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Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Can Rafsanjani Save Iran’s Economy? - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East

On May 11, when news emerged that former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani might register for the upcoming presidential elections, the free currency market froze for a few hours. Some currency exchange bureaus even announced that hard currency rates would not be announced until it was known whether Rafsanjani had registered as a candidate. 
While the last-minute nomination came as a surprise to many, it could be expected that the news would lead to a positive response from the key economic and business players in the country. Immediately after his registration, the price of gold coins (a main indicator of market trends) and foreign currencies started dropping. In fact, the Iranian rial appreciated by about 4% compared to the US dollar within one day. 

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Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Petro-Political ‘Peace’ for Syria

We’ve got an extremely muddled peace process going on for Syria right now, and petro-politics defines agendas and actions. A US-Russian “peace” conference will be held later this month, and Qatar and Saudi Arabia have tabled a controversial resolution at the UN.

The Qatar-Saudi resolution accuses the Syrian regime of using chemical weapons, which is not true even according to a UN investigating committee, which demonstrates that chemical weapons were more likely used by certain rebel forces.

The resolution clearly lays the foundation for handing over Syria’s UN seat to Western-GCC-supported Syrian opposition figures (and basically, Sunni radicals under the al-Nursa/al-Qaeda umbrella).  The resolution does not call for dialogue (if you read between the lines. It calls for Assad’s surrender to the National Coalition of the Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces)."

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Severn Trent Rejects Takeover Approach by Kuwait-Led Group - Businessweek

Severn Trent Plc (SVT), the U.K.’s second-largest publicly traded water company, rejected a takeover approach from Kuwait’s sovereign wealth fund and a Canadian infrastructure investor.

The proposal “completely fails to recognize the existing and potential value of Severn Trent,” the company said in a statement. Severn Trent, which supplies water to 7.7 million people, has a market value of 4.9 billion pounds ($7.5 billion).

The shares jumped the most in 4 1/2 years yesterday after The Kuwait Investment Office, Borealis Infrastructure Management Inc. and Britain’s Universities Superannuation Scheme approached the utility regarding a possible takeover. Pennon Group Plc (PNN) and United Utilities Plc also rose on speculation other bidders may be attracted by the stable returns water companies offer.

Kuwait Has Its Own Jeweler in Octium -

The Octium jewelry boutique in the 360 Mall, a luxury shopping center in the Zahra District of Kuwait, presents to the outside world an imposing facade of San Laurent black marble punctuated by a two-ton brass door that conveys an unapologetic sense of masculinity.

Inside, the boutique’s curved walls, cream and violet colors and cushioned seating are feminine to the core.

Yet the contrast in styles is not why shoppers tend to be confused by Octium.

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Abu Dhabi shares rebound with 30% rise so far this year -

Abu Dhabi’s stock market rose to the highest in more than four years this week as the emirate benefits from a comeback in neighbouring Dubai and buying interest in its lenders helps lift the equity market.
The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange is up 30 per cent so far this year, taking it to the highest level since 2008. The uplift is just behind that of the Dubai Financial Market, which is up 35 per cent, at the highest point since 2009.
While still in the shadow of Dubai, where traded volumes are higher, Abu Dhabi’s rebound is starting to attract some of its own attention."

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Abu Dhabi wealth fund hires John McCarthy from Deutsche Bank - Business Intelligence Middle East

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the world's largest sovereign wealth funds, named John McCarthy as its global head of infrastructure.
McCarthy was previously a managing director and infrastructure head at Deutsche Bank AG and has more than 20 years of experience in the industry, the fund said today in an e-mailed statement. He’ll start with immediate effect.
His role will include working with a team to originate and complete new deals and manage the fund’s existing infrastructure assets, according to the statement. Prior to joining Deutsche Bank in 2006 he worked at ABN Amro and BZW in Australia. 

Start-up Shahiya serves up huge virtual cookbook for the Mideast -

An argument is brewing on the brightly-coloured pages of, a Middle Eastern recipe-sharing site. One user is taking issue with another’s recipe for Shish Barak bi Laban – a Lebanese dish of meat dumplings in a warm yoghurt sauce.
Giving it a mere two stars, the user goes on to outline a litany of improvements: “the yoghurt must be from goat’s milk . . . we use mint instead of coriander.” It is prefaced by a clinching argument: “Here is how my mum and grandma do it.”
“In every house in the Middle East there is a great cook, with recipes hidden in a drawer or even in her head,” says Hala Labaki, one of the three co-founders of the Beirut-based company. “We’re tapping in to a deep sea.”