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Wednesday, 16 May 2012

US citizen on hunger strike in Dubai -

One of Dubai’s highest profile prisoners, US citizen Zack Shahin, has gone on hunger strike to protest a lack of due process after spending more than four years in jail without a conviction.
His protest marks a broadening of a three-week hunger strike by other foreigners imprisoned in Dubai on financial charges, shedding an uncomfortable light on the emirate’s judicial system as its economy starts to recover after the financial crisis.
More than a dozen other inmates in Dubai’s Al-Awir jail have over the past month launched hunger strikes to protest their incarceration for bouncing cheques, a criminal offence in the United Arab Emirates.

MENA stock markets close - May 16, 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)

How worried are EM investors? Extremely worried, says SocGen | beyondbrics –

Some anecdotal evidence on the mood among investors has come across our desks: a note from Benoit Anne of Société Générale entitled “EM investor survey: Investors are now extremely worried”.

Among the survey’s conclusions: “it is quite clear that the shorter-term bullish investor on GEM has virtually disappeared”

Brent Crude at $100 Is a ‘Challenge’ for Saudis, Husseini Says - Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia’s target for reducing Brent crude to $100 a barrel may be difficult to sustain as declining production capacity and Europe’s ban on Iranian imports put upward pressure on prices, according to a former executive of Saudi Arabian Oil Co.
“The $100 for Brent is quite a correction and it will be a challenge to sustain such a low price beyond the short term,” Sadad al-Husseini, the founder of Husseini Energy, a Dhahran- based researcher, said today in an e-mail.
Brent crude is trading at about $111.50 a barrel in London after dropping 13 percent since the start of March as concern eased that supplies from the Middle East would be disrupted. Prices may fall further as global supply is outstripping demand, Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said May 13. “We need to get the price to a level of around $100” for Brent, al-Naimi said.

UAE gov't firms face $30bn debts due in 2012 - Banking & Finance -

The International Monetary Fund said government-related companies in the UAE have about $30bn of debt due this year.
The companies also have a “significant amount of debt” due in 2014 and 2015, the IMF said in a statement released on Wednesday.
Its executive directors said they "welcomed the consolidation plans in Dubai, which will help improve the emirate’s debt sustainability in the face of contingent liabilities related to government-related entities and the still weak real estate market".

Islamists in tune with west over economy - ht @janekinninmont

Islamists in tune with west over economy - "One of the significant realignments resulting from the Arab spring is the growing warmth between western policy makers and Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. This is born out of necessity, but strengthened by the surprising discovery that on economic issues, the west and the Islamists often see eye to eye.
Many of the discussions between these two groups are not about the veil, alcohol or even Camp David, but about business, investment and jobs."

'via Blog this'

UAE's aerospace dream blooms in the desert | Reuters

Ross Bradley welcomes a delegation of aerospace suppliers in from the blistering heat of the Arabian desert and cools them down with some refreshingly candid advice.

"You are too expensive. Please take this message back. We will not put up with prices we are paying today. Unaffordable."

The welcome speech may not always be soothing to the ear but industry visitors keep flocking to the remote oasis town of Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates to see one of the world's newest and best-equipped aerospace factories.

MIDEAST MONEY-Egypt economy on the edge ahead of presidential vote | Agricultural Commodities | Reuters

Wasfy Amin's jewelry shops in the heart of Islamic Cairo ran into trouble when a street revolt scared away tourists last year. Part of his business is growing again, but not a part that inspires optimism in Egypt's flailing economy.

His factory on the capital's desert outskirts now melts bangles, rings and necklaces - heirlooms sold by impoverished families - into rough ingots of gold and silver that are sold to banks for refining in Switzerland.

"There are many people with no work now in Egypt, or with work but no salaries. This helps them out, for a while," said Amin, the head of the gold division at the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Saudi edges down as banks, petchems weigh - Yahoo! News UK

Saudi Arabia's bourse recovers from a 12-week intraday low, but ends slightly lower with petrochemical and
banking stocks weighing as gloomy global markets prompt investors to cut their exposure.
Oil prices slid with world shares and the euro as investors fled from riskier assets due to the Greek crisis.
Bellwether Saudi Basic Industries Corp. drops 0.5 percent to its lowest close since Feb 19.
Al Rajhi Bank sheds 0.3 percent and lender Samba Financial Group drops 1 percent.
The index ends 0.06 percent lower at 7,100 points.

Government of Dubai Legal Affairs Department issues legal interpretation | H.H. Shk Mo'd Bin Rashid Exec Office |

The Government of Dubai Legal Affairs Department has issued a legal interpretation clarifying which is the appropriate judicial body authorised to hear cases involving Nakheel PJSC and its subsidiaries, following Nakheel's separation from Dubai World which took place on 23 August 2011.

Pursuant to its establishing law, No. 32 of 2008, the Legal Affairs Department is responsible for issuing legal interpretations with respect to local legislation applicable to the emirate of Dubai.

The Legal Affairs Department advised that the Dubai World Special Tribunal, which was established by His Highness the Ruler of Dubai pursuant to Decree No. 57 of 2009 (as amended), to decide the disputes relating to the financial position of Dubai World and its subsidiaries, had previously been the appropriate forum to hear such cases.

Iraqi bourse reflects recovery struggle -

At the Baghdad headquarters of the Iraq stock exchange, Taha Abdulsalam broke off suddenly from the conversation and grabbed the walkie-talkie by his desk to call security.
Disturbed by the sound of loud chatter from the ground several floors below his open upstairs office window, he wanted – and received – reassurance that everything was fine.
“Sometimes when I hear voices I like to understand,” the exchange’s chief executive explained, replacing the handset that is part of a range of security precautions he has adopted, including carrying a pistol.

UAE’s first sukuk restructuring forecast -

Bond traders are betting that the United Arab Emirates may soon see the country’s first public restructuring of an Islamic bond.
The yield on the $920m sukuk from Dana Gas, the Sharjah-based energy company, has soared this week as the price sunk, highlighting investors’ concern over Dana’s ability to repay the debt.
Although companies in the UAE have extended the maturities on tens of billions of dollars in bank loans since the onset of the financial crisis, no sharia-compliant bonds have been restructured so far. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have seen companies default on Islamic bonds, prompting complex debt negotiations.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Dubai at 15-week low; Gulf mkts slump - Yahoo! News UK

Dubai's index ends at a 15-week low in thin trade as downbeat global sentiment keeps local and international investors away.
The index falls 1.4 percent to 1,466 points, its lowest close since Feb. 2 as shares of all but two companies decline. Bellwether Emaar Properties drops 1.7 percent, Arabtec sheds 1 percent and Deyaar loses 4.3 percent. Dubai Islamic Bank drops 2 percent.
Around 61 million shares trade, much lower than the peaks seen during an early-year rally.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Dubai slumps to 14-wk low as Gulf mkts slide - Yahoo! News UK

Dubai's index slumps to a 14-week low as downbeat global sentiment weighs on Gulf Arab markets.
Property-related stocks head declines. Bluechip Emaar Properties drops 1 percent, builder Arabtec loses 2 percent and struggling developer Union Properties tumbles 5 percent. These stocks are often the most
traded and so tend to lead index moves.
The benchmark drops 1.2 percent to 1,469 points, slumping to its lowest level since Feb. 8.

gulfnews : The effect of rising oil prices on GCC budgets

Annual budgets are especially important in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries because of the huge economic and social role played by the state. Budgets in these countries are also important because spending through the annual budget is still the main driver of GCC countries' economic activities.
Hence, the business and economic world waits for the announcement of GCC countries' annual budgets to understand the direction of economic growth, especially as most infrastructure plans pass through the budget's projects item.
Since 2003, with the huge rise in oil prices which make up 80-90 per cent of these budgets' incomes, GCC countries said goodbye to annual deficits in their budgets which accompanied them throughout the 1990s. Thus, the tables were turned and surpluses have become a constant feature for GCC countries' budgets ever since.

Aabar's Arabtec deal spurs calls for regulator review - The National

Top politicians and industry officials want regulators to tighten rules on disclosure relating to takeovers in the wake of Aabar Investments' purchase of Arabtec Holding stock.

The call came as Arabtec revealed yesterday Aabar was continuing to build a stake in the company by degrees.

The Financial Services Association (UAE), a trade body representing financial firms, has called on regulators to re-examine market rules that allowed Aabar Investments to become the largest single holder of the construction giant Arabtec's stock without alerting markets until Monday.

Wisdom of pragmatist who saw it all coming - The National

Mark Malloch Brown has a fair claim to have predicted the Arab Spring.

In 2002, when he was in charge of the United Nations Development Programme, he was responsible for publishing the Arab Human Development Report, which revealed a high level of dissatisfaction among many citizens in the Middle East with regard to education, democracy, jobs, freedom of speech and the role of women - exactly the issues that last year prompted the outburst of regime-changing protests.

"I suppose you could say it was prophetic. It was condemned in the Arab League and by many governments in the Arab world, but it was downloaded 1 million times from the UN website. I was staggered; UN reports don't usually become publishing sensations. So I wasn't surprised when [the Arab Spring] happened last year. I was more surprised it took so long to happen," he says.

It is right to take time pondering regional union - The National

Federal political unions do not have a good historical track record. The most successful and enduring in the world today is the United States of America.

But unity was enforced only in the 19th century after a bloody civil war to stop some members of the union from seceding.

Most others fall apart, often in bloodshed and chaos, especially when the unifying imperative comes from a single powerful, culturally cohesive entity at the core of the proposed union.

Traders fear fresh failure in MSCI bid - The National

Stock traders and analysts believe UAE and Qatari markets have not done enough to secure a long-awaited upgrade to emerging market status when MSCI completes its latest review next month.

For each of the past three years, the UAE and Qatar have repeatedly tried and failed to secure inclusion to the index in a bid to attract billions of dollars of foreign direct investment controlled by tracker funds and emerging market investors.

The index provider will announce whether or not to reclassify the UAE and Qatar in a review that is due to take place in the middle of next month. An MSCI spokeswoman said the exact timing of the review would be revealed later this month.

East Africa's energy boom depends on Abu Dhabi's model - The National

East Africa stands on the edge of one of the largest energy discoveries in modern times, but is ill-prepared to manage it. Unless it can avoid the "resource curse", the wealth could be a bane and not a blessing. This is where Abu Dhabi could help.

From Mozambique to the south and as far north as Somalia, stretching inland to the edges of Sudan's already prolific fields, lie billions of cubic metres of energy reserves. Explorations show that up to 65 billion barrels of oil and gas lie under the waters of the Indian Ocean.

Few regions need this unexpected bounty more. This stretch encompasses some of the poorest nations on earth. More than half of the people of Mozambique, for instance, live on less than a dollar a day, the median poverty line.

Knife Brawl Over $8 Food Debt Reveals Egyptian Risks - Bloomberg

After a punch split his lip and sent blood trickling down his chin, Mustafa Badawi whipped out a knife and slashed at his opponent.
The glint of the blade and the yells from the narrow street of a Cairo slum drew dozens to the brawl, their feet kicking up dust as they rushed to stop a dispute over a debt of about $8 from escalating into murder.
“Where am I supposed to get the money from?” Badawi cried as he was wrestled to the ground. The funds had been borrowed to buy food and repay other debts from a neighbor. “If you want your money, then take it in blood. That’s all I have.” Behind him, candidates from Egypt’s presidential election gazed out from campaign posters lining the street.