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Saturday, 20 June 2009

Kuwait to deport 100,000 expats - paper

Kuwait is likely to arrest and accordingly deport close to 100,000 expatriates for being registered with bogus companies, according to a report.

Highـranking security sources in the state told the local Al Watan daily: "A relatively large number of private firms have been issued commercial licenses but do not actually have offices or business activities in the country."

The sources added that it was likely that the owners of the licenses brought expat manpower into the oil exporting country in return for money, without giving them the promised jobs in return.

In Dubai, everything must go

With his arm blocking the way, the security guard shouts “Stand back!” as the crowd gathering in the streets prepares to surge forward.

It is 6am on a Friday. But as most of the country sleeps in on the first day of the weekend, a thousand people have wrestled themselves out of bed to mob Dubai’s flea market – two hours before it opens.

That so many people would queue up for a chance to buy used goods for as little as Dh1 (US$0.27) is a sign of how residents of recession-struck Dubai are becoming more budget-conscious, said the market’s organiser, Melanie Beese.

See values others miss

The Middle East is crammed with rich, fast-growing economies. What it’s not chock-full of are foreign investors in its stock markets. Global portfolio managers generally treat the region with a shrug and occasionally with more frustrated gestures.

Statistics are hard to come by, but certain factors almost guarantee that foreign investment will be lower in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and other stock markets in the region than in markets elsewhere. Many markets have short histories, some having opened in just the last decade, and governments often limit foreign shareholdings.
It’s not that Middle East markets are out of bounds to, or universally shunned by, foreign investors, or that those who choose not to deploy capital there are making the right call.

Some portfolio managers and other professionals have significant positions in the region – in part because they believe that their peers’ absence has left stocks trading at bargain prices. But the lack of a large, stable, diverse base of investors often means that foreigners make fleeting forays into the markets, using them for quick scores only.
Even if access were easier, it’s doubtful that foreign investors would be clamouring for it. Those who steer clear of the region or have minimal holdings there say they consider the Middle East, as far as stock markets are concerned, too small to bother with.

Pause on economic escalator brings uncertainty

I don’t like those motion-activated escalators. You step on, but there is a split second before the machine starts to work, and you wonder briefly if it has broken down and you’ll have to get the legs working for the trudge upstairs. It’s usually only a fraction of a second before the sensors activate, the machinery kicks in, and you resume your effortless ascent, but I always find it disconcerting.

I’ve had a similar feeling for the past week about the financial and economic scene in the UAE, and especially Dubai. After all the “green-shoot” signals – stock markets soaring, oil above $70, property prices “bottoming out”, financial liquidity returning, world economic environment stabilising – my business brain was expecting continued upward and forward movement in the UAE. Now, just fleetingly, it has come over all confused and uncertain.

The signals have changed quite suddenly and subtly. Stock markets have had an incredible three-month period, adding more than 30 per cent to value in decent volumes and amid signs of resurgent foreign interest in the region. Then last week it all came off the boil.

DLA Piper Makes Second Round of Layoffs in Middle East Offices (Pre-publication)

DLA Piper has launched a second round of job cuts in the Middle East, with the firm cutting 9 percent of staff in the region, including one partner.

In total, 22 staff will lose their jobs in the region, including nine fee earners. Staff were informed this month, with the cuts taking effect immediately.

Dubai is the most heavily hit -- seeing more than one-third of the total departures, with corporate, real estate, finance and projects affected.

See which firms are on The Layoff List.