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Thursday, 5 September 2013

UAE Has World's 'Vainest' Skyscrapers

UAE Has World's 'Vainest' Skyscrapers:

The skyline is seen with the Burj Khalifa as ships dock at Port Rashid, in Dubai, May 26, 2013.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has the “vainest” skyscrapers in the world, a report measuring the extent of spires and other height-boosting additions to the top of buildings said on Thursday.

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) said unusable space at the top of the UAE's 19 tallest buildings was an average 19 percent of their total height, a measure it called the “vanity height”.

The building with the largest vanity height is the 828-meter Burj Khalifa in Dubai, of which 29 percent or 244 meters is unusable - which would rank on its own as the 11th tallest building in Europe, the CTBUH said.

The top three was completed by the Zifeng Tower in Nanjing, China, and the Bank of America Tower in New York. China and the United States were also second and third respectively for the average figure across all of their tall buildings."

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House Prices Halve Without a Recession

House Prices Halve Without a Recession:

You'll never guess the lead story on Bloomberg this morning. 'Australia Gold Coast Homes at 50% Below 2010 Lure Buyers'. A snazzy photo of the Gold Coast as seen from the Q1 Observation Deck featured.

Just reminding you it's possible, Australia. A 50% drop in house prices without even having a recession. Imagine if a recession was thrown in for good measure.

Of course, this is the Gold Coast we're talking about. Things work a little differently there. We can vouch for that. (You can just make out your editor's university in the background of the photo on Bloomberg.)

What's interesting is that the Reserve Bank's low interest rates are encouraging speculative buyers to come back according to the article. A 50% drop wasn't enough of a lesson. On the Gold Coast, it's once burned, never shy. Just like our pub and club crawling uni days."

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Reporters stand by Saudi prince's Qatar swipe - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Reporters stand by Saudi prince's Qatar swipe - Middle East - Al Jazeera English:

Bandar was said to have made the remarks during one of his recent overseas missions [EPA]
The Middle East Monitor has reported that three Wall Street Journal reporters who said that Saudi Arabia's Prince Bandar bin Sultan had described Qatar as "nothing but 300 people … and a TV channel" are standing by their claim.

The quotes in the WSJ article last week were attributed to "a person familiar with the exchange" and journalists Adam Entous, Nour Malas and Margaret Coker told the London-based publication on Wednesday that the sources behind the account were knowledgeable and reliable.

Bandar, the director-general of the Saudi intelligence agency, was said to have made the remarks during one of his recent overseas missions and to have ended the quote by adding "that doesn't make a country".

The Saudi News Agency reported two days after the WSJ piece that a Saudi official had denied Bandar's comments."

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Qatar, America’s wayward ally |

Qatar, America’s wayward ally |

  • Image Credit: Tara Todras-Whitehill/New York Times
  • US Secretary of State John Kerry at a news conference with Prime Minister Shaikh Hamad Bin Jasem Al Thani of Qatar in Doha in June
On the face of it, Qatar has been one of the United States’ most valuable allies in the Middle East over the last decade. Qatar hosts a large US Air Force base in the Persian Gulf and has often provided political and financial support for US initiatives in the Middle East. Indeed, Washington has often encouraged Qatari activism to legitimise US diplomacy, including its political support at the Arab League of a potential US strike against Syria.
But Qatar’s role in the US’s Middle East policy is far more problematic than is commonly recognised. The tiny yet ambitious Gulf emirate has sought to use its immense hydrocarbon wealth to finance and arm civil wars in Libya and Syria, to support Hamas in Gaza, and to mediate disputes in Sudan and Lebanon. Its interest sometimes align with the United States’ — but too often, they do not. The launch of Al Jazeera America, the news network its government owns, should redirect attention to Doha’s goals and means."

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Daily chart: The capital-freeze index | The Economist

Daily chart: The capital-freeze index | The Economist:

"Which emerging-markets are most vulnerable to a freeze in capital inflows?

Interactive here
THE risk of an abrupt end to capital inflows is now a worry for much of the emerging world. The Economist has combined four factors into an index measuring the vulnerability of 26 emerging markets to a capital freeze: A large current-account gap implies lots of net borrowing from abroad. A high level of short-term external debt relative to a government's stock of reserves means an economy lacks the means to tide borrowers through temporary difficulties. Rapid credit growth often signals
overstretched firms and overvalued asset prices. A more open financial system may boost growth in the long run, but it also makes it easy for capital to flood out fast.

Our interactive infographic uses a simple traffic-light system to group the countries. Green denotes economies that are at relatively little risk, countries in amber territory have potential points of fragility, and those in red are most at risk."

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Pakistan / IMF loan: the one chart | beyondbrics

Pakistan / IMF loan: the one chart | beyondbrics:

"The IMF’s 3-year $6.6bn loan to Pakistan has come just in time. As the FT reported, the loan may “stave off a balance of payments crisis, cheering investors concerned that foreign reserves had sunk to about six weeks worth of imports.”

According to Bloomberg data, the level of foreign reserves plus gold dropped below a rolling three month average of imports back in May, and the trend is clear.


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The Return Of Egypt’s Elite | @REBELECONOMY

The Return Of Egypt’s Elite | REBEL ECONOMY:

"Those who were punished under Mohammed Morsi are getting their own back.
The chief executive of Egypt’s biggest construction company, Orascom Construction Industries, has signalled that the firm is “currently exploring its legal options” with regards to the $1 billion (EGP7.1 billion) tax settlement it agreed in April with the Morsi administration.
If the decision is overturned, it would be a symbolic victory for the business tycoons who have laid low since the end of the Mubarak era.
The signs are clear. Others who faced trial for more serious charges, including steel tycoon Ahmed Ezz, have been released and will likely live in luxury as they await retrial. Egypt’s prosecutor general has frozen an investigation panel sponsored by Morsi to probe crimes committed during the January 25 revolution and its aftermath."

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[video] Time to return to EM? | beyondbrics

[video] Time to return to EM? | beyondbrics: "Emerging markets have suffered a big sell-off since May. Rob Drijkoningen, co-head of emerging market debt at Neuberger Berman, tells FTfm’s Steve Johnson that the sell-off has almost run its course and discusses which countries and assets are likely to perform best when buyers return. "

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London’s extraordinary lead in FX | FT Alphaville

London’s extraordinary lead in FX | FT Alphaville:

"The following is not for distribution in the United States

The triennial central bank survey of foreign exchange and derivatives market activity from the BIS is out.

FX details are here and OTC IR derivatives are here. Oh, and the Bank of England’s parochial summary is here.

But if you are interested in how financial centres stack up against each other you’ll need to consult this table: (Click to enlarge)


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FINANCE - US Nasdaq may acquire 7 percent of Borsa Istanbul

FINANCE - US Nasdaq may acquire 7 percent of Borsa Istanbul:

"American finance giant Nasdaq OMX Group plans to pay $30 million for a 7 percent share of Borsa Istanbul (BIST), and to give 1 or 2 percent in shares from its technology company, according to a draft of the preliminary deal seen by daily Hürriyet.

Nasdaq and Borsa Istanbul signed the partnership deal in July, but detailed terms of the alliance were under cover.

The preliminary deal, which is still under the negotiation process, foresees the transfer of 7 percent of the shares of Turkey’s sole stock exchange to the U.S. giant, which indicates that the parties calculated the market value of BIST at more than $430 million. "

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UAIndex heads back into negative territory - Ukraine Business Online

UAIndex heads back into negative territory - Business - News - Ukraine Business Online:

" Wednesday’s decline takes the UAIndex back into negative territory, down -0.84% for the day to end at 3,929.93.

Wednesday’s Best Performer based on total impact was MHP, up +1.56% on 404,303 shares traded, also giving the poultry production giant Volume Leaders honors.

Bottom feeder of the day was Milkiland, down -4.30% on trade of 11,701 shares"

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MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf mkts fall on Syria tension; losing for 2nd week | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf mkts fall on Syria tension; losing for 2nd week | Reuters:

"Gulf Arab shares dropped on Thursday, sustaining losses for a second week in a row, as a possible United States military strike against Syria moved one step closer and raised worries of triggering wider conflict in the region.

A U.S. Senate committee voted in favour of military action, clearing the way for a vote in the full Senate, likely next week.

The resolution sets a 60-day limit on any engagement in Syria, with a possible 30-day extension, and bars the use of U.S. troops on the ground for combat operations.

In the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi's measure fell 3 percent in its sharpest one-day drop since January 2011. It lost 5.3 percent this week."

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BRICS agree to capitalize development bank at $100bn — RT Business

BRICS agree to capitalize development bank at $100bn — RT Business:

(RIA Novosti/ Igor Russak)
The BRICS nations have decided to fund their development bank with $100 billion. The reserves are aimed at financing joint development ventures, and are set to rival the dominance of the World Bank and the IMF.

“At the final stage of realization - the initiative to create a BRICS forex reserve pool – the size of its capital has been agreed at $100 billion,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said while opening the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg.

Russia, Brazil and India will contribute $18 billion to the BRICS currency reserve pool, while China $41 billion and South Africa $5 billion, according to a press release issued by the BRICS on Thursday.

Earlier this week Russia’s Finance Minister Sergei Storchak said that there were still a lot of “difficult details” to sort out."

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Ukraine Cannot Forever Stay At The Crossroads - Kiev Ukraine News Blog

Kiev Ukraine News Blog:

"What has been described as a "trade war" between Ukraine and Russia has overshadowed two more important factors that have more important long-term strategic implications for the U.S.-Russian-Ukrainian strategic triangle.

Yanukovych has to decide if he is pro-Russia or pro-EU.

The first is country-related and arises from the new desire for energy independence while the second is personal and affects Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. 

Western reporting on Yanukovych is routinely simplistic in its use of "pro-Russian" and "pro-European."

That there is rhetoric in favor of European integration is irrelevant when domestically Yanukovych pursues "pro-Russian" political and economic policies that are typically Eurasian.

Pro-European rhetoric is out of tune with Yanukovych's Russian-speaking electorate."

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Ukraine falls by 11 places in Global Competitive Index to 84th - Ukrainian Journal

Ukrainian Journal:

"Ukraine has slipped by 11 places in the Global Competitiveness Index published on Wednesday by the World Economic Forum, to 84th among 148 countries.

The authors of the GCI say that putting economic growth on a more stable footing in future will require Ukraine to address important challenges. Arguably, the country’s most important challenge is the needed overhaul of its institutional framework, which suffers from red tape, a lack of transparency, and favoritism, says the report.

Ukraine could realize further efficiency gains from instilling more competition into its goods and services markets (124th) and continuing the reform of its financial and banking sector (117th)."

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Moody's affirms Burgan Bank Group's ratings | Positions and Promotions

Moody's affirms Burgan Bank Group's ratings | Positions and Promotions:

"After Burgan Bank Group reported the best quarter in three years, Moody's Investors Service has today affirmed the Ba2/Not Prime global local-currency (GLC) and foreign-currency deposits ratings.

Concurrently, Moody's downgraded the standalone bank financial strength rating (BFSR) to E+ (from D-) which is now equivalent to a baseline credit assessment (BCA) of b2 (formerly ba3). The outlook on all assigned ratings is stable.

The affirmation of the Ba2 long-term deposit ratings reflects Moody's assumption of very high probability of parental support for Burgan-AS from Burgan Bank SAK (Burgan-SAK: deposits A3 stable, BFSR D+/BCA ba1 stable), based in Kuwait. However, the lowering of the BCA reflects the continuing challenges for Burgan-AS's earnings and franchise evolution."

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Ukraine able to store 15 bln cu. m. of gas at rates much lower than European, Stavytsky says| Ukrinform

Ukraine able to store 15 bln cu. m. of gas at rates much lower than European, Stavytsky says| Ukrinform:

The creation in Ukraine of an East European gas hub should be an important factor for the country's integration into the European gas market, Ukraine's Energy and Coal Industry Minister Eduard Stavytsky said this at a meeting with RWE Supply & Trading GmbH CEO Stefan Judisch in Brussels.
"Today Ukraine can offer traders the possibility of simultaneous storage of about 15 billion cubic meters gas at rates much lower than in Europe. The use of natural gas storage facilities in Ukraine by traders (total capacity of 31 billion cubic meters of gas and the prospects for increasing the storage capacity to 50 billion cubic meters of gas) will provide an opportunity to influence the reduction of seasonal price fluctuations in spot gas trading in Europe, supply large volumes of gas to the Ukrainian market and create conditions for Ukraine's accession to the European gas market," Stavytsky noted.
He also assured that Ukraine, as before, will remain a reliable partner for the EU in the transit of Russian gas."

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Dubai on Track With Airport Growth to Fit Growing Fleet of A380s - Bloomberg

Dubai on Track With Airport Growth to Fit Growing Fleet of A380s - Bloomberg:

"Dubai International Airport is working to increase capacity to help accommodate more of the Airbus SAS A380 super-jumbo for Emirates, the largest operator of the double-decker jet, the airline’s chairman said.
The expansion may help the Middle Eastern hub become the word’s busiest airport by next year, Emirates Chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum told reporters today at the airport.
“We are going according to plan to accommodate all A380s,” he said in Dubai. “Hopefully within one year from now we would be No. 1.”
Dubai International Airport has boosted traffic to about 57.7 million passengers in 2012, putting it on a path to match London Heathrow by the end of 2013. The airport opened a concourse this year dedicated specifically to the A380 double decker, of which Emirates has ordered 90 units in total."

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Fake Plastic Souks: ADNOC Buys Out Emarat Network - Finally

Fake Plastic Souks: ADNOC Buys Out Emarat Network - Finally:

(Photo credit: SimonQ錫濛譙)
So it seems that the northern emirates' green gas stations are finally to go blue - ADNOC has announced it has signed an agreement to acquire Emarat's 75 service stations and its Sharjah distribution terminal. The service stations will 'gradually' be rebranded, according to Gulf News today.

This agreement is presumably different in some way to the memorandum of understanding the two signed in May of last year. That was reported at the time to relate to "74 of Emarat's 100 stations in the northern emirates".

I posted about it at the time and thought no more of it, but sure enough there appears to have been a year-long process turning an MoU into an actual deal. Which is not the niftiest piece of M&A work I've seen, I must say. One does wonder what the stumbling blocks were to cause such a hiatus between intent and action."

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Saudi Gazette - Natural gas pivotal to Mideast’s growth

Saudi Gazette - Natural gas pivotal to Mideast’s growth:

"The biggest challenge to the energy sector in the Middle East is meeting the region’s surging demand for electricity. If electric power continued to be generated on a large scale by inefficient oil-fired power plants, as it is today, not even the entire oil output of the Middle East would be enough in the long term – then the region would have to import crude, a study by Siemens and the Technical University of Munich revealed.

“The rapidly increasing domestic demand for energy is a major challenge to the countries of the Middle East. More efficient power plants and greater utilization of local natural gas deposits to fuel high-efficiency gas power plants can help to quench the thirst for energy sustainably and at an affordable cost,” said Michael Suess, member of the managing board of Siemens AG and CEO of the Siemens Energy Sector, against the backdrop of a round-table debate in Abu Dhabi.

Taking Saudi Arabia, the region’s biggest crude oil producer, as an example, Siemens has highlighted future challenges in the study. Saudi Arabia’s power demand is set to more than double by 2030."

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Qatar banking sector set to meet $100bn country need

Qatar banking sector set to meet $100bn country need:

Qatar’s banking sector is set to meet the country’s infrastructure finance demand in excess of $100bn until 2022, says a new report.

Qatar’s financial sector has indeed enough liquidity to provide the capital and project finance required to deliver mega projects in the country up to 2022 and beyond, Meed said.

“We are talking about a huge scale of infrastructure financing requirement,” said International Bank of Qatar (IBQ) head (corporate banking) Bhupendra Jain."

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Qatar to suspend bond transferals from Egyptian bank | Egypt Independent

Qatar to suspend bond transferals from Egyptian bank | Egypt Independent:

"The Qatari government notified the Egyptian government on Monday of its decision to indefinitely suspend bond transfers from the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) to the Qatar National Bank (QNB), according to Turkish news agency Anadolou. The Qatari government had previously deposited $2 billion in the CBE as part of an aid package.

The official noted in a telephone conversation with Anadolu that the Qatari government stated the following in its notification: “Qatar will postpone the rest of the bond package program previously agreed between Egypt and QNB Bank. A representative of the Qatari government will determine a further meeting to notify the Egyptian government."

Beginning in July, Egypt has been transferring the $2 billion deposit received from Qatar to fixed term bonds."

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Qatar most competitive economy in the Middle East

Qatar most competitive economy in the Middle East:

"Qatar ranked 13th on the global list of the 2013-14 Global Competitiveness Report’s index and the first in the Middle East region.

According to the report issued by the World Economic Forum, Qatar reaffirms once again its position as the most competitive economy in the region at 13th position globally.

The country’s strong performance in terms of competitiveness rests on solid foundations made up of a high-quality institutional framework (4th), a stable macroeconomic environment (6th), and an efficient goods market (3rd), the report said."

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Saudi Arabia's Almarai plans first perpetual bonds - The National

Saudi Arabia's Almarai plans first perpetual bonds - The National:

"Saudi Arabian food company Almarai plans to sell perpetual Islamic bonds, the first from an issuer in the kingdom, as Arabian Gulf companies seek to boost capital without selling shares.

Riyadh-based Almarai, which operates a joint venture with PepsiCo, said it will meet domestic investors in the next two weeks to privately place of 1.7 billion Saudi riyals of senior sukuk that do not mature. Perpetual debt can be treated as equity, thereby allowing companies to increase capital outside equity markets. Almarai's sale is set to be the first sukuk from the Gulf Cooperation Council since Saudi Binladin Group's 1bn riyal offering in July."

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Unrest threatens Middle East aviation - The National

Unrest threatens Middle East aviation - The National:

"Regional instability poses a risk of disruption for Middle East aviation, one of the strongest growth markets in the industry, the International Air Transport Association said yesterday.

Iata made the warning after releasing the latest passenger data showing Middle East carriers again outperformed rivals from other regions in July.

In a month in which all regions registered growth, July traffic in the Middle East rose 7.8 per cent compared with a year ago."

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Taqa seeks green light on Kurdish oil production - The National

Taqa seeks green light on Kurdish oil production - The National:

Abu Dhabi National Energy (Taqa), the state utility, is seeking approval to pump 30,000 barrels per day from its field in the Kurdish region of Iraq.

Although the amount would be a fraction of the capacity of more developed fields in the Kurdish area such as Taq Taq and Tawke, plans for extra output add urgency to the semi-autonomous region's case for exporting oil without the involvement of the Iraqi federal government.

Companies such as Genel and DNO, a Norwegian producer part-owned by the UAE, have faced losses in the Kurdish region as a stand-off between the Kurdistan regional government and Baghdad's ministry of oil bottlenecks exports."

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UAE ranks higher than other countries bidding for Expo 2020 |

UAE ranks higher than other countries bidding for Expo 2020 |

According to the 2013-2014 report, the UAE ranked 19th [in productivity] - cracking the
 top 20 for the first time after finishing 24th last year -
ahead of Turkey (44), Brazil (56), and Russia (64).
The UAE ranks highest on the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) out of the countries with cities bidding for the World Expo 2020.
Released on Tuesday, The Global Competitiveness Report is an annual release assessing the competitiveness landscape of 148 economies.
According to the 2013-2014 report, the UAE ranked 19th [in productivity] - cracking the top 20 for the first time after finishing 24th last year - ahead of Turkey (44), Brazil (56), and Russia (64)."

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MIDEAST STOCKS - Factors to watch - Sept 5 | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS - Factors to watch - Sept 5 | Reuters:

"Here are some factors that may affect Middle East stock markets on Thursday. Reuters has not verified the press reports and does not vouch for their accuracy.


* GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian stocks cautiously firmer; BOJ, India eyed

* Oil lower as Syrian strike seen limited

* MIDEAST STOCKS-Mkts hit multi-week lows as U.S. nears action on Syria

* Gold climbs, but stays below key level as U.S. data dents appeal"

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GCC gas network needs to be on the agenda |

GCC gas network needs to be on the agenda |

"In a significant development formalised last week, Oman signed a 25-year agreement valued at $60 billion with Iran to supply it with Iranian gas through a pipeline. The agreement brought to memory the hesitancy of GCC countries to set up a Gulf-wide natural gas network similar to the power grid linkage.
Regional co-operation is vital and contributes to an exchange of mutually beneficial interests. However, in international relations, there is never an absolute economic co-operation removed from political considerations and pressures. Hence, this requires diversity in supplying the tools of development.
Currently, demand for natural gas among GCC countries is on the rise due to the increased power production and the constant expansion of the petrochemical industry and oil production. This has led some of the GCC economies to search alternate sources, including production of the very high cost and environment-polluting shale gas."

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