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Thursday, 3 January 2013

Is Kuwait Ready For Economic Reform? - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East

Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad (front) attends the closing session of the GCC summit, in Sakhir Airport, south of Manama, Dec. 25, 2012. (photo by REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed)
Many believe that the government of Kuwait no longer has legitimate excuses for continuing the freezing of comprehensive economic reform after the parliamentary elections held in December produced a National Assembly that is ideal for it to pass the required laws in this area.
Many also say that the government was justified in the past due to the presence of a populist parliamentary majority opposed to structural reform, which suspended petrochemical projects and the construction of a new refinery and obstructed the privatization of institutions and sectors such as Kuwait Airways, electricity, water, land communications, the airport, seaports and the healthcare system.
Is Kuwait Ready For Economic Reform? - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East

Jet-Etihad deal: too good to be true? | beyondbrics

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways appears to have developed a taste for Indian airlines. Just last month, there were rumours that the state-owned airline was considering investing in Vijay Mallya’s grounded airline, Kingfisher.

Then on Thursday, Jet Airways announced on the Bombay Stock Exchange that it is in discussions with Etihad regarding a possible investment in the Indian carrier.

It said:

Various structures are being explored by the legal and commercial teams and care being taken to ensure that all the Indian regulatory requirements are fully complied with.
Jet-Etihad deal: too good to be true? | beyondbrics

Dubai’s renaissance: Edifice complex | The Economist

DUBAI doesn’t do discreet. The emirate welcomed in the new year with a huge fireworks display that engulfed the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, in time to a live performance by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. In a video that runs in the Burj Khalifa’s visitors’ centre, an executive at Emaar, the developer behind the skyscraper, explains why it had to go that high: “You have to do something impossible, otherwise you’ll be like any other company, or person. We have to grow higher and higher—grow like Dubai.”

The emirate’s latest wheeze is to create a city within the city, a development bigger than anything that has gone before. Mohammed bin Rashid (MBR) City will feature more than 100 hotels, the Middle East’s largest entertainment centre, a park bigger than London’s Hyde Park and the world’s biggest shopping mall, appropriately named “Mall of the World”.
Dubai’s renaissance: Edifice complex | The Economist

Austin-Smith Lord close to Abu Dhabi settlement | News | Building Design

Austin-Smith Lord is hoping to settle its long-running payment wrangle with the Abu Dhabi client that saw it nearly go bust later this month.

The company entered a CVA in November 2011 in order to head off insolvency and in an update on the arrangement sent by accountant BDO, which is administering the CVA, creditors were told ASL has agreed to accept £1.9 million of the £4 million owed to it by Adach for its work on a cultural quarter in the Gulf state. The firm was previously offered £1.5 million last March.

Practice director Neil Chapman (pictured) said once a deal had been agreed with Adach, which has still to sign it off, then the CVA would finish: “We are getting very close to final resolution, hopefully in the next month or so. After Abu Dhabi is settled then it’s the end of the CVA.”
Austin-Smith Lord close to Abu Dhabi settlement | News | Building Design

Daily chart: Growers and shrinkers | The Economist

The fastest growing and shrinking economies in 2013

MACAU will be the fastest growing economy this year, according to the latest estimates from our sister company, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). Growth is expected to return to a faster pace as new casino projects are resumed and Chinese visitors (with rising wages) continue to raise gambling revenues. Mongolia, in second place, can also thank China for boosting its growth rate. China’s demand for minerals has driven investment in the Mongolia’s mining sector. This year Oyu Tolgoi, one of the world’s largest copper and gold mines will begin commercial production. China itself is set to grow by over 8% this year, and potentially more, depending on how the rest of the world fares. Meanwhile, Europe will still be ailing, with Greece leading the decline. Germany’s chancellor recently contended that the euro area crisis was "far from over."

MIDEAST STOCKS-Egypt at 9-week high; Gulf mkts strong | Reuters

Egypt's stock market rose to a nine-week high on Thursday as investors continued to bet that authorities would succeed in managing depreciation of the Egyptian pound smoothly. Most Gulf markets gained because of positive global sentiment.

The Egyptian index climbed 1.8 percent to its highest close since Oct. 30. It has risen for the last five sessions, partly because of foreign interest in the market; stock exchange data on Thursday showed foreign investors' buying outweighing their selling by more than two to one.

The Egyptian pound slid further at the central bank's auction of foreign currency on Thursday, with $74.9 million sold to banks at a cut-off price of 6.3860 pounds. The currency has lost more than 3 percent this week.
MIDEAST STOCKS-Egypt at 9-week high; Gulf mkts strong | Reuters

Dubai Islamic Bank to acquire mortgage firm Tamweel | Reuters

Dubai Islamic Bank said on Thursday that its board had approved plans to fully acquire Islamic mortgage provider Tamweel, in which it already holds a majority stake of 58.2 percent.

Dubai's largest sharia-compliant lender intends to make a tender offer to buy all shares in the hands of Tamweel's other shareholders, it said in an emailed statement.

Each Tamweel shareholder will be offered 10 DIB shares for every 18 Tamweel shares. After closing the offer, DIB will apply to the regulator to delist Tamweel from the Dubai Financial Market.End

Jordan targets budget costs strained by Arab uprisings | News , Middle East | THE DAILY STAR

Jordan aims to cut its budget deficit by about a third this year to curb the impact of soaring fuel import costs and high social spending linked to the wave of Arab uprisings.

Finance ministry sources said on Thursday the draft 2013 budget aimed to reduce the 2013 deficit to 5.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) from 7.9 percent last year.

Jordan suffered widespread civil unrest after the country moved in November to end fuel subsidies. Protests turned violent in impoverished rural areas where rioters for several days torched government buildings and looted scores of banks.
Jordan targets budget costs strained by Arab uprisings | News , Middle East | THE DAILY STAR

Innovation makes Airbus wings fly

Qatar Exchange close - January 3, 2013

 General Index
Intraday  3 month  
 Daily Statistics
 General Index8569.13
 Change (%)1.42%
 T. Volume4547097
 T. Companies 42

Qatar Exchange

MENA stock markets close - January 3, 2013

Big Spender: Saudi Arabia upholds high budget

Determined to push past global economic crises and spiraling political unrest in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia’s recently announced all-time high expenditure plan is part of a strategy to bolster the Kingdom’s economic solidity.

Saudi Arabia’s council of ministers on Saturday agreed a record budget for 2013 with revenues expected to hit 820 billion riyals ($219 billion).

“This is not a surprise level of spending the Kingdom is committing to, this is all relative – to maintain 2012’s pace of growth, given that the government has been on an expansionary stance since 2011. This will help the Kingdom to cushion any blow coming from global weakness,” Said Hirsh of Capital Economics told Al Arabiya English on Thursday.
Big Spender: Saudi Arabia upholds high budget

Saudi Unemployment Rate Above 12 Percent, CDSI Says — Riyadh Bureau

The unemployment rate in Saudi Arabia has reached 12.1 percent in 2012, according to new numbers published by the Central Department of Statistics and Information (CDSI). The stats show that there are 602,853 Saudi nationals who are unemployed, 243,983 of them are men. But the unemployment rate is far higher among females (36 percent) than males (6.1 percent). CDSI says 73.3 percent of unemployed women have a college degree.

The Saudi government has worked in recent years to tackle the problem of rising unemployment by encouraging more women to join the workforce. They have limited work in some retail jobs to women and announced plans to lift the ban on female lawyers arguing cases in courtrooms. These moves were faced with resistance from religious conservatives who accuse the Minister of Labor of pushing a liberal agenda aiming to “Westernize” society through gender mixing at the workplace. Hundreds of clerics have visited the Ministry headquarters in Riyadh during recent weeks to protest women employment policies implemented by Fakieh.
Saudi Unemployment Rate Above 12 Percent, CDSI Says — Riyadh Bureau

Dubai Stocks Rise to Nine-Month High Spurred by Bigger Dividends - Bloomberg

Dubai’s benchmark stock index climbed to a nine-month high on expectations improved earnings will stoke bigger dividends when companies start reporting later this month.
Dubai Investments PJSC (DIC), which has stakes in more than 40 businesses and is set to report full-year results on Jan. 30, surged 2.9 percent. Emaar Properties PJSC (EMAAR), the developer of the world’s tallest skyscraper, reached a two-year peak. The DFM General Index (DFMGI) rose 0.9 percent to close at 1,681.75, the highest level since April 5 and taking this week’s advance to 4.4 percent.
“Fresh capital is entering the market, chasing dividend paying stocks,” said Nabil Farhat, a partner at Abu Dhabi-based Al Fajer Securities.
Dubai Stocks Rise to Nine-Month High Spurred by Bigger Dividends - Bloomberg

Hello 2013: The EM earnings challenge | beyondbrics

Today beyondbrics begins a series of posts by outside commentators on the outlook for emerging markets in 2013. Our first contribution is by Geoffrey Dennis of Citigroup

The biggest surprise in emerging markets this year has, in our view, been much weaker growth than originally forecast in several large economies. In summer-2011, Citi economists expected average GDP growth for 2012 of over 6 per cent in emerging markets; the actual outturn looks as if it will be around 4.5 per cent – a big miss.

The main culprits have been some of the biggest emerging markets. Twelve months ago, we had expected Taiwan to grow by 4 per cent in 2012; now the forecast is just 1 per cent. Other sharp forecast declines have occurred in Brazil (3.4 per cent to 0.9 per cent), India (7 per cent to 5.4 per cent), Korea (3.4 per cent to 2.3 per cent) and South Africa (2.9 per cent to 2.2 per cent). The same is true in China, despite clear recent evidence that the growth slowdown is finally ending; over the past year, our 2012 forecast for Chinese growth has fallen from 8.4 per cent to 7.7 per cent.
Hello 2013: The EM earnings challenge | beyondbrics

STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Dubai at 9-month high; Tamweel drops - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Dubai's index ends at a 9-month high, climbing for a second straight session, as investors express optimism about the emirate's growth in the new year.
The benchmark advances 0.9 percent to 1,682 points.
"Across equity markets a good sentiment is building up," says Sebastien Henin, portfolio manager at
The National Investor. "After a long time of staying away from equity markets, maybe investors are ready to come back. Though we can't say that things are back to risk-free zone."
Emaar Properties gains 1.3 percent and Dubai Islamic Bank adds 1.5 percent.
STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Dubai at 9-month high; Tamweel drops - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Turkey inks $12-bn energy project with UAE - Yahoo! News Maktoob

AFP/Patrik Stollarz -
A coal-fired power station, Germany, September 11, 2012. Turkey signs an agreement with the United Arab Emirates for the development of coal fields in southern Turkey to generate electricity
Turkey signed on Thursday an agreement with the United Arab Emirates for the development of coal fields in southern Turkey to generate electricity.
The agreement between Abu Dhabi-based TAQA and Turkey's state-run power company EUAS marks the biggest Arab investment in the Turkish energy sector, a senior energy ministry official told AFP.
"This is a very serious investment, a significant investment," Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said at the signing ceremony in Ankara.
Turkey inks $12-bn energy project with UAE - Yahoo! News Maktoob

Jet Airways shares jump on Etihad investment hopes | Reuters

Shares in Jet Airways(JET.NS) rose as much as 6 percent on Thursday, a day after a senior government source told reporters the carrier was the front-runner to win an investment from Etihad Airways.

The Gulf carrier could pay up to $330 million for a 24 percent stake in Jet, and a deal is likely in the next 10 days, the official said.

Jet Airways India Ltd was up 5.2 percent as of 0349 GMT.

However, shares of Kingfisher Airlines (KING.NS), which had been vying with Jet to win the Etihad investment, fell 2.6 percent.END

Azerbaijani President Aliyev Named Corruption's 'Person Of The Year' |

In 2012, corruption watchdog Transparency International reported that two-thirds of the world's countries may be considered "highly corrupt." It would seem tough to choose someone for the dubious honor of corruption's "person of the year."

One investigative-journalism NGO has done just that.

The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), based in Sarajevo and Bucharest, has awarded the crown to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
Azerbaijani President Aliyev Named Corruption's 'Person Of The Year' |

Asiacell to be top holding in Invest AD's Iraq fund - The National

Abu Dhabi's Invest AD plans to buy into the region's biggest share sale in the past four years. Asiacell, the Sulaimaniyah-based mobile operator, whose initial public offering begins today, will be the "top holding" in the investment manager's Iraq fund, it said yesterday.

"Asiacell is going to be one of those stocks, that regardless of the price or valuations it sells at, will perform well," said Sherif Salem, the manager of the Invest AD Iraq Opportunity Fund. "We plan to participate. The telecom sector is one of Iraq's biggest stories and our Iraq fund is based on that."

Asiacell, with Qatar Telecom as a major shareholder, plans to raise as much as US$1.3 billion (Dh4.78bn) from investors. The offering is the biggest in the Middle East and North Africa since Saudi Arabian Mining, also known as Ma'aden, raised $2.5 million in June 2008.
Asiacell to be top holding in Invest AD's Iraq fund - The National

Al Habtoor eyed listings on up to four bourses - The National

Al Habtoor Group, the Dubai-based conglomerate, had ambitious plans to list on as many as four stock exchanges prior to the unexpected postponement of a US$1.6 billion (Dh5.88bn) initial public offering (IPO) last month.

Khalaf Al Habtoor, the chairman of the hotels to automobiles combine, said the company was considering listings on the Dubai Financial Market, Nasdaq Dubai, the London Stock Exchange, and even Saudi Arabia's Tadawul market.

The move would have been groundbreaking for the UAE. No other company is listed on both Dubai exchanges, which have common trading and back-office services but which also have significantly different listing rules.
Al Habtoor eyed listings on up to four bourses - The National

Nakheel chairman says mortgage law to regulate real estate |

A new cap on mortgage lending in the UAE will help regulate the real estate market better, but could be restrictive for a middle class aspiring to buy their own homes, the top executive at Dubai-based developer Nakheel said Wednesday.
The UAE central bank issued new regulations this week that limit the amount that expatriates and nationals can borrow to buy properties, a move seen by many analysts as largely designed to curb speculation as real estate prices recover.
“I believe it is a good thing to introduce such a regulation by the central bank, as there has been no rules to regulate the market in the past where the cap would reach as much as 90 per cent,” Ali Rashid Lootah, Nakheel’s chairman, told Zawya Dow Jones in a telephone interview.
Nakheel chairman says mortgage law to regulate real estate |

Dubai Duty Free earns Dh5.9b in 2012 |

Dubai Duty Free (DDF) earned Dh5.9 billion in sales last year, up by 10 per cent from 2011, it announced yesterday.
The Duty Free is looking to add new retailers to its current mix of brands in 2013, Colm McLoughlin, executive vice chairman told Gulf News. “We have been able to look at some new suppliers as a result of the new Concourse opening, particularly in the fashion and luxury side of things.”
With the phased opening of Concourse A dedicated to Emirates A380 planes, the DDF now has 26,000 square metres of retail space at Dubai International Airport. “The main challenge for Dubai Duty Free in the coming year will be ensure that our logistics and IT systems, which are crucial to our 24 hour operation, are sufficiently geared up for the growing retail operation which is in diverse locations… We have also had to recruit a great deal in the past year in readiness for Concourse A and it is important that the additional staff are well trained and fully integrated into the work force,” he said.
Dubai Duty Free earns Dh5.9b in 2012 |

Learning how to utilise oil revenues |

Some GCC countries have achieved further progress in diversification of sources of income and reducing dependence on oil revenues, both in financing of annual budgets or development programmes.
Dubai’s experience in this regard forms an example of how to utilise oil revenues in developing non-oil sectors to find alternative sources for funding for annual budgets.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Dubai’s oil production was estimated at 450,000 barrels per day, but the proven reserves were limited. Therefore, the decision makers’ thinking was focused on the need to speed up the process of using oil revenues effectively in the development of non-oil economic sectors. Dubai has succeeded in this regard, gaining a worldwide recognition, and has become a model for oil-producing developing countries.
Learning how to utilise oil revenues |