LD Export Gulf States news

New orders drive Dubai non-oil sector output in July

Dubai’s non-oil private sector recorded continued improvement during July, stimulated by a further expansion in new orders, while business confidence remained strongly positive, according to the latest Emirates NBD Dubai Economy Tracker.

The seasonally adjusted Emirates NBD Dubai Economy Tracker Index – a composite indicator designed to give an accurate overview of operating conditions in the non-oil private sector economy – registered 54.9 in July, down from 56.0 in June. The figure indicated a slower expansion in Dubai’s private sector that was below the long-run average.

At the sector level, construction companies reported the sharpest growth in July (56.9), followed by wholesale & retail (56.3) and travel & tourism (54.5) respectively. However, all three sectors posted softer growth in July relative to June.

A reading of below 50.0 indicates that the non-oil private sector economy is generally declining; above 50.0, that it is generally expanding. A reading of 50.0 signals no change.

The survey covers the Dubai non-oil private sector economy, with additional sector data published for travel & tourism, wholesale & retail and construction.

Key findings

•    Output growth eases to three-month low, but remains solid overall
•    Firms continue to stimulate client demand through price discounting
•    Job creation ticks up, led by the construction sector, but remains relatively subdued by historical standards

Business activity and employment

Business activity increased once again in July, although the rate of expansion eased to a three-month low.  Companies that reported higher output frequently linked the increase to stronger inflows of new business.

Reflecting increased output requirements, firms hired additional staff in Dubai’s private sector. The rate of growth accelerated in July, but remained weak in the context of historical data.

Incoming new work and business activity expectations

Private sector businesses in Dubai reported a sharp improvement in incoming new work during July amid reports of robust domestic client demand and promotional activity. Construction companies reported the strongest expansion in new order books.

Business activity expectations remained strongly optimistic, despite easing to a three-month low in July. Companies pinned hopes on new projects relating to Expo 2020 and successful marketing efforts.

Input costs and average prices charged

Input price inflation across Dubai’s private sector accelerated to a three-month high in the latest survey. The rate of inflation was marked overall, reflecting higher wage and raw material costs.

Promotional activity led to the greatest fall in selling prices across the private sector since January 2017. Price discounting has been recorded for three months running. – TradeArabia News Service

Saudi Arabia freezes new trade ties with Canada – is it a chance for Europe?

Saudi Arabia has suspended new trade and investment transactions with Canada and declared the ambassador of Canada persona non grata, ordering him to leave in 24 hours.
The kingdom is also recalling its ambassador to Ottawa “while retaining its right to take further action,” a Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement published by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.
The ministry said it has told the Canadian foreign minister and the embassy in Riyadh of its objection to their interference in the case of “civil society activists” who were arrested in the kingdom.
The statement said: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been made aware of the statement by the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Canadian Embassy in the kingdom, on the so-called civil society activists who have been detained, urging Saudi authorities to release them immediately.
“The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs has expressed disbelief by this negative unfounded comment, which was not based in any accurate or true information. The persons referred to were lawfully detained by the Public Prosecution for committing crimes punishable by applicable law, which also guaranteed the detainees’ rights and provided them with due process during the investigation and trial.”
The ministry said the Canadian statement is a blatant interference in the kingdom’s domestic affairs, against basic international norms and all international protocols. It is a major, unacceptable affront to the kingdom’s laws and judicial process, as well as a violation of the kingdom’s sovereignty, it said.
It said Saudi Arabia has never accepted any interference in its domestic affairs by, or orders from any country. The kingdom views the Canadian position as an affront to the kingdom that requires a sharp response to prevent any party from attempting to meddle with Saudi sovereignty. It is quite unfortunate to see the phrase “immediate release” in the Canadian statement, which is a reprehensible and unacceptable use of language between sovereign states, it continued.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – whilst expressing absolute rejection to the Canadian political stand regarding this matter – confirms its commitment to refrain from intervening in the internal matters of other countries, including Canada, and in return categorically rejects any intervention in its domestic affairs and internal relations with its citizens. Any further step from the Canadian side in that direction will be considered as an acknowledgement of our right to interfere in the Canadian domestic affairs,” it warned.
“Canada and all other nations need to know that they can’t claim to be more concerned than the kingdom over its own citizens. Thereby, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia recalls the Ambassador of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques in Canada back to Riyadh for consultation and considers the Canadian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia as persona-non-grata who must leave the kingdom within the next 24 hours,” the statement said.
The kingdom will put on hold all new business and investment transactions with Canada while retaining its right to take further action, it added.


Source: http://www.tradearabia.com/news/MISC_343710.html

UAE patients have the best access to healthcare in the Middle East

Patients in the UAE have the best access to healthcare in the Middle East as the country rolls out mandatory medical insurance and harnesses new technology for disease treatment.

The UAE earned the highest regional score on the Middle East Healthcare Access Index compiled by BMI Research, a unit of Fitch group, according to a report released on Friday. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman followed while Iraq trailed the list with the lowest score.

“Advanced healthcare systems and compulsory health insurance in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and the continuous adoption of new technologies in the healthcare system will support the UAE’s position,” the report said.

“Innovation in clinical services and the use of new technologies in disease diagnosis and treatment will drive a more patient-centric healthcare system.”

Spending on health care in the Arabian Gulf is projected to grow at an average of 6.6 per cent annually to $104.6 billion (Dh384.2bn) in 2022 from an estimated $76.1bn in 2017, according to a March report by Alpen Capital.

An expanding population, high prevalence of non-communicable disease, rising cost of treatment and increasing availability of health insurance are the main factors driving growth.

The BMI report found that new technologies including 3D printing, artificial intelligence, advanced robotic surgeries and virtual reality will support disease management and treatment in the UAE.

The UAE and Oman are expected to record the highest growth rates in healthcare spending between 2017 and 2022 at 9.6 per cent and 9.1 per cent respectively, according to Alpen Capital.

A fast-growing population, mandatory health insurance and above-average medical inflation rates will contribute to their higher levels of spending compared to Gulf peers.


Source: https://www.thenational.ae/business/economy/uae-patients-have-the-best-access-to-healthcare-in-the-middle-east-bmi-says-1.754696

Oman to spearhead GCC’s retail industry growth

Oman’s retail sector is well placed to take advantage of the influx of tourists in the country, as well as shifting lifestyle dynamics from its residents.


More than 6.2 million sq m of retail development are expected to take up significant spaces across the GCC countries within the next five years, according to a recent report from Alpen Capital, a leading investment group.

The report pointed out that the retail market is poised to hit as much as $313 billion by 2021 and will be a major contributor to the region’s non-oil economic development.

The market confidence in Oman is hugely attributed to the country’s soaring economic growth, projected to rise to 2.9 per cent this year from 1.1 per cent in 2017.

Among the GCC countries, Oman is seen as the fastest growing economy with tourism being one of the key components as arrivals are expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 13 per cent between 2018 and 2021, according to a report by Colliers International.

Retail space expansion has been going on in recent years as major developers flock the sultanate to set up shops, mostly from pan-GCC retailers and large-scale malls taking up new spaces in cities such as Muscat, Sohar and Nizwa.

CBRE has reported that in 2015, more than 100,000 sq m of facilities were delivered and many more new developments are coming up in the next few years.

Shaikh Raid Bin Abdullah Al Araimi, the vice chairman, Al Raid Group, said: “One can owe the success of Oman’s retail sector to the country’s economic diversification strategy which focuses on retail and tourism as among the key drivers for growth.”

“We are keen to support the country’s move and we have witnessed the government’s efforts in moving towards the sector’s further expansion. Our major projects in the retail sector seek to be innovative are uniquely designed to bring about a combined retail and leisure experience to mall visitors,” he noted.

Al Raid Group’s latest project, the Al Araimi Boulevard (ABLVD) presents a strong product offering amidst a growing number of mall developers from across the region entering the market.

Retail trends show that consumers are constantly evolving and seeking for new avenues of expression which makes a closer understanding of the local market a clear advantage.

The group’s massive retail and fashion complex is carefully designed to seamlessly blend natural greeneries and treasure troves into the architectural design, said the top official.

“The retail race in Oman is on and indeed, it is attracting the region’s attention as many investments are flowing into the local market,” noted Shaikh Raid.

“We are confident that innovation is a key factor that developers should always consider in order to prosper in the sector and gain market advantage. Oman’s retail story is still being written and we are keen to make it a continuing success story in the years to come,” he added.

Source: http://www.constructionweekonline.com/article-49904-omans-primed-for-retail-boom/

Kuwait’s warehousing market set for positive incline

Kuwait warehousing market is expected to register positive CAGR of around 10.1 per cent from 2017-2022, with growth in imports of dairy products, food items, fruits and vegetables and planned capital expenditure in warehousing space expansion, said Ken Research, a global market research firm

Ken Research’s latest publication titled “Kuwait Warehousing Market Outlook to 2022 – by Business Model (Industrial Freight/ Retail, Container Freight, Cold Storage, Agricultural Warehousing) by End Users (Food and Beverages, Chemicals, Electronics, Pharmaceuticals, E-Commerce, Consumer Durables and Others).”

As private sector logistics services providers manage a significant part of the supply of inland warehousing space in Kuwait, providing connectivity between the ports and these warehouses can help address the demand to an extent, said Ken Research.

Kuwait’s upcoming Mubarak Al Kabir Port Phase II is expected to provide impetus to additional port warehousing capacity. Warehousing space is also expected to be increased through projects such as the planned Cargo City which will cater to air cargo.

Sulabiya, Shuwaikh and Mina Abdullah are the regions which have the maximum concentration of warehouses in Kuwait due to easy connectivity with the seaports. Shuwaikh port is the cluster of industrial and retail freight. The logistics companies specialised in this segment include Agility and DHL, APL Logistics, Dolphin, KGL Logistics and many others.

The warehousing market has inclined over the years with an increase in demand for fresh fruits and vegetables and frozen food. The surge in FMCG sector has also impacted the market in a positive manner. The companies owning warehouses have also attributed to the industry such as DHL with one warehouse, Dolphin with two warehouses and UAGSCO with four warehouses.

Demand for closed warehouses has also increased significantly in Kuwait due to the climate temperature that prevails on an average 36.7-degree Celsius.

In addition, with Kuwait import-export business stabilising recently, it has enabled the industry to handle more cargo shipments. This is expected to drive the requirement for import-based warehousing. The sector is also set for capacity expansion, tie-ups with e-commerce players and mainstream application of innovative technologies in the industry.


Source: http://www.technicalreviewmiddleeast.com/logistics/logistics/kuwait-s-warehousing-market-set-for-positive-incline

Lifting the Ban on Women Driving in Saudi Arabia Results in Economic Benefits

After a prolonged debate over allowing women to drive cars in Saudi Arabia, finally the matter was put to rest on June 24 following a royal decree that was issued last year by King Salman. This has finally brought to an end a controversial social issue.

Allowing women to drive in Saudi Arabia is considered to be a major step forward, not only socially but also financially, since it is expected to reflect positively on the Kingdom’s economy and Saudi families’ spending power and habits.

On the economic side, it is expected that the number of Saudi women participating in the labor market will increase since one of the most critical issues hindering them previously was the limited availability of public transportation, especially those which are suitable for women’s needs.

Increasing Saudi women’s participation in the labor market will help in achieving one of the most important goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which is to increase Saudi women’s participation in the market to 30 percent, up from 22 percent in 2016. It will also help reduce the unemployment rate among Saudi women, which has reached a record high of 33 percent.

It is expected that, by lifting the ban on women driving in the Kingdom, the number of foreign chauffeurs will go down by about 30 percent, or close to 400,000 from a total of 1.3 million foreign drivers who are currently working in Saudi Arabia.

The drop in the number of foreign chauffeurs will reflect positively on the amount of money transferred out of the Kingdom since it is expected to reduce foreign transfers by more than SR5 billion ($1.3 billion) annually, which in turn will reflect positively on the balance of payments.


Families living in Saudi Arabia also will benefit from women being allowed to drive, since it will reduce the amount of money paid to recruit foreign chauffeurs, which amounts to SR33 billion annually. Such savings can be redirected and spent on basic needs and necessities.

On the microeconomic level, a number of sectors in the Kingdom will also benefit from women being allowed to drive, such as car sales, which are expected to increase by about 145 percent to reach SR108 billion by 2022 from SR44 billion in 2017, according to one economist. The insurance industry and other businesses — such as spare parts sales and auto repair workshops — are also expected to benefit.

In short, the decision to allow women to drive cars in Saudi Arabia is a very wise one, since it is expected to reflect positively on both the Saudi economy and society at large.


Source: https://www.albawaba.com/business/car-imports-soar-saudi-arabia-due-lifting-ban-women-driving-1159250

Saudi: Mega tourism project to boost heritage & culture

Saudi Arabia has started work on its mega heritage tourism project Souq Okaz City in Taif, expected to eventually cost more than $2bn.

It will be developed in coordination between the public and private sector, with the latter expected to account for 89 per cent of the investment, according to the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH).

The new city will have heritage centers, museums, recreational areas and a convention center. It will create more than 15,000 jobs, with 80 percent of them on offer to young Saudis.

Souq Okaz City will also have a suburb with housing for about 750,000 people; a new international airport able to handle 5 million passengers a year in its first phase; a technology hub implemented by King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology; Taif University; and an industrial city.

The plans include five main public-sector projects: Interactive museums focusing on learning through recreation; an Okaz Museum; an exhibition and convention center offering multi-purpose halls in which to host activities, festivals, heritage events, poetry and theater fairs throughout the year; a museum for the Souq Okaz monuments next to an artisanal creative center; and Okaz park.

The 18 main projects earmarked for the private sector include recreational parks, heritage villages, open markets, hotels, environmental camps, shopping malls, hospitals and medical centers, business centers, a social club, international schools, health clubs, sports facilities and tourist accommodation.

Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, governor of Makkah and adviser to King Salman, laid the foundation of the new project during celebrations for the opening of the 12th annual Souq Okaz.

The city is part of the National Transformation Program and is one of the main projects of the High Committee for Taif Development, and of the Two Holy Mosques program.


Source: http://www.gulf-insider.com/saudi-mega-tourism-project-boost-heritage-culture/


Healthcare sector: Saudi health ministry to establish holding companies

Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry will establish a holding company and five regional companies under plans to privatise the healthcare sector, according to reports.

The kingdom unveiled plans to allow full foreign ownership in the health and education sectors in August under which the ministry will become a “regulator and not a service provider anymore” Ibrahim al-Omar, governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), said at the time.


Arabic newspaper Al-Madina cited a source as confirming the plans, which will see 15 hospitals and 100 primary healthcare centre managed under the holdings companies by the end of 2018.

These companies will then compete with each other to provide better quality care.

“Every company will manage a cluster of hospitals and health centers with the same efficiency and standards like the private sector,” the source was quoted as saying.

The kingdom eventually plans to privatize 290 hospitals and 2,300 primary health centres by 2030.

Separately the ministry is working on the first phase of an electronic health programme that will link all primary health centres, pharmacies and public and private hospitals.

The first phase includes 107 hospitals. Later phases will reach all 290 hospitals in the country.

The kingdom eventually plans to create electronic health files for all patients.

Spending on healthcare is estimated to take up 7 per cent of the kingdom’s budget.


Source: http://gulfbusiness.com/saudi-health-ministry-holding-companies-manage-hospitals/

New, tremendous construction project in Oman worth $13bn

Oman Tourism Development Company (Omran) and Majid Al Futtaim have entered a partnership to develop an OR5-billion ($13 billion) mixed-use community, the sultanate’s largest urban development project that will create a new downtown area for the Muscat capital district.



Oman Tourism Development Company (Omran), the executive arm of the Government of Oman for the development of the tourism sector and Majid Al Futtaim, a leading shopping mall, communities, retail and leisure pioneer across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, today announced a strategic partnership to develop the western area of Madinat Al Irfan in Muscat, Oman.

The joint venture will see the development of a vibrant mixed-use community that will serve as the new urban centre for Muscat. The announcement was made at a signing ceremony and joint press conference today at the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre in Muscat, which was attended by members of the royal family, high-level government officials and senior leadership of Omran and Majid Al Futtaim.

Madinat Al Irfan is the sultanate’s largest urban development project and is set to contribute to Oman Vision 2040.The eastern area currently being developed by Omran sits alongside Wadi Park just minutes from the newly opened Muscat International Airport. It is a multi-use district adjoining the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre (OCEC), a world- class venue for international conferences, trade shows and concerts.

The new mixed-use community is located at the western area of Madinat Al Irfan and spans over 4.5 million sq m. The joint venture project investment value is estimated at OR5 billion over a period of 20 years and is anticipated to create more than 30,000 direct and indirect jobs in the country. Centrally located in Muscat’s urban corridor, the development will become the gateway to Oman, creating a modern downtown for residents, businesses and visitors.

Dr Ali bin Masoud Al-Sunaidy, chairman of Omran, stated: “The development of Madinat Al Irfan is a great addition to Muscat and reflects the vision of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said to diversify the Omani economy. The benefits to the local economy and tourism are already being realized, but it will also bring great economic and social benefit to the whole of the Sultanate. The overall scale of the project is unprecedented and directly aligns with the government’s vision to invest in sustainable developments to strengthen and diversify the economy of Oman for the future generations.”

Peter Walichnowski, CEO of Omran, commented: “In the heart of Muscat, Madinat Al Irfan is Oman’s largest urban development which exemplifies Omran’s leading role in fueling expansion of the country’s tourism and real estate infrastructure, setting the benchmark for future sustainable urban lifestyle developments across the sultanate. This is another important step forward in the transformation of Muscat’s real estate and tourism offering towards setting a new international benchmark for urban development living. Using the most innovative and sustainable development and business partnership approaches, while remaining true to Oman’s unique and rich cultural heritage – Madinat Al Irfan is fast becoming a key catalyst for economic and social growth and opportunities. When you look at what is being achieved here, I truly believe this is the most exciting urban development in the Gulf region today – and today’s partnership with Majid Al Futtaim is key to this.”

Upon completion in three key stages, Madinat Al Irfan will feature more than 11,000 residential units comprising villas, townhouses and apartments, 100,000 sq m of retail space, 700,000 sq m of office space, as well as a number of cultural and lifestyle offerings. The development will serve as an integrated, sustainable and inclusive community, true to the values of Omani society. It will cater to all segments of the local community, providing a model for future urban developments, not just locally, but across the region. It will create a new urban lifestyle not yet seen in the sultanate.


Source: http://www.tradearabia.com/news/CONS_342208.html

Lulu is the top brand for millennials, while Carrefour is preferred among those 36-64 years old.

Carrefour most intimate retail brand in UAE

Top intimate brands deliver superior results related to revenue and profit growth by creating deeper relationships with their consumers, said a new report from MBLM, a global provider of optimized marketing solutions.

The UAE’s retail industry came in eighth of the 15 studied in MBLM’s Brand Intimacy 2018 Report. Brand Intimacy is defined as a new paradigm in marketing, which leverages the emotional bonds between a person and a brand.

Carrefour took home first place for most intimate brand in the retail industry, especially amongst users 25 to 44 years of age. Ikea, the industry leader in 2017, ranked fourth place in this year’s results. Lulu Hypermarket ranked second among retail brands and performed best among millennials aged 18 to 34, with over 65 per cent of the demographic responding that they couldn’t live without the brand.

One-stop shopping destinations like Lulu, Carrefour and online retailer souq.com are deeply embedded into the day-to-day lives of their users, ranking higher for essentialness compared to the retail industry average. Despite how essential they become, many brands in the industry still struggle to build stronger bonds with users. For comparison, retail ranked as the third most intimate industry in the US study.

“Retailers in the UAE don’t seem to prioritize lasting relationships with their consumers,” said William Shintani, managing partner of MBLM Dubai.

“Dubai Summer Surprises is a good opportunity to engage new customers and spark interest, but promotions and price aren’t enough incentive to build emotional bonds between brands and users. Retail brands need to think long term about how to build customer relationships from in-store experience and product selection to post-sales services to really establish strong bonds.”

Other findings from the 2018 Brand Intimacy Report include:

•    The top 10 brands featured in the report are Carrefour, Lulu Hypermarket, City Centre, Ikea, Amazon, Mall of the Emirates, The Dubai Mall, souq.com, Sharaf DG and Jumbo Electronics.

•    City Centre jumped to third place in the industry, up from sixth place in 2017, and was ranked the second most intimate brand among men in the UAE.

•    Lulu is the top brand for millennials, while Carrefour is preferred among those 36-64 years old.

•    High income users from the same demographic preferred Amazon as the most intimate brand.



Source: http://www.tradearabia.com/news/REAL_342135.html