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Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Dubai construction chief predicts many firms will go bust

A number of contractors could go out of business over the next three to four months due to a combination of project cancellations and continued labour and overhead costs, the managing director of a leading Dubai industrial construction firm has said.

Syrian bourse set to launch

The Damascus Securities Exchange has announced that it will start trading operations in securities on Feb 23. The bourse is expected to start with two or three trading sessions each week and with a limited number of listed companies.

Tide of migrant income set to fall

With one or two exceptions, the Arab countries of the Middle East fall neatly into two categories; those that export hydrocarbons and those that export labour.

While the first group now faces the threat of a prolonged period of low oil prices, the second has to grapple with the prospect of a decline in remittance flows from expatriates, whether they work in the wealthier oil-producing parts of the region or elsewhere in the world.

Putin orders cut in Ukraine supply

Vladimir Putin, Russia's prime minister, yesterday ordered Gazprom, the Russian energy giant, to reduce gas supplies to Ukraine bound for Europe in a move that escalates the dispute between the two countries, writes Isabel Gorst in Moscow .

Gazprom claims Kiev has been stealing gas from transit pipelines since it cut off supplies to Ukraine on January 1 after talks about a new gas deal collapsed.

Gazprom/Ukraine

History, Marx suggested, repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. Gazprom's first big gas shut-off to Ukraine, in 2006, was seen as the Russian bear mauling plucky Ukraine, months after its pro-democracy revolution. This time round, it is hard to pity either side.

Russia in 2005 signalled its intentions to stop subsidising gas to former Soviet neighbours and to start charging market prices. It is time Kiev and Moscow ended annual price wrangles and signed a long-term contract similar to Russia's agreements with western Europe, where a formula links gas prices, with a six- to nine-month lag, to oil prices.

Why it would be wrong to write off the Brics

How relevant are the Brics, the fast-growing developing economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China? As we start 2009, seven years after Goldman Sachs popularised the “Bric” term, and as these countries face their first big external “shock” this decade, this is a crucial question.

Is it now time to edit this group to “Bic”, dropping the R? Are all the Brics, for their own internal reasons, going to find the challenge of a weakened US economy much harder to cope with than they expected? Or are we going to discover that not only can these nations cope better than people in the west think, but that some of their own forms of economic model will be mimicked by developed countries to help them cope with the decline of private sector market systems?

Air Arabia’s turmoil hopes

In colonial times, Sharjah could lay claim to being a staging post for regional aviation thanks to a Royal Air Force base in the desert. The old runway, which has since been transformed into one of the emirate’s busiest, commuter snarled streets, was a stopover on the India-UK route in the 1930s.
So it is perhaps fitting that the international airport of the third-largest member of the United Arab Emirates – which had been rapidly overshadowed by its busier neighbour in Dubai – has made a comeback through the auspices of the region’s first low-cost carrier, Air Arabia.

Hedge funds face more pain

Hedge funds are suffering a New Year hangover of record proportions after an end-of-year rush to suspend or restrict withdrawals of money and the first of what is expected to be a wave of closures.
Funds from London managers GLG Partners, RWC Partners and Oceanwood Capital all introduced last-minute restrictions as the year ended, while Finnish fund Ilmatar on Monday said it would close.