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Monday, 27 May 2013

Next Iranian President Faces Economic, Foreign Policy Tests - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East

"For Iranians, the election is about the economy first, foreign policy second. The economic challenges include inflation, unemployment and devaluation of the national currency.
Inflation is disproportionately hurting the lower and middle classes. While Iran’s Central Bank reports that the inflation rate for 2012 has been 27.4%, Steve Hanke, professor of Applied Economics at The Johns Hopkins University and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington estimates that Iran experienced an inflation rate of 110% for the same period. This is quadruple the rate reported by the Central Bank."

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Oilrig maker Lamprell meets investors after tumultuous year - The National

"Lamprell, the UAE oilrig maker, held its annual investor meeting in Dubai's swanky Rolex Tower yesterday as it aims to turns itself around from a year of four profit warnings.

The company, which is listed in London, met at the offices of Clyde & Co on a UK bank holiday. Yesterday was Lamprell's first meeting with investors since it was fined by the British regulator for not advising investors soon enough of potential profit setbacks.

In March, the United Kingdom's Financial Services Authority cited "serious systems and controls failings" that stemmed from rapid growth as the reason for the £2.4 million (Dh13.3m) fine."

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UAE markets gain as investors return |

"UAE stock markets witnessed the end of profit taking on Monday as they edged up more than one per cent. Led by real estate companies and banks, Abu Dhabi’s benchmark index gained 1.22 per cent to 3,469.13, ending four sessions of decline.
The real estate index was up 4.16 per cent, with Aldar Properties and Sorouh Real Estate surging 5.79 per cent to Dh2.01 and 3.86 per cent to Dh2.42 respectively. Rak Properties climbed 1.82 per cent to Dh0.56.
Due for the merger formalities to be finally completed in June, Aldar and Sorouh, Abu Dhabi’s biggest real estate companies, have jumped 58.26 per cent and 93.6 per cent respectively this year."

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GCC countries to award Dh250b worth of gas contracts |

"GCC states, particularly the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, plan to award contracts worth nearly Dh250 billion ($68 billion) during the next five years to raise gas production, despite the focus on renewable and nuclear energy, according to a latest report by Deloitte.
“Although oil is still projected to remain the primary fuel, significant advancements in technology will cause natural gas to overtake coal as the number two fuel source,” Deloitte’s white paper titled ‘Middle East Energy and Resources: Managing scarcity for the future’, said.
“In the Middle East, gas is forecasted to overtake oil in demand after 2025, with 50 per cent of all energy demand coming from gas in 2040. Most National Oil Companies (NOCs) in the Middle East already have multi-billion dollar investment plans for gas exploration and production,” it said."

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FGB Gains Most Two Weeks on Bets Stock Is Cheap: Abu Dhabi Mover - Bloomberg

"First Gulf Bank PJSC (FGB) rose the most in almost two weeks on investor bets the shares of the bank controlled by Abu Dhabi’s ruling family are cheap.
The shares gained 1.8 percent, the largest advance since May 14, to 14.20 dirhams at the close in Abu Dhabi. The stock was the biggest gainer by index points on the benchmark ADX General Index (ADSMI), which increased 1.2 percent. The benchmark index declined 3.8 percent in the previous five days.
First Gulf slumped 9.4 percent in the previous seven days, closing yesterday at a 16 percent discount to the shares’ average 12-month price estimate of 16.69 dirhams, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Kuwait-based Global Investment House raised the bank’s price estimate to 15.34 dirhams yesterday. The shares trade at 9.5 times estimated earnings that compares with 11.7 for the STOXX 600 Banks Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg."

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The Death of Lebanon’s “Labor Spring”? | Al Akhbar English

"The Lebanon’s Union Coordination Committee (UCC) will soon be back in the streets. It won’t fall for the government’s trick of approving the salary scale without actually sending it to parliament. However, the committee’s leadership knows that the outcomes will be negative if it stands alone in the battle.

The Economic Committees went silent. The salaries scale is no longer a calamity threatening the country. On the contrary, some representatives of those committees are promising rejuvenation, despite the fact that the government decided on March 21, for the second time, to send the draft bill to parliament.

Mohammed Choucair, head of the trade chambers, announced that hotels were filled immediately after the announcement of the resignation of prime minister Najib Mikati. He indicated that occupancy rates increased from 35 percent to 70 percent and 80 percent in just two weeks."

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Saudi Arabia - Iran's big rival in the Persian Gulf | Asia | DW.DE | 27.05.2013

"Saudi Arabia is Iran's greatest rival in the battle for regional hegemony. Their rivalry is being played out in Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain and especially Syria - if Assad's regime falls, it could tip the balance of power.
The conflict between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran is exemplified by their relationship to Syria and Bahrain. Whereas the Saudis want Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad to step down and are supplying the opposition with weapons, Tehran continues to support the president and has even reportedly sent special troops to crack down on the insurgency. The Lebanese Shiite militia, Hezbollah, which is largely funded by Iran, is also fighting with the Syrian regime.
However, Saudi Arabia is not supporting the insurgents because it wants democracy in the region. At the beginning of 2011, it sent its troops and tanks to Bahrain to help crack down on a popular Shiite insurgency against the autocratic Sunni ruling family. Tehran protested and called on Bahrain's Shiites to continue their insurgency."

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BGCC200 Quote - Bloomberg GCC 200 Index - Bloomberg

Snapshot for Bloomberg GCC 200 Index (BGCC200)

Open:62.58Day Range:62.49 - 62.79Year To Date:+13.94%
Previous Close:62.5752-Week Range:54.60 - 63.011-Year:+15.66%

Index Chart for BGCC200

  • BGCC200:IND 62.57
  • 1D
  • 1M
  • 1Y
May 26
Interactive BGCC200 Chart

Index Profile Information for BGCC200

The Bloomberg GCC 200 Index is a capitalization weighted index of the top 200 equities in the GCC region based on market capitalization and liquidity. The index was developed with a base value of 100 and is rebalanced semi-annually in April and October.

Top Gainers & Losers In BGCC200

No data available.
Quotes delayed, except where indicated otherwise. All prices in local currency. Time is ET.

Abu Dhabi Wealth Fund Cuts Reliance on External Managers - Bloomberg

"Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, among the world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds, is curbing reliance on outside fund managers and reducing holdings in developed-world shares in favor of emerging market investments.
The fund counts on external investors to manage about 75 percent of assets, down from 80 percent in 2011, it said in its annual report for last year released today. ADIA, as the fund is known, also reported that 55 percent of its assets are invested in so-called index-replicating strategies, down from 60 percent, as it boosts investments in alternative assets."

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Lack of financial stimulus curbs Arab world’s growth, warns WEF -

"Arab states have made little progress in tackling unemployment, consumer subsidies and other chronic problems that are undermining competitiveness and stifling growth even in the region’s more successful countries, according to World Economic Forum research and delegates.
As falling oil production dampens the expansion of Gulf petrostates there are few signs of the kind of pan-Arab world financial stimulus many economists say is needed to help end the economic troubles underlying the political upheaval there."

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Not Ready for Expat Minimum Salaries | Crossroads Arabia

"Establishing a minimum wage for foreign workers is an idea whose time hasn’t yet arrived, according to Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Labor. Saudi Gazette reports that the Minister is busy trying to get a minimum wage for Saudi employees nailed down first. The situation, though, is like the quandary of the chicken and the egg.

Foreign workers earn low salaries, sometimes appallingly low, and easily one-third to one-quarter of what a Saudi would earn. As a result, employers are reluctant to pay multiples of those salaries to Saudis who may or may not perform as well on the job. But no Saudi is willing to take the low salaries offered to expat workers. At present, Saudis must earn a minimum of SR 3,000/month; foreign workers are sometimes paid SR 1,000 — before the employer starts extracting fees and costs. The salary of SR 3,000 is far from princely; it’s roughly US $800/month. At that salary, no one is getting rich, no one is buying a house, no one can afford to get married and raise children."

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NASDAQ Dubai plans platform for trading Sukuk and bonds on-exchange | Nasdaq Dubai |

"NASDAQ Dubai, the Middle East's international financial exchange, is preparing to open a platform on which investors can trade Sukuk (Islamic bonds) and conventional bonds.

Trades will be automatically and exclusively routed for settlement at Euroclear Bank. The tradable securities will initially comprise at least 12 Sukuk and bonds that are listed on the exchange, with a nominal value of $10.9bn.

The platform will be available to institutional and high-net worth investors and will be opened and gradually developed in coming weeks. "

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Arabtec labourers to leave UAE after strike over pay -

"Hundreds of foreign workers at the United Arab Emirates’ biggest construction company are to return home, law enforcement officials say, after a pay dispute triggered a strike and threw a fresh spotlight on labour conditions in the Gulf.
As the region’s governments press on with high-profile construction projects, ranging from international museums to World Cup football stadiums, the planned departure of at least 200 Arabtec employees from Dubai has sparked debate about both the legal protections offered to workers and the enforcement of those laws."

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Lack of financial stimulus curbs Arab world’s growth, warns WEF -

"Arab states have made little progress in tackling unemployment, consumer subsidies and other chronic problems that are undermining competitiveness and stifling growth even in the region’s more successful countries, according to World Economic Forum research and delegates.
As falling oil production dampens the expansion of Gulf petrostates there are few signs of the kind of pan-Arab world financial stimulus many economists say is needed to help end the economic troubles underlying the political upheaval there."

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Managing Qatar's growth ambitions -

"When the qatar government announced a project-management training course for some of its officials last month, it was frank about why the course was urgently needed.
“The National Development Strategy 2011-2016 calls for individuals and teams within government to work in ways that may be new to them,” the General Secretariat for Development Planning said in a statement.
The course will introduce participants to key management concepts such as time, cost, quality and results, and teach them how to handle changes to projects after they have been launched."

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Times of Oman | News :: Salary blues hit Oman employees

"Sixty-four per cent of respondents in Oman believe that their current salary is lower than that offered by other companies in their industry, according to the the 2013 MENA Salary Survey.

Also, only four per cent stated a high level of satisfaction with their current remuneration and eight in 10 believe the cost of living will continue to increase.

A fifth of the survey's respondents in Oman (19 per cent) have been in their current career path for up to three years. A third (29 per cent) have spent up to one year with their current employer, while 21 per cent have been with their organisations between four and seven years."

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Multiculturalism Is Dead In Europe: MENA Oil And The (Hidden) Political Price Europe Pays For It - OpEd Eurasia Review

"There is a claim currently circulating the EU, both cynical and misleading: ‘multiculturalism is dead in Europe’. No wonder, as the conglomerate of nation-states/EU has silently handed over one of its most important debates – that of European identity – to the wing-parties, recently followed by the several selective and contra-productive foreign policy actions."

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Too much of bluster building up over shale oil |

"As discussions on shale (tight) oil’s prospects get more sober and reasonable, we still see some hype in the media driven by anti-Opec, anti-Middle East, anti-Arab and anti-Saudi Arabia sentiments.
The hundreds of billions of barrels provided by these sources over the last 50 years for the benefit of the world economy, especially the Western economy, are at least temporarily forgotten in the euphoria of desperately trying to subdue Opec producers.
We all remember statements like “We’d never have to worry about Saudi Arabia again”, “Opec would be a thing of the past”, “The coming of Saudi America” or “Liberal America is still reliant on buying oil from stark ideological and geopolitical adversaries such as Saudi Arabia and Venezuela”. There is also that most incredible notion of oil tankers lining US shores to carry exported oil to the rest of the world."

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Dubai building boom in Burj Khalifa's shadows - The National

"Cranes are set to start sprouting up in the shadows of Burj Khalifa as Damac, Emaar and other developers rush ahead with a spate of property marketing launches.

Yesterday Emaar announced it would start online registration for the 120 flats in its 20-storey Burj Vista II tower on Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, close to the world's tallest tower.

The previous day Damac announced the sales launch of 220 apartments in its nearby 22-storey Bay's Edge tower."

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UAE markets in correction mode |

"UAE markets retreated on Sunday as investors continued their profit taking in what analysts see as overbought conditions.
The Dubai Financial Market (DFM) benchmark index eased for the fourth time in five days as it fell 1.06 per cent to end at 2,281.27. Of the 28 stocks traded on Sunday, 12 declined, 11 advanced and five remained unchanged.
Heavyweight Emaar Properties declined 1.55 per cent to Dh5.72 and Dubai Islamic Bank fell 2.45 per cent to Dh3.18. Other stocks whose share prices also witnessed a fall include du, DP World and Arabtec."

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Buybacks a factor behind stock market boom |

"It’s the narcissist rally. Sure, there are plenty of forces pushing stocks higher - record corporate earnings, small investors finally buying again, signs the U.S. economy may be strengthening, central banks flooding the financial system with money.
But you may want to spare a thought, and a healthy dose of worry, for what is one of the biggest, and least appreciated, reasons for the rally: buybacks.
Companies are one of the few big stock purchasers nowadays. Nearly every other big player in the stock market has been selling more than they’ve been buying. Pension funds have been selling. Local and state governments have been selling. Investment brokerages have been selling. And, yes, until recently, even Main Street investors."

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Middle East CEOs confident about economic growth: Survey |

"Middle East CEOs showed high optimism about business and economic growth over the next 12 months, most of the local experts in a recent survey conducted in the UAE expressed the same confidence predicting a positive economic growth across different business sectors.
According to PwC’s 2013 Middle East CEO Survey titled “Matching confidence with competitiveness”, 53 per cent of CEOs in the region are confident about prospects for business and economic growth in the next 12 months.
The report shows that Middle Eastern CEOs are more confident about growth than their global counterparts with confidence at 36 per cent."

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Qatar Exchange opens week on stronger note

"The Qatar Exchange yesterday opened the week on a stronger note, mainly lifted by insurance, realty and transport stocks.

Domestic institutions were seen to be net buyers as the 20-stock Qatar Index (based on price data) rose 0.42% to 9,086.90 points.

Major gainers included Qatar Insurance, Barwa, Doha Bank, Commercial Bank, QNB, Qatari Investors Group, Industries Qatar, Mazaya Qatar, Milaha, Nakilat and Widam Food; even as United Development Company (UDC) and Vodafone Qatar bucked the trend."

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UAE and Qatar bourses likely to make emerging market status next month and launch new IPOs this autumn « ArabianMoney

"The surge of liquidity across the stock markets of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar is likely to be the clinching factor in securing inclusion in the MSCI emerging markets index next month, after five failed attempts. That will allow the bourses of some of the world’s richest per capita cities to ditch their frontier market status.

It has long been ridiculous that the UAE and Qatar have stock markets ranked alongside the likes of the poorest nations such as Bangladesh. Yet a combination of poor liquidity and a lack of investment options for foreigners has prevented these Gulf States being ranked up with the emerging market leaders, Brazil, Russia, India and China."

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Click here for #ADIA 2012 annual review. (pdf)

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Abu Dhabi fund reduces exposure to Europe -

"Abu Dhabi’s principal sovereign wealth fund has lowered its minimum asset allocation to Europe as it focuses more of its firepower on emerging markets.
The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority reduced its minimum asset allocation to Europe to 20 per cent from 25 per cent, the first such cut since it started to publish its annual review four years ago.
It also lowered both its minimum and maximum exposure to developed equities, according to the report published on Monday, which offers a rare but selective insight into the activities of one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds."

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