2020 is finally coming to an end. if you ask any business professional about how their year went, their answers will vary based on the industries they work in, as some industries have been hard hit by the novel coronavirus since the early weeks of the year, while others achieved incredible success despite the highly volatile year.
From the worst crash early this year due to #pandemic to record highs, 2020 has turn into a dream come true for many tech investors and entrepreneurs. The pandemic has speed up digital transformation and re-wrote new business rules. https://t.co/9JJcmU9ReW— Alvin Foo (@alvinfoo) December 30, 2020
Even though this year has been a whirlwind of global events most of which have left a long-lasting effect on our lives, there has been a fair number of noteworthy business news that did not receive the needed attention it deserved, thanks to the pandemic that took over our thoughts and conversations.
In this article, we will showcase the most significant business news stories of the year in the Middle East and worldwide.
Before the novel coronavirus was announced as a global pandemic and a health emergency, the world had anticipated a volatile beginning for the year, one that was pressured by political instability following a US Strike near Baghdad airport, killing a major Iranian military general.
▶️ U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He signed a trade agreement at the White House.— The Voice of America (@VOANews) January 15, 2020
? China Boosts US Purchases in Phase 1 of New Trade Dealhttps://t.co/bXp0ThXmjR pic.twitter.com/5kBDDupxaN
Later that month, a global sense of relief was felt across stock markets as a result of the US-Chinese trade deal signed between the world's largest economies.
By February, COVID19 had started to pose a global emergency as it started to infect people in countries outside of China. Getting ready to face the new virus, governments around the world had started recommending their citizens against travel to China and advised them to start wearing face masks in public spaces, causing prices of paper face masks to spike in an unmatched manner.
Additionally, the Chinese decision to impose strict lockdowns on regions impacted by COVID19 had influenced manufacturing plants of international businesses in the country, such as Apple, PepsiCo, Honda, and General Motors.
Two months into the crisis, the World Health Organization announced COVID19 as a pandemic, alarming the whole world for the urgent need for strict restrictions on movements and social gatherings to curb the spread of the virus.
Over the month of March, most countries around the world went into first-of-a-kind partial or full lockdowns and travel bans, spreading fear in the markets and wreaking havoc in the aviation industry.
Emotive stock market trader is an underappreciated genre of photography— Winthrop Rodgers (@wrodgers2) March 9, 2020
FILE PHOTO - A trader works on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., March 5, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly pic.twitter.com/RmmRal0MlK
By the end of March, hundreds of thousands of people reported losing their jobs or having to accept massive pay cuts, while millions of people got to experience a new professional reality; that is working from home.
Moreover, March witnessed the year's worst dip in stock markets often described by experts as the 2020 stock crash, as investors started to feel the impact of the pandemic closures on their businesses.
By the end of March, organizers of the Dubai Expo 2020 announced the sad news of postponing the global long-awaited event to 2021.
As global lockdowns continued in April, many business sectors started to feel the hard repercussions of closures, reporting major losses amid a global surge in COVID19 infections cases.
By the third week of April, oil prices experienced a horrific crash coinciding with the absence of demand due to international travel bans and OPEC+ failure to reach an agreement over production rates. On the 20th of April, prices of the WTI crude oil fell by more than 40%, hitting negative territory for the first time ever, on a historic day for oil producers and brokers around the world.
Meanwhile, millions of people quarantined at their homes in different parts of the world took to the video-sharing app TikTok for entertainment purposes, marking an unprecedented surge in usage during March and April.
Determined to utilize a better alternative for full lockdowns in an effort to rescue the global economy from falling apart, many countries around the world had started a gradual "return to normal", enforcing strict social distancing and face masks rules, in addition to offering contact-tracing technologies that helped identify infected people and limit their ability to infect other people, which helped many sectors feel more at east about an approaching recovery.
Unlike Bitcoin, Chinese central bankers will be able to monitor all digital yuan transactions. They call it "controllable anonymity," @ChorzempaMartin says, "which is one of the most Orwellian statements one could think about." https://t.co/BVvdt0Vlvi— Peterson Institute (@PIIE) January 15, 2020
Meanwhile, China rolled out its first virtual currency termed as the digital Yuan, encouraging cashless payments at a time "contactless" anything has become quite valuable.
Hoping to restore airline activities, the conversation over "immunity passports" rekindled hope of a slow revival of the travel and aviation sector in June worldwide. Meanwhile, the US had officially entered an economic recession, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.
However, a US-based racial incident in late May had sparked discussions over economic and racial inequality across the world, especially in the US and Europe, as the black community voiced out their protests against the economic reality they live in as they marched under the "Black Lives Matter" slogan.
In the month of July, global efforts to control the economic damage resulting from the pandemic had inspired the government to announce stimulus packages to support individuals who lost their jobs, in addition to owners of businesses that were hard hit during lockdowns. The leader of 27 EU countries agreed on a historic $855 billion deal.
The Hope probe will travel 495 million km to space with a cruise speed of 121,000 km/hr in the first ever Arab mission to the Red Planet. The data gathered by the probe will add a new dimension to the human knowledge. This is our latest contribution to the world. pic.twitter.com/GbVSfjQSRL— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) July 18, 2020
In our region, millions of people celebrated as they watched the first Arab space endeavor carried out by the UAE, as it launched the "Hope" probe to Mars.
Starting with a devastating blast that hit the Lebanese capital's main port, August witnessed a deepening economic crisis in Lebanon, costing the country at least $15 billion in infrastructure, according to officials.
The Middle East also witnessed a major announcement during August, as the UAE agreed to sign what was termed as the Abraham Accords with Israel, ending a decades-state of hostility between the two countries, and inaugurating full diplomatic and trade ties.
In your opinion, which of Elon Musk's companies will have the biggest positive impact for/towards humanity.— Sawyer Merritt ?? (@SawyerMerritt) December 24, 2020
By the end of the month, Elon Musk made a groundbreaking announcement of starting a new company called Neuralink, one that will be producing AI brain chips that can potentially change the future of humanity for good, as it will tackle diseases and facilitate exchanging data.
Only weeks after the US-Israeli normalization deal, Bahrain too joined the Abraham accords that promised major economic and technological cooperations between the two Arab states and Israel.
List of 118 mobile Apps from China banned by Govt of India over and above the 59 Apps banned earlier. pic.twitter.com/dVqYYJeAnc— Nistula Hebbar (@nistula) September 2, 2020
On a global level, India initiated a second wide-scale ban on more than 100 Chinese smartphone apps, following political and border tensions between the world's most populated countries.
Additionally, Apple's first event for 2020 announced several new devices with different price ranges, meant to attract the company's fans despite the on-going economic crisis.
As the northern sphere of our globe entered the fall, coronavirus cases reported a dangerous surge in infections all around the world, reigniting fears of the need for another major lockdown.
At the same time, trade cooperation between Israel and Bahrain continued to mark new achievement, as both countries agreed on a number of procedures to enhance communication, such as the historic first commercial flight between the two countries, in addition to an agreement to exchange postal services in the coming months.
If there was a turning-point throughout 2020, it would be the month of November. Not only because of the anticipation of political change in the US following the presidential elections but also because this was the month the world first felt there could light at the end of the COVID19 tunnel, after several pharmaceutical companies announced the success of their vaccine trials, promising the world more than 90% efficacy rates.
‘A landmark moment’ for the UK’s fight against #COVID19: today we welcome the news that @MHRAgovuk has authorised the safe & effective #OxfordVaccine for emergency use in the UK >> https://t.co/I7q6swNdpu— University of Oxford (@UniofOxford) December 30, 2020
The positive news boosted performance in most of the world's markets as millions of people started to believe that controlling the pandemic has finally become possible.
In Oman, November was the month the government introduced the first-ever income tax, ones that will go into effect starting from 2022.
A sense of relief has continued to loom around the world, especially after vaccines were being approved in different countries, before being rolled out for public use in the UK, the US, and the EU. However, fears have been amounting following reports of a new variant of the virus that has been found in the UK, forcing new rules of temporary travel bans between the UK on one hand, and Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Kuwait, and others, on the other.
On a global level, Tesla has been amongst the world's most winning companies throughout 2020, as its year-to-date shares went up by more than 700%, becoming the world's most valuable car manufacturer.
More importantly, Bitcoin has reached historic highs as its price continues to approach $30k.
Bitcoin surges to record $28,500, quadrupling in value this year https://t.co/8GDij2Rgaz— The Guardian (@guardian) December 30, 2020
Apart from the on-going pandemic, which other events have you been watching closely throughout 2020? Which ones have affected your lives directly?
Happy New Year!
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