Economic Update

December 20: The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development releases its 2nd Competitiveness Report. Through diagnostic analysis covering 12 elements of competitiveness, the report provides benchmarks against other countries. Despite slowing growth from ongoing low oil prices, the report highlights economic diversification, foreign exchange reserves and low debt levels as key contributors making the UAE the lowest risk country in the GCC region in terms of economic stability.

December 18: BP is awarded 10% shareholding in the Abu Dhabi Company for Offshore Petroleum Operations’ (ADCO) 40-year concession, valued at $2.2bn and worth approximately 165,000 barrels per day. The deal comes amidst a multiple-year-long standoff following the concession expiration in 2014, which has since seen Total, Inpex, and GS Energy purchase stakes. BP will be asset leader for the Bab integrated asset group.

December 8: The merger of National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) and First Gulf Bank (FGB) receives shareholder approval. First announced in June 2016, the merger should be finalised in Q1 2017. The combined entity will hold Dh655bn ($178.3bn) in assets, making it one of the largest banks in the Middle East.

November 30: The Organisation for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) agrees to its first production cuts in eight years. The group will reduce inventories by 1.2m barrels per day, with 139,000 coming from the UAE side. Benchmark prices gained as much as 10%.

November 28: The Statistics Centre – Abu Dhabi (SCAD) releases results from its foreign investment survey, highlighting Dh88.9bn ($24.2bn) in foreign direct investment in 2015, an 8.6% increase over the previous year. Some Dh17.2bn ($4.7bn), or 19.5%, went directly into manufacturing industries, up from Dh15.5bn ($4.2bn) the previous year.

November 25-27: Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix takes place in Abu Dhabi, held at Yas Marina Circuit. The race, coupled with a series of live performances, is one of the emirate’s biggest international events, drawing an attendance of around 60,000, and keeping hotels at 92% occupancy.

November 17: Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), the emirate’s financial free zone, is reported to have registered more than 180 local and foreign companies. Aberdeen Asset Management starts operations this month, along with ADGM’s first fund, managed by Abu Dhabi Financial Group. The free zone began registering financial companies in late 2015.

November 17: The Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority announces revised water and electricity tariffs, to be implemented in January 2017. The move follows previous revisions in December 2015, aimed at encouraging a more efficient use of resources. This follows other regional governments’ moves to reduce subsidies, and further demand-side management is expected to boost the emirate’s fiscal position amidst low oil prices.

November 7-10: The Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference is held in the UAE capital, bringing together more than 2000 exhibiting companies, 700 speakers and 25 international pavilions..

November 5: Al Reyadah, a joint venture between Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and Masdar, officially inaugurates its Mussafah facility. The first commercial-scale carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) facility in the Middle East, Al Reyadah will capture up to 800,000 tonnes of C02 emitted from Emirates Steel and transfer it to ADCOs’ Bab and Rumaitha fields via pipeline for enhanced oil recovery.

October 31: The Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority launches its new global marketing campaign aimed at highlighting the cultural authenticity and natural wonders of the emirate. The television commercial has a special emphasis on India, China, Britain, Germany, the US and the UK. Arrivals to Abu Dhabi hit 3.6m in the first 10 months of 2016, an increase of 8% over the previous year.

October 30: The Department of Economic Development releases results from its general index for consumer confidence. The survey indicated significantly improved consumer confidence regarding economic conditions in Q2 2016, rising 122 points. The index fell 16% in Q1.

October 18: In the wake of previous consolidations, ADNOC moves to combine three offshore marine and shipping arms into one, bringing the company’s total subsidiaries from 18 to 15 for the year. The Adnatco, Irshad and Esnaad deal will be finalised by end 2017.

October 13: The merger of Khalifa University, Masdar Institute of Science and Technology and the Petroleum Institute is approved by the Abu Dhabi Executive Council. In what will eventually function as a single umbrella university, efforts are being made to harness individual strengths and resources to create a stronger research-based institution that can compete internationally. Earlier in 2016, Khalifa University was ranked 410th in the world and first in the UAE by QS.

October 12: The Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, or TAQA, raises $750m in five- and 10-year bonds. 

October 6: ADNOC consolidates offshore operations between the Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company and the Zakum Development Company.  The move sits as part of the company’s wider efforts to achieve synergies across its business units. According to the company, neither shareholder fiscal terms nor ongoing production will be affected throughout the merger.

September 19: UK Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox, visits the UAE, discussing the UK’s commitment to the region post-Brexit.

September 4: The UAE Cabinet approves the final draft of the Federal Bankruptcy Law. With the removal of jail time for unserviced debt, the legislation is expected to limit the number of small business owners who have fled the country in recent years. It is seen as a boon for small and medium-sized enterprise activity.

August 27: Khalifa Port in Abu Dhabi announces an expansion plan, which aims to add 1000 metres of quay wall, an additional 600,000 sq metres of cargo handling space and a main channel deepened to 18 metres by 2018. Abu Dhabi Terminals (ADT), the operator and manager of Khalifa Port, handled 1.5m twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) in 2015, up from 1.1m TEUs in 2014. Volumes were up an additional 11% in H1 2016.

August 21: SCAD releases its annual Statistical Yearbook, one of the emirate’s most important publications. The book highlights economy, industry and business, population, social statistics, labour force, and agriculture and environment as key focus points. GDP registered Dh960bn ($261.4bn) in 2014 prices, an annual growth rate of 3%, with oil contributing an estimated 50.9%.