Middle East Business News Review – 30 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

Dubai International Airport posts busiest ever first half traffic

Dubai International recorded its busiest first half in its history with 27.9 million passengers transiting through its three terminals between January and June this year, according to report issued on Monday.

According to the traffic report compiled by airport operator Dubai Airports, Dubai International handled a total of 4,714,746 passengers in June, posting a robust growth of 16%. The year to date traffic reached 27,931,639 up 13.7% from 24,567,818 in the first half of 2011. The average monthly passenger traffic recorded in the first six months of the year stood at 4.65 million compared to 4.09 million during the corresponding period in 2011.

Qatar reaps high Harrods profits

Harrods, the world-famous London department store, recorded an 11% sales increase to £651.7m ($1bn) in the year to 28 January, with pre-tax profit rising 15% to £125.3m ($196.6m).

Qatar Holding, owners of Harrods, bought the retailer from Mohamed Al Fayed for £1.5bn ($2.35bn) in 2010, earlier this month revealed plans to open a chain of Harrods-branded hotels starting in London, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) and Sardinia (Italy).

Harrods is also likely to be enjoying strong trading during the Olympics, as foreign tourists flock to the British capital.

Saudi CEOs top earners in GCC

Executives based in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) earn the most with an average annual salary of $422,280 ($35,190 per month), a survey carried out by a regional business magazine revealed.

The Gulf Business survey‘s findings are based on the incomes of chief executive officers (CEOs) who are responsible for sales of more than $50 million. The survey also highlighted the additional ‘lifestyle premium’ for executives in KSA where perks include housing, travel and allowances.

Qatari CEOs enjoy the second highest income with an average salary of $399,648 per annum ($33,304 per month), the survey disclosed. Arab CEOs employed over last couple of years are commanding a 10% premium on their salaries compared to Western expatriates due to the demand for Arabic speaking executives, particularly in infrastructure based industries, the report said.

Gulf Arabs top spenders on interior design

The ongoing construction bonanza has led Gulf Arab states to spend on average more money on interior design than their counterparts in Japan, Europe and the United States, according to a study by Ventures ME.

The study showed some building projects worth over $57.8 billion were awarded to contractors in 2011 in the six Gulf Arab (GCC) countries.

The report was commissioned by INDEX International Design Exhibition, the largest annual interior design fair and exhibition which will run this year on 24-27 September in Dubai, UAE.

Egypt trade deficit widened by April exports drop

Egypt’s trade deficit widened LE17.5billion ($2.9 billion) in April, 79.6% higher than the same month previous year, the state statistics agency said on Monday.

The total value of Egyptian exports dropped an annual 14%, down to LE15.1 billion from LE17.6 billion in April 2011.

The agency attributed the drop to a decline in the value of some export commodities, such as certain petroleum products, crude oil, fertiliser, garments, dairy products and fruits.

Nakheel says H1 net profits up by 36%

Nakheel Properties, the indebted state-owned developer, said its first-half profits jumped 36 percent on Monday, buoyed by property handovers on several projects.

Nakheel, whose extravagant developments at the height of Dubai’s property boom contributed to the emirate’s debt woes, has been slowly recovering from the crippling real estate collapse.

The developer said net profit was AED767m ($208.82m) in the first six months of the year, up from AED562m in the year-ago period.

Dubai ruler’s Twitter followers exceed 1m

Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said on Monday that his number of followers on Twitter has exceeded one million.

Sheikh Mohammed, also UAE vice-president and prime minister has one of the largest followings of Arab leaders on the social media website.

“Brothers and sisters, today the number of followers has exceeded one million.. but I prefer calling you participants rather than followers,” Sheikh Mohammed tweeted.

Saudi GDP to slow down in 2012

Saudi Arabia’s real GDP is projected to slow down to around 3.9 per cent in 2012 compared with 6.8 per cent in 2011 but a surge in its oil income will likely widen its fiscal surplus, according to the Gulf Kingdom’s largest bank.

The slowdown will be in both the oil and non-hydrocarbon sectors despite a modest increase in the country’s crude output, National Commercial Bank (NCB) said in its quarter review of Saudi Arabia’s economy.

Jordan continues Syria exports

The spokesman for Jordan’s agriculture ministry, Nimer Haddadin, has reported that the Kingdom’s fruit and vegetable exports to Syria continue to remain at normal levels.

However, exports to Turkey and Europe have ceased. This is because Turkey carries Jordanian exports through Syria’s Bab al Hawa border gate, which is closed due to the ongoing violence in Syria.

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