Middle East Business News Review – 24 June

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Middle East Business News Review – A look at today’s important financial news and business updates from the Gulf, Levant and North Africa regions of the Middle East:

UAE, GCC economy to witness robust growth despite geopolitical challenges

The UAE will see a year on year GDP growth of 4.5% in 2012 while Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain will record a year on year growth of 4.9%, 4% and 3% in 2012 respectively, according to the latest International Monetary Fund (IMF) data.

The data also suggested that continued upward trajectory of oil prices should strengthen the fiscal and current account balances of GCC countries though on a different scale. Larger fiscal surpluses and greater accumulation of reserves are projected in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. The IMF projected that the GCC’s fiscal and current account surpluses as a whole will stand at 13.1% and 22.2% of GDP in 2012 respectively.

Qatar seeks $5bn quota to invest in China’s capital market

A senior Qatari official said investment authorities are applying for the status of Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor (QFII) in China with an aim to seek investment quota of $5 billion.

Mohammed Bin Saleh Al-Sada, minister of energy and industry of Qatar, said that by applying for the QFII status, the gas-rich nation plans to invest part of its revenues generated from transferring gas to China in Chinese shares and IPOs. Qatar annually exports 5 million tonnes of liquified natural gas (LNG) to China.

Iraq-Iran multi-billion trade compensates drop in trade with Syria

Iraq, suffering from a massive drop in Syria trade, is enjoying a boost in business with Iran as trade volumes hit the $10 billion mark, an Iranian news agency reported on Sunday.

“The volume of the trade exchanges between Iran and Iraq amounts to $9.7bn which shows a growth rate of 8% compared to last year,” semi-official Fars news agency quoted Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar as saying during the closing ceremony of a trade meeting between Iranian and Iraqi officials.

Iran has expressed its willingness to play a major role in Iraq’s reconstruction, and voiced its readiness “to take part in its Western Muslim neighbour’s development projects.”

Tripoli assures medical bills to be paid soon as Jordan hospitals stop admitting more Libyans

A Libyan official said on Saturday his government will hire a Jordanian firm to help process financial claims filed by hospitals in Amman that treated around 55,000 injured patients flown from Libya over the past year.

Private Hospitals Association chairman Fawzi Hamouri and director of the Libyan health office in Jordan Ali Bin Jlayel met on Saturday to solve contentious issues that delayed Libya’s payment of debts owed to Jordanian hospitals treating wounded Libyans.

Qatar says it will bid for 2024 Olympics

Qatar will bid to host the 2024 summer Olympics, despite having failed to make the cut for the 2016 and 2020 Games, the Qatar Olympic Committee’s general secretary said on Sunday.

“We have tried it twice, and we will continue. It’s not something we will give up – it’s part of our vision to make Qatar a centre for sport,” Saoud bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told reporters.

EU chief says Gulf trade deal close

Decade-old talks to seal a free trade agreement (FTA) between the European Union and the GCC could be close to a successful conclusion, according to EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht.

De Gucht said in an interview with Oxford Business Group (OBG) that the treatment of export duties was now the only outstanding trade issue in the negotiations.

Jordan to receive Kuwait—UAE grant

Jordanian Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Dr. Jaafar Hassan asserted the commitment of the governments of Kuwait and the UAE to provide 2.5 billion dollars, or “about 1.25 billion from each of them,” to support development projects in Jordan in the context of the Gulf Development Fund launched by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The development projects to be funded by aid from Kuwait and the UAE will be agreed upon by those two countries and Jordan at a later date.

Abu Dhabi says $5.4bn spent on labourers

Nearly 5,500 companies have been fined by authorities in Abu Dhabi as the emirate aims to uphold rights for labourers, a statement said on Sunday.

Official news agency WAM said Abu Dhabi has invested about AED20bn ($5.4bn) in 23 labour cities which are capable of providing accommodation for 385,000 workers.

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