Issue  No. 176
21 May 2018

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


       78.94 USD         1,285 USD


Economic Outlook
  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved the payment of another 2 BN USD tranche of the 12 BN USD loan to Egypt as it undertakes tough economic reforms. The upcoming payment would bring the total amount paid so far to 8 BN USD.
  • Egypt GDP growth in Q3-2017/2018 fiscal year, has increased to 5.4% from 4.3% in the same period last year. This is the best growth rate in seven years. The Egyptian economy is currently gaining the fruits of the bold economic reform program implemented by the government.
  • CAPMAS declared that the unemployment rate in Egypt in Q1-2018 decreased by 1.4%, from 11.3% in Q4-2017 to 10.6% of the total labor force. It is worthy to mention that Q4-2018 witnessed both a decrease in the labor force and in the number of unemployed persons.
  • Dubai has been ranked the 28th expensive place for construction characterized by rising prices and growing competition for projects. The other two regional markets Muscat and Doha have been rated "cold" due to intense competition among contractors for very little work and reducing cost pressures. The construction costs in the UAE is 1,455 USD per square meter compared to 1,337 USD in Muscat and 2,416 USD in Doha.
  • The Federal Tax Authority (FTA) has set three requirements and procedures for UAE nationals to refund Value Added Tax (VAT) acquired on new residential units. Applicants must be UAE national, the monetary cost in question must be invested in the construction of a new residence, the residential unit must be for the applicant and their family; and finally, the VAT refund only includes the money spent on establishing the unit, such as the amounts paid as building materials.
  • Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has launched the construction of the 394 MM AED Shindagha Bridge Project, which features an iconic design based on the concept of the infinity signThe Shindagha Bridge is part of the 5.035 BN AED Shindagha Corridor Project extending 13 km along Sheikh Rashid Street as well as Al Mina, Al Khaleej and Cairo Streets.
  • Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) issued 1,848 new business licenses during April 2018 as the emirate remained a destination of choice for investment in diverse business sectors. The "Business Map" digital platform of DED saw 26,498 business registration and licensing transactions being completed during the month as economic diversification and competitiveness continued to strengthen the emirate's ability to sustain business growth.
  • Full time Omani nationals whose working in the private sector, are permitted to a minimum salary of 845 USD per month, based upon the Ministry of Manpower (MoM) decision issued number 222/2013 about five years ago. As for foreign expatriate workers, there is no ministerial decision highlighting the minimum wage in Oman. The new decision offers legal representation across a wide range of practice areas that include labor law, corporate, commercial, contracts and more.
  • The Lebanese finance minister Ali Hassan Khalil announced that the government has completed a 5.5 BN USD debt with the Central Bank, issuing Eurobonds to the central bank in exchange for Lebanese pound Treasury Bills. The ministry had secured its foreign currency financing needs until the end of 2018. Lebanon is considered the world's third most indebted nation after Japan and Greece, with a debt-to-GDP ratio of more than 150%.
Political Events
  • The Royal Saudi Air Defense detected two flying missiles launched from Sa'dah, Yemen, against Saudi Arabia, the two missiles were launched intentionally by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia to target densely populated civilian areas in Khamis Mushait, Saudi Arabia and one of them was intercepted and destroyed by the Royal Saudi Air Defense, while the other fell down in unpopulated desert area.
  • The Interior Ministry of Kuwait, has adopted the smart e-driving license project, including all information from the Public Authority for Civil Information (PACI) same as the e-passport authority. The ministry will be able to sign electronically on the data saved in the chip of the smart driving license to endorse it and protect it from manipulation or forgery.
  • The Embassy of the State of Palestine in Cairo confirmed the continued transfer of wounded protesters, shot by Israeli occupation forces, from the Gaza strip to hospitals in Cairo. Transferred Palestinians have been receiving treatment in Egyptian hospitals in Arish, Ismailia and Cairo governorates. The wounded are being transferred through the Rafah land crossing, where the medical team is headed by Dr. Araby Mohamed, undersecretary of the Egyptian Ministry of Health.
  • In Kuwait, the Ministry of Social Affairs Undersecretary Saad Al-Kharaz has called on governmental and private institutions concerned with human rights to coordinate their efforts in affirming the role of Kuwait in protecting the rights of expatriates, while praising the role of expatriates in the development of the country in all fields.
  • In Jordan, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Economic Affairs Jafar Hassan declared that the new amendments to Income Tax Law aim at serving taxpayers and "effectively" combating tax evasion. The government stressed that the draft law aims to realize "social justice and equality" and impose severe penalties on perpetrators of tax evasion.
Major Companies Transaction
  • Saudi Arabia and Japan SoftBank announced the world's biggest solar power generation 200-gigawatt project at a cost of 200 BN USD. It is the biggest sign of Saudi Arabia practical moves to prevent its economy off oil. The impacts of the "new Saudi oil" will be reflected in two key economic aspects: reduced domestic consumption of crude and the development of a source of energy parallel to the existing one.
  • Orascom Development Egypt net profits increased to 62.3 MM EGP in Q1-2018 compared to 31.8 MM EGP in Q1-2017.
  • Dr. Mansoor Al Awar, Chancellor of Hamdan bin Mohammed Smart University (HBMSU), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Egyptian Ministry of Telecommunications & Information Technology (MCIT), represented by the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) and the Library of Alexandria. These partnerships in support of UAE-Egypt efforts to develop educational, intellectual and cognitive output.
  • Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait (ABK) announced the opening of its Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) branch in the UAE. ABK is licensed by the Central Bank of Kuwait as a banking institution and operates in Kuwait, UAE and Egypt.
  • KPMG, a global network of professional services firms that provide Audit, Advisory and Tax services in Bahrain has recently launched a mobile application - "KPMG VAT Toolkit". The application aims to support businesses in Bahrain, understand the impact of VAT on the business.
Sports and Culture
  • Egyptian squash player Nour El Sherbini was crowned champion of the 2018 Allam British Open Squash. The World No. 1 El Sherbini won the title after defeating her compatriot World No. 2 Raneem El Welily in the final game by 3-0. The tough game lasted for 47 minutes.
  • Saudi Arabia is now ready to give driving licenses to women who have valid overseas license. Women in Saudi Arabia who have a foreign or international driving license recognized by the Kingdom will be exempted from the driving test for beginners.
  • The British Museum in London put on display Mo Salah's mint green football boots as part of its exhibition "Modern Egypt Exhibition", a trial exhibition that was launched in 2016 aiming to display different Egyptian pieces that together tell the story of the evolution of Egyptian society.
  • In a recent ceremony held by INJAZ Al Arab at the Annual MENA Training event in Jordan, INJAZ Bahrain for the second year in a row, won awards in areas of compliance, quality, collaboration and communication.
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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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