IMF downgrades 2024 MENA economic growth to 2.9% | Kanebridge News
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IMF downgrades 2024 MENA economic growth to 2.9%

Jihad Azour said the UAE is set to grow by 3.8% in 2024.

By IMF
Thu, Feb 1, 2024 11:37amGrey Clock 2 min

Growth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) economies is projected at 2.9% this year as the region battles the impacts of the Israel-Gaza conflict, lower oil production, and tight policy settings, the IMF said on Wednesday.

The fund revised downwards its October outlook for 2024 growth projections by 0.5 percentage point with 2023 growth at 2%, Jihad Azour, director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department said at a briefing on the 2024 Regional Economic Outlook Update on Wednesday.

“In addition to its devastating impact, the conflict is having adverse economic consequences on the broader MENA region… at a time when growth was already slowing, and the region was facing existing challenges. In particular, debt levels remain high and inflation has not yet been sufficiently brought down in many economies,” said Azour.

The heightened security situation in the Red Sea has raised more concerns about the conflict’s impact on trade and on shipping costs, while oil production cuts by several oil exporters are weighing on overall GDP growth, although non-oil sector activity remains robust, he added.

Azour said one encouraging development was that inflation has continued to decline in most major economies in line with global trends, except in some parts of the region due to country specific challenges.

With regard to the UAE, the IMF expects the economy to grow by 3.8% in 2024. “This growth is mainly driven by the non-oil sector and, therefore, despite extension of the cuts in oil production and oil export… we expect that growth will be at 3.8%.”

He also expects the UAE to see an inflation rate of 2.3% this year. “Over the last few years, the UAE was able to keep inflation under control, which means that this will help address issues related to price increase, as well as improve the overall macroeconomic situation in the UAE…”

He said as Egypt, due to its proximity to Palestine, was heavily impacted by the conflict, it was necessary for the fund to revise its growth forecast for 2024 to 3% compared to 3.8% last year.

On the negotiations that are underway between the IMF and the Egyptian authorities, he said the first and second reviews are being looked into and the negotiations were continuing.



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Preparatory Work for UAE to Oman Hafeet Rail Project Commences at Full Speed

Preparations have begun on the transformative UAE to Oman Hafeet Rail network, revealing significant construction details during a site visit.

Thu, May 16, 2024 3 min

The $3bn Hafeet Rail project between the UAE and Oman will feature 60 bridges and a 2.5km tunnel, making it an “architectural and engineering marvel,” according to CEO Ahmed Al Musawa Al Hashemi.

Hafeet Rail has announced that preparatory work is moving full speed ahead for constructing the transformative railway link between the UAE and Oman. This announcement was made during a site visit attended by key officials, members of the Asyad and Hafeet Rail executive management teams, project contractors, and consultants.

Key Highlights

During the visit, attendees were introduced to the main components of the project, including passenger, repair, and shipping stations, as well as major bridges and tunnel sites.

The Hafeet Rail project is set to play a very important role in enhancing local and regional trade, unlocking new opportunities in the infrastructure, transportation, and logistics sectors, and fostering economic diversification. It will also strengthen bilateral relations between the UAE and Oman.

The project will involve constructing 60 bridges, some reaching heights of up to 34 meters, and tunnels extending 2.5 kilometres. The Hafeet Rail team showcased the latest rail technologies and innovative engineering and architectural solutions designed to navigate the challenging geographical terrain and weather conditions while maintaining high standards of efficiency and safety.

The rail network will boost various industrial sectors and economic activities and significantly impact the tourism industry by facilitating easier and faster travel between the two countries.

Ahmed Al Bulushi, Asyad Group Chief Executive Asset, noted that the project’s rapid progress reflects the commitment of the UAE and Oman to developing and realizing the project’s multifaceted benefits.

Investment and Future Impact

Al Bulushi added that investments in developing local capabilities and expertise in rail-related disciplines over recent years have enabled the project to reach the implementation phase successfully under the leadership of highly efficient and professional national talent.

Hafeet Rail’s CEO Ahmed Al Musawa Al Hashemi emphasized, “The commencement of preparatory works for construction is a testament to the robust synergy between all parties involved in both nations, achieving this milestone in record time. We are confidently laying down the right tracks thanks to the shareholders of Hafeet Rail and the expertise of local companies in Oman and the UAE, alongside international partners.”

During the site visit, the visitors explored some of the key preparatory sites, including Wadi Al Jizi, where a 700-meter-long bridge towering 34 meters will be constructed. This ambitious project is envisioned as an architectural and engineering marvel in a complex geographical landscape.

Future phases will require more collaboration, with a continued focus on quality, safety, and environmental considerations in line with the international industry best practices.

The Hafeet Rail project represents the first-of-its-kind railway network linking two Gulf nations, marking a significant shift in regional goods transportation. This efficient and reliable transportation option will reduce dependence on slower and less sustainable road transport.

Hafeet Rail promises a 40% reduction in shipping costs and a 50% in transit times compared to traditional land transportation methods, as it will be connecting five major ports and several industrial and free zones in both countries.

This shift will reduce reliance on road transport by cars and trucks and promote more sustainable shipping practices. The establishment of the railway network will also create significant opportunities for SMEs in construction, engineering, and logistics support, acting as a catalyst for economic growth and innovation within the domestic economy.

By linking major ports, the Hafeet Rail project will enable local SMEs to import, export, and distribute their products more effectively, enhancing their market reach and global competitiveness.

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