Middle East Business News Review – 14 October

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Today’s top business and economy news from the Middle East and North Africa:

Abu Dhabi posts fastest economic growth in 2011

Data released by the Abu Dhabi government showed on Sunday the capital city’s economy grew 6.8% in inflation-adjusted terms last year, the fastest rate since 2004 and more than double the pace of the previous year.

“Growth in GDP at constant prices during 2011 surpassed all the forecasts and estimates made by local and international parties,” the Statistics Centre Abu Dhabi said.

The real gross domestic product of Abu Dhabi, one of seven United Arab Emirates, rose 3.0% two years ago. Abu Dhabi, which accounts for most of the UAE’s crude oil output and about 65% of the GDP of the second largest Arab economy, released detailed inflation-adjusted GDP data for the first time on Sunday.

Dubai’s DEWA inks $562m deal with Siemens

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, the emirate’s state-owned utility, said on Sunday it has awarded a AED2bn ($562m) maintenance contract to Siemens International.

It said the deal was one of its “strategic effective partnerships to enhance efficiency, improve quality, reduce costs and ensure efficient operation of its substations.

The long-term maintenance programme is for the maintenance of six gas turbines and six power generators in the biggest power generation and water desalination station at Jebel Ali.

UAE’s Etisalat plugs US$4bn into fibre optics

Etisalat, the Abu Dhabi-based telecommunications giant, has invested a total of AED15bn (US$4bn) on its fibre optic network over the last four years, its CEO said in an interview published on Sunday by the WAM news agency.

The UAE telco giant began its investment in fibre optics four years ago and the total length of the network currently amounts to 2.8 millionkm of cable, which is roughly five times the distance between the earth and the moon.

The Etisalat CEO reiterated that the company will not completely sell out of any of its foreign markets.

Dubai’s Dewa Awards $562 Mln Maintenance Contract to Siemens

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority , the emirate’s state-owned utility, said Sunday it awarded a 2.063 billion dirham ($562.1 million) maintenance contract to Siemens AG (SI).

The 12- to 15-year contract is for the maintenance of six gas turbines and six power generators at its plant in Jebel Ali, Dewa said in an emailed statement.

SR 1.1 bn projects implemented at holy sites to further ease Haj

New development projects worth more than SR 1.1 billion have been implemented at the holy sites of Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah as part of the government’s efforts to enhance facilities for the annual Haj pilgrimage.

The announcement was made by Habib Zain Al-Abidine, head of development projects at the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, yesterday during a meeting with Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal.

The governor was on an inspection tour of Haj facilities and arrangements at the holy sites. Prince Khaled urged government officials to put extra efforts to impress foreign pilgrims.

Qatar Annual CPI Slows to 2% in September On Lower Transport Costs

Annual inflation in Qatar slowed to 2% last month compared to 2.3% in August on lower transport and communication costs, official data showed Sunday.

Month-on-month transport and communication prices were down 1.2% in September due to a drop in air travel fares, while costs falling under the entertainment, recreation and culture category fell 0.4%, according to the latest figures published by the Qatar Statistics Authority.

IEA says Iraq oil output may double by 2020

Iraq’s oil exports are expected to rise to their highest in decades this month and production is on course to more than double by 2020 as it cements its place as OPEC’s second biggest producer after Saudi Arabia, a report said on Sunday.

The International Energy Agency said that Iraq’s oil production would reach 6.1 million barrels per day by the end of this decade from current output around 3 million barrels per day. Iraq recently signed deals worth billions of dollars with foreign oil companies to increase production and exploration of new oil and gas fields. The IEA, which advises 28 industrialised countries, highlighted the risk of production rising more slowly than expected in a recent report.

A senior Iraqi oil official said that oil exports were expected to rise above 2.8 million barrels per day this month with shipments on the rise from both the north and south of the country. Exports of 2.6 million barrels per day in September were already the highest in more than 30 years.

Iran rejects IEA report; insists oil exports steady

Iran’s OPEC governor denied on Saturday the Islamic Republic’s oil exports have declined in recent months. The statement came as a rebuttal to a report released by the International Energy Agency (IEA) that Tehran’s oil income is declining.

The IEA report, released on Friday, estimated that Iran’s exports hit a new low of 860,000 barrels per day (bpd) in September, a huge plunge from 2.2 million bpd at the end of 2011.

Iranians are suffering from hardship after the country’s basic imports are coming under pressure by sanctions imposed by the EU and US over its nuclear programme.

Egypt commits to fuel subsidies to cut down budget deficit

Egyptian Petroleum Minister Osama Kamal told a newspaper on Sunday the government will announce plans to cut energy subsidies by setting a universal limit on how much cheap fuel and cooking gas every household can buy.

President Mursi’s Islamist-led administration insists it will push through reform of the subsidies, which consume as much as a quarter of the state budget. Cairo is struggling to lower a mounting budget deficit and shift funds to health and education.

In an interview with newspaper Shurouk, Kamal outlined the plan which  would mean that both rich and poor receive the same allocation of the subsidised fuel and would then pay a higher price for additional amounts consumed.

Saudi pledges $25m to aid Arab Spring countries

Saudi Arabia has pledged US$25m to a transition fund established by the World Bank to help countries whose economies have been impacted by the Arab Spring.

The oil rich Gulf state is part of a group of countries, including Germany, France, the US, Britain, Italy, Russia, Japan, and Canada, known as the Deauville partnership.

The group plans to US$165m to countries such as Tunisia, Libya, Jordan, Egypt, and Morocco, with an eventual goal of US$250m.

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