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Monday, 14 May 2012

Middle East: Febrile and fragmented -

When Beshara al-Rai, patriarch of Lebanon’s Maronite church, this year described Syria as “the closest thing to democracy” in the Arab world, and Ignatius IV Hazim, patriarch of Antioch and the Greek Orthodox Christians in Syria, commended the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad for “reforms undertaken”, this was not some otherworldly clerical eccentricity. However inaccurately, they were conveying the unease among Arab Christians about Syria’s year-long revolt against tyranny.
Of all the revolutions that have upended the old order, none worries leaders of the plethora of religious minorities in the Middle East more than Syria’s, the most blood-drenched chapter in the Arab awakening. Their fear is that the overthrow of one minority – the Alawites through whom the Assad family has ruled Syria for more than four decades – will uncage sectarian demons that threaten all minorities.

gulfnews : Saudi Arabia sees slow progress in bond sales

Saudi Arabia's record bond issues in 2012 are from a handful of the kingdom's biggest companies as a lack of a local-currency sovereign-yield curve hampers sales.
A 15 billion-riyal ($4 billion) sukuk by the state- controlled General Aviation Authority leads local-currency offerings from at least four borrowers in the world's top oil exporter, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
This compares with one sale in the year-earlier period and trails offerings in countries like Norway, an oil exporter with an economy 4 per cent smaller, where 96 borrowers raised about $12.8 billion.

FACTBOX-Gulf Arab countries' population, economy, military - Yahoo! News UK

The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council met in Riyadh on Monday to discuss closer political economic and
military union to counter what they see as growing external threats of the Arab Spring and Iran's regional influence. The GCC was formed in 1981 in the wake of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, and the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war, by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain.

Gulf leaders look at tighter political ties -

Gulf Arab leaders have agreed to study further plans for closer political union as the six oil-rich monarchies close ranks to protect themselves from the turmoil in the region and confront Tehran’s influence.
“Leaders of the Gulf Co-operation Council have approved the call for a commission to continue studying in order to present final results [to a coming summit],” Prince Saud al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, said after a summit on Monday in Riyadh, dousing speculation that the leaders would move more quickly towards an EU-style political union. “The issue will take time . . . The aim is for all countries to join, not just two or three.”

Qataris adopt debt as a luxury accessory -

“I never saved in my life,” says Ghazi, a Qatari businessman.
Since he began working 35 years ago, he has been in debt. He owes a lot of money, not for one loan but for “three company loans and a bank loan, personal loans, car loans – three car loans”, he says.
Ghazi is not alone. Seventy-five per cent of Qatari families are in debt, most owing in excess of QR250,000 ($68,600), according to a 2011 Qatar National Development Strategy report. Some of this can be attributed to the country’s most economically disadvantaged families struggling to make ends meet, but the report gave another reason for the indebtedness: Qataris are living beyond their means, in a “prevailing culture of extravagance and conspicuous consumption”.

Liquid natural gas set to fuel a torrid decade of change - The National

What the full implications of the global gas revolution will be, it is still too early to say.

But the liquefied natural gas (LNG) market is set for a tumultuous decade, which will upset old business paradigms and leave many winners and some losers in its wake.

LNG is simply natural gas, cooled to minus 162°C to turn it into a liquid that can be easily transported by tanker. But from a niche product in the 1990s, it has rapidly become a critical way of transporting gas around the world. Explorers in remote areas used to be disappointed when they found gas instead of oil; now they know that they have a good chance of getting that gas to consumers.

MENA stock markets close - May 14, 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)

UAE set to approve new bankruptcy law by end-2012 - Justice Min | Reuters

The United Arab Emirates is close to finalising an updated federal bankruptcy law and a draft of the legislation should be ready by the end of this year, Justice Minister Hadef bin Juan al-Dhaheri said on Monday.

The draft, which has been in the works since 2009, should enable both listed and family-owned companies in the UAE to be rescued rather than having to go through lengthy bankruptcy or liquidation proceedings.

"The ministry is studying a set of laws," Dhaheri told a conference on financial restructuring and bankruptcy in Dubai.

American Now on Hunger Strike in Dubai: Zack Shahin Demands U.S. Officials Publicly Intervene Following 1,500 Days Imprisoned Without Bail, Trial, or Conviction - MarketWatch

After having recently spent day 1,500 incarcerated in a Dubai prison --without bail, trial, or conviction -- Zack Shahin, an American citizen, is the latest jailed foreigner to declare a hunger strike in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Unlike the other, non-American strikers who are protesting their sentences following various convictions, Shahin has never been convicted of any crime. Instead, he is protesting the failure of the U.S. government to make a public issue with UAE authorities over his imprisonment without bail or trial for more than four years.

"I have been imprisoned for over 1,500 days," says Shahin, in a message from his prison in Dubai. "My government has never said a word about me publicly, because they don't want to spoil their comfortable relationship here. Meanwhile, they speak out for people in lots of other countries, like China. Do I have to die here before I get the same consideration?"

Dubai feels only moderate impact from Iran sanctions - Yahoo! News UK

Dubai's economy has felt only a modest impact on trade from international sanctions against Iran so far, the head of the emirate's government advisory council said on Monday.
"It's still moderate in terms of trade but we are closely watching the number how it is affecting the near term and the long term as well," said Hani al-Hamli, secretary general of Dubai Economic Council.
"How much? I do not recall the numbers," he told reporters on the sidelines of a conference on financial restructuring and bankruptcy.

Paladin, Abu Dhabi's Invest AD to launch $100 mln MENA fund | Agricultural Commodities | Reuters

Paladin Capital Group, a U.S. firm, and Abu Dhabi's Invest AD, plan to launch a $100-million private equity fund to invest in companies in fast-growing economies in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, the two companies said on Monday.

Private equity investment in the region is showing slow signs of revival after activity hit a slump in the wake of the global financial crisis in 2008. Several mid-sized deals have taken place regionally this year as companies look for capital to expand businesses.

"Small-and medium-size companies are the backbone of the region's economy, and they are hungry for capital to expand, operationally and geographically, in the process creating jobs and increasing profits," Michael Steed, founder and managing partner of Paladin, said in a statement.

Persian Gulf Stocks: Arabtec, Industries Qatar, Saudi Basic - Businessweek

The DFM General Index (DFMGI) retreated for a fifth day, declining 0.4 percent to 1,481.95 at the close in Dubai. Abu Dhabi’s ADX General Index (ADSMI) was little changed. Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index dropped 1.6 percent.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Saudi slumps to 12-wk low; global gloom weighs - Yahoo! News UK

Saudi Arabia's bourse extends declines, slumping to a fresh 12-week low to near a psychologically important
support level as global market woes dampen local sentiment.
The kingdom's index falls 1.6 percent to 7,067 points, its lowest finish since Feb. 22. The 7,000 level is considered a strong psychological support. Most sectors end lower as investors cut risk.
Bellwether Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) and Al Rajhi fall 1.8 and 1.3 percent respectively, while telecoms operator Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) loses 2.3 percent.

UPDATE 1-Banque Saudi Fransi plans to issue 5-yr sukuk - Yahoo! News UK

Banque Saudi Fransi plans to issue a five-year benchmark-sized Islamic bond, or sukuk, arranging banks said on Monday, after the lender completed investor meetings last week.
An issue would be the Saudi bank's first sukuk under a recently-established $2 billion programme.
Initial guidance for the sukuk was at 200 basis points over midswaps. Benchmark is usually understood to be at least $500 million.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Dubai falls to 14-wk low; Greece woes weigh - Yahoo! News UK

UAE bourses end lower as uncertainty over Greece's future position in the euro zone hits sentiment and investors cut risk across the region. Dubai's index falls to a 14-week low.
"We are back in Europe to where we were in Q2 last year," says Marwan Shurrab, vice-president and chief trader at Gulfmena Investments. "All the fears are again on Greece and until there is a clear stand towards a direction, global markets will be extremely volatile. It scares investors from making mature, long-term decisions on their investments, which is not healthy for the region."
Bellwether Emaar Properties and Dubai Islamic Bank fall 1.7 and 1.5 percent respectively, weighing on the
index. Deyaar Development sheds 2.9 percent. Contractor Arabtec bucks the trend and closes 4.7 percent, rising from Sunday's near-seven week low as bargain hunters step in.

UPDATE 1-Dubai's Arabtec refutes ownership reports; shrs rise | Reuters

Arabtec Holding on Monday denied reports that shareholder Aabar Investments had taken a majority stake in the builder, saying the Abu Dhabi fund's current position was only 20.8 percent.

Shares in Arabtec, the United Arab Emirates' biggest builder by market value, slumped a day earlier on fears it may de-list after an official at the Dubai Financial Market told Reuters the state-owned fund had raised its stake to 53 percent.

That followed an Arabic daily report which quoted Aabar's chairman - who was appointed to the same post at Arabtec last week - as saying the fund owns the majority stake.

U.A.E. to Invest $3 Billion in Egypt Agriculture, Ahram Says - Bloomberg

The United Arab Emirates will invest as much as $3 billion in four agricultural projects in Egypt, state-run Al-Ahram reported, citing Agriculture Minister Mohamed Ismail.
Ismail said the joint Egyptian-Emirati projects include poultry and cattle farms, the Cairo-based daily said.

COLUMN-Saudi wish for $100 oil may be hard to grant: Clyde Russell - Yahoo! News UK

It's all very well for Saudi Arabia to say Brent crude should drop to $100 a barrel, but it's another matter entirely as to whether the world's biggest oil exporter can actually make that happen. The problem is that when producers wish to raise prices by reducing supply, they are generally successful.
But when they want to lower prices, mainly by boosting supply, they are less successful as more oil in the market
doesn't necessarily remove the reasons prices are high in the first place.
It's also a question as to whether a decline in Brent to $100 a barrel will actually be enough to prevent prices from falling in a more destructive way, that is through demand being slashed by renewed recession in Europe, more rapidly slowing growth in China and the at best tepid economic expansion in the United States.

Dubai to Have Lowest Budget Deficit in Five Years, Alrroya Says - Bloomberg

Dubai is expected to achieve its lowest budget deficit in five years as it reduces spending on development and infrastructure projects, Alrroya Aleqtissadiya reported, citing a government official it didn’t identify.
Dubai’s budget deficit is expected to be 50.6 percent, or 1.8 billion dirhams, in 2012, the newspaper reported. Government spending on infrastructure this year will be 5.9 billion dirhams, down from 7 billion dirhams in 2011, the newspaper reported.

Qatar: reviving a Tunisia refinery plan | beyondbrics –

Construction of Tunisia’s first-ever privately owned oil refinery will begin later this year with an investment by Qatar, which has been busy buying up properties in north African states emerging from a year of political tumult.

The state-owned Qatar Petroleum Company agreed years ago to build the refinery, just outside of Tunisia’s industrial port city of Sfax. But the deal was only set to be finalised on Sunday, according to Kuwait’s official news agency.

In the original deal – a joint venture between QPC and British Petrofac – was set to build, own and operate the refinery for 30 years, according to Reuters back in 2007.

Crescent Won’t Provide Cash to Dana Gas for Sukuk Payment - Bloomberg

Crescent Petroleum Co., Dana Gas PJSC (DANA)’s biggest shareholder, has no plan to provide cash to the United Arab Emirates-based natural gas producer to help pay a $1 billion Islamic bond due in October.
Any “speculation around Crescent injecting further capital to support the Dana Gas sukuk is incorrect,” Majid Jafar, Sharjah-based chief executive officer of Crescent, said in a phone interview yesterday. Dana Gas “is facing external macro- economic and political events outside its control” in Iraq’s Kurdistan region and in Egypt, which have led to unpaid bills, and “these are the economic realities that all the stakeholders need to take into account,” he said.
Concern that Dana Gas will default drove up yields on the 7.5 percent notes by 24 percentage points this month to 91.8 percent at 11:23 a.m. in Dubai, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The company will be unable to repay the sukuk and there is high probability the liability will be reorganized, investment bank Exotix Ltd. said in a research note May 10.

gulfnews : Dubai Investments posts rise in net earnings

Conglomerate Dubai Investments posted a 6.3 per cent rise in quarterly net profit yesterday and said the company was reviewing opportunities to divest some of its businesses.
The firm, in which sovereign wealth fund Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD) owns an 11.5 per cent stake, made a net profit of Dh107.5 million for the first quarter, compared with Dh101.1 million made in the same period in 2011.
Revenue for the quarter was Dh623 million as against Dh643 million in the prior-year period, the company said in a bourse statement.

Green shoots look brighter in Dubai - The National

A growing range of economic indicators point to a strengthening recovery in Dubai.

The number of new trade licences issued jumped in the first quarter over the same period last year. Business confidence is picking up. And one free zone attracted companies at the rate of five a day.

"You can certainly feel that in the first quarter of 2012 there is an increase in economic activity," said Sean Evers, the founder of Gulf Intelligence in Dubai. "Dubai is experiencing an economic recovery it hasn't seen in the last three to four years."

Business - UAE lending, deposits up in Q1

Lending in the country rose 0.3 per cent, while deposits increased by 7.1 in the first three months of the year, according to the UAE Central Bank.
Loans rose 0.2 per cent month-on-month in March to Dh1.074 trillion, while bank deposits increased by 3.3 per cent to Dh1.146 trillion over the same period. Total bank deposits increased by 3.3 per cent during the month of March 2012 to close at Dh1.146 trillion.

Money supply aggregate M1 — which comprises currency in circulation plus monetary deposits, i.e., current accounts and call accounts at banks — increased by 1.4 per cent, from Dh276.3 billion at the end of February 2012 to Dh280.2 billion at the end of March of the same year.

Spotlight on UAE's market rule governing ownership - The National

Now that Arabtec has fallen under the control of Aabar, the spotlight falls once again on the regulations that govern the stock markets in the UAE, financial professionals said yesterday.

Industry insiders have called for greater transparency in reaction to the revelation that Aabar has built up a 53 per cent stake in Arabtec, with the news appearing in Alrroya, a newspaper owned by the Dubai Government, rather than on the Dubai Financial Market (DFM).

The DFM remained silent on the issue yesterday, preferring to make unattributable comments to the effect that an official announcement was likely to be made today.

Seven years of prosperity and development - Arab News

Saudi Arabia will mark the seventh anniversary of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah's accession to the Saudi throne on May 17 with a variety of programs highlighting the remarkable progress achieved by the Kingdom in education, health, industry, agriculture and other sectors under his wise leadership.

King Abdullah's announcement at the Shoura Council's annual meeting last year, giving women the right to stand and vote in future municipal elections and join the consultative body as full members had won international applause.

"As we refuse to marginalize women in society in all roles that comply with Shariah, we have decided, after deliberation with our senior Islamic scholars to involve women in the Shoura Council as members, starting from the next term," the king said.

Saudi stocks recharging before next rally, says Alkhabeer Capital -

In an overview on TASI’s performance, the Saudi Index, TASI started its positive run from Dec 1st 2012 to April 3rd 2012 generating a 30% uplift in value from 6100 to 7900.

Total profits of the market for Q1 2012 grew by 14% compared to Q1 2011, which translates to an increase from SAR 14.8 billion in Q1 2011 to 16.8 billion in Q1 2012.

Within this jump, Transport and Real Estate were the two biggest market outperformers and they also generated the highest profit growth, which proves that the rally was not completely speculative rather it had strong fundamentals to support it. However, Transport and Real Estate make up approximately 5.2% of the total market capitalization and therefore did not contribute significantly to the 30% growth in TASI.