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Sunday, 16 February 2014

Bahrain's Al Baraka Islamic bank sees new scope to expand | Reuters

Bahrain's Al Baraka Islamic bank sees new scope to expand | Reuters:



"Bahrain-based Islamic lender Al Baraka BARKA.BH expects at least 15 percent growth in net profit this year as its business recovers across a region hit by the Arab Spring unrest, its chief executive said.



The growth will also be fuelled by the company's entry into the Moroccan and Libyan markets and expansion in Tunisia as monetary authorities become more welcoming to Islamic banking.



The bank, which has operations across the Middle East, Asia and Africa is due to announce a double digit increase in 2013 profits, driven by overall growth in core business and a 15 percent rise in lending, Chief Executive Adnan Ahmed Yousif said."



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Rollover Likely as Dubai’s $10 Billion Debt Deadline Looms - Middle East Real Time - WSJ

Rollover Likely as Dubai’s $10 Billion Debt Deadline Looms - Middle East Real Time - WSJ:



"A deadline is fast approaching for Dubai to repay $10 billion of aid it received in the midst of the financial crisis five years ago, but analysts expect the due date to be extended this week without much fuss.



Dubai, one of seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates, got the money in February 2009 in the form of bonds bought by the U.A.E. central bank. The aid aimed to keep the emirate liquid amid a dive in its real estate market that wiped 50% off of home values and threw some of its biggest state-owned companies into financial distress.



Dubai got another $10 billion injection from the Abu Dhabi government and a couple of Abu Dhabi banks that November when Dubai World, a big government-owned conglomerate, entered debt restructuring talks.



“We believe much of the $10 billion owed to the UAE central bank maturing in February will likely to be rolled over,” said Monica Malik, chief economist at EFG Hermes.



Her view echoes that of analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Barclays, who expect the debt maturities to be quietly extended. A partial payment may also be on the cards."



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IMF: Iranian economy weak but growing « ASHARQ AL-AWSAT

IMF: Iranian economy weak but growing « ASHARQ AL-AWSAT:



"The International Monetary Fund (IMF) published a report on Wednesday describing the Iranian economy as “weak” but said it was growing, at a time when signs of progress towards an agreement between Iran and the US and its allies over the Islamic Republic’s controversial nuclear program have raised hopes of the eventual lifting of sanctions.



In its first review of the Iranian economy in three years, the IMF said the Iranian government needed to implement drastic reforms to stop serious economic decline caused by international sanctions and mismanagement by the previous government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who left office in 2013 after serving two full four-year terms.



Martin Cerisola, the IMF’s assistant director for the Middle East and Central Asia, was quoted in the report as saying that Iran’s problems stemmed in part from Ahmadinejad’s ambitious social programs, which were launched without the necessary funding, as well as the tightening of the international economic sanctions."



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MIDEAST STOCKS-Dubai extends gains on UAE bourse merger bets, Saudi banks rise | Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Dubai extends gains on UAE bourse merger bets, Saudi banks rise | Reuters:



"* UAE bourse merger speculation boosts Dubai



* Saudi banks rise after announcing capital increases



* Qatar's soccer cup spending attracts investors



By Raya Atallah and Nadia Saleem

DUBAI, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Dubai's exchange extended gains on Sunday as bets on the country's two bourses merging boosted sentiment, while banks' dividends helped lift Saudi Arabia in a mixed regional trend.



Dubai's measure climbed 2.2 percent, up for a second session, to reach its highest close in five years.



The chief executive of the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) said on Sunday that stock markets in the United Arab Emirates should unify their back office operations and processes for settlement and regulation. 




The two exchanges have been discussing a merger since at least 2010, but talks appear to have advanced considerably in recent months.



Last year Abu Dhabi and Dubai hired banks to advise on the possible merger, which would be one of the biggest reforms in the UAE's financial industry in recent years."



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The Gulf's employment crisis. Part One: How it began | tks @brian_whit

The Gulf's employment crisis. Part One: How it began:



"Employment systems in the Arab Gulf states are increasingly coming under an international spotlight.



Following the decision to hold the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, concerns have been raised about the conditions of migrant construction workers preparing for the tournament – an issue that was discussed recently in the European Parliament.



Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has expelled hundreds of thousands of foreign workers in an effort to provide more jobs for its own citizens, and organisations that include Human Rights Watch, the International Trade Union Confederation, Amnesty International, and the International Labour Organisation have been calling for abolition or reform of the iniquitous kafala (sponsorship) system used throughout the Gulf for employing foreigners.



This is the first in a series of blog posts exploring the problem."



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UAE bourses should unify back offices -Abu Dhabi CEO | Reuters

UAE bourses should unify back offices -Abu Dhabi CEO | Reuters:



"Feb 16 (Reuters) - Stock markets in the United Arab Emirates should unify their back office operations and processes for settlement and regulation, the chief executive of the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange said on Sunday.



Other bourses in Gulf Cooperation Countries could unify their back offices with the UAE exchanges later, depending on the need, Rashed al-Baloushi told a news conference at a financial event in the UAE capital.



He did not say when his proposal for the UAE markets might take effect, or how likely it was to happen."



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Dubai Stocks Advance Most in Two Weeks on Earnings; Saudi Gains - Bloomberg

Dubai Stocks Advance Most in Two Weeks on Earnings; Saudi Gains - Bloomberg:



"Dubai shares climbed the most in two weeks, led by property developer Deyaar Development PJSC (DEYAAR), after gains in emerging markets and better-than-expected corporate earnings boosted sentiment. Saudi Arabia’s gauge also rose.



The DFM General Index (DFMGI) jumped as much as 3.2 percent, the most since Jan. 28, to 4,227.62 before trimming its advance to 2.2 percent at the close in Dubai. Deyaar surged 8.1 percent, the most in a month, after the company’s board recommended foreigners be allowed to own its shares. Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index (SASEIDX) added 0.5 percent at 1:36 p.m. in Riyadh.



Emerging-market stocks posted their biggest weekly gain in five months on Feb. 14 after data showed U.S. consumer confidence in February was stronger-than-projected and the euro-area economy expanded more than forecast in the final quarter last year. Deyaar’s 2013 profit quadrupled and earnings at Union Properties PJSC (UPP) jumped almost nine-fold as real estate prices soar on the back of Dubai’s accelerating economic growth."



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Kuwait's Takaful Firms Struggle In Crowded Market » Gulf Business

Kuwait's Takaful Firms Struggle In Crowded Market » Gulf Business:



"Kuwait’s first Islamic insurer was born 14 years ago, but its takaful firms are still struggling in a crowded market that faces cut-throat competition.



This has led to stagnant growth and persistent losses for takaful firms operating in Kuwait, one of the world’s richest countries on a per capita basis, raising doubts about the sector’s long-term viability.



In a market with 32 insurers, takaful firms say they are at a disadvantage to their conventional peers which have operated for decades, allowing them to build solid customer bases and amass large financial surpluses."



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Emirates Steel revenue rises 8 per cent last year to Dh6.5 billion | The National

Emirates Steel revenue rises 8 per cent last year to Dh6.5 billion | The National:



"Emirates Steel reported revenues of Dh6.5 billion for 2013, up nearly 8 per cent on 2012 in spite of challenging global market conditions, the company said a statement today.



“In spite of the difficult market conditions our business continued to grow and enter new markets, delivering a solid performance in 2013,” said chief executive Saeed Al Romaithi.



The company is set to benefit from increased stability and growth in local construction markets in 2014 and beyond, he said."



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Shuaa posts fourth-quarter net inocme of Dh3.8 million | The National

Shuaa posts fourth-quarter net inocme of Dh3.8 million | The National:



"Shuaa Capital, Dubai’s oldest investment bank, had its third consecutive quarterly profit in more than five years amid a turnaround in the UAE’s economy.



Net income in the fourth quarter increased to Dh3.8 million versus a loss of Dh21m in the same quarter of 2012 as revenues gained 153 per cent to Dh64m, the bank said in an e-mailed statement.



For the whole of 2013, the investment bank’s profit advanced to Dh2.8m compared to a net loss of Dh59m in 2012, its first annual gain since the financial crisis of 2008 nearly brought it to its knees."



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High spending GCC tourists wooed by all | GulfNews.com

High spending GCC tourists wooed by all | GulfNews.com:



"Many countries, including European ones, are taking multi-pronged approaches to attract GCC tourists, for they tend to be high spending visitors.



The likes of the UK and Switzerland have never hid their intentions to entice more GCC visitors. According to VisitBritain, the UK received some 452,000 visitors from the GCC between January and September 2013, up 10 per cent from the corresponding period in 2012.



It is forecast that their number could increase to 700,000 by 2016 following the easing of visa processes for GCC nationals planning a trip to the UK.



From January, passport holders of the UAE, Qatar and Oman can benefit from an electronic visa waiver (EVW) scheme. Under the plan, nationals need to submit documents online detailing their arrival details 48 hours prior to travelling in order to benefit from EVW. As part of the deal, the visa is valid for up to six months for those planning a visit, be it for leisure, business or study."



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