Middle East Business News Review – 13 August

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Photo – Vahid Salemi/AP

Today’s Top Business News from the Middle East.

Vatican Gulf HQ to stay in Kuwait

The Vatican Embassy in Kuwait dismissed reports on Monday that it was relocating headquarters from Kuwait to Bahrain to facilitate the organisation of regional meetings of Christians.

The Embassy of the Vatican “is not transferring its present location in Kuwait to another within the Gulf region,” the embassy said in a statement. But for logistical and pastoral reasons, the Apostolic Vicar of Northern Arabia, Messenger Camillo Ballin, the local Bishop in charge of the Catholic Church in Kuwait “will be moving the seat of the local Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia to Manama, Bahrain, while maintaining his residence in Kuwait,”  the embassy statement added which was carried out by Arab Times, a leading Kuwaiti daily.

Facebook, Twitter effective weapons of Syrian uprising

The battle for Syria is raging on the ground but also on social media, where people on both sides of the conflict are hacking, posting and spamming in a frenzied propaganda war.

The Twitter feeds of news organisations have been hacked by pro-regime elements, videos purporting to show atrocities in Syria are regularly posted to YouTube and pro or anti-government messages often flood Facebook pages.

Social media are widely credited for having helped mobilise and coordinate protesters during the Arab Spring, which kicked off in Tunisia at the end of 2010 and spread to Egypt, Libya and other countries. In Syria, they are being used as a platform to galvanise public opinion as the nearly 17-month-long uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule rages on.

Gulf states target pirates with ‘ray gun’ tech

Gulf states have incorporated ‘ray-gun’-style technology into their maritime defences in a bit to combat the growing piracy and to prevent civilian vessels from accidently damaging expensive oil and gas terminals, the regional head of a leading US defence contractor told Arabian Business website.

Massachusetts-based Raytheon, the world’s largest missile maker, has developed a new technology known as ‘Silent Guardian’ which has been adapted for use on vessels in the Gulf, Kevin Massengill, the defence contractor’s vice president and regional executive, said in an interview in Dubai.

Gulf seen cautious amid weak growth data

Weakening global growth data is likely to keep gains in check in the Gulf market, while investors will be looking at stock-picking activity as the last of the region’s quarterly earnings roll in.

Asian shares steadied on Monday but gains were limited by further evidence of slowing global growth.

Data on Monday showed Japan’s economy grew 0.3 percent in April-June from the previous quarter, half as much as expected, as Europe’s debt crisis weighed on export demand.

Oman plans extra $1bn spend on job creation

Oman plans to spend an additional $1bn from its oil windfall to create jobs for its citizens over the next 12 months, a finance ministry official said on Sunday.

“We had a very good income from oil revenues in the first six months of the year,” the official in the ministry’s planning department, who declined to be named under briefing rules, told Reuters.

Saudi inflation falls to lowest in three years

Saudi Arabia’s inflation rate fell to its lowest in almost three years as increases in the costs of food eased.

Inflation slowed to 4 percent in July, compared with 4.9 percent in the previous month, the Central Department of Statistics said on its website today. Food prices increased 4 percent, down from 4.7 percent in June.

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency said in a report on its website today that inflationary pressures in the Kingdom, the Arab world’s largest economy, are expected to stabilize in the third quarter as global increases in food costs slow and inflation in other countries eases.

Qatar awards $406.4 m in contracts for planned metro

Qatar Railways Co on Sunday signed contracts worth $406.4 million for its planned $36 billion metro in the Qatari capital, as part of the tiny Gulf state’s preparations to host the 2022 soccer World Cup.

The company awarded a contract for consulting engineering services and project management with US firm Jacobs Engineering Group JEC.N to manage the metro’s Red Line.

A team comprised of US-based Louis Berger and France’s Egis Rail will manage the Gold Line and main stations, and US firm Hill International HIL.N will manage the Green Line, Managing Director Abdullah al-Subaie told a news conference in Doha. The three contracts are worth 1.14 billion Qatari riyals ($313.1m), he said.

Egypt expects Qatar deposit within a week – minister

Qatar should deposit $500 million in Egypt’s central bank within a week, the Egyptian finance minister said, as the country battles to pull its economy out of a tailspin after 18 months of political turmoil.

The Gulf emirate said on Saturday it would deposit $2 billion in all.

Speaking on Sunday, Finance Minister Mumtaz al-Saeed said officials had also discussed with a Libyan delegation that Tripoli might support Egypt’s depleted finances.

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