Issue  No. 191
10 September 2018

This report is designed to give you a snapshot about the MENA region tackling multiple issues:


       67.75 USD         1,195 USD


Economic Outlook
  • Egypt Mirco, Small, and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (MSMEs) will sign an agreement with the French Development Agency (AFD) to obtain 50 MM EUR and another deal with an equivalent funding amount from the German state-owned development lender (KFW group). Since April 2017 until June 2018, the Egyptian agency MSMEs pumped 6.6 BN EGP into 320,000 projects that created 460,000 job opportunities.
  • Egypt foreign debt increased to 92.64 BN USD in Q4-2017/2018, up from 88.2 BN USD in Q3-2017/2018. The debt represents 37.2% of the country's GDP in Q4-2017/2018, marking a slight increase from 36.8% in Q3-2017/2018. Moreover, the country's foreign reserves stood at 44.2 BN USD in Q4-2017/2018 and climbed to 44.4 BN USD in Q1-2018/2019.
  • The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) will provide Egypt with 1 BN USD to support the provision of basic goods. The financing is part of a 3 BN USD agreement with the ITFC to supply Egypt main sectors, to support the supply of commodities to 67 million of Egypt citizens.
  • Foreign holdings of Egyptian treasuries stood at 17.1 BN USD at end of July 2018, down from 17.5 BN USD at the end of June. The number showed a continued decline in foreign holdings, which had stood at 23.1 BN USD at the end of March 2018.
  • In Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of Haj and Umrah endeavor is to convert the Haj and Umrah work into an industry to make it one of the major tributaries of the new Saudi economy, which aims to host 30 million Umrah pilgrims throughout the coming years. The ministry has completed procedures for licensing some 685 Saudi Umrah companies and it is targeting to receive 8.5 million Umrah pilgrims in the new 1440 season.
  • The Tunisian city of Oued Melliz celebrated the delivery of 18 housing units built with the help of the Saudi Fund for Development. The units are part of a 150 MM USD soft loan provided by the fund, which aims to build around 4,600 units in different regions of Tunisia for people of low incomes.
  • Credit growth in Saudi Arabia banking sector is likely to pick up in 2018 after a 'flat' 2017, as a result of higher oil prices and the country's improving economic outlook. Some of the policy reform measures taken to support credit recovery include the easing of capital market restrictions on foreign investors, improving the ecosystem for the SME (small and medium-zed enterprise) sector, and supporting the increase of home ownership.
  • Dubai Investment Development Agency (Dubai FDI) has announced the signing of an MoU with Los Angeles. The signing comes as part of the growing focus on the Americas as major source market for investment and trade into UAE and in line with its commitment to strengthening cooperation between business communities to drive foreign direct investment (FDI) by reinforcing existing trade relations.
  • Over the next 100 days, 3,500 job opportunities will be available for Emirati job seekers in the financial, banking, insurance, retail and tourism sectors in the second phase of the national Emiratization and direct employment program in vital economic sectors. The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization has signed 13 MoUs, with federal and local government entities to provide these jobs.
  • Energy, utilities and transportation sectors in the UAE will see massive growth in the next two decades as the government will pump 1.3 TR AED (354 BN USD) in the development of these sectors. The huge investment is expected to boost economic growth and create more jobs in the country.
  • The total trade between Abu Dhabi and the Sultanate of Oman reached 1.7 BN AED during the first five months of 2018, with a 54.5% increase, compared to the same period in 2017, reflecting the pace of trade exchange between both sides. The registered trade between Oman and Abu Dhabi from January to May 2018 accounts for 56.6% of the total trade between the two sides in 2017.
  • Qatar will pump 10 BN EUR (11.64 BN USD) of direct investments into Germany in the next five years. The trade between the two countries had doubled to around 2.8 BN EUR, but the volume declined slightly in 2017.
  • Qatar Central Bank sold 1.1 BN QAR (302.20 MM USD) of Treasury bills with maturities of three, six and nine months. It sold 600 MM QAR of three-month bills at a yield of 2.18%, 300 MM QAR (82.4 MM USD) of six-month at 2.48% and 200 MM QAR (54.9 MM USD) of nine-month at 2.73%.
  • Turkey will sign an economic and trade partnership agreement with Qatar, in order to secure cheaper supply of refined oil products and natural gas. The deal will target a comprehensive liberalization of goods and services trading between the two countries and will also include telecommunications sector and financial services.
  • A liquefied natural gas (LNG) port worth 65.5 MM USD funded by Kuwait is among the most superlative projects the Gulf state has undertaken in Jordan, with the aim of providing Amman with diverse energy sources.
  • Remittances from Philippine workers in Kuwait registered a 16% y-o-y drop in H1-2018 reaching 106.1 MM KWD (351 MM USD) in H1-2018, compared to 126 MM KWD (416.5 MM USD) in H1-2017 on the back of the crisis over Philippine workers in the GCC nation early in 2018.
Political Events
  • Saudi prosecutors announced that individuals who produce or distribute ironic content on social media that "mocks, provokes or disrupts public order, religious values and public morals" face up to five years imprisonment and a fine of 3 MM SAR
  • Qatar has become the most open country in the Middle East and the 8th most open in the world in terms of visa facilitation allowing nationals of 88 countries to enter Qatar visa-free and free-of-charge. Qatar improved visa facilitation by introducing an online platform for efficient and transparent visa processing and e-visas, as well as a free 96-hour transit visa doubling the time stopover passengers can remain in the country.
  • Kuwait Ministry of Commerce and Industry has temporarily banned imports of all food products from Iraq due to Cholera outbreak there. However, the public authority for good and nutrition in Kuwait, lifted the ban on imports of the German cheese, Jocca, fresh and frozen shrimps from Texas, the United States of America.
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Major Companies Transaction
  • International Bank of Qatar (IBQ) has won "Best Private Bank" award from "Global Banking & Finance Review" during a ceremony held in London. The award recognizes the bank's position as a leading private bank in Qatar on both the regional and international scale.
  • The National Bank of Egypt (NBE) has signed a 600 MM USD loan agreement with China Development Bank (CDB) to finance the working capital of the Egyptian bank's customers. The deal will enhance the confidence of international institutions in Egyptian economy, which has undergone many reforms over the last few years.
  • Ezz Steel, Egypt largest steelmaker, reported that H1-2018 profits increased on the back of a growth in sales amounting to 143.7 MM EGP (8 MM USD), compared to a loss amounted to 970.2 MM EGP (54.3 MM USD) in H1-2017. Sales increased to 25.5 BN EGP (1.4 BN USD) in H1-2018, compared to 17.5 BN EGP (979.8 MM USD) in H1-2017.
  • Egypt will launch its program for offering shares in state companies by offering a 4.5% stake in its top cigarette maker Eastern Company. It named EFG Hermes as the adviser to the sale and said it is expected to raise 2 BN EGP (112 MM USD) from the offer. Egypt is working on selling shares in dozens of state-owned companies over the next three to five years across several sectors to help boost the state's public finances.
  • The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) in Saudi Arabia and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of the UK have signed an MoU which aims to train and build capacity in various sectors of civil aviation, safety, security and environmental protection in air transport. It also aims to be open to the latest technologies and best practices in various sectors of civil aviation.
  • Pöyry, an international consulting and engineering company, has secured the owner's engineer services contract from the Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) for the Shuqaiq Phase 3 Water Transmission System project in Saudi Arabia. The scope of work includes review of contractor's engineering services and supervision of construction, erection and commissioning.
  • Saudi Aramco plans to deliver the first crude oil cargo to its joint-refinery project with Petronas in Malaysia in October 2018 as the companies prepare for trial runs at the new plant. The project, Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID), is a 27 BN USD complex located between the Malacca Strait and the South China Sea, conduits for Middle East oil and gas bound for China, Japan and South Korea.
  • The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai announced that Amer centers have issued over 25,000 new sponsor visas besides renewal of around 2,900 residencies and have cancelled 2,344 visas.
  • Etihad Airways has partnered with Farelogix Inc. to enhance its merchandising and distribution capabilities. The deployment of new generation technology from Farelogix will enable Etihad to provide unique, customized offers to its guests, and strengthen its position as the 'airline of choices'. Etihad strategy will focus on broadening ancillary offerings to customers, allowing for more personalized travel options across all distribution channels.
Sports and Culture
  • Egyptian Nour El Sherbini has topped the PSA Women's World Rankings for a 29th consecutive month as she heads up an unchanged top 20 in September Women's World Rankings. The 22-year-old is the 5th longest reigning World No.1 of all time in the women's game and she is followed in the rankings by World Champion Raneem El Welily, World No.3 Nour El Tayeb, France's World No.4 Camille Serme and New Zealand's Joelle King, who completes the top five.
  • UAE will host the 2018 Asian Cricket Council (ACC) Asia Cup from 15th to 28th September. In Group A, India, the defending champions, will face Pakistan, while in Group B Sri Lanka will face Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric and Mohamed Salah have been nominated as finalists for The Best FIFA Men's Player Award. Ronaldo has won the award for the last two years. Midfielder Modric won the best player award at the tournament in Russia with Croatia. Salah scored 44 goals for Liverpool last season, helping the English club reach the Champions League final.
  • Mohamed Salah scored twice, provided two assists and missed two penalties as Egypt beat Niger 6-0 in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier. It was the perfect start for new coach Javier Aguirre, who replaced Hector Cuper after Egypt exit from the World Cup.
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Cairo Office:
Z epter Office Building  S5-6 ,  Area 5, District 1, 5th Settlement,  New Cairo, Egypt.  P.O. Box:  1147
Dubai Office:
Office No. N 415, North Tower, Emirates Financial Towers, DIFC, P.O Box 506726, Dubai, UAE.
Tel:  +97142820301

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