Middle East Business News Review – 23 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

Abu Dhabi top Middle East city to live in

The ‘Top Cities of the Middle East’ survey, recently conducted by Bayt.com, the region’s number one job site and YouGov, the international research and consulting organisation, has identified the top cities in the Middle East in terms of several wide-ranging factors – from economic to environmental – that affect residents’ life.

According to the survey’s respondents, the top five cities in the Arab world to live in are, in order: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Manama, and Muscat. The survey factored in economic factors, entrepreneurial factors, labour rights, environmental factors, everyday life, socio-cultural factors, and quality of life.

Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala part of Thailand oil drilling consortium

Mubadala Petroleum said on Monday it has plans to begin developing an oil field in the northern Gulf of Thailand.

Abu Dhabi’s state-backed company said it hopes to begin production from the Manora field in early 2014, with peak production of 15,000 barrels a day within a few months of operation. The project is expected to cost $246 million. The offshore field was discovered in 2009.

Mubadala’s Pearl Oil unit holds a 60% interest in the exploration area whereas Australia’s Tap Energy has a 30% share. Northern Gulf Petroleum, another stake holder of the project, holds a 10 percent share. Tap has a controlling interest in Northern Gulf.

Young Saudis to get 1000 fast food jobs

A Saudi catering company has announced it will hire 1000 young people to work at McDonald’s restaurants in the central, eastern and northern regions of the Kingdom.

Prince Mishal bin Khaled Al-Saud, president of the Riyadh International Catering Company (RICC), also owns McDonald’s restaurants in the country. He insisted that the American fast food chain is 100% locally owned and operated.

McDonald’s is a household name for many Saudis with 120 restaurants spread across the Kingdom’s towns and cities. The first outlet was opened in Riyadh in December 1993.

Hormuz strait to stay open as long Iran is able to use it – Tehran

An Iranian military commander on Monday said Tehran would not close the Strait of Hormuz as long as it is able to use the vital shipping line itself, watering down threats made by politicians to block the waterway as retaliation for sanctions.

Members of the parliament and government officials have repeated threats to block the strait – the strategic Gulf passageway through which 40% of the world’s seaborne oil exports passes – in response to sanctions or military action.

Middle East tensions drive oil prices to 2 month highs

The simmering geopolitical tensions in the crude rich Middle East are having an impact on world oil prices as they hit 2 month highs on Monday.

Light sweet crude for delivery in August soared $2.79 to $92.66 per barrel in New York, the highest close since 17 May. In London, Brent North Sea oil for delivery in September jumped $2.64 to $107.80 per barrel the highest close since 22 May.

Meat prices soar in Algeria despite massive imports

Prices of red and white meat in Algeria have soared during the fasting month of Ramadan despite importing more than 35,000 tonnes of frozen red meat since January 2012 to meet high demand in the country.

Imported meat contributes in meeting demand in the market, which is especially high during the month of Ramadan.

A consumer rights association in Algeria has launched a boycott campaign against red and white meat to protest soaring prices that have escalated during the Muslim fasting month.

UAE has no immediate plan to issue bonds

The UAE has no immediate need to issue bonds to cover a small budget deficit this year as it can plug the shortfall from its own resources, the Gulf country’s finance minister was quoted as saying on Monday.

The comments by Finance Minister Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al-Maktoum, brother of Dubai’s ruler and his deputy, suggest that a long-awaited debt law, which needs to be passed before the UAE can issue federal bonds, may not be imminent.

Middle East luxury goods market to see 15% growth

The Middle East’s luxury goods market is set to grow by 15% this year, leading a global uptick in the sector, a new report has said.

Bain & Company’s study said global luxury goods sales are defying initial concerns over Eurozone turmoil and fears of a cool down in emerging markets.

It predicted that the global market for top-end products would exceed €200bn in 2012 and that the Middle East luxury market would grow by 15%.

No plans to liquidate or merge Gulf Air – Report

Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Co. is discussing options with the government to restructure its troubled unitGulf Air , but there are no plans to liquidate the national carrier or merge it with Bahrain Air, Manama-based Al Ayam daily reports Monday citing an official.

The options include such scenarios as downsizing the airline or restructuring the destinations it serves or its modus operandi, the paper said quoting Mahmoud Al Kooheji, chief executive of Mumtalakat –the island kingdom’s $11.18 billion sovereign wealth fund which invests in non-oil and non-gas assets.

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