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Friday, 28 December 2012

Science and technology: Sunny uplands | The Economist

Rebranding is always a tricky exercise, but for one field of technology 2013 will be the year when its proponents need to bite the bullet and do it. That field is alternative energy. The word “alternative”, with its connotations of hand-wringing greenery and a need for taxpayer subsidy, has to go. And in 2013 it will. “Renewable” power will start to be seen as normal.

Wind farms already provide 2% of the world’s electricity, and their capacity is doubling every three years. If that growth rate is maintained, wind power will overtake nuclear’s contribution to the world’s energy accounts in about a decade. Though it still has its opponents, wind is thus already a grown-up technology. But it is in the field of solar energy, currently only a quarter of a percent of the planet’s electricity supply, but which grew 86% last year, that the biggest shift of attitude will be seen, for sunlight has the potential to disrupt the electricity market completely.

Middle East will muddle through 2013 - CNN.com

Since leaving government almost a decade ago, my analysis of matters Middle Eastern has been, well, annoyingly negative.
And the reason? Best summed up in a line often attributed to Groucho Marx but actually uttered by Chico: "Well, who are you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?"
What I see is an angry, broken, dysfunctional region that wants to transcend itself and resolve the conflicts that hold it back, but just can't. And I'm not at all sure there's a whole lot America -- that indispensable nation -- can do about it.

Gulf Air, Qatar Airways Win Saudi Domestic-Route Licenses - Bloomberg

Gulf Air and Qatar Airways have been awarded licenses to operate domestic and international flights in Saudi Arabia, the kingdom’s General Authority of Civil Aviation, or GACA, said in an e-mailed statement today.
The two airlines were among 14 who applied for the license.

EU approves Qatar stake in UK airport operator - Banking & Finance - ArabianBusiness.com

Spanish infrastrucure firm Ferrovial has said its deal to sell 10.62 percent of Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd, formerly BAA Ltd, to Qatar Holding for £478m ($769m) has been completed after obtaining approval from the European Union's competition authorities.
The deal, announced in August, was pending authorisation by the competition authorities but has now been given the nod after ascertaining that the trasaction complied with EU legislation on mergers and acquisitions.
Inigo Meiras, CEO of Ferrovial, said in a statement: "This transaction fulfills two objectives for us: it allows us to maintain our position as the principal shareholder and industrial partner of Heathrow Airport Holdings, and it further strengthens our liquidity situation."

Dubai feeds demand for sweet fruit

Jebel Ali's 2,000-ton workhorses

Qatar's European Strategy

A general view of Doha city with buildings under construction Dec. 24, 2012.
(photo by REUTERS/Fadi Al-Assaad)

The Greek government, in the midst of a severe economic crisis, recently decided to knock on Qatar's door for a chance at survival. It hopes that Qatar will help it overcome its crisis, or at least alleviate some of the burden.
Many European countries have gone down a similar path with Qatar. This raises questions regarding the relations between Europe and Qatar, and about how this small Gulf state has become such an important player among major countries.
Qatar invests billions of dollars a year in Europe, including millions in the real estate, hotel, sports and media sectors. This small country — with an area no larger than 12,000 square kilometers and 500,000 people — has become one of the world’s biggest investors, and invests particularly heavily in Europe. Qatar’s relationship with France however, is one exception. There, it maintains a "more private" strategy.

The Best Investments of 2012 - India Real Time - WSJ

                                           Indranil Mukherjee/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Financial advisers recommend dividing your investments among various asset classes, 
including stock mutual funds, bond mutual funds, and a portion in gold.
And the best investment of the year was…stocks!

With the benchmark 30-share Sensex up nearly 26% this year, equities have beaten most other asset classes, including local favorites gold and real estate.

In this column, we look at how five major investments performed in 2012. We ignored the impact of taxes, which are different for various investments, and can significantly alter final returns.

PRAGMATIC CAPITALISM – 10 Questions (and Answers) for 2013

I’m doing a pre-emptive Q&A this week covering a  macro view of 2013.  I generally don’t believe in forecasting a full year out because I think it’s impossible, but that doesn’t mean we can’t provide some general guide posts for the year given what we currently know.  I usually update these views on a quarterly basis (more frequently through the research with specific market views) so this is probably more like a Q1 outlook with some vague 2013 commentary.  And unfortunately, because the fiscal cliff remains unresolved a lot of this is just pure speculation….But I hope this helps frame the big picture for you.