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Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Can law firms with offices in Saudi Arabia take women's rights seriously? | Laura Paddison | Law |

Saudi Arabia is the place where law firms have flocked over the years, eager to take advantage of the lucrative legal opportunities in the oil-rich kingdom. Most major international law firms have a presence and they are all merrily doing business somewhere their female lawyers would not be welcome.

Saudi Arabia is introducing new laws allowing women to work in the legal profession on an equal footing to their male peers. From early next month female lawyers will be able to secure licenses to practise law from the Ministry of Justice. They will be permitted to enter the courtroom and argue cases directly, have their own offices and, for the first time, represent male clients.

It is a hugely important step along the long and bumpy road Saudi Arabia must travel if it is to achieve anything like gender equality. In theory, female lawyers will enjoy exactly the same professional rights as their male counterparts. In practice, however, it might not be so straightforward.

Gulf oil industry at risk of cyber attack -

Rising regional political tensions and a flurry of recent cyber attacks have raised fears about the growing use of viruses to target critical national infrastructure in the Middle East.
Recent attacks on oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and Qatar bear the hallmarks of so-called “hacktivists”, say information security researchers. About 30,000 computers at Saudi Aramco were disabled in August by a virus known as Shamoon, which also damaged systems at Qatari natural gas company RasGas.

MIDEAST STOCKS-Kuwait comes off 10-week low; Gulf mixed in thin trade - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Kuwait's main stock index rose from Monday's 10-week low as bargain-hunters stepped in following two days of declines spurred by political unrest, while Gulf markets were mixed in thin trade as Eid holidays approached.
The Kuwaiti index climbed 0.5 percent on Tuesday. It had suffered its largest drop in more than three years on
Sunday, falling 3.1 percent, and extended those losses on the following day in the wake of political protests.
Police used teargas, stun grenades and baton charges on Sunday night to disperse thousands of demonstrators protesting against changes to the electoral law, which the opposition has called a constitutional coup by the government.

MENA stock markets close - October 23, 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)

BRIEF-UAE telco Etisalat Q3 net profit rises 28 pct - statement - Yahoo! News Maktoob

UAE telco Etisalat Q3 net profit 2.21 billion dirhams versus 1.72 billion dirhams a year ago - statement.

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Saudi down for 3rd day; volumes plunge - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Large-caps drag down Saudi Arabia's bourse for a third straight session and trading volumes plunge to a 13 month low as retail investors exit positions ahead of a long holiday.
Saudi Basic Industries Corp and National Industrialization shed 1.1 and 2.2 percent respectively.
The kingdom's index slips 0.2 percent to 6,729 points, its lowest level since Oct. 15. The market trades 119
million shares, the lowest daily amount since September 2011.

UPDATE 1-UAE's NBAD Q3 net up 9 pct on investment gains | Reuters

National Bank of Abu Dhabi , the largest lender by market value in the United Arab Emirates, beat analyst estimates by reporting a 9.1 rise in third-quarter net profit, boosted by investment gains.

NBAD, majority-owned by the Abu Dhabi government, made a net profit of 1.12 billion dirhams ($307 million) in the third quarter compared with 1.03 billion dirhams a year ago, a statement from the bank said on Tuesday.

Profit for the first nine months of this year totalled 3.21 billion dirhams, up 7.6 percent from a year earlier.

Kuwait clears Gulf War Iraqi airline settlement | Reuters

Kuwait's government has given final approval to settlement with Iraq to end a standoff over Gulf-War-era debts and lift restrictions on Iraqi Airways flying to destinations in the West, Iraq's government said on Tuesday.

The airline row was part of a broader dispute over billions of dollars in reparations dating back to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990-1991 when his forces seized aircraft and parts.

Iraq and Kuwait in March reached an agreement under which Iraq will pay Kuwait $300 million in cash and invest $200 million in a joint airline venture in return for Kuwait lifting legal actions against Iraqi Airways.

BRIEF-Bahrain Batelco 9-mth net profit falls 25 pct - statement - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Bahrain Telecommunications Co (Batelco) 9-month net profit 43 million dinars versus 57 million dinars a year ago - statement.

BRIEF-Dubai's Emaar Q3 net profit drops 4.7 pct; misses forecast - Yahoo! News Maktoob

* Dubai's Emaar Properties Q3 net operating profit
387 million dirhams versus 406 million dirhams year-ago
* Q3 revenue 1.6 billion dirhams versus 1.9 billion dirhams
year-ago - statement
* Emaar chairman says Dubai property sector witnessing "upward
revision" in prices
* Says seeing high-level demand for new projects in strategic
* Average forecast of analysts polled by Reuters expected Q3
earnings of 516.2 mln

Dana Gas sukuk: the clock is ticking | beyondbrics

With less than a week until maturity, Dana Gas sukuks are trading at a significant discount to face value as negotiations continue on what would be the UAE’s first ever restructuring of an Islamic bond.

On Tuesday, the sukuk was trading at a 21 per cent discount, undermined by worries about the company’s cash position. In its first-half financial statements, the Sharjah-based energy company reported a cash balance of $164m, a fraction of the funds required to repay the debt.

The $920m five-year sukuk – the Shariah-compliant equivalent of a conventional bond in which certificates are issued against income-generating assets – was issued on October 31, 2007 with a 7.5 per cent coupon to be paid quarterly.

ADVISORY-Gulf markets to close for Eid Al Adha holidays - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Most Gulf markets are closed from Oct. 25 for Eid Al Adha holidays, according to respective bourse statements.
UAE markets will resume trade on Oct. 29, Qatar will reopen on Oct. 30 and trading on Saudi Arabia's stock exchange will restart on Nov. 3, according to statements from authorities. Oman's exchange will remain open for trading on Oct. 25 but will break for holiday from Oct. 28 to Oct. 31 inclusive.

Bahrain's Investcorp seen pricing 5-yr bond Wednesday - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Investcorp, the Bahrain-based alternative asset manager, has set early price guidance for its upcoming five-year bond, which will be worth at least $250 million, arranging banks said on Tuesday.
Price talk for the deal was released at the low 8 percent area for the senior, unsecured notes, to be structured under the 144a/Reg S format, meaning it will be open for qualified institutional investors in the United States.
Final pricing is expected on Wednesday. The investment company concluded roadshows earlier this week.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, ING, JP Morgan and Royal Bank of Scotland are mandated arrangers on the deal.

Egypt association plans list of Islamic stocks | Reuters

An Egyptian association plans to launch a list of sharia-compliant equities next week as part of its efforts to raise awareness of Islamic finance in the country.

The list will filter out companies which fail to meet religious guidelines, such as avoiding excessive levels of debt and steering clear of industries that are deemed unethical, including alcohol and gambling.

"The association has put the finishing touches to a set of standards and controls for the index prior to launch," Mohamed El-Beltagy, head of the Egyptian Islamic Finance Association, told Reuters by telephone.

UPDATE 1-Qatar's Barwa Real Estate Q3 net profit jumps - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Barwa Real Estate, Qatar's largest listed property developer, said third quarter net profit more than doubled, as gains booked on the fair value of investments offset higher operating and finance costs.
Barwa, which is eyeing asset sales worth $4.4 billion to pay down loans, made a net profit of 185.4 million riyals ($50.92 million)in the third quarter, compared with 80.8 million riyals in the same period of 2011, it said in a bourse filing on Tuesday.

Balancing Act: Azerbaijan's Foreign Policy Towards The Middle East - Analysis Eurasia Review

During the last decade, Azerbaijan has become one of the most strategic post-Soviet states in the field of energy and regional security. Its geographic position, between Europe and Asia, is one of the reasons Azerbaijan has made stability the cornerstone of its foreign policy program. This year started on an impressive note for the South Caucasus state. The country took its seat on the United Nations Security Council, and in May, it joined the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). With its generous gas and oil reserves, Azerbaijan has worked to balance its foreign policy pursuits, both close to home and abroad. Nevertheless, in line with the country’s 2007 National Security Concept, Azerbaijan intends to contribute to international and regional security. At the UN General Assembly debate in late September, foreign minister Elmar Mammadyarov reiterated Azerbaijan’s commitment to “continue to be in the forefront of international efforts” in working for a “stronger and more effective United Nations.”

Abu Dhabi tightens debt rules -

Abu Dhabi is attempting to rein in boom-year borrowing that has triggered bailouts of state-linked companies and losses in parts of its swelling global investment portfolio.
The oil-rich capital of the United Arab Emirates, which pumped at least $20bn into its neighbour Dubai during its financial crisis, has now quietly issued its own tougher policy for debts taken on by government-owned businesses.
The policy makes explicit for the first time that state-linked companies must apply for a sovereign guarantee to ensure government support for their debt.