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Chapter | Insurance from The Report: Egypt 2020

Although Egypt’s insurance sector has shown strong growth over the past decade, it faces a challenging period in FY 2020/21. An ongoing process of regulatory reform promises to strengthen the legislative platform that underpins the industry, but it is likely to result in short-term difficulties for some sections of the market, compounded by the disruption caused by Covid-19. Nevertheless, the sector’s fundamentals support a positive outlook for long-term expansion, and Fitch Ratings forecasts that the life and non-life segments will see average annual growth of 5.9% and 9.9% per year, respectively, between 2020 and 2024. Given that premium as a percentage of GDP is less than 1%, the regulatory shift towards greater insurance penetration and wider financial inclusion should support the sector’s development in the coming years. This chapter contains an interview with Mohammed Omran, Chairman of the Financial Regulatory Authority. ¬

Chapter | Capital Markets from The Report: Egypt 2020

Despite uncertainty for economies across the region, Egypt’s capital market reform continued apace. Short-term measures implemented in response to the economic effects of Covid-19 joined a series of reforms aimed at establishing the Egyptian Exchange (EGX) as a safer and more transparent destination for investors. While challenging market conditions have reduced the prospects of initial public offering (IPO) activity in 2020, the issuance of non-state IPOs is expected to pick up again as the economy recovers. More IPO momentum may also emerge from Egypt’s rapidly developing private equity and venture capital sphere, as well as the prospect of military companies being listed on the exchange. Although the performance of the EGX is inextricably linked to that of the economy, and the short-term outlook remains uncertain, longer-term prospects for the market are strong – a local investment firm expects Egypt’s market capitalisation to increase from 15% of GDP in 2019 to 20% in 2024. This chapter contains interviews with Mohamed Farid Saleh, Chairman, EGX; and Hussein Choucri, Chairman and Managing Director, HC Securities & Investment.

Chapter | Banking from The Report: Egypt 2020

The largest of its kind in North Africa, Egypt’s banking sector has also long been seen as one of the most stable in the region. Since 2010 the industry has overcome the challenges of political revolution, currency crises and an interest rate environment that has acted as a barrier to credit extension. In early 2020 the outlook for the sector was broadly positive, but by the close of the first quarter it became apparent that Covid-19 would have a deleterious effect on the domestic economy. As a result, Egypt’s financial institutions are likely to focus on maintaining their asset quality rather than boosting their lending portfolios. Social distancing, meanwhile, is set to add momentum to the more widespread adoption of online banking and digital payments, which should help to boost financial inclusion. This chapter contains an interview with Hisham Ezz Al Arab, Chairman and Managing Director, Commercial International Bank.

Chapter | Tax from The Report: Abu Dhabi 2020

The UAE currently has no system of federal income taxation. Instead, most of the emirates – including Abu Dhabi – enacted their own corporate tax decrees in the 1960s. These emirate-level decrees are of general application and remain in force as amended. In practice, however, corporate income tax is only enforced on oil and gas companies engaged in upstream activities, certain petrochemicals firms and, under separate banking tax decrees, branches of foreign banks. Entities established within free trade zones (FTZs) are subject to the rules, regulations and tax regime of that FTZ, as well as applicable federal tax regulations such as value-added tax. FTZs generally offer companies and branches a complete exemption from all emirate-level taxes or a 0% tax rate. The length of these tax holidays typically ranges from 15 to 50 years from the date that the entity registers with the FTZ, with a possibility of renewal upon expiry. This chapter contains a viewpoint from Mark Schofield, Partner, PwC Middle East Tax & Legal Services Leader.

Chapter | Media from The Report: Abu Dhabi 2020

Abu Dhabi’s media sector has evolved rapidly in recent years, establishing the emirate as a regional centre for film, television and social media. Sustained government support at both the emirate and the national level has been key to the sector’s success. Carefully calculated promotion has attracted investment and encouraged collaboration in the production of local content in Abu Dhabi’s dedicated media free zone, twofour54. Major developments took place in 2019 in the film and TV broadcast segments, which saw the signing of new partnerships and considerable investment, while the advertising segment followed global shifts placing more emphasis on social media platforms. This chapter contains an interview with Maryam Eid AlMheiri, Vice-Chair, twofour54; and CEO, Media Zone Authority – Abu Dhabi.

Chapter | ICT from The Report: Abu Dhabi 2020

Abu Dhabi’s ICT sector saw further growth in 2019, driven by major public investment in the digitisation of services for residents and businesses. The emirate and the wider UAE continue to lead the way regionally in rolling out 5G technology, with the UAE’s two national telecoms companies making significant investments in network expansion and upgrades. The emirate is also consolidating its position as a leading centre for research and development in areas such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and cloud services, and the emerging start-up sector is playing an active role. Recently, the emirate’s digital drive has been accelerated by the global outbreak of Covid-19 in early 2020, which caused businesses, educational institutions and government entities to offer remote services after travel restrictions were imposed. This chapter contains an interview with Omar Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence.

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