Issue  No. 188
20 August 2018

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


       72.17 USD         1,188 USD


Economic Outlook
  • Egypt Minister of Petroleum, Tarek El Molla, announced that Egypt would begin exporting natural gas in January 2019 and it will be the beginning of gas self-sufficiency. Egypt aims to be a regional hub for the trade of liquefied natural gas (LNG) after a string of major discoveries in recent years including the giant Zohr offshore gas field which holds an estimated 30 trillion cubic feet of gas.
  • Egypt unemployment rate fell to 9.9% in Q2-2018, down from 11.98% compared to Q2-2017. The rate has been falling steadily in recent months amid a program of economic reforms.
  • The Central Bank of Egypt sold 610 MM EUR (690 MM USD) in one-year euro-denominated treasury bills to local and foreign financial institutions in an auction. The bills will mature on 20th of August of 2019. Appetite for Egypt domestic debt has grown since the central bank floated the pound currency in November 2016 as part of a 12 BN USD International Monetary Fund loan.
  • Saudi Arabia trade surplus registered a y-o-y increase of 160.7% reaching 61.34 BN SAR (16.36 BN USD) in June 2018, compared to 23.53 BN SAR (6.27 BN USD) in June 2017. Moreover, the merchandise trade increased 37.8% reaching 129.75 BN SAR (34.60 BN USD) in June 2018, compared to 94.18 BN SAR (25.12 BN USD) in June 2017.
  • Importing goods from Turkey, Pakistan, India and China have become cheaper by up to 80% due to the AED rising value compared to major emerging market currencies, hence benefitting consumers. AED has strengthened over 20% against the Pakistani rupee, 10.5% versus the Indian currency and 11.7% against the Chinese yuan. The Turkish lira has also declined massively against the dollar-pegged currencies, losing 80% in the past eight months in 2018.
  • UAE has witnessed growth in several sectors in the last few years, one of the sectors is tourism which contributed more than 9 BN AED to the total GDP of 102.5 BN AED, accounting for 8.8% of the tourism and travel sector contribution to GDP.
  • Trade between the UAE and Hong Kong fell to 4.7 BN USD (17.3 BN AED) in H1-2018 due to the decline in the trade of jewelry and precious metals. It is worthy to mention that pearls, precious and semi-precious stones accounted for 23% of Hong Kong exports to the UAE and jewelry accounted for 28.1% of Hong Kong imports from the UAE in H1-2018.
  • Qatar has the healthiest entrepreneurship ecosystem in the Arab world, according to the new Arab Competitiveness Report 2018 followed by UAE and Oman. Tunisia was the top performer in North Africa.
  • In Kuwait, the Civil Service Commission is forming a committee to follow up the implementation of the Civil Service Council resolution no. 11 of 2017 on the procedures for allocating Kuwaitis for government jobs to replace expats. The plan is to lay off 3,000 expatriates working for the government sector in 2018/2019 FY, as it is difficult to lay off all expatriates working in the government at once.
  • Kuwait current account reached its highest surplus in three years in Q1-2018, standing at 5.58 BN USD, or 17% of quarterly GDP. An increasing trade surplus and higher oil prices served to offset lower investment income and higher remittances. The country's trade surplus in Q1-2018 increased to 3.4 BN KWD (11.2 BN USD), compared to 2.3 BN KWD (7.58 BN USD) in Q4-2017, which the Central Bank of Kuwait attributes to higher oil receipts and non-oil exports.
  • Morocco annual consumer price inflation slowed to 2.1% y-o-y in July 2018 compared to 2.5% in June 2018. Food inflation stood at 1.8%, down from 3.1% in June 2018, while non-food inflation remained flat at 2.0%.
Political Events
  • About 800,000 people have been displaced and more than 350 have died in the worst flooding in a century in southern India's Kerala state. Rescuers are continuing to search for residents who are stranded in the worst-affected areas. The downpours that started on 8th of August have triggered floods and landslides and caused homes and bridges to collapse across Kerala.
  • The Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Mohammed Saleh, announced that there is no place for politics during Hajj. Saudi Arabia has no condition to impose on any muslim coming only to perform their Hajj rituals in peace. The conditions are only related to Allah, who ordered all capable Muslims to do their Hajj to the holy cities in peace and tranquility.
  • Egypt has shipped urgent humanitarian aid including medicine, blankets, tents, foodstuffs and engineering equipment following the torrential rain and heavy floods that killed five in Sudan. The aid was provided by the Ministries of Defense, Foreign Affairs, Health, Social Solidarity, and Agriculture, along with the Egyptian Red Crescent.


Major Companies Transaction
  • Telecom Egypt posted a 4% y-o-y growth in consolidated profits in Q2-2018, recording 1.28 BN EGP, compared to 1.23 BN EGP in Q2-2017. In H1-2018, the state-owned landline net profit fell 18.2% to 2.06 BN EGP compared to 2.52 BN EGP in H1-2017. On the other hand, the revenues increased to 10.12 BN EGP in H1-2018, compared to 8.73 BN EGP in H1-2017.
  • Orascom Investment Holding has turned to losses during H1-2018, reaching 141.2 MM EGP, against profits that amounted to 359.32 MM EGP in H1-2017. Operating revenues amounted to 823.5 MM EGP in H1-2018, compared to 716.5 MM EGP in H1-2017. It is worth noting that Orascom suffered a big loss which reached 121.5 MM EGP in Q1-2018, compared to 388.4 MM EGP net profits in Q1-2017.
  • President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is planning to offer shares on the stock market of a newly opened 1.1 BN USD cement plant. Sisi inaugurated the plant stressing that its annual capacity reaching 13 million tons, and a nearby ornamental stone production complex in Beni Suef province south of Cairo. The Beni Suef cement plant has six production lines and is owned by El Arish Cement Co, which also has another two production lines in North Sinai. Beni Suef projects are expected to generate up to 13,000 jobs.
  • The Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) provided new seven power transformer stations in the northern area with a total value of 2.1 BN SAR (560 MM USD) and capacity of 3613 Mega Volt Amp(MVA) to connect the north with the main power grid. The move aims to support the industrialization and mining projects in the city of Wa'ad Al-Shamaal.
  • Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC) has renewed an MoU with the Emirates Medical Association (EMA) and the Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau, a division of the Department of Culture and Tourism, to promote Abu Dhabi as a hub for world-class healthcare services and a global knowledge destination. It aims to increase the number of international medical conferences and congresses hosted in Abu Dhabi.
  • Nakheel, the master developer behind Dubai Palm Jumeirah, announced a net profit of 2.51 BN AED (683.5 MM USD) in H1-2018 accounting for 3.8% decline compared to 2.61 BN AED (711.17 MM USD) net profit in H1-2017.
  • Qatar sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), has increased its stake in Swiss Bank Credit Suisse to 5.21%. The economy of Qatar, the world's largest liquefied natural gas exporter, has largely weathered the sanctions, which initially prompted QIA to deposit billions of dollars in local banks to prevent them from suffering funding squeezes.
  • Kuwait Financial Centre "Markaz" announced its revenues reaching 8.77 MM KWD (28.89 MM USD) in H1-2018, an increase of 13.7% on a y-o-y basis. Management fees and commissions increased by 34.3% y-o-y to 4.26 MM KWD (14.04 MM USD) while net profit attributable to shareholders of parent company was 2.62 MM KWD (8.63 MM USD) for the period ending in H1-2018, at a margin of 29.9%.
  • Bahrain Islamic Bank (BisB) has achieved a net profit of 3.5 MM BHD (3.5 MM USD) in H1-2018 compared to 3.3 MM BHD (3.3 MM USD) in H1-2017 with an increase of 6%. BisB has achieved a total income of 20.5 MM BHD in H1-2018 compared to 20.6 MM BHD in H1-2017 with a decrease of 0.5%.


Sports and Culture
  • The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced that the White Desert National Park in the New Valley governorate would become the first Egyptian geological park to join UNESCO's World Heritage List. The White Desert became a natural park in 2002, with a total size of around 3,010 Km. The park is located 570 km away from south-west of Cairo and 45 km away from the Farafra Oasis.
  • Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services has launched the "Help Me" application, which is the first of its kind in the Arab region and aims to reduce the response time to emergencies.
  • Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has signed an agreement to be the official shirt and main sponsor and partner of the Riyadh-based, Saudi Stars League team, Al Nassr FC.
  • Saudi authorities officially announced that the total number of pilgrims performing Hajj this year has now surpassed two million, the majority from outside the Kingdom. The number includes 240,000 domestic pilgrims, both Saudis and foreign residents of the Kingdom.
_____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________
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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