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Sunday, 12 January 2014

BBC News - Iran nuclear deal to enter into force on 20 January

BBC News - Iran nuclear deal to enter into force on 20 January:

"An interim agreement to freeze Iran's nuclear programme will enter into force on 20 January, it has been announced.

The deal, agreed in talks with world powers in November, envisages easing of some international sanctions on Tehran.

US President Barack Obama welcomed the news but said more work was needed to strike a long-term deal. He threatened new sanctions if there was a breach.

The West accuses Iran of seeking nuclear weapons, but Tehran has consistently denied that.

The EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the world powers would now ask the United Nations' nuclear watchdog (IAEA) to verify the deal's implementation."

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Oman government official, two executives jailed, fined for graft | Reuters

Oman government official, two executives jailed, fined for graft | Reuters:

"An Omani government official and two private sector executives were sentenced to jail of up to three years on Sunday after conviction on corruption charges, the first ruling in a case that is shaking up the country's business environment.

More than 20 government officials and private executives from Oman's oil industry and related sectors are on trial on charges of offering or accepting bribes in exchange for contracts, mostly in infrastructure projects.

Corruption is a politically sensitive issue in Oman, which saw sporadic street protests against graft and unemployment in 2011 as political unrest gripped other Arab countries."

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Egypt Stocks Rise to Three-Year High on EFG-Hermes; Qatar Gains - Bloomberg

Egypt Stocks Rise to Three-Year High on EFG-Hermes; Qatar Gains - Bloomberg:

"Egyptian shares rose to a three-year high amid the heaviest trading in 16 months on EFG-Hermes Holding SAE’s stock buyback and before a referendum this week. Qatar’s gauge increased to the highest since 2008.

The benchmark EGX 30 Index climbed 2 percent to 7,116.81 at the close in Cairo, the strongest close since before the start of the uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak in January 2011. Shares valued at more than 1 billion Egyptian pounds ($144 million) traded, the most since September 2012 and almost three times the one-year daily average. EFG-Hermes, the country’s biggest investment bank, surged 9.7 percent to 10.74 pounds.

“EFG-Hermes is one of the market’s bellwether stocks,” said Tariq Hussein, co-head of MENA Sales Trading at Cairo-based CI Capital. “The surge in shares of EFG-Hermes is inevitably having a knock-on effect across the board and buoying market sentiment.”"

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Abu Dhabi's GDP up 5.6% in 2012 - Emirates 24/7

Abu Dhabi's GDP up 5.6% in 2012 - Emirates 24/7:

"Abu Dhabi’s real GDP grew by around 5.6 per cent in 2012 due to strong performance of the non-hydrocarbon sector, but it was below the 9.3 per cent growth achieved in 2011, official data showed on Sunday.

The emirate’s GDP, which accounts for more than two thirds of the UAE economy, also swelled by 7.7 per cent in current prices in 2012, less than a fourth of the growth rate recorded in 2011 when it stood at 32 per cent, showed the figures by the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development.

In its annual report for 2012, the Department attributed the slower growth in 2012 to the slight rise in the oil sector in both production and prices compared with 2011.

It showed Abu Dhabi’s real GDP stood at Dh678 billion in 2012 and said that despite the slackening growth in 2012, Abu Dhabi's economy maintained its recovered and returned to its healthy pace, taking advantage of the robust diversification strategy adopted by the emirate’s government in recent years."

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UAE assistance, budget savings to finance second stimulus package - Daily News Egypt

UAE assistance, budget savings to finance second stimulus package - Daily News Egypt:

"The government’s second economic stimulus package will be financed through a $2.8bn (EGP 20bn) financial assistance from United Arab Emirates (UAE), and EGP 10bn in savings from the general budget thanks to the lower cost of domestic borrowing, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Cooperation Ziad Bahaa El-Din said on Wednesday.

On 27 October, the government signed an agreement with UAE to finance development projects valued at $2.8bn as a part of the second package.

The agreement took place during a three-day visit by Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi to Abu Dhabi in October to discuss means of expanding economic cooperation with the Emirati counterpart Mohamed bin Rashed Al-Maktoum.

Another $3bn was pledged to Egypt from the UAE following the removal of former president Mohamed Morsi from power in July. The UAE aid to Egypt is comprised of a $1bn grant and a $2bn interest-free deposit in the Central Bank. It also sent seven shipments of fuel worth $225m in July."

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$30bn Qatar spend, mega GCC projects to drive Gulf growth in..

$30bn Qatar spend, mega GCC projects to drive Gulf growth in..:

"Qatar project spending estimated at $30bn this year and large-scale projects across the GCC will drive the region’s growth in 2014, a new report has shown.

In the short term, the GCC (Gulf Co-operation Council) region will drive Mena (Middle East and North Africa) growth, mainly through heavy spending on infrastructure, a QNB report said yesterday.

In the GCC region, many countries including Saudi Arabia ($50bn) and Kuwait ($25bn) have huge project spending outlay this year.

Dubai’s successful bid for the World Expo 2020 and a number of new real estate developments will boost project spending in the UAE. The Saudi government alone is spending in excess of $50bn on infrastructure projects through its budget, which excludes significant project spending by the private sector and state-owned companies.

The report also said greater integration into the global economy of the Mena (ex-GCC region) through increased trade openness and enhanced competitiveness could raise long-term regional growth prospects. Mena growth is a tale of two regions, the Mena ex-GCC and the GCC acting as a locomotive of growth for other countries."

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Arabian Gulf budget airlines turn to business class | The National

Arabian Gulf budget airlines turn to business class | The National:

"Budget carriers are adding premium seats to tap rising demand from business travel across the Arabian Gulf.

Saudi Arabia’s low cost carrier flynas has become the latest airline to make the switch on routes between the UAE and the kingdom.

The carrier, which has 42 flights a week between UAE and Saudi Arabia, said it will start the new service from this month.

“Flynas business class is a key part of our recent rebranding and is integral to our 20X20 strategy targeting our goal of carrying 20 million passengers yearly by 2020,” said Wael Al Sarhan, a spokesman for the airline."

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Downfall of Iran’s billionaire sanctions-buster | The National

Downfall of Iran’s billionaire sanctions-buster | The National:

"Is he a hero driven by patriotism or a swindler motivated solely by profit?

Either way, Babak Zanjani, a flamboyant Iranian billionaire who sports a Dh130,000 wristwatch, drives a black Mercedes 500SL and owns a Tehran football club, has suffered a spectacular fall from grace.

One of Iran’s wealthiest businessmen with a fortune worth an estimated US$14 billion (Dh51.38bn), Mr Zanjani helped the Islamic republic evade choking US-led sanctions imposed over its contentious nuclear programme.

But, on December 30, state-run media outlets reported that he was hauled off to Tehran’s notorious Evin prison on corruption charges that he vehemently denies."

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UAE’s cost of living spotlighted in survey | The National

UAE’s cost of living spotlighted in survey | The National:

"Families pay more in the UAE than in any of the Arabian Gulf states for a British or Indian education, petrol and household utilities.

And only in Qatar are rents higher, a new cost of living study suggests.

The figures in the Cost of Living GCC Report have fuelled fears of an increase in inflation this year.

“All evidence suggests inflationary pressures are undercounted in the UAE, where rents have been rising rapidly. We see inflation accelerating towards 2 per cent,” said Rachel Ziemba, emerging markets research director at Roubini Global Economics, an economic and financial analysis company."

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Saudi gets generous with new job insurance plan | GulfNews.com

Saudi gets generous with new job insurance plan | GulfNews.com:

"The Saudi authorities have decided to set up a scheme providing unemployment insurance to nationals laid off from their jobs. The system, approved only last week, is a novelty for the kingdom.
Not surprisingly, there is a six-month grace period for implementation of the plan, ostensibly to provide stakeholders the opportunity to make the necessary adjustments.
With regard to funding, the law requires all employers to contribute 1 per cent of the salaries of all Saudi nationals working in their enterprises. Similarly, employees have to contribute 1 per cent from their salaries to the scheme."

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