Gulf In Focus

S&P expects weak tourism to weigh on Dubai economy until late 2022

Dubai is set for a “modest” recovery this year on the back of a high vaccination rate in the United Arab Emirates and limited COVID-19 restrictions, but weak international tourism will drag on the economy until late 2022, S&P Global Ratings said.

UAE the world’s fourth-best country to live and work

The UAE jumped 10 places to be ranked the fourth-best country in the world to live and work as an accelerated Covid-19 vaccine campaign and a rebounding economy attract more foreign workers to the country, according to a new study. Switzerland was ranked the best country to work and live globally, while Australia and New Zealand took second and third place, respectively. Guernsey and Jersey in the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, Bahrain, Singapore and Qatar rounded off the top 10, according to HSBC’s 14th annual Expat Explorer study, which polled more than 20,000 people who live and work abroad in 46 countries between March and May 2021. About 82 percent of residents surveyed in the UAE feel optimistic that life will be more stable and return to normal in the next 12 months despite the global pandemic, according to HSBC. In comparison, only 35 percent of respondents on average globally were optimistic about life returning to normal in the next 12 months, the survey found. Fifty-three percent of UAE respondents also expect an increase in their income and 57 percent are confident of a better work-life balance over the next year, HSBC said.

UAE’s industry minister leads key talks in Oman

Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, led an Emirati delegation to Oman on Monday to discuss efforts to bolster ties with one of the UAE’s biggest trading partners. Dr Al Jaber was joined by representatives from several government departments and private sector companies for high-level talks with Qais Al Yousef, Oman’s Minister of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion. Discussions focused on forging closer links at both government level and across the public sector, particularly in the areas of industry, advanced technology and quality infrastructure. Oman is one of the UAE’s top 10 trading partners, with trade between the countries reaching Dh172 billion ($46.83bn) from 2017 to 2020. Dr Al Jaber delivered the greetings of the UAE leadership to the leaders of the sultanate, emphasising the importance of the long-standing bonds between the two nations. Bilateral ties were first laid down by Sheikh Zayed, the Founding Father, and Sultan Qaboos. Dr Al Jaber said he looked forward to the opportunity to enhance co-operation in industry and advanced technology and pave the way for further investment.

India presses Qatar for delayed LNG

India, grappling with its worst power crisis in five years, has asked Qatar to expedite delivery of 58 delayed liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargoes, two sources familiar with the matter said. Asia’s third largest economy is suffering its worst power shortage since March 2016 due to a crippling coal shortage amid high global energy prices. Infrastructure maintenance at supplier Qatargas prevented it from delivering 50 LNG cargoes to India this year, the sources said, prompting India’s oil ministry last week to write a letter seeking delivery of those cargoes. The ministry is also seeking eight additional cargoes which were delayed last year at New Delhi’s request after COVID-induced lockdowns lowered demand for the super-cooled fuel, they said.

Bahrain’s investcorp sees India’s digital economy

Ubiquitous digital consumption, continued business model innovation by Indian entrepreneurs and the growing public market appetite are seen as the factors driving the transformation of India’s digital economy and opportunity for investors, including from the Middle East Investcorp, the Bahrain-based global alternative investment major, has predicted India to be the world’s fastest growing digital economy, estimated to reach a $1 trillion valuation by 2025 from $250 billion last year, fuelled by the country’s demographic advantage and rising incomes. The bullish outlook by Investcorp has the potential for a significant uptick in investments by Middle East-based sovereign and private equity funds into several new age sectors of the South Asian country in the near-to-mid term, experts said.

Kuwaiti politician introduces bill to tax remittances of foreign workers

A Kuwaiti politician has proposed legislation to impose a minimum 5 percent tax on remittances by foreign workers, according to local media reports. Member of Parliament Osama Al-Menawer introduced the bill on Thursday, which “mandates banks and financial institutions processing the remittances of expatriates to collect a tax on money transferred to other countries”, the Arab Times newspaper reported. “The Ministry of Finance shall specify the tax amount, which will not be lower than 5 percent if the transferred amount exceeds 50 percent of the annual income of the expatriate worker.” In 2018, the Kuwaiti government rejected a similar proposal after parliament’s financial and economic affairs committee voted to introduce a tax on remittances by non-citizens. Earlier this year, Mr Al-Menawer also introduced a similar bill to tax foreign workers on their remittances. Outward personal remittances from Kuwait dropped to 1.3 billion Kuwaiti dinars ($4.3bn) in the first quarter of this year, from 1.4bn dinars in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to Trading Economics, which quoted Central Bank of Kuwait data.

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