GULF STATES – ECONOMICS & FINANCE
FlyDubai issues travel advisory after grounding 737 max fleet
Flydubai has issued a travel advisory for its passengers, saying that some of its operations might be affected due to the grounding of its Boeing 737 Max aircraft. The airline said will be in touch with the passeners if there are changes in booking. In a post on its Facebook profile, flydubai said: “As the weekend begins, here’s what you need to know if you’re travelling with us over the next few days. We’ll be in touch with you directly if there are changes to your booking as a result of the grounding of our Boeing 737 Max aircraft.”
Etihad improves core performance by 34percent
Etihad Airways on Thursday reported a reduction in annual loss to $1.28 billion in 2018 from $1.52 billion in 2017, and announced an improvement in core operating performance of 15 percent in the year, seven higher than forecast. The UAE national carrier posted revenues of $5.86 billion, down from $6 billion in 2017. In a statement, the Abu Dhabi government-owned airline said since commencing a five-year transformation programme in 2017, it had improved its core operating performance by 34 percent despite challenging market conditions and effects of an increase in fuel prices. The airline carried 17.8 million passengers in 2018, less than 18.6 million the year prior, with a 76.4 percent seat factor (2017: 78.5 percent) and a decrease in passenger capacity (Available Seat Kilometres or ASK)) of four percent (from 115 billion to 110.3 billion). The Abu Dhabi-based airline increased yields by four percent, largely driven by capacity discipline, network and fleet optimisation and growing market share in premium and point-to-point markets. Passenger revenues remained steady at $ 5 billion.
DIFC’s wealth and asset management sector hits at $424bn
The size of the wealth and asset management sector at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) stands at $424 billion, equivalent to roughly 30 percent of the combined gross domestic product of all GCC countries. Essa Kazim, governor of the DIFC, which is the leading financial hub in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region, said on Monday that over the past 15 years, the centre has grown into what is a focal point for the global business and investor community. He said a testament to the remarkable success of the DIFC is amount of capital being raised in the centre. “The approximate size of the wealth and asset management industry in the DIFC is now $424 billion. To put this in context, that is equivalent to roughly 30 percent of the combined GDP of all GCC countries.” Speaking at the second edition of the Global Financial Forum, which drew 700 leading figures from across the financial services industry, the DIFC governor said the wealth and asset management sector is the cornerstone of a thriving financial services industry, and is playing a significant role in attracting new businesses to Dubai and driving the increasing contribution of the sector to the emirate’s GDP.
Central bank sees UAE GDP growth at 3.5percent in 2019
The UAE’s GDP will expand 3.5 percent this year compared to 2.8 percent in 2018, thanks to a Dh50 billion stimulus package announced last year and host of measures taken for the ease of doing business in each emirate across the country, according to Central Bank of the UAE’s latest quarterly report released on Monday. Non-oil GDP growth will grow at 3.4 percent in 2019 against 2.6 percent last year while oil GDP will expand at 3.7 percent this year versus 3 percent, the apex bank said. It projects that non-oil GDP economic growth in the first quarter of 2019 will reach 3.1 percent but will grow faster later. The overall GDP growth for the fourth quarter of 2018 is estimated at 4.4 percent, driven by non-oil sector real growth, as well as accelerating oil production since October. The International Monetary Fund had projected a 3.7 percent growth in the UAE real’s GDP for 2019 versus 2.9 percent last year. To support the growth momentum, federal and local governments have initiated measures during the second half of 2018 aiming to boost growth prospects in the UAE during 2019. In particular, the government of Abu Dhabi announced Dh50 billion economic stimulus package, as well as 10 economic initiatives to ease the cost of doing business and help boost the non-oil GDP over the medium term.
Sheikh approves Dh1 bn incentives to create global agtech centre
His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has approved a series of incentive packages totaling up to Dh1 billion for local and international Agriculture Technology, AgTech, companies to build and grow a presence in Abu Dhabi. The announcement aims to drive the development of the AgTech ecosystem and to establish Abu Dhabi as a global centre for desert environment agriculture innovation. Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Executive Committee and Member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, said, “This initiative has been launched to accelerate the growth of local AgTech companies and encourage other leading international companies in the field to invest in Abu Dhabi. Helping to transform the sector and in turn, create new opportunities that will positively impact the economy in the mid and long-term future.” He continued, “Abu Dhabi offers strong and competitive investment opportunities for AgTech companies that will enable them to scale their innovative products. In addition to Abu Dhabi’s well establish logistics sector, our geographical location offers great expansion opportunities with millions of consumers located in surrounding countries all with growing economies and increasing food consumption.” His Highness added, “With Abu Dhabi’s highly competitive investment opportunity we will help to attract more FDI in advanced and innovative sectors such as AgTech. This will allow for the continual expansion, modernisation and diversification of our agriculture industry and other key sectors in the Emirate.”
Challenges and innovations: what banks must do in 2019
With muted economic growth, financial institutions would be wise to remain agile when managing regulatory challenges and technological innovations. However, this will require additional investment and capital. They may need to consider whether they have the critical mass to remain competitive. The Basel III framework has undergone several modifications, including redefining requirements for credit, market and operational risk. Risk-weighted averages for exposures are likely to rise, which means that banks may need to increase their regulatory capital. From a governance oversight perspective, this represents a more sophisticated approach to regulation, with the need for an enhanced liquidity framework and the requirement to carry out increased stress testing. The introduction of new standards has transformed the banking landscape, the replacement of IAS 39 with IFRS 9 being the most significant disruptor. IFRS 9 came into effect in the beginning of 2018, representing a major change in the way banks approach assessment of impairments in their loan portfolios. Higher current provisions may decrease reported profitability and increase cost of capital, as the capital adequacy ratio rises to 16 percent by 2019 (from 10.5 percent in 2018) with the introduction of an additional capital conservation buffer. Stricter liquidity coverage ratio and net stable funding ratio requirements will make liquidity more expensive, further affecting profitability and capital structure.
DXB remains world’s busiest airport in 2018
Dubai International (DXB) has retained its top position in terms of international passenger traffic and third largest for total passenger traffic in 2018. According to Airports Council International (ACI) figures released on Wednesday, the emirate’s airport handled 88.88 million international passengers last year, an increase of 1.3 percent. Dubai is followed by airports in London (75.3 million), Hong Kong (74.36 million), Amsterdam (70.95 million) and Incheon (67.67 million). For overall passenger traffic, Atlanta airport retained its first position with 107.39 million passengers followed by 100.98 million by Beijing airport and 89.14 million by Dubai International. Los Angeles (87.53 million) and Tokyo (87.13 million) made up to the top five busiest airport ranking last year. ACI’s preliminary figures revealed that passenger traffic remained resilient in 2018 and is estimated to have reached 8.8 billion, growing by an estimated six percent as compared to the previous year. This increase is above the 4.3 percent compound annual growth rate for passenger traffic from 2007 to 2017. In other significant findings, India became the world’s third-largest aviation market in terms of passenger throughput, behind the US and China in 2018. According to ACI, air cargo market did not fare as well as passenger traffic with a year-end growth figure of 3.2 percent. In terms of total international airfreight traffic handling for 2018, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Incheon and Dubai airports retained the top four positions. While Taipei overtook Tokyo to fifth positions for handling more cargo in 2018.