01 June 2016

Gulf Industry magazine helps you catch up with the numbers behind economic and industrial developments in the region.

$2 trillion projects in GCC pipeline

THE pipeline of projects planned in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states as of May 2016 amounts to $2 trillion, it was revealed at a summit of construction sector leaders in Dubai, UAE.

Delegates attending the Meed Construction Leadership Summit in Dubai were told at a briefing hosted by leading professional services firm Deloitte that Saudi Arabia leads the region in terms of the value of projects in the pre-execution stage, with 38.91 per cent of the total value, followed by the UAE with 34.84 per cent.

Qatar is next with an 8.57 per cent share, then Kuwait with 8.22 per cent. Oman follows with 6.48 per cent with Bahrain having a 2.97 per cent share of the market.

In order to maintain the momentum in the project pipeline and in the face of austerity concerns, Cynthia Corby, partner, Middle East Infrastructure and Capital Projects Leader, Deloitte said: “It will be necessary to innovate, perhaps with a drive towards privately financed solutions.”

Besides the oil price slump, the future growth of the projects sector will depend on several factors, including the speed of enacting legislation, restructuring, prioritisation of project plans, and the ability to obtain funding, according to Ed James, director of content and analysis, Meed Projects. “But more importantly, governments’ commitment to maintaining spending in the face of falling revenues to keep the economy moving will be a key factor in driving the industry forward through the challenging times,” he said.

e-Dirham federal revenue up 4.2pc

THE UAE’s Ministry of Finance (MoF) has announced that the federal government revenue collected through e-Dirham reached more than Dh2 billion in Q1 2016, up 4.2 per cent from Dh1.92 billion in Q1 2015.

The number of service transactions done through e-Dirham during the first quarter of 2016 rose 10.7 per cent to yield nearly 10.1 million as compared to 9.1 million transactions during the same period in 2015, it said.

Saeed Rashid Al Yateem, assistant undersecretary of the resources and budget sector, Ministry of Finance, said: “The figures point to the growing popularity of the e-Dirham system.  It is now becoming the preferred mode of payment of individuals, corporate houses, and institutions.”

The total payment receipts through the e-Dirham system increased by 24 per cent for the first three months of 2016, nearly 5.1 million receipts in Q1 2016 compared to about 4.1 million receipts in Q1 2015. The number of sold e-Dirham ‘Al Haslah’ prepaid cards reached 2 million by the end of March 2016.

“e-Dirham is the initiative of the federal government in the financial sector. The Ministry of Finance is keen to promote and upgrade the e-Dirham system to fulfil its vision and strategic goals in enhancing the efficiency of the government’s services and collections. e-Dirham helped the digital economy grow and aided the move towards smart governance,” Al Yateem added.

Renewables employ 8.1m globally

MORE than 8.1 million people worldwide are now employed by the renewable energy industry, a five per cent increase from last year, according to a report released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) at its 11th council meeting.

Irena is an intergovernmental organisation that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future.

The report, titled ‘Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2016’, also provides a global estimate of the number of jobs supported by large hydropower, with a conservative estimate of an additional 1.3 million direct jobs worldwide.

The total number of renewable energy jobs worldwide rose in 2015 while jobs in the broader energy sector fell, said the report.

In the US, renewable energy jobs increased 6 per cent while employment in oil and gas decreased 18 per cent. Likewise in China, renewable energy employed 3.5 million people, while oil and gas employed 2.6 million, it added.

The photovoltaic sector remains the largest renewable energy employer worldwide with 2.8 million jobs (up from 2.5 at last count) with jobs in manufacturing, installation and operations and maintenance.

Liquid biofuels was the second largest global employer with 1.7 million jobs, followed by wind power, which grew 5 per cent to reach 1.1 million global jobs.


Economic confidence in Mena dips 

ECONOMIC confidence amongst CEOs in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) has continued to decline in the first quarter of this year, according to a survey carried out by YPO, a network of global business leaders and chief executives.

The YPO Global Pulse Confidence Index for the Mena region decreased for the sixth consecutive quarter, falling to 55.6, and trailing the global confidence composite score of 58.3. Only once before in the seven-year history of the quarterly survey has confidence amongst business leaders in the region dropped to this level, which was during the fourth quarter of 2011 at the height of the global economic crisis.

Saudi Arabia, which experienced a dramatic loss of confidence in the second half of 2015, bounced back significantly in the first quarter of the year, climbing 14.1 points to 53.5, although a full 15 points below the confidence level 18 months ago.

Confidence in the UAE remained gloomy after a sixth successive quarterly decline, slipping 0.9 point to 49.4. Lebanon experienced a sharp decline in optimism, falling 7.2 points to 46.4 and reflecting a pessimistic economic outlook.

In contrast, Egypt enjoyed a modest increase of 1.7 points to 59.2, and Israel remained firmly in optimistic territory at 62.3, almost unchanged from the previous quarter.

Mideast cities among  retail hotspots

A THIRD of the top 15 global retail cities are located in the Middle East, according to JLL’s destination retail report, which looks at the leading cities worldwide for retailing.

The report shows 50 major global cities have risen to the top of the list for mainstream, premium and luxury retailers’ expansions.

While the list is dominated by cities in Asia Pacific, those in the Middle East are coming on strong, propelled by an ever increasing array of international retailers with Dubai and Kuwait City falling within the top 10 destinations globally. Abu Dhabi finished just out of the top 10 at number 11, while Jeddah and Riyadh tied for 12.

London stands at the forefront of international retailing as a global powerhouse and the number 1 retail market.

Asia Pacific outranks all regions with 18 cities making the cut driven by sheer market size. 

US cities make up just over one-quarter (26.4 per cent) of the top 50 with only one city (New York-number 5) in the top 15.

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