Middle East Business News Review – 23 August

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Photo – Vahid Salemi/AP

British investors spent AED2.5 billion on Dubai property

Dubai continued to attract more and more investors from the United Kingdom with Brits being ranked third on a list of popular foreign investors in Dubai, a report said on Thursday.

Investor confidence in Dubai looks to have improved since the 2009 financial crisis which left the emirate struggling after the property bubble burst. Dubai’s economy has shown consistent signs of recovery. Investment in the emirate is more attractive due to unprecedented security for investors compared to many other European or Western locations.

British investors bought a total of 1564 properties in Dubai in the first half of 2012, worth roughly AED2.5 billion. Indian investors purchased properties worth around AED3.75 billion followed by Pakistani investors who bought 1814 properties worth AED1.71 billion. This highlights that whilst Pakistani investors obtained more units than British investors, they spent less money than Brits on their Dubai properties.

Saudi Arabia creating jobs through plastic conversion parks

The Saudi government is developing new industrial parks for plastics conversion to stimulate investments and create jobs, a report said on Thursday.

The new parks are part of the government’s plans to create new industrial parks for mixed-use light industry across the country, particularly in under-developed regions. Some of these parks will be located next to production complexes for plastics resins and dedicated to plastics conversion, the ICB report said.

Egypt receives first Qatar instalment of $2 billion aid

Egypt has received its first instalment of $2 billion of financial support from Qatar, the country’s finance minister announced on Thursday.

“$500 million have been paid into the Finance Ministry’s account via the Central Bank [of Egypt],” Egypt’s official MENA news agency quoted Finance Minister Mumtaz al-Said as saying.

The minister said Qatar would pay the remaining funds in September, recalling that the Gulf state had also given Egypt an additional $500 million in October last year.

Egypt finances in doldrums despite foreign aid

Egypt is facing difficulties in importing fuel as foreign banks and traders are refusing credit and charging high premiums due to concerns over its financial and political stability, trading and banking sources said.

Cairo requested IMF up to $4.8 billion on Wednesday. Many analysts believe without such ad-hoc interventions, Egypt could quickly end up like debt-stricken Greece, dependent on a narrow pool of traders charging richly for supplies.

Egypt’s finances are already under pressure from high fuel subsidies. The new Islamist President Mohamed Mursi’s administration is finding it difficult to afford them but dare not cut in the precarious first months of his tenure.

South Korea sticks to Iran oil imports despite EU insurance ban

South Korea imported crude from Iran in July despite previously announcing there would be no imports because of EU sanctions restricting insurance on tankers carrying Iranian oil, reports said on Thursday.

Data released by the state-run Korea National Oil Corp showed Asia’s fourth-largest economy imported 137,400 barrels per day (bpd), 42% lower than a year earlier.

In June, South Korea became the first major Asian consumer of Iranian crude to announce that it was halting imports after the government said shipments would be suspended from 1 July because of the European Union insurance ban.

NBAD named safest Bank in Middle East

The National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD), has been ranked for the fourth consecutive year one of the ‘World’s 50 Safest Banks’ and the safest bank in the Middle East by Global Finance magazine.

NBAD is rated senior long term/short term A+/A-1 by Standard and Poor?s, Aa3/P1 by Moody’s and AA/F1+ by Fitch. Recently, Standard & Poor?s has raised its assessment of NBAD?s capital and earnings to “very strong”, and the Bank?s stand-alone credit profile (SACP) to ?a? from ?a-? giving it one of the strongest combined rating of any Middle Eastern financial institution.

Dubai property valuations drop 26% in H1

The total value of properties requested for valuation in Dubai during the first half of 2012 fell by over a quarter, the official government agency responsible for appraisals reported.

In the first half of the year, the Real Estate Appraisal Centre (REAC) at Dubai Land Department (DLD), valued 1,090 properties at the request of property owners with a total value of AED42bn (US$11.4bn), the WAM news agency reported.

Qatar Investment Authority raises Xstrata stake to 12.04%

Qatar Investment Authority , owner of Qatar Holding LLC, said Thursday it bought 2.61 million shares in diversified mining group Xstrata PLC (XTA.LN) at 914.64 pence, lifting its total holding including options to 361.5 million shares, or 12.04%.

Qatar’s holding excluding options is 342.94 million shares, or 11.42%.

Iraq expects first F-16 fighter jets in 2013

Iraq expects to receive the first group of F-16 warplanes next year, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s spokesman said on Thursday, after US officials said the aircraft would not arrive until 2014.

US officials said during a visit by the country’s top officer to Iraq that Washington was carrying out $12 billion worth of arms and training contracts in Iraq, with the first batch of the 36 F-16 fighter jets Iraq has ordered set to be delivered in September 2014.

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