Middle East Business News Review – 18 September

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Photo – Vahid Salemi/AP

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

Dubai 1000MW solar power park to be completed by 2030

Dubai’s electricity and water authority (DEWA) announced on Tuesday the emirate is working on the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park project which will generate 1,000MW electricity by 2030, and become one of the biggest solar parks in the region after completion.

Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD and CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa), said in his speech at the MENA Renewable Energy Forum being held in Dubai that this will make a substantial contribution to Dubai’s future energy needs, adding that the first phase of 13 MW solar PV plant will be in operation before the end of 2013.

Luxury cruise to connect Gulf tourists with Sri Lanka’s natural beauty

A cruise on the Arabian Sea in a moonlit night is becoming a reality thanks to a joint venture between a leading German tour operator and Sri Lankan travel company, reports coming from Muscat said on Tuesday.

Diethelm Travel Sri Lanka, a subsidiary of Hemas Holdings PLC is joining hands with FTI group, one of Germany’s leading tour operators, to launch the first-ever cruise service between Muscat and Colombo with stops in Dubai, Mumbai, Goa and Kochi. The cruise liner will carry up to 400 tourists from all over the world with the entire journey taking up to 10 days.

Hike in Qatar super-rich people; Saudis still lead Middle East wealth league

Qatar’s ultra-high-net-worth population rose 3% this year despite a 2% fall in the nation’s total wealth, a study said on Tuesday.

The report, issued by research company Wealth-X, said the total number of ultra high net worth individuals in Qatar stood at 300 this year compared to 290 during the previous year while their total wealth was $45bn against $46bn.

Qatar got a boost from its 6% gross domestic product (GDP) growth, which offset the 1% decline in equity markets, the World Ultra Wealth Report 2012-13 said, adding that the Qatari riyal was stable during the measuring period.

IEA economist warns Iraq oil growth slowing ‘bad news’ for world

The International Energy Agency’s top economist warned on Tuesday any unexpected slowdown in the growth of Iraq’s energy output would be “bad news” for the rest of the world.

in an interview with AFP, Fatih Birol said that while such a slowdown was not the IEA’s central forecast, it remained a credible-enough possibility that the organisation included it in an upcoming report on Iraq’s energy industry due next month.

His remarks come amid a dramatic ramping up of the country’s oil output, with Iraq earlier this year overtaking Iran to become the second-biggest producer within OPEC, and more increases are expected in the coming years.

Beach resorts vital to Egypt economy, insists Islamist minister

Egypt reassured on Tuesday that beach tourism is here to stay, adding that any Islamic investment in the sector would complement but not replace resorts that are part of an industry vital to the nascent democratic nation.

The Muslim Brotherhood-led government is tasked with reviving an industry that accounts for 10% of economic activity of the Mediterranean nation.

Critics of President Mursi’s administration have raised questions over the future of the industry, as Islamists oppose the free mixing of sexes, serving of alcohol, scantly-clad women and prostitution. Egypt’s tourism relies heavily on beach resorts that include Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada on the Red Sea.

UAE’s RAK Airways eyes 60% passengers rise in 2012

UAE carrier RAK Airways is aiming for a 60 percent increase in the number of passengers it will carry this year as it prepares to offer five new international routes and domestic flights to the capital Abu Dhabi, the CEO told Arabian Business.

“We are proud to be the first UAE carrier to operate domestic flights. Initially RAK will offer a AED410 (US$112) return trip to Abu Dhabi with a flight time of 45 minutes,” CEO John Brayford said in an interview.

Saudi acting to lower oil prices – source

Saudi Arabia is acting to lower oil prices, a senior Gulf source said on Tuesday, adding that the majority of OPEC producers wanted oil prices around US$100 per barrel.

The Gulf source told reporters the oil market was well balanced with no shortage of oil supply.

Saudi Arabia was producing around 10m bpd of crude and other members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries would be increasing output over the next few months.

Oman economy seen growing 5% in 2012

Oman’s economy is expected to grow by 5 percent this year, while inflation in the small Gulf Arab oil exporter should reach 3 percent in 2012, central bank executive president Hamood Sangour al-Zadjali said on Tuesday.

Oman lacks a fully independent monetary policy because its rial currency is pegged to the US dollar. Its central bank has been keeping a loose policy stance since early 2009 as inflation slowed sharply from double-digit rates seen in 2008.

In July, the central bank said there was scope to pursue accommodative monetary and fiscal policies in the rest of 2012 without jeopardising macroeconomic stability of Oman.

Kuwait to produce 3m bpd to meet strong demand

OPEC-member Kuwait is likely to keep producing around 3 million barrels of oil a day over the next few months due to strong demand, the head of state-run Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) said on Tuesday.

OPEC price dove Kuwait raised its production by around 600,000 barrels a day (bpd) from July to around 3 million of crude oil in August.

The producer is likely to keep pumping around current levels of 3 million bpd due to more demand, KOC director Sami Al-Rushaid said.

Habtoor Leighton Group Gets SAR1.18bn Saudi Health Ministry Contract

Dubai-based Habtoor Leighton Group, a joint venture between Leighton Holdings Ltd. (LEI.AU) and Al Habtoor Group, said it has been awarded a 1.18 billion Saudi riyal ($316 million) contract by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health for work at the King Fahad Medical City .

Work is scheduled to start later this year and the project will likely be delivered in stages over the next three years.

“Saudi Arabia is our largest growth market, and this project underlines our ability to secure work there,” said HLG CEO and Managing Director Laurie Voyer.

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