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Iran is the perennial “elephant in the room” of international gas trade, a country which could, one day, become a major game changer of international gas markets but the potential of which still remains today fundamentally untapped due to a number of geopolitical and commercial reasons. Among the others, the main reason of the current under-exploitation of Iran’s natural gas resources is clearly linked to the difficult political relations evolved over the last decades between the country and the West. However, the history of international relations has shown several times that relations between major actors in the international system could rapidly shift if the political willingness to do so is there."
"The chief executive of Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, the biggest Sharia-compliant lender in the emirate, has joined a chorus of warnings that rising real estate and equity values may make the UAE a less competitive business destination.
Tirad Al Mahmoud said that low interest rates had helped to boost economic growth but that the cost of doing business in the UAE may become unattractive if valuations overheat. While not all asset valuations have reached irrational exuberance, there are troubling signs in some pockets of the real estate and stock markets, he said."
DUBAI, March 23 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's bourse led the region on Sunday, recovering from last week's weakness to hit a five-year high with gains in most sectors as global oil prices stabilised.
The index rose 1.3 percent to 9,425 points, its highest level since July 2008. Most stocks closed in the black, including petrochemicals, banks, cement makers and food producers.
"Optimistic sentiment and anticipation of first-quarter results" were the most likely reasons for the rally, said Farooq Waheed, senior portfolio manager at Riyad Capital.
The Saudi index, which includes several large petrochemical companies such as Saudi Basic Industries, eased throughout last week as oil prices retreated. Brent crude , however, partly recovered on Friday."
"A consortium led by Russia's Stroitransgaz, owned by sanctions-hit businessman Gennady Timchenko, is set to win a 3.5 billion euro ($4.82 billion) deal to build a section of the South Stream natural gas pipeline across Bulgaria, industry sources said Friday.
Expected to start deliveries in late 2015, South Stream will carry Russian gas across the Black Sea and bypass Ukraine with which there have been gas rows in the past that have disrupted supply to the European Union.
Timchenko owns 63 percent in Stroitransgaz Group via his Volga Group. On Thursday he was included in a list of Russian officials and businessmen targeted by U.S. sanctions over Ukraine.
"The Stroitransgaz-led consortium has been picked to build the Bulgarian part of the pipeline," a source familiar with the deal in Bulgaria said.
Some 11 companies bid for the work, Bulgarian Energy Holding, or BEH, has said, without naming the bidders."
"MUSCAT, March 23 (Reuters) - Young Omanis who took to the streets in 2011 to demand jobs and better economic prospects failed to trigger the mass protests that transformed other parts of the Arab world in their own Gulf state.
But they may have had an impact all the same, as authorities are making a start on a task that, even if coincidentally, meets one of the protesters' key demands - fighting corruption.
Omanis say graft has long blighted their country, one of the least wealthy Gulf Arab Western allies. While most states in the region fare badly in global corruption perception reports, Transparency International groups Oman among the worst performers, together with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain.
"The government's campaign (is part of a response) ... to the 2011 popular demands, smoking out the termites that infested the structure and making Oman's economy more competitive through transparency and fair and free competition," said Ahmed Al-Mukhaini, a former assistant secretary-general for Oman's consultative Shura Council who advises on the country's political affairs."
"The Finance Ministry said Friday it may be forced to cancel plans to borrow abroad this year, admitting that sanctions imposed by the West are already stinging.
The U.S. imposed sanctions on President Vladimir Putin's close allies over the annexation of Ukraine's Crimea.
Since Putin declared on March 3 that Russia had the right to invade Ukraine, Russian stocks have lost on average 10 percent, or more than $60 billion in market capitalization, and the Central Bank has spent $23 billion defending the ruble as foreign investors, spooked by uncertainty about where the crisis will lead, pull their money out of Russian stocks and bonds.
"Any sanctions, whatever they are, have a negative impact on bilateral trade, the forecast and the actual economic growth," Siluanov told journalists."
"Dubai’s stock index advanced for a seventh day after U.S. economic data spurred global equities and built on momentum from the emirate’s $20 billion debt deal. Egypt’s measure dropped.
The DFM General Index (DFMGI) rose 1 percent to 4,346.93 at the close, extending the seven-day advance to more than 10 percent. Drake & Scull International advanced 4.2 percent. Emaar Properties PJSC, which last week said it will list its retail unit, jumped as much as 1.7 percent. Abu Dhabi’s gauge increased 0.2 percent.
U.S. stocks ended the week with benchmark indexes posting their biggest gains in a month, as data from jobless claims to manufacturing showed the economy is strengthening. Dubai refinanced $20 billion in debt last week at a quarter of the original cost, freeing cash to service liabilities and fund expansion plans."
"The Dubai real estate market has been recovering for almost three years, the classic length of a real estate cycle. Does this mean that the $356-408 million initial public offering now in progress for the Emirates REIT (real estate investment trust) is coming at a peak time for local property values?
That is the dilemma investors will be weighing this month as they consider whether to take up the IPO. Shares in Emirates REIT will begin trading early next month.
Emirates REIT owns an impressive small portfolio of Dubai commercial real estate. It is certainly no ragbag of unwanted property. It first bought Building 24 in Dubai Internet City in June 2011, and has since acquired three prestigious loft offices in the same free zone. It also owns Indigo Seven on Sheikh Zayed Road, the Office Park in the Dubai Knowledge Village and the GEMS World Academy in Al Barsha."
"The Egyptian economy faces three main stumbling blocks on the road to a recovery, according to a number of economic experts who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat.
The experts agreed the country’s low productivity—particularly the decline in tourism after the 2011 revolution—combined with the ripple effects of the 2008 global financial crisis, insecurity and political instability, are the key issues to be tackled by Egypt’s next government in its efforts to get the economy back on track.
Egypt now faces a 240 billion Egyptian pound (34 billion US dollar) budget deficit, almost 14 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), with government debt reaching 89 percent of GDP, largely stemming from Egypt’s 21 billion dollar subsidies bill in the 2012–2013 financial year.
Economist Sherif Mukhtar said: “Egypt is going through an economic crisis in all sectors, and needs to increase productivity because it is lower than population growth, which results in an increase in the budget deficit and the balance of payments.”"
"Egypt’s prime minister has endorsed Majid Al Futtaim’s (MAF) five-year Dh8.7 billion investment plan in the country.
The UAE company behind the Mall of the Emirates and the City Centre mall brands announced plans this year for the development of three new shopping malls in Egypt, together with the redevelopment of City Centre malls in Maadi and Alexandria.
MAF is also set to open another 32 Carrefour hypermarket outlets countrywide. The combined projects are expected to generate more than 125,000 direct and indirect jobs."
"Emirates REIT, the UAE’s first property investment trust, said the price range it expects to sell shares to the public at would give the REIT a market capitalisation of up to US$408.6 million.
The Sharia-compliant real estate investment trust has set an indicative price range for the offering at between $1.36 to $1.56 per share for the 110.29 million shares it may sell after an over-allotment of 16.5 million shares, Emirates REIT said in a statement today. The management road show will start today and end on April 2 and it is expected that a definitive price at which the shares will sell will be announced a day or two later, it said."
"Ailing German airline Air Berlin, which is almost 30 per cent owned by Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, will be delisted, with Etihad raising its stake to 49.9 per cent, German weekly WirtschaftsWoche reported on Saturday.
Citing company sources, the magazine said a group of German shareholders, among them former and current company executives, would raise their stakes to hold more than 50 per cent between them, preserving the carrier’s German status.
Smaller investors, which account for 38.5 per cent of the group’s shares, would be bought out, WirtschaftsWoche said.
It said Air Berlin, Germany’s No.2 airline after Lufthansa , needed to remain German so as not to lose its traffic rights outside the European Union."