UAE pledges $27bn in stimulus as Middle East works to slow coronavirus

Abu Dhabi shut down its amusement parks and museums through the end of the month, including Louvre Abu Dhabi. (File/AFP)
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Updated 16 March 2020

UAE pledges $27bn in stimulus as Middle East works to slow coronavirus

  • The money will go toward supporting the country’s banks and regulatory limits on loans will be eased
  • Abu Dhabi shut down its amusement parks and museums through the end of the month, including Louvre Abu Dhabi.

DUBAI: The central bank of the United Arab Emirates, home to the skyscraper-studded city of Dubai, on Sunday announced a $27 billion stimulus package to deal with the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
The money will go toward supporting the country’s banks, and regulatory limits on loans will be eased.
Nations across the Middle East have pledged to stimulate their economies as they weather the global pandemic, which has led to widespread school closures, the cancelation of sporting and other events, as well as sweeping lockdowns in some hard-hit areas.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
Most people suffer only mild to moderate symptoms and recover in a matter of weeks. But the virus is highly contagious and can be spread by individuals with no visible symptoms.
The virus has spread to more than 100 countries and infected more than 150,000 people worldwide and killed more than 5,700. Iran is home to the biggest outbreak in the Middle East, with nearly 13,000 cases and more than 600 deaths.
More than 70,000 people worldwide have recovered after being infected.
Countries across the Middle East have imposed sweeping travel restrictions, canceled public events and in some cases called on non-essential businesses to close for the coming weeks.
Dubai Parks & Resorts announced it would be closed through the end of the month.
Abu Dhabi shut down its amusement parks and museums through the end of the month, including Louvre Abu Dhabi.
Kuwait meanwhile shut down malls, salons and barbershops to slow the spread of the virus. Authorities allowed coffee shops to remain open, but said no more than five customers can wait in line at a time and must be a meter apart from each other.
Saudi Arabia separately announced its own $13 billion stimulus plan.


Saudis warn UN of oil spot in shipping lane near decaying Yemen tanker

Updated 17 min 11 sec ago

Saudis warn UN of oil spot in shipping lane near decaying Yemen tanker

  • The UN has been waiting for formal authorization from Yemen’s Houthi movement to send a mission to the tanker
  • The UN has warned that the Safer could spill four times as much oil as the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster off Alaska

NEW YORK: Saudi Arabia warned the UN Security Council on Wednesday that an “oil spot” had been seen in a shipping transit area 31 miles (50 km) west of a decaying tanker that is threatening to spill 1.1 million barrels of crude oil off the coast of Yemen.
The Safer tanker has been stranded off Yemen’s Red Sea oil terminal of Ras Issa for more than five years. The United Nations has warned that the Safer could spill four times as much oil as the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster off Alaska.
In a letter to the 15-member body, reviewed by Reuters, Saudi Arabia’s UN Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi wrote that experts had observed that “a pipeline attached to the vessel is suspected to have been separated from the stabilizers holding it to the bottom and is now floating on the surface of the sea.”
The United Nations has been waiting for formal authorization from Yemen’s Houthi movement to send a mission to the Safer tanker to conduct a technical assessment and whatever initial repairs might be feasible.
The Security Council and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres have both called on the Houthis to grant access.
Al-Mouallimi wrote that the tanker “has reached a critical state of degradation, and that the situation is a serious threat to all Red Sea countries, particularly Yemen and Saudi Arabia,” adding “this dangerous situation must not be left unaddressed.”
Yemen has been mired in conflict since the Iran-allied Houthi group ousted the government from the capital Sanaa in 2014. A Saudi-led military coalition in 2015 intervened in a bid to restore the government.