Middle East Business News Review – A look at today’s important financial news and business updates from the Middle East and North Africa region:
Oman Air announced on Monday its passenger revenue increased 28% during the first five months of the year as more people travelled with the national flag carrier. The Muscat-based carrier, which serves 41 destinations, recorded a net passenger growth of 28% compared with previous year. Passenger traffic also increased 19% whereas cargo revenue rose 47% , it said in an e-mailed statement. Oman Air’s boss recounted the first five months of 2012 as the most successful in the airline’s 31-year-old history.
Kuwait Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah on Monday suspended the parliament through an official decree for one month, ahead of the planned grilling of the interior minister by lawmakers. State-run Kuwait television said the Emir’s decision was based on an article in the constitution that allows the suspension of parliamentary meetings for a maximum of one month. The decision comes in line with a draft decree approved by the cabinet which recommended the emir to enforce the suspension.
BP announced on Monday it last week began drilling work in the Risha natural gas field in eastern Jordan, near the border with Iraq, following the British oil giant’s two years of preparation and a “very successful 5,000 square km seismic acquisition programme in 2011.” The London-based oil giant said the well is expected to take three to four months to complete, and that a number of international oil and gas service contractors as well as local firms are involved in the project.
Jordan has demanded Libya to pay more than $200 million in medical and hotel bills for tens of thousands of Libyans who were flown for hospital treatment in Amman after the overthrow of Gaddafi’s regime in an armed uprising. The Hashemite Kingdom, a top destination in the Arab world for medical care, is desperate for their bills to be paid as it grapples with economic hardship and austerity measures with fuel and electricity prices rising to unprecedented levels. The country has little or no natural resources and a huge external debt that could reach $24.6 billion by the end of this year.
Bombardier Aerospace confirmed on Monday it has signed an agreement with Midparc Investment S.A., a Moroccan property holding and management company, to purchase from them the land required for its new plant in the Midparc Casablanca Free Zone, in Nouaceur, Morocco.
The UAE’s bid to host the World Expo 2020 could cost up to $4bn but would attract more than 25 million tourist, a senior official said on Monday. Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State and managing director of the Higher Committee for Hosting the World Expo 2020, said she was confident that the UAE’s bid would be successful. Speaking in an exclusive interview with official news agency WAM, she said the six-month event would also prompt development of areas around Al Maktoum International Airport, the proposed World Expo venue.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appeared to indicate that Iran would be prepared to stop high-grade uranium enrichment – a demand of the United States and its allies – if world powers agreed to meet its needs for the fuel.”From the beginning the Islamic Republic has stated that if European countries provided 20 percent enriched fuel for Iran, it would not enrich to this level,” Ahmadinejad stated in comments published on his presidential website.
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has appointed Defense Minister Prince Salman as crown prince and heir apparent, ensuring a smooth succession at a time of tough challenges for the world’s biggest oil exporter. The appointment was announced one day after the burial of Crown Prince and Interior Minister Nayef, who died on Saturday, and means King Abdullah’s cautious reforms are likely to be continued.
Oil prices advanced in Asian trade Monday, mirroring gains in broader asset markets after Greece’s pro-austerity parties won a tight general election, analysts said. New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for July delivery advanced 90 cents to $84.93 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for August delivery surged $1.48 to $99.09 in morning trade. Greece’s two main parties narrowly clinched enough votes Sunday to form a government, giving relief to dealers who had feared a victory for anti-bailout radicals would have led to the country being forced out of the eurozone.