Middle East Business News Review – 17 September

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Photo – Vahid Salemi/AP

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

Dubai to refinance maturing debt by issuing bonds

Dubai finance chief said on Monday plans are in place to issue a bond to refinance part of AED6.5 billion ($1.8 billion) of sovereign debt maturing in April 2013.

Abdulrahman al-Saleh, Director General of the Dubai Department of Finance, did not discuss the size or timing of any new bond or give other details, and government officials were not available to confirm his comments. Saleh told Dubai TV in an interview: “In the past, we issued bonds to support the government’s financial strategy and finance infrastructure projects.

“In the coming period, we also have plans that need financial support in the airline industry, we have expansion plans for Dubai Airport and Al Maktoum (airport), and there is a need to refinance debt when it matures. I confirm that we are under no pressure to issue bonds for emergency situations,” Saleh also told Dubai TV.

Analyst challenges Citigroup study, says Saudi not at risk of being oil importer by 2030

A Saudi energy analyst said the world’s top crude exporter is not at risk of becoming a net importer of oil, rubbishing a recent report by Citigroup Inc.

Mohammad Al-Sabban said a Citigroup study published on 4 September is “unrealistic” as it forecasts that Saudi Arabia will maintain its production capacity for years at the current level of 12.5 million barrels a day.

Saaban, who also works as his country’s chief negotiator on climate-control issues, said that the desert nation has been increasing its production capabilities during the last few decades.

Saudi-sation policy bearing fruit – Labour Minister

Saudi Labour Minister Adel al-Fakeih said 380,000 new jobs were created in the last 10 months by requiring private firms to employ Saudis, the Saudi Gazette reported on Monday.

“This figure is 20 times what had been previously achieved over the past five years before Nitaqat (the main jobs programme) was introduced,” the English-language daily quoted him as saying.

In January, Fakeih said the Middle East’s largest economy needed to create 3 million jobs for Saudi nationals by 2015 and 6 million by 2030, partly through “Saudi-ising” work now done by foreigners. Saudi Arabia bypassed the pressures of Arab Spring when King Abdullah announced a $110 billion package of benefits to defuse any potential discontent.

Qatar Airways CEO denies alliance talks with British Airways

The head of Qatar Airways dismissed reports from sections of press on Monday that the fast-growing Gulf carrier is involved in talks with British Airways’ parent company to form an alliance.

CEO Akbar al-Baker labelled the talk of a deal as nothing more than “press rumours,” adding there are no negotiations ongoing with any carrier about a partnership.

Kuwait boosting rainy day fund for future generations

Kuwait said on Monday it wants to raise the amount of revenue set aside in a rainy day fund to 25% from 10% in the 2012-2013 budget.

The Kuwaiti cabinet asked the finance ministry to put the change in the budget, the state news agency KUNA said in an SMS news alert.

The Future Generations Fund, a nest egg for when oil runs out, was set up in 1976 and is managed by the Gulf state’s sovereign wealth fund, the Kuwait Investment Authority and its overseas unit. The special fund invests outside Kuwait, a major oil producer. Up to now, 10% of all state revenues, mostly from oil, were transferred to the fund on an annual basis and all investment income was reinvested.

Syria buying 100,000 tonnes wheat from international market

European traders said Monday that they have received a tender to purchase and import 100,000 tons of soft wheat of bread-making quality from Syria’s state grains agency. Bidding deadline is 1 October, origin of which is optional.

Shipment was sought within two months from the opening of a letter of credit on the purchase, the traders added.

The tender was issued by the Syrian state agency General Establishment for Cereal Processing and Trade, which sought offers in euros.

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