Gulf In Focus

DP World, Senegal sign agreement to develop Ndayane port

DP World, and the Government of Senegal, have signed agreements for the development of a deepwater port at Ndayane, approximately 50 kilometres (km) from the existing port and near the Blaise Diagne international airport.

The new port will further reinforce Dakar’s role as a major logistics hub and gateway to West and North-West Africa. It will also support the realisation of President, Macky Sall’s ambitious economic development plans for Senegal, the Plan Senegal Emergent (PSE).

DP World’s concession for the Port of Dakar, already includes a plan to develop a new container terminal alongside the existing container terminal.

However, after discussions between Sall and Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP World, it was agreed that it would be more appropriate for Senegal’s development to carry out a more ambitious project and build an entirely new port outside the city.

Tabreed acquires Aldar’s Saadiyat island district cooling for dh963m

Abu Dhabi’s Tabreed has bought the district cooling assets on Saadiyat Island from Aldar Properties, the master-developer, for Dh963 million. This is the second such deal Tabreed has had this year, having earlier this year bought a sizeable stake in the district cooling capacities at Dubai’s Downtown from Emaar.

Saadiyat hosts the Louvre Abu Dhabi, NYUAD and Manarat Al Saadiyat, as well as sprawling residential communities under the Aldar portfolio.

In fact, Aldar itself had purchased a 100 percent stake in Saadiyat District Cooling and an 85 percent stake in Saadiyat Cooling LLC (SCL) as part of a wider acquisition from another Abu Dhabi master-developer TDIC (Tourism Development and Investment Company) in 2018. Tabreed now picks up both these entities.

The financing of these will be done through the $500 million bond Tabreed issued in October, which has a seven-year tenor.

Dubai reinforces its status as global capital of Islamic economy

The success of Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre’s (DIEDC) initiatives reinforce the Islamic economy’s role as a key driver of the national economy and of Dubai, as a global capital of Islamic economy, according to Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Chairman of Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC).

The DIEDC recently held its fourth and final board meeting for 2020, and approved the Centre’s work plan for 2021.

“As the world begins to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and seeks lucrative and sustainable investment opportunities, we have the responsibility to leverage Dubai’s solid economic infrastructure and secure environment in making a positive change in the coming year,” said Al Mansouri.

While the UAE’s overall ranking among the top three countries in the Global Islamic Economy Indicator, DIEDC’s new strategies are expected to further reinforce its success.

Dubai duty free marks anniversary with dh70m in sales

Dubai Duty Free marked its 37th anniversary in style as it welcomed passengers travelling through Dubai with a special 25 percent discount on a wide range of merchandise over three days from December 18-20.

The 72 hours anniversary sale, which was also extended to its ‘Home Delivery’ customers, resulted in sales of Dh69.990 million ($19.175 million).

From a category point of view, perfumes was the highest selling category with sales of Dh17.613 million during the three-day period. Sales of cosmetics reached Dh8.179 million, while sales of watches topped Dh7.891 million. Sales of tickets for the Dubai Duty Free Millennium Millionaire and Finest Surprise promotions combined reached a staggering Dh7.373 million, making it the fifth most popular category.

Colm McLoughlin, executive vice chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, said: “We are happy to see such a positive result during our annual anniversary sale both in store and online. This is very much a ‘thank you’ to our customers and while there have been less travellers than usual at Dubai International Airport, it was great to see them respond to this special offer. I would like to thank everyone for marking this special occasion with us and a special thanks to our staff, who did a great job in serving the passengers and online customers alike.”

UAE corporates, tech startups team up

Dubai Startup Hub, an initiative of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has announced the successful conclusion of the fourth cohort of Market Access, which saw seven innovative tech startups announce collaborations with leading UAE corporates and entities on new pilot projects.

The fourth cohort attracted submissions from 76 startups, 36 percent of which came from UAE, while 64 percent of applications came from other countries, such as India, Egypt and Israel, among others.

During a business pitching and matchmaking event held December 10th-December 13th, Sumitomo Corporation, Emirates Post Group, and Accenture announced plans to collaborate with seven startups on projects that will develop solutions in the areas of travel technology, health security, robotic process automation, customer relationship management and IoT enabled technologies to control water usage and temperature.

Emirates Post Group will collaborate with Quickwork Technologies, a middleware company supporting businesses with digital transformation and IN-D AI, a provider of AI apps that automate document reading, data extraction and data classification.

Accenture selected Verismart, an identity blockchain platform for airports; and WideBot, an Arabic chatbot builder; and Naurt, a provider of navigation tracking software, to work on upcoming projects.

UAE’s GDP to grow 3.6pc in 2021: Central Bank

The UAE’s non-oil gross domestic product is expected to grow by 3.6 percent in 2021, state news agency Wam reported on Saturday citing central bank estimates, suggesting the economy will rebound from an expected contraction in 2020.

The Central Bank of the UAE, in its second-quarter report on the economy, had recently said the non-oil economy was projected to contract 4.5 percent for 2020 as a whole due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Total packages worth Dh388 billion ($105.6 billion) have been announced to support the economy.

The report comes as the committee responsible for the coordination and follow up of the implementation of the UAE’s economic recovery plan held its second meeting on Saturday, in which it reviewed the progress in the 15 initiatives of the first phase, revealing that 46 percent of implementations has been completed so far.

Major initiatives have been enacted to date, including amendments to the bankruptcy law, allocation of grants and incentives to tourism establishments, promotion of foreign direct investment through amendments to the commercial companies law, amendments to the commercial transactions law and the decriminalization of cheques without balance, reduction of fees and taxes on the tourism sector, enhancing the flexibility of labour market, the comprehensive targeted economic support plan directed by the central bank to enhance liquidity in the financial and banking sector in the country.

UAE GDP expected back at pre-covid levels by 2023

The UAE’s real gross domestic product is expected to recover to 2019 levels by 2023 as a sharp drop in tourism and real estate activities — two key mainstays of the non-oil sector — will drag down the economy in 2020, according to economists and analysts.

The $414 billion UAE economy, dominated by Abu Dhabi (59 percent of 2019 GDP) and Dubai (28 percent), has been projected to contract 6.6 percent in 2020 followed by a slight rebound of 1.3 percent in 2021 by the International Monetary Fund.

The Washington-based Institute of International Finance, meanwhile, expects the UAE to experience a contraction of 5.7 percent in 2020, followed by a modest recovery of 3.1 percent in 2021.

S&P Global Ratings said in a recent report that Abu Dhabi can expect a gradual economic recovery from 2021, but with real GDP only to recover to close to 2019 levels by 2023.

“Hydrocarbon sector production will be boosted from 2022 as Opec+ oil production limits are lifted and new gas production comes on stream. Non-oil sector recovery will be driven by public investment in manufacturing particularly petrochemicals, logistics, and construction,” Trevor Cullinan, director at S&P Sovereign Ratings, wrote.

The report noted that because of Opec+ cuts, Abu Dhabi’s oil production will decline to an average 2.8 million bpd in 2020, from 3.1 million in 2019. Non-oil sectors such as real estate, trade, retail and hospitality will contract sharply this year.

UAE has best credit rating in region: Sheikh Mohammed

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, welcomed the AA2 rating of the federal government by the international rating agency Moody’s, declaring it as the highest sovereign rating in the region.

Taking to Twitter on Wednesday, Sheikh Mohammed said the UAE has been assigned the best credit rating in the region with a stable outlook for its creditworthiness, thanks to the nation’s “interior stability, wise financial policies, strong international relations and well-established economic diversification”.

“This is a new achievement we add to the year 2020 before it ends,” Sheikh Mohammed noted.

Economists and analysts greeted the latest rating as another testament to the success of the country’s financial and economic vision and policies, and the strength and stability of its economic, financial and credit sectors.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, said the new classification reflects “the strength and resilience of the country’s economy and its ability to overcome various challenges,” especially in light of the exceptional circumstances that the world is witnessing due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sheikh Hamdan noted that this rating has proved beyond any doubt the solid foundations of the nation’s public finances. He affirmed the success and effectiveness of the proactive policies and measures taken by the federal government to deal with the effects of the pandemic, to continue achieving economic targets and pushing forward comprehensive and sustainable development, making the UAE a model to be followed globally.

Saudi Arabia announces 2021 budget with sr141 billion deficit

Saudi Arabia announced a 990 billion riyal ($263.91 billion) budget for 2021 on Tuesday, around 7 percent less than estimated for this year, as the world’s biggest oil exporter seeks to tame a huge deficit caused by lower petroleum revenues and extra spending on the coronavirus crisis.

The Kingdom expects to post a deficit of 298 billion riyals this year, or 12 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), and 141 billion riyals or 4.9 percent of GDP next year, according to a budget statement.

The finance ministry said the budget reflected “the ability to adopt appropriate policies to balance between growth, economic stability and fiscal sustainability in the medium and long term.”

Saudi Arabia expects the economy to shrink by 3.7 percent this year but to swing back to a 3.2 percent growth next year.

Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al Jadaan said in a press conference that most economic sectors had started to recover from the pandemic’s impact in the second half of this year.

Brent crude oil prices have rebounded since plunging to a more than 20-year low in April, but at around $50 per barrel they are significantly below the $67.9 per barrel that Saudi Arabia would need to balance its budget next year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Saudi Arabia expects public debt to increase to 937 billion riyals next year from 854 billion riyals this year.

Government reserves at the Saudi central bank are expected to drop to 280 billion riyals next year from an estimated 346 billion this year, the finance ministry said.

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