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Sunday, 29 April 2012

Hilton raises Saudi stake with hotel expansion - The National

Hilton Worldwide plans to open nearly 7,000 hotel rooms in Saudi Arabia in the next two years, as operators focus on the kingdom amid continued difficult financing conditions in many other parts of the region and globally.

Hilton, which already manages six hotels in Saudi Arabia, announced at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, which ends today in Dubai, that it intended to open 14 additional hotels in the kingdom, in cities including Mecca and Riyadh, over the next two years.

The move would make it the fastest-growing hotel company in the country.

UPDATE 1-Qatar Telecom blames FX losses for Q1 profit drop | Reuters

Qatar Telecom 7010.SE (Qtel) on Sunday reported a 12 percent drop in first-quarter net profit, citing mainly foreign exchange losses, but the former monopoly still beat forecasts.

Qtel made a profit of 711 million riyals ($195.29 million) in the three months to March 31, down from 811 million riyals in the year-earlier period.

"Net profit during the period was adversely impacted by movement in the Indonesian currency," Qtel said in an emailed statement. "Net profit decreased mainly due to foreign exchange losses in (Indonesian subsidiary) Indosat."

Sheikh’s investments boost emirate’s profile -

One of the most prominent international investors to emerge from among the low-profile Abu Dhabi ruling family, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan’s vast investments into Manchester City embody the emergence of Abu Dhabi’s super-rich onto the world stage.
The state-owned investment companies he controls own stakes in everything from electric car maker Tesla Motors to the Spanish energy company Cepsa and space tourism business Virgin Galactic. But Sheikh Mansour’s Manchester City investment is a private affair, Abu Dhabi officials stress, not a government-backed purchase.

MENA stock markets close - April 29, 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)

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Saudi bluechips dip as index gives back gains - Yahoo! News UK

Most sectors end lower on Saudi Arabia's bourse, with investors booking profits from Saturday's gains as they
await new catalysts to lift the market.
The kingdom's index ends 0.7 percent lower at 7,556 points, giving back most of Saturday's 0.9 percent rise. It has dropped 4.7 percent from April 3's three-and-a-half year high, consolidating after an early-year surge.
The market trades 9.2 billion riyals ($2.45 billion) of shares, with bourse turnover declining since early April's index peak.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Egypt index slips after Saudi recalls ambassador - Yahoo! News UK

Egypt's main index slips 0.5 percent after Saudi Arabia recalls its ambassador from Cairo, fuelling concern that $2.7 billion of financial aid pledged by the wealthy Gulf state could be delayed.
Citing security, Saudi Arabia pulled its envoy after activists gathered outside its embassy to protest against the
kingdom's arrest of an Egyptian lawyer.
The countries enjoy strong political ties and are important economic partners. Saudi Arabia is one of the largest foreign investors in Egypt and one of the largest employers of Egyptian expatriate workers.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-UAE property stocks rally; mkts end mixed - Yahoo! News UK

Shares in UAE property firms close higher after three developers post increased first-quarter profits, while the
country's bourses end mixed.
Dubai's index falls 0.8 percent to 1,639 points, its eighth decline in 10 sessions to trim its 2012 gains to 21.1 percent.
Builder Arabtec is the main drag, falling 4.7 percent as investors book recent gains. The stock is up 115.7 percent year-to-date, rallying again last week amid new contract wins.

“Let's forget about 2008,” urges Nakheel chairman - Real Estate -

Five years ago, Nakheel’s main problem was keeping up with demand. Back in 2007, anxious buyers queued for as long as twelve hours just for the privilege of handing over cheques for millions of dirhams. The Jumeirah Park project had just launched, and the queue of cars stretched back from Nakheel’s sales centre for several kilometres.
That was then; this is now. At this month’s launch of Nakheel’s newest venture on the Palm Jumeirah - its biggest claim to fame - the queues barely stretched around the counter.
So what went wrong? It’s safe to say it’s not been an easy few years for Nakheel. Famous for raising man-made islands out of the Arabian Gulf, the developer attracted even further unwanted fame globally as it battled to restructure more than US$16bn in debt in the wake of the Dubai property crash.

Abu Dhabi Shares Set for Biggest Rise in Month on Real Estate - Bloomberg

Abu Dhabi’s benchmark stock index headed for the biggest advance in almost a month after profit at the emirate’s largest real estate developers rose on an increase in home deliveries in the United Arab Emirates capital.
Aldar Properties PJSC (ALDAR) was set for the largest gain in more than six weeks after the Abu Dhabi developer bailed out by the government last year said first-quarter profit more than doubled. Sorouh Real Estate PJSC (SOROUH), the second-biggest developer in the U.A.E. capital, gained 1.8 percent after net income rose 30 percent. Abu Dhabi’s ADX General Index (ADSMI) climbed 0.5 percent, poised for the biggest gain since April 1, to 2,520.51 at 11:12 a.m. in the emirate. The Bloomberg GCC 200 (BGCC200) Index was little changed.
“Real estate developers reported strong results in Abu Dhabi and Dubai,” said Nabil Farhat, a partner at Abu Dhabi- based Al Fajer Securities. “The results highlight strong revenues from deliveries, land sales and investment portfolio. This is a sign that the market is bottoming or near bottom.”

Lifeline for Dubai investors: To get full refund if developers default - Emirates 24/7

Property investors in Dubai will be eligible for cancellation of their contracts and may seek “full” refunds if the real estate developer fails to provide the promised unit or services within a specific timeframe, according to a proposed new Investor Protection Law.

From a delay in handing over of units to a failure to deliver promised facilities as per the sales contract, the proposed law gives property investors in Dubai the right to seek cancellation of their contracts and get “full” refunds.
Under the proposed law, an investor will get the right to cancel the contract and obtain a full refund if the developer has taken more than eight months (beyond the promised handover date) to hand over the unit(s).

Sorouh First-Quarter Profit Climbs 30% as Sales Increase - Bloomberg

Sorouh Real Estate PJSC (SOROUH), Abu Dhabi’s second-biggest property developer by market value, said first-quarter profit climbed 30 percent as sales increased.
Net income rose to 83.6 million dirhams from 64.3 million dirhams a year earlier, the company said in a statement to Abu Dhabi’s bourse today. The median estimate of three analysts was for a profit of 80 million dirhams, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue rose to 967.2 million dirhams from 452 million dirhams.
“We continue to diversify our revenue streams which will support the quality of our earnings over the medium to long term,” Managing Director Abubaker Al Khouri said in the statement. “The current flight to quality with Abu Dhabi real- estate leaves us well-positioned to deliver an exciting project pipeline of some 7,000 units between now and the end of 2013.”

Saudi banks post SR9.6bn profit in Q1 - Arab News

Banking sector of Saudi Arabia continued to maintain its sound financial position during Q1, 2012. The policy makers, which comprise the Ministry of Finance, Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), Capital Market Authority (CMA) and other related regulatory entities, have made several notable efforts to improve regulation in the sector.

Recently, SAMA and CMA signed a memorandum of cooperation aimed at "developing a framework for cooperation to achieve a high degree of coordination between them and strengthen oversight of entities subject to their control, each according to its jurisdiction, thereby, leading to the development of the financial sector and enhancing its stability."

The banking sector is playing a vital role in the growth of Saudi economy. Saudi Arabia proved to be a world's fastest growing banking market. With advanced technology and favorable policies by the government, banking system has been able to improve steadily and consistently.

Egypt suffers in post-revolution heat - The National

After the fall of president Hosni Mubarak last year, the country's tourism industry has taken a hammering. What was a major contributor to the economy is now suffering a dearth of visitors. The sector is taking a long time to recover from the shock of conflict, writes Rebecca Bundhun...

Sabr Agaya, 26, has made his living from hassling tourists into riding the animals around the ancient wonder for the past 15 years.

Opec oil production rises to three-year high - The National

Opec oil output this month has been the highest in more than three years, and the organisation continues to produce above the ceiling set at its December meeting in an effort to calm an oil market worried about geopolitical tensions involving Iran.

Production by Opec members rose by 1 per cent on the month to reach an average pumping volume of 31.405 million barrels per day (bpd), according to a Bloomberg survey of oil companies, producers and analysts.

Growth was driven by Saudi Arabia, resurgent Libyan output and rising Iraqi capacity, offsetting a decline in Iranian production, which slumped to a 20-year low.

Wealth that diverts young Qataris from thirst for knowledge - The National

The Lonely Planet travel guide once suggested Qatar might be the most boring place on Earth. But you couldn't call it boring today — even if the nightlife should carry a public-mirth warning.

Outside the Irish Bar at the Doha Sheraton, a bouncer electronically scans the passports of arriving patrons. I asked whether he wanted to see my boarding pass as well, but he just blinked at me. He probably gets a lot of that.

Doha is not a party town, to be sure. It's less Sandance and more Think Tank. The red carpets and velvet ropes are as likely to be for thought leaders as for celebrities.

Profits soar at UAE's flagship developers - The National

The UAE's two biggest property developers yesterday posted rosy profits for the first quarter, spelling good news for an industry still affected by the financial downturn.

The Abu Dhabi firm Aldar Properties said profits more than doubled in the first three months of the year compared with a year earlier, while Dubai's Emaar Properties - which built the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest tower - reported a 44 per cent increase.

Commentators said the profits rebound spelled positive news for the UAE property market as a whole.

Abu Dhabi in Lloyds Bank talks - Telegraph

The talks centre on increasing the level of support for NBNK’s new tilt at the branches, known within Lloyds as Project Verde.
The backing of either or both funds – which have major investments in household business names such as Harrods and EMI respectively – would be a major boost to NBNK’s attempt to win approval from Lloyds’ board.
Although it is too early for investment mandates to have been signed, it is known that senior NBNK directors have discussed their plans for Verde with the funds in the aim of bringing them on board as cornerstone investors as part of an eventual offer.

Cancellation fees a windfall for Dubai developer - The National

One of Dubai's biggest developers earned more than Dh656 million (US$178.5m) from cancellation fees last year as people who bought at the market peak were unable to pay for their homes.

Dubai Holding Commercial Operations Group (DHCOG), which owns Dubai Properties Group (DPG), earned Dh656.4m from cancellation penalties and late-payment charges - an almost tenfold increase on 2010.

Dubai property developers are rushing to finish developments on which work was well advanced to raise desperately needed revenue while shelving projects that are less-than-halfway completed. At the same time, many investors who bought at the peak of the market are seeking to escape contracts binding them to properties that have lost as much as half of their value.

gulfnews : Bright outlook for oil

Global oil prices are unlikely to average less than $100 (Dh367) a barrel this year as expansion in the world's largest economy the US, burgeoning demand from Asian growth engines China and India, Iran's nuclear issues with the West and fears of supply disruption prevent a precipitous fall in the world's most widely-traded commodity, say experts.
On Friday, London's Brent crude oil fell 9 cents to settle at $119.83. Brent had a nearly 1 per cent weekly gain but remained on pace to post a more than 2 per cent monthly loss.
US crude rose 38 cents to settle at $104.93 a barrel, having reached $105. The weekly gain was 1.8 per cent, on track for a similar monthly rise.

$78bn projects in pipeline | Oman Observer

The Sultanate’s second infrastructure exhibition, Infra Oman which is to be held from October 2 to 4 in Muscat, will focus on the ambitious railway project along with airport and other infrastructure projects. The expo will also put spotlight on Oman’s new Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), as infrastructure investments continue to grow and more development projects are set to be implemented in the coming years. The Sultanate is also taking concrete measures to diversify the economy.
The new plan foresees $78 billion of expenditure, representing an increase of 113 per cent over the last five-year plan. The major infrastructure projects coming up include the Oman National Railway, Muscat’s Port Sultan Qaboos conversion into a full-fledged tourism hub, transport and airport development projects, Duqm development project, medical cities, waste management, tourism and residential projects.

gulfnews : Qatar's investments make it a global star

Qatar is a rising global star in numerous asspects including its investment strategy. One proof of that is the selection of Qatar as the host of the World Cup 2022, for the first time ever in the Middle East and North African region.
It is possibly fair to link this achievement, at least partially, to the country's active and visible investment drive on the world scene.
The country's foreign investment portfolio is sizable on the one hand and diversified enough on the other. It emerged recently that Qatari authorities have at their disposal a notable $30 billion (Dh110 billion) for investment purposes in 2012 alone.

gulfnews : Saudi Arabia renews call for greater GCC integration

The Gulf Cooperation Council needs to be fully integrated to be able to confront increasingly ominous regional and global challenges, Saudi Arabia said yesterday.
"Our main concern now is how to confront the current and next challenges and the impact of the political, social and economic developments on our nations," Saudi Arabia's foreign minister Prince Saud Al Faisal said.
The confrontation between Iran and the international community over its nuclear programme and its continuous provocation of the GCC states, the suffering of the Palestinian people, and the far-reaching political changes under the so-called Arab Spring required the GCC countries to contemplate the situation carefully and be steeled by a robust resolve, Prince Saud said.