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Sunday, 28 August 2011

Painful lessons learnt, brighter days ahead - The National

A dhow sails on Dubai creek as it passes the QE2 docked at Port Rashid in Dubai in 2009. AP Photo

    It was around this time in 2008 that I was gazing out of my top-storey office window at the bustling, vibrant streets and towers of Dubai below. The majestic QE2 was anchored in the shining Arabian Gulf, business was good and the whole country seemed to give off a sense of invincibility; an oasis of everlasting good times awash with opportunity.

    But storm clouds were gathering in the West. The boom was turning to bust and the global media was doing its best to make light of just what was happening to the financial system. We all heard about it, but the general consensus was that we were somehow insulated in the GCC from the brunt of the global financial downturn by the pedestal of petrodollars that formed the base of this "economic miracle".

    How wrong we were. The regional stock markets started to tumble, but it took a while before liquidity in the banks dried up, and with it the engine of Dubai's growth: property. The growth capital being injected into nascent industries in the region was rapidly withdrawn and people were losing their jobs everywhere. The confidence that was once a hallmark of UAE executives disappeared overnight, and the wheels of this vibrant economy stopped turning.

    Al Hilal Bank plans to issue $1bn of sukuk - The National

    Al Hilal Bank is preparing for its first foray into credit markets, courting international investors with an Islamic bond sale.

    The Islamic bank, which is fully owned by the Abu Dhabi Investment Council, seeks to issue at least US$1 billion (Dh3.67bn) of sukuk before the end of the year.

    Al Hilal is hoping the bond issue will help it to build a track record among international credit markets for future bond sales, said Sarie Arar, the head of wholesale banking at Al Hilal.

    Luxury Istanbul homes attract Mideast buyers - Hurriyet Daily News

    Inside of the Zeki Paşa Mansion is seen in this photo. Sotheby’s is in talks with tourism investors who want to buy the asset.
    Inside of the Zeki Paşa Mansion is seen in this photo. Sotheby’s is in talks with tourism investors who want to buy the asset.
    Rich Arab buyers are getting more interested in the waterside mansions and expensive houses by Istanbul’s Boshporus, according to the head of Sotheby’s Turkey. The recent political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa is also playing a role in drawing investors to safe havens such a Turkey, the executive says

    Due to ongoing conflicts and clashes sweeping through Middle Eastern and North African countries, Arab investors are flocking to the Turkish real estate market to invest in luxurious residences and waterfront villas by Istanbul’s Bosporus Strait, according to the top executive of Sotheby’s local branch.
    “In recent years, Arab investors started monitoring the Turkish market, but now this has accelerated,” Arman Özver, general manager of Sotheby’s Turkey, told the Hürriyet Daily News during a recent interview. Extremely rich Arabs generally pay from $2 million to $30 million for houses on the shore of the Bosphorus Strait, which divides the Asian and European parts of Istanbul, Özver said, adding that the remaining Arab investors look for luxury residence projects in central Istanbul for around $250,000.

    Qatar in talks to lease Silverstone F1 circuit -

    Qatar's sovereign wealth fund is in exclusive talks with the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) to lease the Silverstone Formula One circuit, The Independent newspaper reported on Sunday.

    The BRDC, which owns the circuit, is in talks with the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) to lease the 850-acre Silverstone site for 150 years, in a deal expected to be worth up to £250 million (US$405.7 million), the paper said.

    The Independent added that QIA was selected from a shortlist drawn up by PricewaterhouseCoopers .

    Saudi Arabia, EU, European Union, Standard & Poor's, Saudi economy, United States | alifarabia

    Saudi Arabia is not immune to the debt crisis in the European Union.

    “A default that involved Spain and Italy would almost certainly lead to a seizing up of eurozone — and quite possibly global — interbank markets,” says Saudi-based Samba bank.

    “Even if the financial shock was confined to the zone itself, European demand for raw materials and manufactured products (mainly from emerging markets) and services (mainly from North America) would shrink dramatically and this would be enough to imperil the global economic recovery.”

    Saudi foreign reserves top $500bn for first time -

    Saudi Arabia’s foreign reserves surpassed $500 billion for the first time in July, giving the biggest Arab economy scope to carry out its spending plans to foment growth and weather any potential drop in oil prices.

    Total reserves assets increased to SR1.90 trillion ($506 billion) from SR1.86 trillion in the previous month, according to data posted on the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency’s website.

    Foreign currency and deposits abroad rose 1.3 percent to SR493 million, while investments in foreign securities climbed 1.9 percent to SR1.3 billion.

    Markaz - GCC Asset Management - 2011 (PDF)

    MENA stock markets close - August 28, 2011

    ExchangeStatus IndexChange
    TASI (Saudi Stock Market)
    DFM (Dubai Financial Market)
    ADX (Abudhabi Securities Exchange)
    KSE (Kuwait Stock Exchange)
    BSE (Bahrain Stock Exchange)
    MSM (Muscat Securities Market)
    QE (Qatar Exchange)
    LSE (Beirut Stock Exchange)
    EGX 30 (Egypt Exchange)
    ASE (Amman Stock Exchange)
    TUNINDEX (Tunisia Stock Exchange)
    CB (Casablanca Stock Exchange)
    PSE (Palestine Securities Exchange)

    Gulf banks join protest over tough rules - The National

    Gulf lenders are among a group of international banks in the US that have protested against additional charges to be imposed on banks deemed too big to fail.

    The charges are intended to prevent the world's major banks from repeating the mistakes of the global financial crisis.

    The Institute of International Bankers, an association that represents lenders including Doha Bank, Arab Banking Corporation and Abu Dhabi International Bank, the American arm of National Bank of Abu Dhabi, has complained that higher capital buffers for big banks will reduce competition.

    Dubai's Abraaj buys Amundi's N.African PE business | Reuters

    Dubai's Abraaj Capital acquired the North African private equity operations of French asset manager Amundi, it said on Sunday, aiming to beef up its presence in the fast-growing region.

    Abraaj, the largest Middle East private equity firm with assets under management of $6.2 billion, will manage the $161 million SGAM Al Kantara Fund and absorb the 11-member Amundi investment team as part of the deal, it said. The company also acquired Amundi's stake in the Kantara Fund.

    It did not disclose the total value for the transaction.

    MIDEAST STOCKS-Oman at 3-wk high; Gulf mkts up on global cues | Reuters

    Oman's index climbed to a three-week high on Sunday, as local pension fund buying boosted the battered market, while other regional markets also rose amid muted trading ahead of the extended Eid Al Fitr holidays.

    The Gulf state's index ended 2.1 percent up, its highest close since Aug 4, with most bluechip stocks advancing. The index has fallen 17 percent year-to-date.

    "We are seeing a lot of money coming in from local pension funds as well as some foreign investors," said Adel Nasr, brokerage manager at United Securities in Muscat.

    Retailers Target Dubai on Bet Mideast Shopping Oasis Won’t Lose Its Luster - Bloomberg

    Limited Brands Inc., operator of the Victoria’s Secret chain, and American Eagle Outfitters Inc. are among retailers seeking a foothold in Dubai as consumer confidence in the emirate reaches a seven-year high.

    Sales in Dubai are up about 10 percent this year, according to store companies such as Rivoli Group, which sells watches from brands including Tissot, Burberry, Gucci and Cartier. U.S. retailers, traditionally reluctant to enter the region, are coming to Dubai as sales in their domestic markets and other fashion capitals remain subdued.

    “There are more people in the malls here in Dubai than anywhere else in the world,” said Sheeraz Hasan, founder ‘Millions of Milkshakes,’ which will open its first branch outside the U.S. this year. “We wanted to show the West that Dubai is the place to be.”

    'via Blog this'

    gulfnews : Saudi growth needn't cause inflation

    Saudi Arabia's economy is poised for remarkable growth in 2011 on the back of numerous positive factors including steady oil prices and stronger domestic spending. Recently, the International Monetary Fund revealed that it expects Saudi Arabia to achieve a real gross domestic product growth rate — adjusted for inflation — of 6.5 per cent in 2011, up from 4.1 per cent in 2010 and 0.1 per cent in 2009.

    The new rate fits IMF's newly revised GDP growth rate for Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, which it has raised from 5.2 per cent to 7.8 per cent in 2011. Qatar outperforms fellow GCC economies in GDP growth thanks to development of its oil and gas sector.

    The notable GDP growth for Saudi Arabia in 2011 partly reflects stronger governmental projects which have led to a spillover effect in the private sector. As such, a good measure of growth is to unfold in the non-oil sector.

    Takeover alert as Iraq moves to trim banks - The National

    Iraq wants to reduce its number of local banks by more than a third, creating as many as 15 takeover targets for international lenders seeking to gain a foothold in the country.

    The move follows last week's disclosure that Standard Chartered has started discussions about the potential acquisition of a stake in Warka Bank, said the deputy governor of Iraq's central bank.

    "We are trying to evolve these private banks into real institutions," said Mudher Kasim. "The first step was to segregate shareholders from management and increase the capital requirement to push the banks to consolidate, merge or join up with foreign banks to practice good standards and service."

    Infighting at Opec opens up rifts - The National

    In the early days of the Libyan uprising, the world's top oil producers and consumers could be found in Riyadh celebrating their frank discussions on energy co-operation.

    Since that gathering in February, the conflict and its six-month toll on energy markets have chipped away at producer-consumer relations while exposing rifts between the world's major oil exporters.

    Libya, a member of Opec, pumped 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd) - just 2 per cent of the world's oil - but European refiners prize its light, high-quality crude. Its loss from the market sent the price of the benchmark crude Brent from about US$100 a barrel in early February to $127 in April. "The price levels are definitely too high for the global economic recovery," warned Fatih Birol, the chief economist for the International Energy Agency (IEA), the organisation in Paris that represents 28 industrialised oil-importing nations.

    Regulation hitch for Indian bank in Dubai

    The growing Indian diaspora and business opportunities in Dubai have excited Indian bankers in the region. No wonder, a number of public sector banks like Union Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank and Federal Bank have started talks with Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), the independent regulator for Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), to commence operations there. However, the Central Bank of Dubai has not shown any keeness to give them branch licences just as yet.

    “We are planning to open a branch in Dubai. There is a big opportunity for us due to the large representation of the Indian diaspora. Also, when we send people from India to work there, they find it much easier to adapt to the surroundings. Proximity to India and the time zone advantage make it a preferred destination for offshore banking,” said Abraham Chacko, executive director, Federal Bank.

    There are other advantages as well. DIFC is an economic centre that allows tax-free income and profits by foreign institutions.