Issue  No.158
15 January 2018

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


        69.67 USD         1,341 USD


Economic Outlook
  • The remittances from Egyptians living abroad have increased since the flotation of the pound by 5.8% (y-o-y) in November 2017 reaching 2.2 BN USD compared to 2.1 BN USD.
  • There is a huge potential for Islamic-banking in Egypt as Sharia'-compliant financial services can make major gains in 2018 but the government antipathy towards it and a lack of certain regulations to govern the sector could stymie the growth. It is worthy to mention that banking penetration in Egypt is among the lowest in the Middle East and North Africa, with less than 15% of working-age Egyptians holding bank accounts, with Islamic finance accounts representing only around 5% of the country banking system.
  • Spain International Tourism breaks the records for fifth straight year to reach 82 million tourists in 2017 making Spain the world's second most visited country after France and pushing the United States into third place. Tourism now represents 11% from Spain economy growth due to the security concerns in other popular holiday destinations such as Egypt and Turkey.
  • The spokesman for the Jeddah General Directorate of Health Affairs, Abdullah Al-Ghamdi, replied on the refuted rumors that the Health Ministry would impose charges on expats for their children's vaccinations at state medical centers and confirmed that the necessary vaccines are given to all expats and Saudis, alike, for free. It is worthy to mention that more than 560,000 non-Saudi children in the 0-4 age group living in the Kingdom in H1-2017.
  • Qatar Petroleum offered five cargoes of al-Shaheen crude to load in March 2018 in its monthly spot tender, up from two cargoes a month ago, a tender document reviewed. The cargoes loaded will be of capacity of 500,000-600,000 barrels each throughout March.
  • The Saudi Citizens Account social security program is designed to assist low middle-income families that are negatively impacted bythe economic reforms including VAT and high petrol prices by pumping 2.1 BN SAR (560 MM USD) into their accounts.
  • The Kuwait local consultative center examined a number of obstacles and challenges that delay the contribution of private sector to GDP growth due to poor decision making and lack of opportunity for local companies in implementing their productive and operational investment initiatives to coincide with the implementation of annual development plans for achieving Kuwait Economic Vision 2035 in the coming period.
  • Lebanon Cabinet approved several major steps aimed at dealing with Lebanon waste crisis, including controversial plans to expand Beirut once temporary Costa Brava landfill and create a new sanitary landfill in Tripoli, next to the city's old, overcapacity dump. The Costa Brava landfill, part of an emergency 2016 waste management plan, will also begin to accept waste from the Aley and Chouf regions, in addition to continuing to accept waste from Beirut and Mount Lebanon.
Political Events
  • The Egyptian court of cassation ordered a retrial at a different criminal court for ex-interior minister Habib al-Adly. In addition, his lawyer Farid el-Deeb clarifies that this decision allows Adly to be freed without further legal procedures.
  • Trump would waive sanctions against Iran that were lifted as part of the international deal for the last time unless his conditions were met. The ultimatum puts pressure on Europeans to satisfy Trump, who wants the pact strengthened with a separate agreement within 120 days.
  • Tunisian authorities arrested another 150-people including local opposition leaders, bringing the total detained close to 800 in response to demonstrations against price and tax rises. Protesters have burned dozens of state buildings, prompting the government to send the army into several cities and towns.
  • Saudi Customs Authorities have foiled four attempts to smuggle Captagon pills into the Kingdom, SPA reported. A total of 1,325,433 pills made of the amphetamine-based drug were recovered from four vehicles at the Al-Haditha crossing near the border with Jordan. The Ministry of Interior said the security services are capable of deterring continued attempts to smuggle narcotics into the Kingdom. It has warned that anyone who tries to commit such actions would be punished according to Sharia law.
Major Companies Transaction
  • Dubai based developer Union Properties has acquired a 5.68% stake in Palm Hills Developments (PHD) as a part of an investment expansion and to diversify its income. It has acquired 16 million shares of PHD for a total value of 64 MM EGP (3.62 MM USD).
  • Arqaam Capital, the specialist emerging markets investment bank announced the appointment of Akhilesh Baveja as Lead Portfolio Manager in its Public Securities Asset Management Division, with responsibility for all equity strategies including the flagship Arqaam MENA Value Fund, which has had net returns of over 134% in the past five years. Akhilesh Baveja is widely regarded as one of the leading Fund Managers in the MENA equity space.
  • Arabian Cement Company (ACC) has received the approval on rescheduling 30.9 MM USD loan granted by the National Bank of Egypt (NBE). The loan was directed towards ACC production facility to manufacture high quality of cement. The company's recent financial results reaffirm its commitment to maintain a leading market position. The loan will be repaid on 15 quarterly installments at 2 MM USD each with a debt rate on foreign currencies of 5% above LIBOR Margin and the installments will be fully paid off by 1st of July 2021.
  • Emaar Misr for Development (EMD) announced signing two construction contracts worth a total of 2 BN EGP for the first phase of the Marassi Marina project with Arabian Construction Company (ACC). The second contract concluded with Orascom Construction Industries is worth 800 MM EGP.
  • Russia's Rosatom started the preparatory process for obtaining the necessary permits and licenses for the construction of the Dabaa nuclear power plant, the most important of which is the approval of the Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority (EAEA).
  • Some shareholders of construction giant Saudi Binladin Group (SBG) may transfer some of their shares to the government as part of a financial settlement with authorities.
  • Dubai Furniture Manufacturing Co LLC (DFMC) plans to open five more King Koil showrooms in the UAE and will be establishing a manufacturing facility in Riyadh along with exclusive company showrooms to cater for the growing market needs in Saudi Arabia.
Sports and Culture
  • Egypt forward Mohamed Salah was named African Footballer of the Year for 2017. Salah helped Egypt reach the African Nations Cup final and qualify for this year's World Cup.
  • The Saudi General Entertainment Authority (GEA) has launched a campaign for the mid-year school holiday under the theme "Don't think of traveling," providing 45 diverse events in 18 cities across the Kingdom running from 11th to 20th of January. The Events on the entertainment calendar for the mid-year holiday include plays, edutainment events and concerts, particularly in major cities including Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam.
  • The UAE carried on their dominating performance to emerge champions in the Asian Cricket Council Under-16 Western Region tournament being held in the UAE.
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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