[Updated 29/3/2020] GCC responses to tackle the Covid19 outbreak

As the GCC nations roll out various economic, financial, health and travel-related initiatives, the latest country-by-country measures is compiled below. Scroll down to see a map of the confirmed Covid-19 cases in the Middle East & North Africa region.

The list is update as of 3:00pm on 29th March, 2020.

 

Table: GCC responses to tackle the Covid19 outbreak

Bahrain

Economic & Financial Health & travel-related

BHD 4.3bn stimulus package:

–  Doubling the Liquidity Fund to BHD 200mn

–  Waiver on utilities bills for 3 months;

–  Delay in loans installments for 6 months

–  Supporting wages of citizens in pvt sector

Central bank moves:

–  Banned lenders from freezing customers’ accounts in case of lost jobs or retirement

–  Cut overnight lending rate to 2.45% from 4% to ensure “smooth functioning of the money markets” (before Fed moves)

Parliament:

–  Approved measures like reduction of commercial registration fees as well as labour & utility charges for 6 months

Cabinet authorised the finance minister to directly withdraw funds with a 5% ceiling from the public account

–  Closure of educational institutes

–  Bans public gatherings of more than 5 individuals

–  Closure of non-essential businesses till Apr 9th

–  Testing all incoming passengers; mandatory 14-day self-isolation

–  Ban on travel to some countries; cancellation of flights to infected areas

 

Kuwait

Economic & Financial Health & travel-related

Central bank:

–  Reduced the discount rate to 1.5% (from 2.5%) a record-low

–  Set up a KWD 10mn (USD 33mn) fund, to be financed by Kuwaiti banks

Government authorized additional funding of KWD 500mn (USD 1.5bn) to ministries and state agencies for fight against Covid19

–  Suspended fees on point of sales devices and ATM withdrawals + increased the limit for contactless payments to KWD 25 from KWD 10

Domestic banks will defer payment of consumer & SME loans and financing, credit card instalments for six months

– The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development pledged almost USD 95mn to support government efforts

–  Kuwait declared a public holiday till Apr 12

–  Mandatory evening curfew b/n 5pm-4am

–  Halted ALL commercial passenger flights

–  Closed schools, shopping centres, cinemas, wedding halls & children’s entertainment

–  Mandatory corona testing for all expats who returned to the country since Feb 27

Oman

Economic & Financial Health & travel-related

CB announces a $20bn incentive package

–  Repo rate cut by 75bps to 0.5%;

–  Reduce Capital Conservation Buffers for banks to 1.25% from 2.5%;

–  Lending Ratio / Financing Ratio for lenders increased to 92.5% up from 87.5%

–  Accept all requests for deferment of loan instalments / interest / profit for affected borrowers, particularly SMEs, with immediate effect for the next 6 months

–  Reduce existing fees related to banking services + avoid introducing new fees

Finance ministry slashed approved budgets of civil, military and security agencies by 5%

Other measures include tourism & municipality tax breaks, free government storage facilities and postponement of credit instalment payments

–  Oman has closed its borders: only Omanis can enter

–  Mandatory 14-day quarantine for those entering

–  All domestic and international flights to and from the Oman’s airports will be suspended from 12 noon of Mar 29

–  Suspend issuance of tourist visas from Mar 15 for 30 days; will not allow cruise ships to dock at its ports during this period

–  Schools closed; all public parks closed, public gathering prohibited, Friday prayers at mosques suspended; limited staffing at estate entities

–  All shops in Oman (except food stores, clinics and pharmacies and opticians) have been temporarily shut; currency exchanges closed

–  Suspended printing, distribution & sale of all newspapers, magazines & publications

Qatar

Economic & Financial Health & travel-related

A $23.3bn stimulus package

–  QAR 75bn ($20.6bn) to provide financial + economic incentives for private sector

–  CB to put in place an appropriate mechanism to encourage banks to postpone loan installments and obligations of the private sector with a grace period of 6 months

–  Qatar Development Bank to postpone installments for all borrowers for 6 months

–  Directing govt funds to increase investments in the stock exchange by QAR 10bn ($2.75bn)

–  Exempting food & medical goods from customs duties for 6 months

–  Utilities bill exemption for SMEs, affected sectors; rent exemption for 6 months

–  All international flights suspended for 2 weeks from Mar 18; cargo aircraft, transit flights exempt

–  Travel ban on all travelers except Qatari nationals

–  Qatar Airways grounds its A380 fleet

–  Educational institutions closed; parks and public beaches closed

–  Bans social gatherings; introduces enforcement measures: checkpoints and mobile police patrols

–  High risk employees + those above 55 years + pregnant women can work remotely

–  Public transport modes have been stopped for 14 days

–  6 tonnes of aid sent to Iran (medical equipment & supplies); donating $150mn in aid to Gaza

Saudi Arabia

Economic & Financial Health & travel-related

–  SAR 120bn worth measures to support the pvt sector including postponement of VAT/ excise/ income tax/ Zakat payments, exemptions of govt dues etc

–  SAMA’s SAR 50bn stimulus package: financing support for SMEs (including deferred loan payments, concessional loans) and coverage of points of sale & e-commerce fees

–  Initiatives to reduce private sector’s burdens related to manpower: e.g. lifting halts on non-payment of fines, fines related to workers recruitment etc.

–  Saudi Arabia will cut SAR 50bn (USD 13.32bn or less than 5%) of the 2020 budget

–  Land borders with UAE, KW, Bahrain closed except for commercial trucks; shipping services suspended from 50 countries; cargo traffic not affected

Extends indefinitely the suspension of intl passenger flights + workplace attendance in both public and private sectors

Imposes evening curfew 7pm-6am for 21 days (from Mar 23, 2020); fines, jail term for violators

–  Closed eateries, malls

–  Umrah pilgrimages to Mecca & Medina are under a temporary ban

–  Suspended entry & prayer in the outer courtyards of Two Holy Mosques in Makkah and Madinah

–  Capital Markets Authority urged shareholders & invested in listed companies to vote electronically in upcoming meetings; Tadawul reduces trading hours

United Arab Emirates

Economic & Financial Health & travel-related

Central bank:

–  AED100bn stimulus to facilitate temporary relief on private sector loans & promote SME lending; support also the real estate sector

–  Banks to reschedule loans contracts, grant deferrals on monthly loan payments + reduce fees and commissions

UAE Cabinet: additional AED 16bn stimulus to reduce cost of doing business, support small business, accelerate implementation of govt infrastructure projects

Dubai: AED 1.5bn stimulus package to support businesses affected by Covid19 including 10% reduction in utilities bills

Abu Dhabi: AED 5bn in utilities subsidies; free road tolls till end-2020, 20% rebate on rental values for restaurants + tourism & entertainment sectors (+ faster implementation of Ghadan-21 initiatives)

–  Suspends entry for residents overseas for 2 weeks; temporary ban to issue new visas

All inbound, outbound and transit flights will be suspended from Mar 25.

–  Emirates announced suspension of all passenger flights from Mar 25; decision rolled back, will continue to 13 destinations (vs 159). Staff to take a basic pay cut 25-50%

– Govt urged all residents to stay-home unless “absolutely necessary”; national sterilisation drive and nightly curfew (8pm to 6am) will run until Apr 4

–  ‘Remote work’ system for UAE public sector employees for 2 weeks

–  All commercial centres and shopping malls will be closed from Mar 25

–  Cancels public prayers at mosques, churches for 4 weeks; closed: public parks, beache, theme parks, cinemas, gyms; Postpones Dubai World Cup to next year; Limit print distribution to only subscribers

–  Supporting others:

–  Sends 2 batches critical medical aid to Iran in Mar

–  Flew 215 people from different countries out of Wuhan to Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Humanitarian City

Map: Number of Confirmed Covid19 cases by country (Source: Johns Hopkins University)

Middle East

North Africa

Iran & Afghanistan

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