UAE to support economy from coronavirus impact

Abu Dhabi launches measures to ease coronavirus impact on private sector, including fund to enhance liquidity, sustain balance between supply and demand for stocks.

DUBAI - Abu Dhabi on Monday launched a slate of measures aimed at easing the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on its private sector, following a $27 billion central bank stimulus package announced by the United Arab Emirates on Saturday.

The UAE on Sunday reported 12 new coronavirus cases, taking its total confirmed cases to 98. The virus outbreak has started to hit hard vital sectors for the UAE economy such as tourism and aviation.

Abu Dhabi - the capital of the United Arab Emirates - allocated 1 billion dirhams ($272.27 million) to establish a fund "to enhance liquidity and sustain balance between supply and demand for stocks," the Abu Dhabi Government Media Office said on Twitter.

The country's stock markets have tanked over the past few weeks, with Dubai's main index tumbling nearly 30% and Abu Dhabi sinking around 25% in the same period, as tumbling oil prices added further pressure on Gulf economies.

On Monday, Dubai's stock exchange followed its Abu Dhabi counterpart in shutting its trading floor as a precautionary measure against the spreading of the new coronavirus. Dubai was down 3.7% and Abu Dhabi was 4.3% lower in Monday's early trade.

Abu Dhabi said it would allocate some further 3 billion dirhams for a credit guarantee scheme for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to stimulate financing by local banks, while another 5 billion dirhams will go to subsidise utility bills.

Several fees were scrapped or reduced, including for real estate registrations, or for start-ups and the tourism and hospitality sectors, the government said on Twitter.

Earlier on Monday, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (MbZ) said on Twitter UAE authorities would support the economy by easing investment laws and regulations.


He said there would be no interruptions on approved capital expenditure and development projects in the emirate.

“I’ve given further directives to put plans to stimulate strategic investment sectors, and to form a new committee headed by the Department of Finance, with members from the Department of Economic Development and local banks to review lending options to support local companies,” tweeted the Crown Prince.

Abu Dhabi shut entertainment venues and major tourism attractions on Saturday, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum and the Ferrari World theme park.

The UAE will stop issuing visas, except for foreign diplomats, from Tuesday, state news agency WAM has reported.