Issue  No. 215
25 February 2019

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


       67.12 USD         1,331 USD


Economic Outlook
  • Saudi Arabia and China agreed to include the Chinese language as a curriculum at all stages of education in schools and universities across Saudi Arabia. Moreover, China sees "enormous potential" in Saudi Arabia economy and seeks more high-tech cooperation.
  • Saudi Arabia is seeking to be a global leader in the application of technology related to Artificial Intelligence (AI). This ambition extents foreign investments by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) and domestic initiatives by the government and private sector.
  • Egypt has issued 4 BN USD (70.14 BN EGP) in dollar denominated bonds which 750 MM USD in five-year bonds with a return of 6.2%, 1.75 BN USD in 10-year bonds with a return of 7.6% and 1.5 BN USD in 30-year bonds with a return of 8.7%.
  • Egypt plans to develop its ports in order to turn it to an international hub for transport and logistics industries that could cost over 4.05 BN USD (71 BN EGP).
  • UAE deposits rebounded to 297.6 BN AED (81 BN USD) in January 2019 compared to 293.9 BN AED (80 BN USD) in December 2018.
  • Dubai had 15.92 million overnight tourist visitors in 2018, up 0.8% from 2017, with tourist numbers from China increased 12% and from Nigeria 36%.
  • The Statistics Center of Abu Dhabi (SCAD) announced that Abu Dhabi inflation rate declined to 0.9% in January 2019, hitting the lowest level since 2016 compared to 1.2% in December 2018.
  • In Kuwait, the total bank deposits increased 3.2% y-o-y in December 2018, recording 43.5 BN KWD (143.16 BN USD). Private sector deposits reached 4.1% y-o-y in December 2018, while public deposits declined 1.8% y-o-y.
Political Events
  • Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi opened the two-day-Arab league-EU Summit in Sharm al-Sheikh, with the theme "Investment in stability", featuring the participation of presidents and ministries of foreign Affairs from 50 Arab and European countries.
  • India and Saudi Arabia have taken their bilateral relationship to new heights with a decision to set up a Strategic Partnership Council and hold a summit meeting every two years.
Major Companies Transaction
  • The African Development Bank (AfDB) has financed more than 100 projects in Egypt, and over the past decade, the bank has participated in funding 42 projects worth more than 2.5 BN USD (43.8 BN EGP). The bank current portfolio in Egypt reached 3 BN USD (52.6 BN EGP) distributed over 31 projects.
  • The financial results of Al Baraka Banking Group BSC (ABG), the leading Islamic banking group based in Bahrain, for the 2018 showed an increase in the net operating income by 4% and net income by 5% compared to 2017.
  • Golden Scent, the leading Saudi e-commerce beauty platform, is planning to centralize and expand their Middle East headquarters which is Dubai office and update and enhance in-app features for its two million users.
  • A consortium including Saudi-based Acwa, Japanese contractor Mitsui & Company and Bahrain industrial conglomerate Al Moayyed have won a major contract for the construction and operation of a 100 MW independent solar power plant in Bahrain.
  • Emirates NBD, a leading bank in the region was recognized for its efforts towards enhancing customers' banking experience at the recently held Gulf Customer Experience Awards.
  • Sharjah Islamic Bank (SIB) has approved a distribution of 8% cash dividends for the shareholders of the bank. This decision was taken after the bank posted 510.4 MM AED (138.9 MM USD) net profits in 2018 compared to 477.7 MM AED (130 MM USD) in 2017, up by 7%.
  • Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZA), an authority that regulates world-class free zones in Qatar, has identified 69 investment opportunities in partnership with Qatar Petroleum, under Qatar Petroleum's landmark Tawteen initiative launched in Doha.
Sports and Culture
  • Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale both scored from the penalty spot as Real Madrid recorded a 2-1 win over Levante entertaining La Liga clash at the Estadio Ciudad de Valencia. Madrid remain 3rd in the table but are now just 2 points off second-placed Atletico Madrid and 9 points behind leaders Barcelona with 13 league games left.
  • Egypt Housing Minister Assem Al-Gazzar announced the beginning of working on the administrative tower C02, or the 'Iconic Tower', in the New Administrative Capital's Central Business District, set to be the tallest tower in Africa.
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