Middle East Business News Review

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International Energy Agency has warned that oil prices could hit the $150 barrier if Middle East and North Africa countries stop investing in oil production. “If between 2011 and 2015 investment in the MENA region runs one-third lower than the $100 billion per year required, consumers could face a near-term rise in the oil price to $150 per barrel,” the IEA said in its annual World Energy Outlook.

Luxury home prices in central London have registered a 40 per cent increase since Arab Spring, a British real estate agency revealed. ?Looking ahead, there is a strong likelihood that geo-political issues will continue to push overseas buyers into London, especially at the top end of the market,? Knight Frank LLP real estate agency said in its report. Qatari-owned Harrods Estates said the average cost of its rented property increased from ?1,955 to ?4,285 from March till October compared to the same period the previous year.

Rameshkumar Goenka, a Dubai-based investor, has been slapped a record fine of $9.6m by UK Financial Services Authority for manipulating the closing price of Reliance Industries securities on the London Stock Exchange. The UK regulator declared that Goenka, 66, inflated the payout in the final seconds of LSE trading by executing a high volume of orders, something that is considered as illegal by the financial sector.

Financial Times has reported that young Arab buyers are flocking to art houses to make avail the lower entry prices of contemporary Middle Eastern art. ?The new format for the sale allowed us to develop the market and bring in new clients who are younger, in their twenties and thirties, who are maybe not comfortable spending $50,000 on a picture but who want to start collecting,? said Isabelle de la Bruyere, director, Christie?s Middle East. FT report added Christie?s and Sotheby?s sold Islamic art worth a combined $23.8m this year. Art Market Monitor says the figures compared with that of last year’s sales were worth almost $60m.

Saudi Arabia has announced a budget surplus of SAR226 billion (US$60 billion), a 40 per cent increase compared to last year’s figures. The initial budget surplus estimate was SAR127 billion (US$33.8 billion). Analysts say strong oil prices boosted by unrest in the Middle East helped the Kingdom increase its oil production to 9.2 million barrel per day this year compared to 8.2 million bpd in 2010. The price of Saudi crude surged to nearly $95.8 a barrel from $77.7 in the same period.

Emirates, along with Singapore Airlines, posted a sharp decline in profit because of higher fuel prices and currency fluctuations. Analysts suggest the current global economic situation is forcing carriers to either boost business by either cutting capacity or seek to grow by reining operating costs.

Al Jazeera English has finally made it to the US airwaves after US authorities gave their final permission. The controversial Qatari news channel is available to Time Warner subscribers in New York City and will soon be available to Verizon FiOS subscribers. The channel is yet to expand across other major US cities.

Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) reported that the emirate’s hotels have registered a 75 per cent occupancy during the third quarter of this year, four percent increase compared to same period last year. “Sharjah was “keen to explore international avenues and opportunities that could increase the investments in the tourism sector and improve the services and facilities for the tourists,” SCTDA chairman, Sheikh Sultan Bin Ahmed Al Qassimi, said.

Qatar has made donated around $7.9 million to International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) in order to secure the 2017 World Championships hosting. British newspapers have hinted the donation might hurt London’s bid to hold the prolific sporting event which it considers as the logical ending of the 2012 London Olympics. The wealthy Gulf sheikhdom has been accused of “buying” the 2022 World Cup hosting rights by offering bribes during the FIFA voting in December 2010.

Dubai Stock Market’s shares advanced to their highest level after trading resumed after Eid holidays.? The market has been overshadowed by bleak prospects in Europe forcing shares tumble as low as 2.3 per cent. Analysts predict embattled Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s resignation will give a boost to stock prices and lift the market.

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