Issue  No. 249
28 October 2019

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


       62.02 USD         1,506 USD


Economic Outlook
  • Egypt jumped six spots to rank 114th out of 190 countries in the World Bank Group's 2020 Ease of Doing Business report, up from 120th in 2018. The country's score increased to 60.1 from 58.56.
  • The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) will issue treasury bills (T-bills) worth 18.75 BN EGP on behalf of the Ministry of Finance (MoF). The first tranche of the T-bills amounts to 9.25 BN EGP and will be offered through 91-day notes, while the second tranche will be offered through 273-day notes valued at 9.5 BN EGP.
  • The CBE is expected to cut interest rates by 2% by 2020, according to a report released by Fitch Solutions. The reduction of interesting rates will decrease the cost of finance for local companies which support commercial loans.
  • The unemployment rate in Egypt reached its lowest level in 30 years in Q2-2019, recording 7.5% and this was due to launching 9,039 projects between July 2014 and December 2018 with a total cost of 2.1 TR EGP.
  • Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), which is responsible for increasing investments and supporting businesses in the kingdom, has issued 558 licenses in H1-2019, which is an 85% increase compared to H1-2018.
  • Saudi Arabians owe 16.72 BN SAR (4.46 BN USD) on their credit cards in Q2-2019, a 6.96% increase from Q1-2019 and a 19.25% increase compared to Q2-2018.
  • S&P Global Ratings affirmed its 'BBB+/A-2' long- and short-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings for the Emirate of Sharjah, with a stable outlook. Sharjah economy is expected to expand steadily by about 2% from 2019 to 2022, with moderate debt and interest burdens.
  • Dubai non-oil foreign trade grew by 5% y-o-y in H1-2019, recording 676 BN AED (180.2 BN USD). Exports surged 17% y-o-y to reach 76 BN AED (20.2 BN USD) in H1-2019 and imports increased by 4% y-o-y to 390 BN AED (103.9 BN USD).
  • The Kuwaiti trade surplus with Japan increased by 9.2% y-o-y to 469.90 MM USD in September 2019 compared to 430.31 MM USD. The rise in the annual trade surplus was backed by lower imports from Japan by 21% at 129.57 MM USD in September 2019 compared to 163.89 MM USD in September 2018.
Political Events
  • The Ministry of Haj and Umrah of Saudi Arabia launched a new visa, which allows citizens and expatriates to host people under their personal sponsorship for up to 90 days, will be available within the coming days. Under this visa system, a citizen or expatriate can host from three to five Umrah pilgrims.
  • In Egypt, Dar al-Iftaa Observatory warned families not to allow children to use the TikTok application, also known as Douyin, as it is used by accounts promoting terrorist organizations and showcases recordings involving graphic scenes of murder and dead bodies.
Major Companies Transaction
  • Pioneers Holding Company for Financial Investment has set up a new company named "ALNOUR PHARMA", with an initial capital of 1 MM EGP (61,971 USD), with investments expected to reach 1 BN EGP (61.9 MM USD). The new company will be 60% owned by Pioneers Holding, while the remaining 40% will be owned by a group of pharmaceutical experts.
  • Spanish startup Glovo is targeting 50% of the online delivery market in Egypt within 18 months and intends to invest 5.5 MM USD during the coming period. Noting that the company's market share in Egypt is now 21%.
  • Raya Holding for Financial Investment (Raya Holding) announced that three of its subsidiaries plan to issue securitisation bonds worth 500 MM EGP (30.98 MM USD) in collaboration with the Commercial International Bank (CIB) and the National Bank of Egypt (NBE) that will act as co-managers of the transaction.
  • Juhayna Food Industries posted an 18.6% y-o-y profit decline in the first nine months of 2019 reaching 291 MM EGP (18 MM USD) compared to 357.5 MM EGP (22.15 MM USD) in the same period last year, including minority shareholders' rights.
  • Leading private sector education provider Cairo for Real Estate and Investment (CIRA) will invest 110 MM EGP (6.8 MM USD) in 2019/2020 in two projects in New Mansoura and Assiut.
  • Riyad Bank net profits increased by 59.3% to 1.5 BN SAR (399.9 MM USD) in Q3-2019, compared to 945 MM SAR (251.9 MM USD) in Q3-2018. Noting that net income was higher because of increase in total operating income by 21.1%.
  • Smart Dubai has signed an MoU with real estate portal Property Finder in order to promote the use of advanced technologies in the real estate sector. The two parties will collaborate to demonstrate the value from public and private sector data assets through the creation of advanced real estate data products.
  • Qatar Commercial Bank, the country's third-largest bank by assets, continued to classify its shares in Abu Dhabi-listed United Arab Bank (UAB) as an "asset held for sale" in order to sell its 40% stake.
  • Twenty-one Jordanian companies are scheduled to take part in three exhibitions featuring food industries, trademarks, licensing, packing, machinery and manufacturing, which will start tomorrow in Dubai.
  • Al Imtiaz Investment Group announced that its 50.69% owned subsidiary won a tender that will cover the import of main and secondary heavy equipment for Kuwait Gulf Oil Company. The five-year tender is valued at 11.49 MM KWD (37.8 MM USD).

Sports and Culture
  • Cairo has been ranked as the third must-see city in 2020 in Lonely Planet's annual best in travel lists. Lonely Planet noted that Cairo was selected for the soon-to-be-opened Grand Egyptian Museum, and the newly inaugurated Sphinx Airport that will allow easier access to the Red Sea and Luxor for visitors from abroad.
  • The Space Discovery event was inaugurated in Riyadh last Thursday. Visitors will have a unique space experience, and discover many high-resolution space models of astronauts, and more than 300 historical pieces from NASA. It is scheduled to continue for a week until Thursday, Oct. 31.
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