Abu Dhabi could become ’The Fight Capital of the World’ - UFC President, Dana White…

Abu Dhabi could become ’The Fight Capital of the World’ - UFC President, Dana White…

UAE News:
BXB Sponsored UFC fighter, Amir Albazi, grabbed global media headlines in a stunning 1st round win at UFC Fight Island. UFC President, Dana White hails a ‘perfect’ series of events and claims that Abu Dhabi could become the Fight Capital of the World.
Inflation in Dubai declined by 3.44% in June (May: 3.49%), with transport costs and utilities prices dropped by 13.39% and 5.54% respectively. Meanwhile, food prices, education costs and tobacco prices increased by 3.49%, 1.87% and 15.96% respectively.
UAE’s oil exports weakened by 14.3% YoY to USD 49.64bn in 2019, as per OPEC’s (The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) Annual Statistical Bulletin. Overall, UAE accounted for 8.8% of OPEC’s total value of oil exports.
The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange expects one IPO before the year-end and listing of an ETF (Exchange-Traded Fund) potentially in August, according to its Chief Executive.
The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development is suspending debt service repayments of some developing countries and private businesses for a year; it applies to the instalments and interests from 1st January to 31st December this year.
The DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre) reported a 25% YoY increase in the number of firms operating from the free zone. Attracting 310 new firms in H1, of which 87 were FinTech firms (+74% YoY), the DIFC has a total of 820 financial firms.
The Jebel Ali Free Zone reported a growth of 10.6% YoY in the retail and e-commerce sector in the first 5 months of 2020.
Hotel occupancy rates in Abu Dhabi have edged up by 3% YoY in the first week of July, as hotels reopen after the lockdown; government support for the sector includes up to 20% rental rebates for restaurants, tourism and entertainment facilities, as well as a suspension of tourism and municipality fees this year.

MENA News:
The IMF (International Monetary Fund) downgraded growth rates in the MENA region: growth will decline by 5.7% this year, before rebounding to 3.4% in 2021. GCC growth rates will drop by 7.1% this year, with non-oil growth falling at 7.6%; fiscal deficit will rise to 10.5% this year, before easing to 8% of GDP next year. 
Bahrain’s government have exempt businesses affected (partially or fully) by COVID-19 from paying their monthly dues for 3 months (starting from 1st July) and also from paying fees levied on issuing/ renewing work permits in the 1st year of validity. Additionally, the government will pay 50% of the salaries of insured Bahrainis working in the private sector in 12 most adversely affected sectors for a period of three months, starting in July 2020.
Egypt plans to launch a 3-month initiative before end-July to support the consumption of local products: durable and non-durable goods will be provided at low prices, and those with ration cards will receive a further 10% discount (estimated to cost EGP 12bn during 2020-21).
Foreign investors are returning to Egypt: the market attracted USD 592mn in investments on 9th July, the largest daily level since the COVID-19 crisis and a further USD 367mn on 12th July. This follows the injection of USD 3bn worth investments in a month.
Jordan will reopen airports for commercial flights from a limited number of European and Asian destinations from the 1st or 2nd week of August, according to a spokesperson.
Kuwait banned visa transfer for expats from the private sector to the government sector; the decision made on 14th July excludes medical professionals, Palestinian nationals and those married to Kuwaiti citizens, children and wives.
A bill allowing up to 50% salary cuts in the private sector in Kuwait (while taking into account the actual work hours) was approved by the Educational, Cultural and Guidance Affairs Committee. Once approved by the Parliament, it will be implemented retroactively (from 12th March).
Lebanon’s advisers are working on a compromise on the government’s financial rescue plan such that it is acceptable to the IMF and also the various Lebanese counterparts. The IMF had earlier in the week warned that attempts to present lower losses could only delay recovery.
Oman will allow its citizens to travel abroad after they apply to the authorities and agree to quarantine on return; no specific dates were provided. Meanwhile, the two regions Dhofar and Masirah continue to be under lockdown.
Startups in Saudi Arabia raised USD 95mn from 45 deals in venture funding during H1 2020, up 102% YoY, according to a report from Magnitt and Saudi Venture Capital Company. Funding has already crossed that raised in 2019; e-commerce is the most active industry by both total funding (67%) and the number of deals (22%).
E-commerce transactions in Saudi Arabia posted a record 74% growth during March-April given the lockdown, with direct retail trade dropping by 30%, according to Saudi Payments. Retail sector growth has picked up by 38% MoM in June, with the easing of lockdown.
M&A transactions with any MENA involvement fell by 55% YoY to USD 50bn in H1 this year (though last year’s numbers included Aramco’s Sabic deal value) while the number of deals was down by 9% to a 3-year low.
The UN e-government index ranks 5 GCC nations among the top 50, with UAE ranked the highest at 21st globally (unchanged from last year), followed by Bahrain (38, down 12 ranks), Saudi Arabia (43, +9), Kuwait (46, -5) and Oman (50, +13). Qatar slipped 15 ranks to 66.

Global News:
Stock markets across the globe posted gains – S&P 500, Stoxx 600, FTSE 100 (The Financial Times Stock Exchange 100), MSCI (Morgan Stanley Capital International) All World Index – on expectations of further government stimulus as COVID-19 confirmed cases continue to rise. Regional markets were mostly down. Both WTI and Brent oil prices edged lower, trading at $40-$42/barrel range.

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SOURCE:
Nasser Saidi & Associates

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