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Monday, 31 December 2012

Bouncing loan cheques in the UAE no longer a crime - The National

Bouncing loan cheques in the UAE no longer a crime - The National:
Loan defaulters no longer face prison when their security cheques bounce.

Expatriates jailed for defaulting have been released from prison and federal courts no longer accept bounced cheques presented by lenders as evidence of a crime, which effectively decriminalises defaulting on a loan.

The relaxation for expatriates follows a similar move in October that affected only Emiratis. It the result of a decree by the President, Sheikh Khalifa, that expatriate and Emirati loan defaulters should be treated equally.

Not bad for such a dry aggregated subject, 540,000 all time views. Let's see what 2013 holds for #GCC and #UAE business sector.


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Reports about waiver of expatriates debts are baseless

Expatriates currently in jail for defaulting on debts are not being pardoned, a top official said yesterday.
The Presidential orders to help defaulters pertain to Emiratis only, Ahmad Jumaa Al Zaabi, deputy minister of Presidential Affairs told Gulf News. Local reports that said yesterday expatriates are being included in those orders are not true he added. “There is no relaxation or debt waiver for expatriates,” he explained.
Earlier, Al Zaabi said that 332 citizens were released following cases of bounced security cheques. He described these cheques as “swords on the necks of borrowers which lead to prison in the case of defaults regardless of the amount being paid.”

Abu Dhabi’s foreign trade up 37.6% in 2011 |

The value of foreign trade of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi increased by 37.6per cent in 2011 to mark Dh532.9 billion, as a result of the hike in exports by 38.5 per cent, and imports by 34.4 per cent.The total trade accounted for 66 per cent of the GDP of the emirate in 2011.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia came first on the list of trading partners of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi for non-oil commodities during 2011, as it accounted for 11 per cent of the total non-oil trade of the Emirate, with trade exchange valued at Dh15.9 billion during the same year.
The United States came in the second place, with approximately Dh13.6 billion, and a relative importance of 9.7 per cent, while South Korea was at third place, as it accounted for 8.4 per cent of the total non-oil trade of the Emirate, and trade exchange of Dh11.8 billion. Japan ranked fourth in with a share of Dh9.9 billion of the total emirate’s non-oil trade during 2011, marking a relative importance of 7 per cent. Three countries from the European Union, Germany, Italy and France, assumed the fifth, sixth, and seventh rank respectively.

Dubai Lowers 2013 Budget Deficit Forecast to Below 0.5% of GDP - Bloomberg

Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, approved a budget that forecast a gap of less than 0.5 percent of 2013’s gross domestic product, the Dubai Media Office said in an e-mailed statement today.
The emirate expects revenue to rise 7.8 percent next year to 32.62 billion dirhams ($8.9 billion) with spending at 34.12 billion dirhams, according to the statement. The budget gap is expected to narrow by 18 percent compared with 2012.
Government spending on infrastructure will fall by 5 percentage points to 16 percent of total expenditure because of the completion of a number of “large projects,” according to the statement. “The government remains committed to its announced infrastructure projects which participate in economic growth and stimulate domestic and foreign investments,” the media office said.

Winners and losers of 2012: the beyondbrics emerging markets awards | beyondbrics

If 2012 for emerging markets could be summed up in a few words, they would probably be “the search for yield”.

That was a change from 2011, when the keynote was “the flight to safety”: market panic drove investors away from risky EM assets and into the safest possible developed market ones. But in 2012, as growth in developed economies continued to stagnate and real yields on some AAA sovereign debt turned negative, investors started looking further afield. With healthier public balance sheets and fast growing economies behind them, EM government bonds saw a surge of inflows.

JP Morgan’s benchmark EMBI index, which tracks yields on EM government bonds, fell below 5 per cent – down from over 12 per cent in 2008 – to reach record lows, while volumes of EM debt issuance grew by around 50 per cent to $350bn. Emerging market debt funds enjoyed a stellar year, with massive inflows and high returns.

Dubai aims to shrink size of budget deficit by 18 pct in 2013 | Reuters

Dubai has released a 2013 budget plan that would raise spending moderately while cutting the size of its deficit by 18 percent, aiming to balance boosting economic growth with fixing state finances after its 2009-2010 debt crisis.

Authorities could have eliminated the deficit entirely but decided instead to increase state spending in order to fund welfare and infrastructure projects, Abdulrahman al-Saleh, director general of the department of finance, said on Monday.

Saleh said that by cutting the annual deficit to below 0.5 percent of gross domestic product, the 2013 budget demonstrated Dubai's commitment to balancing its budget over time.

UAE mortgage cap effect: Banks inform clients old pre-approval letters cancelled - Emirates 24/7

Following the UAE Central Bank’s move to restrict home loans to expats to 50 per cent of a property's value, banks on Monday started informing customers that the old mortgage pre-approval letters stand cancelled and new loan-to-value (LTV) ratio stand as per the Apex Bank’s directive, two bankers told Emirates 24/7.

“There was a meeting of our sales person last (Sunday) night and we were informed to tell our customers that their pre-approval letters stand cancelled. From January our LTV will be only 50 per cent of the home value,” the banker said on conditions of anonymity.

“The applications being processed at the older LTVs will go ahead, but all our sales agents have been advised to market our product as the Central Bank guideline.”

MIDEAST STOCKS-UAE property stocks slide on mortgage cap; Egypt up | Reuters

Property stocks in the United Arab Emirates slid on the last day of the year after the central bank unexpectedly issued regulations curbing home mortgages, with heavyweight developer Emaar Properties weighing on Dubai's index.

The central bank said in a circular to commercial banks that mortgage loans for foreigners buying residential real estate should not exceed 50 percent of the property's value, with a 70 percent cap for local citizens.

The move appeared to be an effort to ensure that another bubble in UAE real estate did not develop, but analysts said it could slow the property market's fledgling recovery from the 2008-2011 crash.

MIDEAST DEBT-UAE risks slowing property recovery with mortgage cap | Reuters

Last September, people lined up for hours in a square outside the headquarters of leading Dubai real estate developer Emaar Properties, waiting for a chance to buy units in a luxury apartment complex.

The complex, in a fashionable area of downtown Dubai, had not yet been built. But the buyers, who included foreigners from Europe and Asia as well as local citizens, were so keen to get hold of the apartments that they were willing to sign up based on construction plans.

Some were hoping to make money even before the units were completed, by selling on their ownership if property prices rose. The scene recalled, on a smaller scale, Dubai's property bubble of the mid-2000s, when frenzied speculation sent real estate prices soaring.

Dubai malls resort to lease buybacks |

  • Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News Archives
  • Mall owners in Dubai are using innovative leasing practices following the robust performance by the retail sector, where growth rates for key categories are averaging 20 per cent year-on-year. Dubai’s leading malls can demand a premium on their new leases.
Mall managements at some of Dubai’s more popular shopping destinations are “buying back” leases from under-performing retailers to accommodate those on their waiting lists. In some instances, these waiting lists number well over 100 hopefuls and who are willing to pay a considerable mark-up to get into a mall of their preferred choice.
“Essentially, the mall owners will pay existing retailers to leave the spaces vacant to enable the new brands to set up business,” said David Macadam, regional director — head of retail at the property firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL). “This buy-out is a good solution for both the departing retailer — seeking to recoup the losses incurred in the poor performing shops — and the developer, who gains new brands for the centre.”
Such innovative leasing practices come in the wake of the robust performance by Dubai’s retail sector, where growth rates for key categories are averaging 20 per cent year-on-year. In such an environment, Dubai’s leading malls can demand — and get — a premium on their new leases.

Decree orders UAE expatriates jailed for bouncing cheques to be freed - The National

Expatriates jailed for bounced deposit cheques have been freed, and federal courts have stopped hearing criminal cases involving such cheques.
It follows similar move in October that affected only Emiratis.
Officials from the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, the Ministry and Justice and lawyers confirmed to The National's Arabic sister paper, Al Ittihad, that acting on a decree by the President, Sheikh Khalifa, expatriate and Emirati defaulters are now to be treated equally when it comes to cheques held against them as collateral.

Dubai to raise gov't spending to $9.28bn in 2013 - Banking & Finance -

Dubai on Monday announced its budget for 2013 with spending set to rise by nearly AED2bn to AED34.1bn ($9.28bn).
Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum approved next year's budget which also forecast a near-eight percent increase in public revenues.
It also said that six percent of public spending has been allocated to debt servicing in 2013.

MENA stock markets close - December 31, 2012

 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)

Qatar Telecom builds up its stake in Tunisiana | 31 December 2012 | Stock Market Wire

Qatar Telecom has reached agreement with the Tunisian Government to acquire a further 15% stake in Tunisiana for a total consideration of $360m.

National Mobile Telecommunications Company, a 92.1% subsidiary of Qtel already, has a direct holding of 75% in Tunisiana. Following completion of the transaction, Qtel and its' subsidiaries total holding in Tunisiana will increase to 90%.

The Tunisian Government will retain a 10% holding in Tunisiana with a view to a public offering in the future.

Dubai and Abu Dhabi indices trade opposite ways |

Dubai’s DFM index fell 0.40 per cent to close at 1622.53 points on Monday on profit taking and central bank’s new lending restrictions. Among the gainers, Union Properties rose 1.28 per cent to close at Dh0.395, followed by GGICO by 1.16 per cent to Dh0.348 and Gulf Navigation by 0.74 per cent to Dh0.272.
Among the losers, Shuaa fell 6.95 per cent to Dh0.549, followed by Al Salam Bank – Bahrain by 6.12 per cent to Dh0.506 and Dartakaful by 4.73 per cent to Dh0.524. Of the 27 companies traded, eight rose, 13 declined and six remained unchanged.
About 165.76 million shares worth Dh210.31 million were traded.

Dubai Islamic Bank Needs Capital to Avoid Downgrade: Arab Credit - Bloomberg

Dubai Islamic Bank PJSC (DIB), the world’s oldest Shariah-compliant lender, may need to boost capital to absorb bad loans stemming from a real estate slump to avert a possible ratings downgrade.
The biggest United Arab Emirates lender complying with Muslim banking rules was placed on ratings watch because loan quality “remains very weak compared to peers” and it hasn’t set aside enough money to cover losses, Moody’s Investors Service said Dec. 6. Competitor Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank sold perpetual debt in November to raise capital so it can lend more as the U.A.E. economy recovers from a property crash that sent Dubai home prices tumbling more than 65 percent.
“Dubai Islamic will soon need to find fresh capital, or alternatively cut back on loan growth substantially,” Jaap Meijer, a director of equity research at Dubai-based Arqaam Capital Ltd., said in an e-mail Dec. 26. He cited DIB’s “high dividend payout and low capital-generation capacity.”

PIMCO's Gross sees 2013 stock, bond returns of less than 5 percent | Reuters

PIMCO's Bill Gross says he expects stocks and bonds to return less than 5 percent in 2013, with the U.S. unemployment rate remaining at 7.5 percent or higher.

"1) Stocks & bonds return less than 5%. 2) Unemployment stays at 7.5% or higher 3) Gold goes up" Gross, the co-founder of Pacific Investment Management Co (PIMCO) and manager of the world's largest bond fund, wrote in a twitter post on Sunday. (

As of Friday the total return on the Standard & Poor's 500 index, including dividends, was 12.33 percent for the year, while spot gold was up 5.8 percent at $1,654.90 per ounce. The U.S. unemployment rate stood at 7.7 percent in November.

Emaar Drops as U.A.E. Said to Cap Expat Mortgages: Dubai Mover - Bloomberg

Dubai’s real estate stocks fell, led by Emaar Properties PJSC (EMAAR) after the United Arab Emirates was said to have capped mortgages for expatriates, prompting concern a recovery in the property industry may be at risk.
Shares of the developer of the world’s tallest skyscraper dropped 1.1 percent, the first decline since Dec. 25, to 3.77 dirhams, at 10:30 a.m. in the emirate, trimming this year’s rally to 47 percent. The stock led a drop in the benchmark DFM General Index, which slipped 0.4 percent. Builder Arabtec Holding Co. (ARTC) and property companies Drake & Scull International (DSI) PJSC and Deyaar Development (DEYAAR) PJSC also fell.
The second-biggest Arab economy issued guidelines to restrict mortgages for expatriates to 50 percent of property value, according to three bankers who saw a circular issued yesterday. Home loans to U.A.E. citizens can be as much 70 percent of the value of the property for the first house and 60 percent for a second house, two of the bankers said. The bankers declined to be identified because the information isn’t public yet. There were no loan-to-value limits under the earlier policies.

Daily chart: The biggest hits of 2012 | The Economist

Our ten most popular articles on this year
BEFORE looking ahead to the new year, a look behind at the year gone by. We present a clickable "tree map" of our top stories throughout 2012, in which the size of each box represents the relative popularity (measured in page views).
It reveals that American presidential election articles were among the most popular, but ones on French politics also proved a big draw. Pieces on economics, manufacturing and Asian territorial disputes similarly attracted great interest during the year, along with a prominent book review—a paean to the penis—which exposed itself in December as one of our biggest stories.
Note: This graphic concentrates purely on print edition stories and blog articles. Other online content that would have made this year's list includes: KAL's cartoons,Which MBA, and interactive infographics from our Graphic detail blog.

2012 in review: charts of the year | beyondbrics

A year in charts, as selected by you, the beyondbrics readers. The themes of the year are India, China, GDP and, above all, oil.

Our top 10 charts, in reverse order by readership:
With the Indian government quietly revising downwards its GDP growth forecasts for many quarters, what are the scenarios for growth?
Source: Standard Chartered

In the run-up to the 2012 Olympics, Chart of the week looked at which countries out-performed at Beijing and which should be ones to watch in London, dividing Olympic performance into EM stars, EMs involved, DM performers and DM under-achievers.
Sources: IMF, BBC

A look at some key emerging markets and levels of middle class spending.

If you had $100 at the start of 2012 and took a punt on a few emerging market exchanges, which ones would have made you a fast buck and which would have reduced you to tears?
Source: Bloomberg

For many emerging markets, the traditional heavy-to-load, desktop-orientated website may soon be a thing of the past.
chart week Dec 17 EMs and mobile internet

The growth trajectory of China and India. Why does it matter so much?
Source: Bloomberg, IMF

India – long the world’s biggest buyer of gold – was poised to be overtaken by China
Gold demand (tonnes), 4-quarter rolling total

Which companies are providing China’s exports, and where will growth come from in future?

Who produces it, who uses it, who has it? And how do emerging markets compare to developed economies?

How much do emerging markets depend on oil for their energy – and who wins and who loses from high oil prices?
Source: OECD/IEA

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Dubai drops moderately on home loan cap - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Dubai's property stocks decline moderately in early trade, weighing on the emirate's index, after the
United Arab Emirates central bank introduced caps on mortgage loans for foreigners and nationals.
The maximum loan to value ratio for mortgage loans to individuals was capped at 50 percent for expatriates and 70 percent for UAE citizens, a central bank circular seen by Reuters said.
Leading real estate developer Emaar Properties drops 1.0 percent while contractor Arabtec falls 0.9 percent. Developer Union Properties bucks the trend, climbing 1.5 percent. The main market index falls 0.3 percent.
The impact of the new rules on stock prices is modest partly because it is still unclear to what extent the regulations will be enforced; previous rules announced by the central bank have been suspended after protests by commercial banks.

How will a 50% mortgage loan cap for expatriates impact on the UAE property market? « ArabianMoney

The UAE Central bank has issued guidelines to local banks restricting mortgages for expatriates only to 50 per cent of property value. This is likely to dampen the property recovery in the second largest Arab economy but such action did not prevent Hong Kong from becoming the world’s most highly priced real estate market.

Short-term negative and long-term positive? That is a reasonable conclusion to reach.

One universal theme will dominate for all of us - the economy - The National

This year the main theme on the minds of governments, investors, businesses and the public will be the same - the economy, stupid.
We begin on the home front ...

Abu Dhabi's GDP is estimated to grow at an average annual rate of 5.7 per cent between next year and 2016, Mohammed Omar Abdullah, the undersecretary of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, said recently in the capital.

A litmus test for Dubai's recovery will emerge next year and in 2014 in the shape of nearly US$42 billion (Dh154.26bn) in debt repayments coming due. How Dubai tackles this issue will provide the clearest sign yet of whether the emirate is firing on all cylinders again.

Record-breaking year for Etihad - The National

Etihad Airways has broken its 10 million passenger target for 2012, notching a 22 per cent increase on the number of people it carried last year.

By midnight on December 31, the nine-year-old airline will have carried more than 10.29 million passengers, an increase of 1.88 million on 2011.

The performance means Etihad will have carried 73 per cent of all passengers through Abu Dhabi International Airport in 2012, a 5.3 per cent increase on 2011's figure of 67.7 per cent.

2013 Pickings from the Saudi and Qatar stock markets |

The stock markets of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman had a mixed year in 2012. Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul Index pared much of the exceptional gains in the first quarter of the year, to be up only 7% until the close of last week. Qatar, after a strong 2011, remained in the red for most of 2012, with a year-to-date loss of 5.36%. Oman, for the year, also was down 0.34%.
Going into the New Year, fund managers, however, see all the three markets offering value, eyeing specific sectors and stocks.
The upbeat mood of the managers has much to do with positive policy stance across the board. The Gulf governments continuing to accumulate surpluses given the high energy prices, which are above their break even point, and follow their expansionary plans in the physical and human infrastructure are likely to boost company earnings that are expected to positively impact investor sentiment.

Abu Dhabi hotels face pressure even with increasing guests |

The Beach Rotana Hotel. Abu Dhabi UAE.
Although more hotel guests have stayed in Abu Dhabi’s 137 hotels, resorts and hotel apartments from January to November end this year, the increasing room availability has put pressure on occupancy and room rates.
Occupancy is down 6 per cent year-on-year to 65 per cent; average room rates have dipped 8 per cent to Dh452.5 ($123) and revenue per available room is down 13 per cent to Dh293.48 ($80), according to the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi).
“Competition has put our luxury proposition in a very affordable bracket which will assist our ever increasing efforts to attract more guests and encourage them to stay longer,” said Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General, TCA Abu Dhabi.

Egypt to resume talks with IMF in January |

Egypt’s prime minister said on Sunday his country will resume talks in January with the International Monetary Fund, after Cairo suspended its request for a $4.8 billion loan during this month’s political turmoil over the now-adopted constitution.
Hesham Kandil didn’t specify when the talks will resume. But he stressed that the loan is important to Egypt’s efforts to regain investor confidence as his country grapples with a crippling budget deficit and dwindling foreign reserves.
“We need the vote of confidence from the IMF,” he told reporters at the launch of a government initiative that appears aimed at calming worries about imminent austerity measures and the health of the economy.

UAE economy to grow by 3.25-5 per cent |

The UAE economy is expected to grow at a rate between 3.25 to 5 per cent in 2013 in a world still grappling with economic and financial challenges. And much of that growth is a result of government projects tendered in 2013, according to experts interviewed by Gulf News.
According to Dr Waddah Taha, chief analyst and economist at Zarouni Group, the closer estimate of UAE growth would be between 3.25 to 3.5 per cent for 2013.
“I am optimistic yet cautious about international challenges and their impact on the UAE economy,” he said. What is more important, however, is not growth rate but rather the containment of inflation and its negative effects, he cautioned. “We know that real economic growth is calculated after deducting inflation; once this is done we can judge that the economy is acting positively thereof.”

Growth set to continue | Oman Observer

With the continuing higher oil prices and the incremental contribution from non-oil income, the Omani economy is set to continue its stable pace of growth during the year ahead. The thrust on government project spending is evident from the RO 1.4 billion tender awarded during the period from January to November 2012.
“As the allocation for development programme have been raised by about 30 per cent to complete infrastructure projects under way, like ports, airports, roads etc, this allocation will improve foreign as well as local investments and provide sources of income, employment and improved standard of living of citizens. The higher disposable incomes will support the demand side, favouring the overall market,” says Suresh Kumar, Head of Research, Al Maha Financial Services.