Issue  No.164
26 February 2018

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


        67.03 USD         1,341 USD


Economic Outlook
  • Egypt unemployment rate has declined from 12.4% in Q4-2016 to 11.3% in Q4-2017. President El-Sisi stated that the unemployment rate will be cut by 10% throughout the next few years, which will require a very high level of economic activity.
  • As inflation rate reaches its lowest level last year, the Central Bank of Egypt decided to cut the interest rate by 100 basis points. The Central Bank decided to cut its overnight deposit rate from 18.75% to 17.75%. It also decreased its overnight lending rate from 19.75% to 18.75%.
  • EGAS, Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company is currently arranging the importing of three liquified natural gas (LNG) cargoes from France in Q2-2018. Egypt Petroleum Minister announced in January 2018 that Egypt is planning on stopping the importing of LNG by the end of 2017/2018 fiscal year and focusing on speeding up the gas production in the recently discovered gas fields in Egypt.
  • Ministry of Agriculture in Egypt states that Egypt will set its local buying price for wheat in March, a month before the harvest season. Egypt, the world's biggest wheat importer has not decided yet whether it will set the local wheat buying price to be the same as that of the world prices, or it will sacrifice its farmers and set the buying price to be higher than that of the world prices.
  • Oman annual average inflation has reached 1.6% in 2017 in an improvement wave after the contraction in the economy for the past two years. The growth in the country's economy in 2017 happened between January and September with a GDP growth of 10.1%, a growth of 23.9% in the oil sector and a 4.9% growth in the non-oil sector.
  • According to the Chief Economist of the Oman Investment Fund, delaying the implementation of the VAT is a good decision, since it leaves space for Oman to learn how to smoothly pass this transition from countries who have already implemented the VAT like Saudi Arabia and UAE.
  • UAE Minister of Economy launched a new guide for companies in UAE, with the title "The Innovative Guide for Companies in the UAE". This guide was done through a cooperation between the Ministry of Economy and the National Research Center. The guide highlights the role of the Ministry of Economy in implementing the UAE's National Innovative Strategy for companies in the UAE.
  • A forum that is organized by Jordan and India will take place next week in New Delhi. More than 300 Jordanian and Indian businessmen and investors are expected to attend and discuss business opportunities between the two countries. This forum is also a chance for both countries to discuss the possibility of increasing the joint commercial exchange volume between the two countries.
Political Events
  • Saudi Arabia refuses to participate in the European Union-style regional security alliance that was proposed by Qatar. Meanwhile, Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani stated the importance of the collaboration of Middle East countries in forming a security model that follows the European Union, to get the region back on track. However, achieving this requires the Middle Eastern countries to set aside their differences and think about the region's stability.
  • Saudi Arabia and Switzerland agreed on holding periodic financial dialogues at technical and political levels. Switzerland assured the Kingdom that it will provide the needed help to the Kingdom's financial regulators and bankers.
  • Oman Minister of Health issued a new decision regarding expatriate doctors. A certain number of expat doctors as senior consultants who work in the public sector are now allowed to work in the private sector. This new decision also removed the limited number of days needed for expats to work in public sectors in order for them to work in the private sector.
  • Tourist and Express visas to Oman won't be accepted as physical applications starting 21st of March 2018 as announced by the Royal Oman Police. Only online applications made on the Royal Oman Police website will be accepted.
  • U.S. Secretary of State warned Lebanon that Hezbollah group's growth in the region is a great threat to Lebanon security. He also said in Beirut News Conference that the United States is collaborating with Lebanon and Israel to protect their borders from Hezbollah.
  • Egypt military announced the death of three soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula last week. The deaths occurred in the 10-day campaign initiated by the military against the Islamist militants. This is the first time since the military started their operations in Sinai on 9th of February, to announce the casualties that took place from their side. 
Major Companies Transaction
  • Qatar Airways announced its acquisition of Sheraton Melbourne Hotel in Paris. Qatar Airways Chief Executive states that this acquisition is part of the company global strategy for growth. He also believes that this move will strengthen the offerings for the flights to Melbourne, which is a very important destination for Qatar Airways.
  • The partnership between Dubai Emirates and Australia's Qantas will be renewed for five years after the approval from the Australian authorities. This partnership is expected to affect the airfares for passengers and strengthen the competition with Qatar Airways, Virgin Australia and British Airways, because passengers will have more choices in their trips to connect between Emirates and Qantas than in other airlines.  
  • Noor Bank, a leading bank in UAE contributed 1.6 MM AED to the Rashid Centre for Disabled in Dubai. This contribution will be used in renovating classrooms, accommodating new students and upgrading the organic farming class, which will be used as an agricultural production workshop for students in the center.
  • Investcorp, a global provider and manager of alternative investment products announced its partnership with Bahrain Fintech Bay (BFB). BFB which was launched in 21st of February 2018, is considered to be the largest Fintech hub in the Middle East. This partnership will allow both organizations to push the FinTech entrepreneurship in Bahrain.
  • Bahrain Islamic Bank (BisB) launched a promotional campaign for its customers aiming to provide its customers with the best service and products and to satisfy them by providing them with their needed requirements and financial needs. This campaign offers the customers attractive annual profit rates on all BisB's financing products and it also offers cashback throughout February 2018.
  • National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) and Kuwait Finance House (KFH) signed a loan facility of 249.2 MM KWD (831.3 MM USD) to Turkey's business group Limak. This loan is aimed to help Limak Construction and its partner Kharafi National to build a new terminal at the Kuwait International Airport. The new terminal is expected to cost about 4.34 BN USD and is expected to triple the capacity of the airport to 25 million passengers a year.
  • Work on the Bani Hajer North - Rawdat Egdaim Road Infrastructure Development scheme has been progressing as announced by Qatar's public works authority. This project will provide easier transportation between Bani Hajer, Doha, Dukhan and the rest of the country through expressway network. 
Sports and Culture
  • The Natural History Museum in Oman recorded an increase in the number of visits compared to last year. In January 2018 the number of visitors reached 2,246 visitors compared to 1,890  visitors in January 2017.
  • The Ministry spokesperson Abdul Rahman Al-Hussein announced that women in Saudi Arabia no longer need a guardian's permission and are free to start their own business. In addition, women can now proceed with their commercial transactions in the Ministry of Commerce and Investment without a male guardian. This activation of the role of women in the society and granting them their full rights is one of the steps in achieving Vision 2030.
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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
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Tel:  +97142820301

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