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Sunday, 28 June 2009

Dubai and Angola explore opportunities to promote diamond trade

Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) announced today that it has begun exploring opportunities to strengthen ties with Angola in the area of diamond trade.

Dubai's delegation comprising Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman of DMCC, Peter Meeus, Chairman of Dubai Diamond Exchange and Paul Motmans, an expert on the Angolan economy, met with senior government officials of Angola at a high-profile dinner meeting in Luanda, Angloa, earlier this month.

Dubai and Angola are in the preliminary stage of outlining areas for cooperation to increase rough diamond trade volumes, in addition to other initiatives that can benefit the entire value chain of the diamond industry.

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Omar Quqa resigns, “Global needed me the most in this current critical stage”

Omar Quqa’s resignation on Sunday, June 28, 2009 from Global Investment House after 10 years of service.

Dear Globals,

After 11 years from establishing and working in Global, today I have submitted my resignation.

While I was not in agreement with the need for the recent change in the organizational structure announced in March, I have accepted to be the Advisor considering the critical time Global is passing through and based on the promise that I will be involved in strategic decisions and in the many committees that will be formed. This, however, has not happened.

I have tried my best numerously to be active and cooperative in providing advice and guidance to the management and members of the different committees, despite continuous efforts to exclude me, and all of that because of my belief that Global needed me the most in this current critical stage.

Now, and given the imminent signing of the rescheduling agreement with lenders, I have decided to submit my resignation, as attached. I’m sorry for not writing it in English as I felt writing it in Arabic would give me better flexibility in explaining my feelings.

Global is a great place and will continue to be the leader in the industry; you have raised the bar for this industry and are a source of pride for the whole region.

During the last 11 years at Global, I have learned a lot with and from all my colleagues, and especially Mrs. Maha Who I have worked with for the last 28 years.

I wish all of you all the best,

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ADBIC, Midal Cables sign $100 mln JV

Abu Dhabi Basic Industries Corp (ADBIC) said on Sunday it signed a joint venture agreement with Bahrain's Midal Cables under which the companies will set up a $100 million aluminum plant.

The agreement comes as ADBIC expands it downstream business and focuses on building clusters of industries to produce steel, aluminum, and petrochemicals.

Construction on the plant, which will produce 150,000 tonnes of aluminum products annually, will begin in the first quarter of 2010 at Abu Dhabi's Khalifa Port and Industrial Zone at Taweelah, ADBIC said in an emailed statement.

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Bad weather forces Iraq to delay oil tenders

Iraq has postponed the first day of highly anticipated tenders for eight major oil and gas fields due to a thick sandstorm that engulfed Baghdad on Sunday, the Oil Ministry said.

Ministry spokesman Asim Jihad said the ministry would begin announcing the winners of contracts to develop the fields on June 30 instead of June 29 because many executives had been unable to fly into Baghdad owing to the weather.

Jihad said the contracts might be awarded on one day instead of over two days. Some of the world's biggest oil firms, like Exxon Mobil, Total and Royal Dutch Shell are competing for deals to develop the six oil fields and two gas fields in the war-weary country's first major tender since 2003.

Iraq has the world's third largest proven oil reserves, estimated at 115 billion barrels.END

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Emaar merger risks job losses, project cuts

Emaar Properties’ merger with three state-owned property firms could spark further job cuts and project cancelations in Dubai’s beleaguered real estate market, as well as a wave of consolation among developers, analysts said on Sunday.

Emaar, the Middle East’s largest developer, announced over the weekend it is in advanced talks to merge with Dubai Properties, Sama Dubai and Tatweer - units of state-owned Dubai Holding - as the companies struggle amid a steep market downturn.

The downturn, set off by the global financial crisis, has seen property prices tumble more than 50 percent, billions of dollars worth of projects cancelled and thousands of people lose their jobs.

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Global's GCC Weekly Market Report – June 25, 2009 (PDF)

Global's Egypt Weekly Market Report - June 28, 2009 (PDF)

Saudi banks' lending falls amid solvency fears

Saudi banks' lending to the private sector fell for a third straight month in May, official data showed, amid growing concerns over the solvency of some family-owned firms and the local lenders' exposure to bad debts.

Bank claims on the private sector, a key indicator of lenders' confidence, stood at SR724.87 billion (Dh710bn) in May, their lowest level since August, showed the data published on the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency's (Sama) website. Compared to April, bank claims on the private sector made in May their sharpest month-on-month drop since January.

At 7.6 per cent, their annual growth was the lowest in at least one year.

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Hoteliers say further price cuts could be a dangerous strategy

Hotel room rates in Dubai have come under severe pressure with the decline in business travel and the continuous new supply coming onto the market, which has caused operators to slash rates, industry experts said.

The latest available data from STR Global and Deloitte show that occupancy levels in hotels in the Middle East have declined by 9.6 per cent from April 2008 to April 2009, while revenue per available room (RevPAR), an industry benchmark, has declined by 14.9 per cent.

Sami Al Ansari, Chief Executive Officer of Ishraq Gulf Real Estate (Holding), the company behind Holiday Inn Express in the region, told Emirates Business: "Year to date it's not too bad, the market is averaging close to 70 per cent across Dubai, which is positive in itself. There is huge pressure on room rents, which is driving rates to very dangerous levels. In the beginning of June we saw rates come down even further and unfortunately we have not seen the bottom yet, as it is just the beginning of summer."

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Samba Financial leads decline in Tadawul

Saudi Arabian shares fell in the week's first day of trading, led by Samba Financial Group, a bank managed and in part owned by members of the Al Gosaibi family, whose Bahraini bank defaulted.

The Tadawul All Share Index fell 0.1 per cent to 5,601.19 at close in Riyadh, losing some of the gains of the previous day. The gauge gained 16.6 per cent this year after losing more than half its value in 2008 as oil prices dropped.

Samba fell the most since January 20, retreating five per cent to 42.1 riyals. Ahmad Hamad Al Gosaibi & Brothers Co, the Saudi family holding company, owes 34.6 billion Saudi riyals ($9.2 billion) to more than 100 banks, two people familiar with the situation told Bloomberg on June 25.

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The consolidation of Dubai Inc

Dubai Holding {{lang|ar|دبي القابضة}}Image via Wikipedia

A series of consolidations and debt restructurings in Dubai are bringing needed clarity to the emirate’s response to the financial crisis as it works to reorganise government-controlled companies.

Emaar, the Middle East’s largest developer, said on Friday it was in talks to acquire the property interests of Dubai Holding, bringing three companies – Sama Dubai, Tatweer and Dubai Properties – under its umbrella.

Also last week, Dubai World, the major property and ports conglomerate, said it was consolidating the management and property operations of Leisurecorp, Dubai Maritime City and the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre, all of which it owns. The property divisions of these companies will now be run by Nakheel, another property arm of Dubai World.

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Lessons the euro can offer the GCC on monetary union

While the discussion about a unified GCC currency and its peg against the dollar has taken the limelight, the broader process of an integrated economic system for the GCC that might emerge from the birth of monetary union is more important.

The global financial turmoil has not only thrown in doubt previously held beliefs about regulating the banking system, but also raised some unthinkable questions, such as the future of currency blocs like the euro.

The same uncertainties about the direction and approach in managing the financial crisis seems to have affected GCC countries, with the UAE believing that an open and liberal regulatory regime is still valid, while Saudi Arabia has opted for a more regulated regime. Once again the EU model stands out. The UAE’s decision to withdraw from a GCC currency union echoed Britain’s decision to opt out of a common currency.

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Banks brace for increased defaults

Bankers expect loan defaults to rise in the next couple of months as uncertainty continues over the potential number of “skips” – people fleeing the country without paying their debts.

“There is always a marginal increase in delinquencies ahead of the summer. But this time there is clearly the worry that job losses will result in higher credit losses because people may not even come back,” said Sanjoy Sen, Citibank’s consumer bank head in the Gulf.

The UAE’s large transient population, and laws that oblige those without work to leave the country, together with a lack of historical reference points, make it hard for banks to judge their ability to recover bad loans from departing expatriates.

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Fined Saudi investor accepts verdict

A top Saudi retail investor denied on Saturday that he engaged in insider trading but said he accepted a verdict earlier this week by the bourse's watchdog which fined him for the alleged practice.

The Capital Market Authority said it had fined Mohammed bin Ibrahim bin Mohammed al-Issa 100,000 riyals ($26,667) after an appellate body affirmed a ruling that he conducted "insider trading in shares of Saudi Hotels Co based on his membership of the company's board".

Issa told the news agency Reuters he was not considering altering his stake in any of the firms in which he is a shareholder, including Saudi Hotels, Savola Group, Riyad Bank and Banque Saudi Frans, Calyon's Saudi affiliate.

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