Middle East Business News Review

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Emirates Airlines stole the Dubai Air Show on Sunday by placing a record-breaking order worth $18 billion that will see the inclusion of 50 Boeing 777s. Other option orders include 20 more 777s that will cost the Dubai flag carrier $8bn. ?This order supports our fleet expansion and reiterates our commitment to operating a modern fleet for the benefit of our passengers and to ensure operational efficiency as well,? Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Emirates Airline & Group, said at the agreement ceremony.

Meanwhile, Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) has announced it will lease nine new Boeing 777 freighters on a long term basis to Emirates Airlines during the 2012-2015 timeframe. “This agreement ensures Emirates SkyCargo will receive a pipeline of new, state-of-the-art, freighter aircraft over the next four years. Emirates SkyCargo continues to build on its leadership position in the global cargo market and these aircrafts will play an important role in this growth,” the airlines’ chairman and chief executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum announced Sunday during the Dubai Air Show.

Annual inflation hit a two year low in October in the UAE as fuel prices and housing costs stayed unchanged, according to a Statistics Centre Abu Dhabi report. Abu Dhabi emirate, the largest economy in the UAE, registered 4.1 per cent inflation rate, lowest on an annual basis since December 2009. Other Gulf states like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, in comparison, continue to brave highest annual inflation rates in the Gulf, of 4.5 per cent and 5.3 per cent year-on-year respectively in September.

UAE’s ministry of foreign trade has issued a report that says the country’s food re-exports rose by more than 16.5% last year to the tune of AED8.1 billion. The top food commodities re-exported to Afghanistan, India, Iran, Somalia and other Gulf countries include cereals, edible fruits and nuts; citrus fruit, melons, sugar and sugar confectionary, vegetables and certain roots and tubers. Re-exports account for 25 per cent of the UAE’s total foreign trade and making it the second largest contributor after exports.

Meanwhile, figures released by the UAE government’s economic ministry suggest the country’s real GDP has soared around 1.4 per cent in 2010 while nominal GDP growth was also above 10 per cent last year. A surge in international oil prices contributed to the country?s trade surplus to nearly AED186.8 billion in 2010 from Dh154.6 billion in 2009, the report underlined. The UAE?s real GDP grew to nearly AED977.3bn in 2010 from around AED963.5bn in 2009, helping the nation maintain its position as the second largest economy after Saudi Arabia in Gulf region.

Wall Street Journal reported Obama administration is keen on providing thousands of “bunker busting” bombs to the UAE in the wake of an invasion of Iran. The proposed package includes 4,900 joint direct attack munitions (JDAMs) as well as other sophisticated weapons worth billions of dollars. Iran is an important trade partner of the UAE, with trade volume between Iran and Dubai – estimated at $10bn a year.

The defence ministry of UAE has invited Eurofighter to make a counter offer to match France’s Rafale fighter jets bid which is in its final stage. “We have subsequently received a request for proposal for the potential supply of Typhoon,” the European consortium that manufacturers Eurofighter said in a statement, adding: “We are now working hard to deliver a response.” Both Rafale and the EuroTyphoon were recently involved in NATO’s Libya military operation, flown respectively by the French air force and navy and the British Royal Air Force.

Political instability in the Middle East has hit India’s tea exports really hard and put the Iran payment in crisis. “The main reason for the decline in tea export is the Iran payment crisis. Tea export to Iran is being held up because certain payments are held up. And also now export to Iran cannot happen directly,” Kamal Baheti, director of world’s largest tea producer McLeod Russel, told IANS. Iran imports nearly 15 million kg tea from India every year and payments from the Middle Eastern country suffered a blow when Reserve Bank of India scrapped a key currency swap system under US pressure.

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