties between India and UAE.