Middle East Business News Review – 18 July

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Middle East Business News Review – A look at today’s important financial news and business updates from the Middle East and North Africa

ENEC to construct nuclear power reactors near Abu Dhabi

UAE’s nuclear regulator has given green signal to the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp. (ENEC) to build two nuclear power reactors in Abu Dhabi, the first one in the strategically sensitive Barakah site located on the Gulf.

The licence permits ENEC to construct two reactors using the Korean-design of advanced pressurised water reactors, each capable of producing 1,400 megawatt of electricity. However, it has not given permission to the ENEC to operate the reactors, as it must apply for a separate operating licence. The first one will become operational by 2017 and the others by 2020.

Barclays to be replaced on UAE Central Bank Eibor Panel – Source

The UAE central bank is looking for an international bank to replace Barclays PLC on the 12-lender panel that sets benchmark interbank interest rates in the country, Zawya quoted a source familiar with the matter as saying.

The central bank discussed the issue in a meeting on Tuesday, after Barclays sent a letter to the regulator asking to withdraw from the Emirates Interbank Offered Rate, or Eibor, panel amid a Libor rate-fixing scandal that has resulted in fines and other sanctions from regulators in the US and Europe, the report said.

Qatar tourism momentum on the rise

Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) revealed tourist arrivals from other GCC member states rose by 22% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2012, the Oxford Business Group said in its report on Wednesday. The tiny gas-rich nation saw an increase of 50% compared to 2011, with more than 845,000 visitors from the region arriving in the country.

The Doha-based tourism organisation added that visitor numbers from Europe were also up 15% year-on-year basis, while tourists from the Arab world increased by 19%.Visitors from the rest of Asia, including China and India, were up by 58%.

British library, Qatar Foundation embark upon online content collaboration plan

British Library has announced plans to make more than half a million pages of historic documents detailing Arabic history and culture available online for the first time, as part of its ambitious programme to publish more online content.

J.G. Lorimer’s Gazetter, originally compiled in the early 20th century as a handbook for British agents and policymakers in the Middle East and considered by many as one of the most important sources on the Gulf States, is among the works that would be made available accessible.

British Library and the Qatar Foundation on Wednesday said the partnership is aimed at expanding people’s understanding of the history of the Middle East, and the region’s relationship with Britain and the rest of the world.

Egypt dominates Arab world’s Facebook users, UAE leads on per capita basis

The Arab world had a total of 45.2 million Facebook users at the end of June 2012 with Egyptians making up a quarter of total social network users, a report published on Wednesday said.

According to statistics from the Arab Social Media Report (ASMR), Egypt has a total of 11.3 million Facebook users, with 1.6 million new accounts created between January and June 2012, making it the Arab world’s largest nation by population, also the region’s biggest user of the popular social networking site.

The Arab Social Media Report was produced by the Dubai School of Government’s Governance and Innovation Programme.

Emirates offers cut-price fares for Ramadan

Emirates Airline announced on Wednesday that it was cutting fares by up to 20 percent on flights to more than 30 destinations.

The promotion has been launched to celebrate the month of Ramadan, the Dubai airline said in a statement.

Customers can save up to 20 percent to certain destinations when travelling in Economy Class or Business Class.

The offer is valid for sales up to August 11 for outbound travel between the July 20 to August 15, it added.

Bahrain commits $500K to reconciliation programmes

Bahrain has committed an additional $500,000 to fund reconciliation programs run by nongovernmental organisations, it was reported on Tuesday.

The new funds are part of a series of programs set-up by the Social Development Ministry and designed to support the implementation of the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI).

Saudi gains exponentially from oil with 48% rise in revenue

Saudi Arabia’s revenue from exports of crude oil and other petroleum products jumped 48 percent in 2011 as shipment volumes increased over the previous year, Opec reported.

The world’s largest crude exporter shipped oil and products valued at $318.5 billion last year compared with $215.4 billion in 2010, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries said in its annual statistical bulletin.

Iraq inaugurates giant southern oilfield

Baghdad’s top energy official inaugurated a giant oilfield in south Iraq on Wednesday, with a group of Chinese, French and Malaysian firms set to pump 535,000 barrels of oil a day there within five years.

The official opening of the Halfaya field in Maysan province comes after Iraq signed three preliminary energy exploration deals with foreign firms, and with the country looking to ramp up oil output.

Sudanese pound loses ground against the US dollar

The Sudanese pound has continued to decline against the US Dollar as the inflation rate reached over 37% last June, indicating the severe economic situation of the country.

Sudan, which is under US economic sanctions, lost an important portion of its oil revenue after the independence of South Sudan a year ago. Also, the failure to agree with its new neighbour on fees of oil transportation has deprived Khartoum from another source of revenue.

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