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Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Abu Dhabi will get its Guggenheim… | beyondbrics – FT.com

… and its Louvre, and a Cleveland Clinic and a vast new 700,000 square metre airport terminal, among other things.

After more than a year of uncertainty, an all-powerful government review led by Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed, a senior member of the ruling family, has given the green light for the billions of dollars worth of flagship projects whose announcement brought global attention to the emirate.

Abu Dhabi was rich, sleepy and off the radar for most of the world until 2005, when its government began announcing a flurry of giant new development projects including the Saadiyat Island cultural district (future home to Guggenheim and Louvre outposts) and a Formula One race track and theme park on neighbouring Yas Island. Along with high-end residential districts, a new city powered by renewable energy and an ambitious international airline, the projects helped put Abu Dhabi on the map in a similar way that Dubai, its flashier neighbour, had managed in the previous decade.

MENA stock markets close - January 24, 2012

ExchangeStatus IndexChange
TASI (Saudi Stock Market)
6466.540.09%
DFM (Dubai Financial Market)
1364.031.74%
ADX (Abudhabi Securities Exchange)
2361.550.37%
KSE (Kuwait Stock Exchange)
5820.60.57%
BSE (Bahrain Stock Exchange)
1144.380.28%
MSM (Muscat Securities Market)
5593.63-0.08%
QE (Qatar Exchange)
8386.88-0.26%
LSE (Beirut Stock Exchange)
1170.060.01%
EGX 30 (Egypt Exchange)
4136.193.04%
ASE (Amman Stock Exchange)
1940.060.38%
TUNINDEX (Tunisia Stock Exchange)
4700.740.03%
CB (Casablanca Stock Exchange)
11180.4-0.25%
PSE (Palestine Securities Exchange)
474.750.09%

Dubai Shares Climb to Month High After Tumbling to Cheapest Since March - Bloomberg

Dubai stocks rose to a month high after last week’s drop pushed shares to the cheapest levels in almost a year and as oil traded above $100 a barrel.
Arabtec Holding Co. (ARTC), the United Arab Emirates’ biggest construction company, jumped 2.8 percent. Emaar Properties PJSC (EMAAR) rose the most since December. The DFM General Index (DFMGI) increased 1.7 percent to 1,364.03, the highest since Dec. 19, at the 2 p.m. close in the emirate. Dubai’s shares slumped to the lowest since May 2004 on Jan. 16, with companies in the gauge retreating to the cheapest level since March.
The rally is “a rebound from a seven-year low that was somewhat unjustified, given the low volumes associated with the drop,” said Hassan El Salah, head of institutional equities at Al Ramz Securities LLC, an Abu Dhabi-based brokerage. “These stocks have been battered the past few weeks.”

Dubai brokerage confirms closure after trading slump - Markets - ArabianBusiness.com

HC Securities & Investment and Al Futtaim Group has confirmed their intention to close down its brokerage Al Futtaim HC Securities in Dubai.
The company said it had suffered in a "very difficult environment" for the past three years, Hussein Choucri, chairman and managing director said.
Average daily trading in the UAE market slumped to AED226m ($61.5m) in 2011 compared to AED415m in 2010 and AED972m in 2009.

Aldar Rallies on Emirate Infrastructure Plan: Abu Dhabi Mover - Businessweek

Aldar Properties PJSC led gains in Abu Dhabi real estate stocks on investor bets the company may benefit from a spending plan that includes the expansion of the emirate’s airport and the construction of homes.

The shares of Aldar, Abu Dhabi’s biggest developer, soared 6 percent to 89 fils, the highest since Jan. 8, at the 2 p.m. close. Sorouh Real Estate PJSC climbed 5.3 percent to 79 fils, the highest since Jan. 5. The stocks had the second and third- biggest percentage gains on Abu Dhabi’s benchmark. Gulf Cement Co. PSC, the United Arab Emirates-based producer of the building material, led the rally. Abu Dhabi’s ADX General Index rose 0.4 percent to 2,361.55, the highest since Jan. 11.

Abu Dhabi, the oil-rich emirate that’s transforming itself into a business and cultural hub, plans to resume suspended projects including branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums after reviewing their viability, the government said late yesterday. The ADX Real Estate Index, down 54 percent in 2011, rose 5.2 percent to the highest since Jan. 4.

UAE investment in Pakistan at $21bn - Emirates 24/7

Ambassador of the UAE to Pakistan Essa Abdullah Al Basha Al Nuaimi said close communication and coordination between government officials, businessmen and investors in UAE and Pakistan would pave the way for exploring more investment opportunities and propelling economic relations to the level of political and diplomatic bonds.

Addressing a gathering of CEOs and representatives of UAE investment in Pakistan on Monday, Al Nuaimi said current bilateral trade between the two countries stand at $7.6 billion, while 27 companies are operating in various sectors including telecommunications and aviation. The volume of the business in joint venture is $21 billion.

'The UAE firmly believes in the principles of importance of strengthening economic coordination with Pakistan as the later presents suitable environment ready for investment. The fruit of this interest was holding the conference on promoting investment in Pakistan' in March 2010. The ‘UAE Expo Magnificent 7' held in Karachi and it was honoured and inaugurated by Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani while the UAE delegation was led by Sheikha Luba Bint Khalid Al-Qasmi, the UAE Minister of Foreign Trade.

MENA Private Equity Association launches at DIFC - bi-me.com

The MENA Private Equity Association announced its official launch at the Dubai International Finance Centre this week.

The Association is a platform for facilitating more investment by private equity and venture capital funds in the region, exchanging information, and lobbying for a better investment environment.

Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar, CEO, DIFC Authority said: “We welcome MENA Private Equity Association to the Centre. MENA’s venture capital industry has grown substantially in recent years, but remains relatively underdeveloped. We look forward to supporting the Association in its endeavors to unlock the great potential in this industry and consequently contribute to economic growth and job creation in the region.”

Saudi Arabia Plans to Create 3 Million Jobs by 2015, Hayat Says - Bloomberg

Mobius wary of Saudi market opening to foreigners - MarketWatch

A cautious Saudi Arabia may impose excessive restrictions on outsiders if it does open its stock market to direct foreign investment, but too many such conditions would undermine the success of liberalising the Middle East's biggest stock exchange, emerging-markets expert Mark Mobius said.

Given the conservative nature of Saudi Arabia, "I would be quite surprised if they really have a complete opening," Mobius, who helps manage in excess of $40 billion as the executive chairman of the Templeton Emerging Markets Group, told Zawya Dow Jones in a recent phone interview. Mobius, who said he has not spoken directly to Saudi officials on the topic, predicted regulations that could make Saudi's market "not be very attractive" to leading international funds.

"We have to see what are the strings attached," Mobius added.

GCC markets suffer from poor coverage

AFP: Kuwait reaches deal with Total for China refinery: report

Kuwait Petroleum Corp. has reached a deal with France's Total to be a partner in a Kuwait-China refinery joint venture, the Kuwaiti oil minister was Tuesday quoted as saying.
Mohammad al-Baseeri said the deal was struck after Shell withdrew from talks in the $9 billion refinery and petrochemical complex, Al-Jarida newspaper reported.
KPC's international arm, Kuwait Petroleum International (KPI) and China's state-owned Sinpec signed an agreement more than two years ago to build the complex in southern Guangdong province.

What does the EU embargo on Iranian oil mean for the UAE? « ArabianMoney

The European Union has agreed an immediate embargo on new oil contracts with Iran while existing contracts will be allowed to run until July, in order to pressure Iran over its nuclear ambitions.

The EU will also freeze assets in Europe of the Central Bank of Iran and eight other entities and ban trade in gold, precious metals, diamonds and petrochemical products from Iran.

It is always uncomfortable writing about Iran when sat in the UAE even from a business perspective. But local business here can hardly ignore what is happening with Iran occupying islands less than 100km offshore.

Dubai Airports top 51m passengers but 2012 looks a tougher year « ArabianMoney

Dubai Airports handled a record 51 million passengers in 2011, up eight per cent on the previous year. But cargo volume fell 1.5 per cent to 2.2 million tons as the global economy slowed down.

Many passengers use Dubai as a transit airport for onward destinations with the government-owned Emirates Airline offering the world’s largest longhaul flight network.

Abu Dhabi approves major spending plan - FT.com

Abu Dhabi has approved spending plans for a plethora of projects including branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums, concluding a broad review of development plans in the emirate.
The emirate’s oil-rich coffers have been opened for projects that span education, healthcare, industry, tourism, infrastructure and renewable energy, according to a statement posted on the Abu Dhabi Executive Council’s website on Monday.

The announcement comes as a relief to the business community, which has been seeking clarity on which projects will go ahead following the council’s in-depth review of development plans, which forced state-owned companies and government departments to defend their projects.

Gulf call for bigger role in IMF after euro rescue - The National

Saudi Arabia's Prince Turki Al-Faisal yesterday urged the IMF to give Gulf states a bigger say in the global economic order in return for billions of dollars in financial aid to the distressed economies of Europe.

The comments by one of the kingdom's renowned international figures comes as the IMF bids to increase its lending capacity by more than €500 billion (Dh2.3 trillion) to tackle the sovereign debt crisis in Europe. His response also follows last week's visit to the region by European central bankers.

"What we can be certain of is that large developing nations will not agree to provide additional funds without a greater say in the IMF's affairs, and this applies to all global economic governance organisations," Prince Turki told the Global Competitiveness Forum in Riyadh yesterday.

Libya in business, just not business as usual - The National

Businesses of all kinds should be looking at the potential of Libya and considering whether and how to enter the market.

A large part of that decision will be based on how business-friendly the laws of Libya are and how much protection investors can expect.

The legal system of Libya is reasonably well developed and includes detailed laws that are, for commercial and financial matters, largely derived from the French and Egyptian civil codes. Sharia is very rarely invoked in commercial matters, but does prohibit gambling and alcohol.

Samba needs to dance to a different rhythm - The National

Investors in Samba Financial Group are finding little to dance about in the bank's latest earnings figures.

The bank reported profits of 944 million Saudi riyals for the final quarter of last year, an increase of 4.8 per cent on a year earlier.

The results were a disappointment to analysts polled by Bloomberg News, who had been hoping for quarterly profits of 1.04 billion riyals. The full-year profits also represented a 2.9 per cent dip from the bank's earnings in 2010.

Dragon Oil of Dubai is breathing fire - The National

Shares in Dragon Oil, an exploration company in Dubai, rose to a two-month high after announcing a 30 per cent increase in daily production last year.

The company's Dublin-listed shares rose 2 per cent to €6.07 each, despite worries of securing a sales agreement with the government of Turkmenistan. Dragon Oil is expected to announce its financial results next month.

The UAE's exchanges rose, with the Dubai Financial Market General Index gaining 0.4 per cent to 1,340.70, while the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange General Index climbed 0.5 per cent to 2,352.74.

New project boost for Abu Dhabi economy - The National

An unprecedented swath of new projects and expansions to existing ones was announced in Abu Dhabi yesterday, providing for significant new investment in social infrastructure, health and education and giving a boost to economic development in the emirate.

The announcement by Abu Dhabi Executive Council signalled the conclusion of a wide ranging evaluation of projects in the capital, reconfirming plans for developments on Saadiyat Island and Khalifa Port, and the planned Midfield terminal at Abu Dhabi International Airport.

Officials did not disclose the total value of the projects approved, but the sheer scope of the investment is expected to give a jolt to the emirate's economy. The entities responsible for each individual project are expected to release in-depth details on expenditure and timelines in coming weeks.

LARA SETRAKIAN: Iran, China And Saudi Arabia — An Oil Markets Love Triangle

The oil politics of the Persian Gulf are looking more like a love triangle this week, and China is the hot date. Iran is courting the Chinese with discounted oil, hoping to keep the favor of its top client. The Chinese are courting oil-rich Arab states, looking to secure a steady supply of crude -- hedging the risk that sanctions or military conflict might cut Iran's flow.

This week Premier Wen Jiaobao took a tour of Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, and Qatar, an astute foreign policy move, according to security analyst Theodore Karasik in Dubai.

'China wants guaranteed oil supplies...so it's playing all the countries of the Gulf, to it advantage,' he said.

Gulf Times – Qatar business optimism holding steady

Qatar’s business community shows steady optimism in the first quarter (Q1) mainly supported by hydrocarbons sectors. But they have become “slightly” cautious in their outlook on the non-oil sector in view of the deepening banking and sovereign debt issues in advanced economies, according to the Business Optimism Index (BOI).
The BOI, jointly prepared by the Qatar Financial Centre Authority (QFCA) and Dun & Bradstreet, found falling optimism in the construction, trade and hospitality, transport and communications sectors, while the outlook for manufacturing and finance segments remained stable within the non-oil sector. It also found that inflationary pressure was the leading concern for both the oil and non-oil sectors.

2012 Could Be a Disaster for Big Oil - DailyFinance

The past year has been a boon for exploration and production (E&P) companies, thanks to higher crude oil prices. Oil companies -- especially Big Oil -- were able to garner comparatively higher profits despite a general drop in production. However, things might not look as rosy in 2012.

Gloom on the horizon
The World Bank has come up with a bleak 2012 outlook for developing countries due to the European debt crisis. The bank warned that an escalation in the euro-area debt crisis could tilt the world into a recession on par with the financial meltdown three years ago. The bank goes on to outline the consequences on crude oil prices, and this might mean a reduction in margins for those E&P companies that booked greater profits by relying more on higher crude oil prices than production growth.

Will 2012 Be A Year of Opening for Saudi Arabia? - Arabianomics

If the last few years in Saudi Arabia will be remembered as years of impressive economic growth, look for 2012 to be a year of “opening” for the Kingdom.
The investment, aviation, and tourism sectors are all set for major changes to the status quo in 2012 after years of anticipation by foreigners to break into these lucrative markets in Saudi Arabia.
Perhaps the most significant and highly anticipated of these openings is in the opening of Saudi Arabia’s stock market, also known as the Tadawul or TASI (Tadawul All-Share Index). Foreign investors have long awaited the opportunity to invest directly in the Kingdom by buying and selling shares on the Saudi Stock Exchange, but have been prohibited from doing so due to Saudi regulations.
That all looks set to change.

Storm warning in the strait - FT.com

Worry Tehran will act to provoke a conflict in wake of sanctions


It was a voyage that ordinarily would have attracted little comment. But when the USS Abraham Lincoln, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, joined British and French vessels on Sunday to sail through the Strait of Hormuz, the dispatch of the convoy through the Gulf waterway gained a new significance.

As tensions mount between Iran and the west over Tehran’s nuclear programme, the US and its allies were demonstrating their readiness not only to press ahead with sanctions but to challenge the Islamic Republic if it retaliates by closing what is one of the world’s main oil arteries.