Middle East Business News Review – A look at today’s important financial news and business updates from the Middle East and North Africa
Despite a fall in construction costs over the past year, Qatar is still an expensive place to build compared to the UK, new research said on Monday.
According to the annual EC Harris International Construction Costs Report, the UK is the 15th most expensive country to build out of 53 countries, down from 13th last year. The survey firm ranked each country according to the cost of construction.
Jordan’s public debt, both internal and external, soared 12% to JD15.016 billion at the end of the first half of this year, driven by increasing guarantees for public institutions’ debts, especially the National Electric Power Company (NEPCO).
According to Ministry of Finance figures published by Jordan Times, NEPCO debts guaranteed by the government, which are a tranche of domestic debt, amounted to around JD1.63 billion at the end of June 2012.
On the other hand, domestic public debt rose during the first half of this year to JD10.402 billion compared with JD8.915 billion at the end of 2011.
The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) oil output fell further from its highest in four years in July as US and European sanctions cut supply from Iran to the lowest in more than two decades, a Reuters survey showed. Supply from the 12-member OPEC averaged 31.18 million barrels per day (bpd) in July, down from 31.63m bpd in June, the survey of sources at oil companies, OPEC officials and analysts found.
Oil prices declined below $100 a barrel in June, a level favoured by Saudi Arabia and other Opec members, prompting speculation they might trim supply to prop up prices. There is little evidence to suggest this has happened in July, although the drop in output is larger than some expected to see.
South Sudan and Sudan announced on Sunday they have reached a deal over the Juba’s exportation of oil through Khartoum’s pipelines and the distribution of oil revenues.
A disagreement over oil sharing prompted South Sudan to shut down its oil production in January. Oil also sparked a dangerous military confrontation between the two countries that threatened to turn into an all-out war in April when South Sudan captured the disputed town of Heglig, which is responsible for more than half of Sudan’s oil production.
Majority of Muslims living and working overseas observe cultural and religious traditions during the holy month of Ramadan even more devoutly than they did in their home countries, a newly released study revealed.
The finding suggested actions of Muslims living and working abroad changed during Ramadan after their arrival in the host country, with half of respondents (50%) fasting more and two in five (41%) sharing and giving more.
The study entitled “Traditions of Ramadan by global citizens of Muslim faith” was sponsored by Western Union and conducted by The Nielsen Company in July. It covered Muslims of 11 nationalities living in 12 countries in Asia Pacific, the Middle East, US and western Europe.
Land transactions in Dubai reached AED63bn in the first half of 2012, a 21 percent increase on the same period last year, a senior official said on Monday.
Sultan Butti bin Mejrin, director general of the Dubai Land Department, said the emirate witnessed a total of 18,953 transactions to the end of June at an average of 133 per day.
The transactions include sales, mortgages, ijarah, mortgage portfolios, deferred sales and other transactions.
Etihad Cargo, a division of Etihad Airways, on Monday posted record monthly figures for July with network volumes approaching 33,000 tonnes.
The figure represented an increase of 18% on the same month last year while also surpassing a previous month record of 31,700 tonnes which Etihad Cargo carried in March, the airline said in a statement.
Total revenues for the month were up by four percent on June and up eight percent on the corresponding period the previous year, the statement added.
Golden Tulip, part of Europe’s Louvre Hotels Group, has revealed plans to expand its luxury five-star hotel brand ‘Royal Tulip’ in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
The group is targeting 10 Royal Tulip openings in the region within the next three to four years, Golden Tulip MENA president Amine E Moukarzel told Hotelier Middle East.
Kuwaiti telecom operator Zain reported a 1 percent rise in quarterly profit on Monday, missing analysts’ estimates.
Zain said it made net profit of KD70.97m ($251.58m) in the three months to June 30. That compares to profit of KD70.26m in the prior-year period, the company said in a bourse statement.
Analysts forecast average profit of KD76.9m, in a Reuters poll.
New international schools are set to be established in Oman as part of a new joint venture project with a global education company.
CORE Education & Technologies said it has inked the joint venture agreement with Muscat Overseas Company through its Middle East-based subsidiary, CORE Education & Consulting Solutions.
The 50:50 joint venture will seek to develop a world-class education environment in the Sultanate of Oman, it said in a statement.