Gulf In Focus

Qatar hurdles Covid-19 economic woes

Gulf: Despite the impact of Covid-19 on world economies, Qatar has managed to withstand the “most severe” pandemic-related economic challenges, according to Oxford Business Group (OBG) in its latest report.

“Thanks to pre-existing macroeconomic strengths, Qatar experienced the lowest GDP contraction in the GCC in 2020, aided by supportive fiscal and monetary measures for vulnerable sectors, and efforts to maintain robust supply chains for essential goods,” stated the new Covid-19 Response Report that OBG produced in partnership with retail chain LuLu Hypermarket.

Titled ‘Food Security in Qatar’, the report said Qatar’s economy is positioned for a strong rebound in 2021 as travel restrictions slowly ease and pent-up demand is released in the national and global economy.

“In turn, this should boost sales of consumer goods, including quality, locally produced food items. The recovery will be assisted by an efficient and effective national vaccination programme that is allowing for a gradual return to pre-pandemic normality,” the report said.

OBG also reported that GCC countries made concerted efforts to prevent pandemic-related food shortages.

“The disruption to global trade flows created by the pandemic posed significant food security challenges for the Gulf region, which is characterised by water scarcity and a lack of arable land.

“This underlined the need for GCC countries to accelerate existing food security programmes and priorities, as well as develop new solutions to more immediate challenges,” the report said.

Saudi Arabia looks for free trade agreement with 11 countries

Saudi Arabia is looking for more trading partners under free trade agreements as the country aims at increasing non-oil exports share in GDP.

The kingdom is resuming negotiations for free trade agreements with 11 countries, Okaz paper reported, citing a circular by the Federal of Saudi Chambers (FSC) to all chambers of commerce operating in the Kingdom, based on a directions of the General Authority for Foreign Trade (GAFT).

Target countries are China, India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Indonesia, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and the United States of America.

The Kingdom aims to export services including transport, distribution, professional and financial services, communication services, postal services as well as express mail, media, hotel, construction and contracting, education and training, travel and tourism, environmental, and entertainment.

Turkish contacts with UAE have made progress

Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, bitter rivals in the Middle East, have been in contact in recent months and have made some progress, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said after rare talks with a senior UAE official.

Erdoğan said on Wednesday he and UAE National Security Adviser Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan discussed investment in Turkey, adding that if the talks proceed well the United Arab Emirates would make “serious investments” in Turkey.

The Turkish president also said he was open to meeting the UAE’s de facto ruler, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Turkey and the UAE have supported opposing sides in regional disputes, including the conflict in Libya and the blockade of Qatar by several Arab states among other issues.

In a televised interview, Erdoğan said talks held with Abu Dhabi for the last couple of months and led by the Turkish intelligence had reached a certain stage.

Oman charity launches affordable housing project

Oman’s Nizwa Charitable Team has inaugurated the first project codenamed “Maskani” which included building the first housing unit for limited-income families.

The unit, equipped with necessary accessories and furniture, is built on a space of 208 sq m, with a cost of RO30,000 (approx. $78,000)for each house, reported Oman News Agency (ONA).

The inauguration ceremony was held under the patronage of Dr Khalfan Said al-Shuaili, Minister of Housing and Urban Planning.

Dubai’s Emirates to reinstate some employee allowances dropped after Covid-19 hit

Emirates airline will reinstate some employee allowances and perks removed last year when the pandemic brought air travel to a halt. Dubai’s flagship carrier will bring back the accommodation allowance for married couples and also increase annual leave entitlement to largely reverse the cuts made in October 2020, it said in a letter addressed to employees.

Emirates will increase the “salary increment opportunity” on promotion for core grades and also introduce an option to nominate five friends who can receive concessional tickets in Economy. These changes will come into effect from October 1, said the letter.

Sharjah’s publishing city free zone launches business setup package

Sharjah’s Publishing City free zone has introduced new licensing packages targeted at entrepreneurs and startup owners from Dh6,500. These one-off rates are available until September 5.

The‘Summer Entrepreneur Package’ is meant to sit easy on newly launched businesses wanting to keep their costs down. For Dh6,500, entrepreneurs can combine any two activities – service, commercial or e-commerce – under a one-year business license. Under Package 1, a single shareholder – with the option to upgrade available – will receive a stamped license, Memorandum of Association (MoA) document, and lease agreement.

No visa, however, will be granted. “World Entrepreneurs’ Day is an opportune moment to highlight SPC free zone’s efforts in expanding its outreach to aspiring entrepreneurs,” said Salim Omar Salim, Director. “We are also committed to building strong partnerships with all stakeholders to ensure the sustainability and success of their projects.”

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