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Friday, 11 September 2009

Future lines will be joint ventures

The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) hopes to launch Dubai Metro's Green Line by June 2010 – but all other proposed lines will be delayed until it is able to enter into public-private partnerships.

A Blue Line is proposed along a 47km route along Emirates Road, linking Dubai International Airport and Al Maktoum International Airport in Jebel Ali.

And a 49km Purple Line to run parallel to Al Khail Road will provide an express service between the two airports in 40 minutes, including stopping time.

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Reforms earn World Bank’s praise

The UAE climbed 14 places in a key World Bank ranking for regulatory reform after taking steps to eliminate capital requirements for start-up companies and simplifying the registration of new businesses.

The country rose in the ranking compiled by the World Bank and its International Finance Corporation after the UAE Government abolished a Dh150,000 (US$40,839) minimum capital requirement for some start-ups.

“That is a very important reform,” said Dahlia Khalifa, a World Bank senior economist. “The Doing Business report focuses on the SME sector and we take this from the vantage point of domestic entrepreneurs. Minimum capital requirements can stand as a big obstacle for small business start-ups.”

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Questions arise over Zain stake sale

One of the largest foreign acquisitions in GCC history is in the spotlight as new questions emerge about the consortium that announced it would acquire 46 per cent of Kuwait’s telecommunications giant Zain Group for almost US$14 billion (Dh51.42bn).

Two state-owned Indian telecommunications companies originally announced as part of the group have denied being involved in the deal.

And issues have been raised about the lead member of the consortium, India’s Vavasi Group, by a Bahraini government minister and a respected leader of India’s technology industry.

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Time to make bankers pay for their mistakes

Sometimes you have to admire the Australians. As the world celebrates the fact that the financial system is still functioning after last year’s near-fatal heart attack, its leaders are planning to meet in Pittsburgh to decide on a cohesive recovery plan.

An exception is Kevin Rudd, the prime minister of Australia, who apparently wrote to Barack Obama asking if the meeting couldn’t be postponed so he could watch an Aussie Rules football match. Rather unsportingly, Mr Obama declined.

So for Mr Rudd’s benefit, and for any bankers who think it’s bonus time, let us begin by recalling the gravity of the situation. Soon after the banks had started failing, it was dubbed “the end of capitalism”.

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Dubai House Prices Plunge 47% as Speculators Flee

House prices in Dubai plummeted 47 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, the steepest drop of any market, according to Knight Frank LLC, as speculators left the Persian Gulf business hub.

On a quarterly basis, prices in the sheikhdom fell 7.5 percent, less than the 41 percent decline three months earlier, the London-based property broker said in an e-mailed statement today. Dubai’s annual drop accelerated from a 32 percent fall in the first quarter.

Dubai property values erased most of last year’s 59 percent gain in the first half as the market caught up with declines elsewhere in the global housing slump triggered by the financial crisis. Prices had ballooned in a debt-fueled construction boom as the sheikhdom transforms itself into a regional center for financial services and tourism.

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UAE nuclear deal waits for US 123 agreement (Re-post)

First you see them now you don't

This blog post also appeared in an edited version in Fuel Cycle Week , V8N343, September 10, 2009, published by International Nuclear Associates, Washington, DC

Reuters wire service found itself in a double boomerange effect in its coverage of nuclear energy issues this week when it comes to the award date for the expected $40 billion UAE nuclear tender. On Tuesday Sept 8 it put out a story that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was "days away" from awarding a $40 billion contract to one of three global consortiums to build up to 5,000 MW of nuclear reactors to generate electricity.

On Wednesday Sept 9 Reuters posted another story in which the UAE categorically denied that it was "days away" from the contract award. A government official familiar with the negotiations told the wire service “the UAE is not days away from awarding this contract. The process is still ongoing.”

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Istithmar Said to Halt Investment; Dubai Weighs Sale (Update1)

Istithmar World, the Dubai sovereign wealth fund, is halting investments as part of a restructuring effort after spending more than $25 billion this decade on stakes ranging from a yacht marina to luxury retailer Barneys New York, according to people familiar with the plan.

The process may result in a sale of the fund or its assets, they said. Istithmar, run by David Jackson, said this week that co-chief investment officers John Amato and Felix Herlihy would leave the firm. Jackson’s job is under review, the people said.

A restructuring by Istithmar and its parent Dubai World may mark the most public reversal of fortune for a state-controlled investment firm since global credit markets seized up in 2007. Sovereign wealth funds, fueled in part by oil revenue, have become sources of capital around the world for companies including Citigroup Inc. and Morgan Stanley.

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