Middle East Business News Review – 5 August

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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

UAE firms output growth slow in July

Business activity in the United Arab Emirates’ non-oil private sector edged up slightly in July from the previous month, but the growth of export orders fell sharply, a purchasing managers’ survey showed on Sunday.

The HSBC UAE Purchasing Managers’ Index, which measures the performance of the manufacturing and services sectors, rose to 53.4 points last month from 53.2 in June. The adjusted index remains above the 50-point mark which separates growth from contraction, the survey of 400 private sector firms showed.

Kuwait posts record high 2011-12 budget surplus

Kuwait posted a record budget surplus and revenues in the 2011-2012 fiscal year that ended on 31 March on the back of high oil output and price, an economic report said on Sunday.

The oil-rich Gulf state posted a historical budget surplus of 13.2 billion dinars ($47 billion) for the 13th consecutive fiscal year, the Al-Shall Economic Consultants said in a report citing official figures.

The previous highest surplus of KD 9.33 billion ($33.2 billion) was posted in the 2007-2008 fiscal year when oil prices skyrocketted to a record $147 a barrel.

Iran non-oil exports worth $12 billion

Iran exported some $12 billion worth of non-oil commodities from 20 March to 21 July, the first four months of Persian calendar, deputy head of Trade Promotion Organisation of Iran Kiumars Fathollah Kermanshahi said on Saturday.

The figure shows an increase of 24.6% compared to the figures from last year, Mehr News Agency reported.

The Iranian official put the total weight of non-oil commodities exported by the country during the period at 24.2 million tons with some 20% of the non-oil goods exported to Iraq, 16% to China, 12% to the UAE, 9.5% to Afghanistan and 7.2% to India.

Iraqi Kurdistan – Too good to resist for oil giants

Iraqi Kurdistan’s crude oil is prized by global oil giants because it is plentiful and easy to get at, rare among undeveloped energy resources. But the companies working there under contracts with the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) are not getting much out, and they are not getting paid, all because of a dispute over control with the national government in Baghdad, a Reuters special report said.

Despite the row, rooted deep in the tinderbox politics of Iraq, ever bigger oil companies are moving into the northern region, angering Baghdad with their seal of corporate approval for a government that is seeking more autonomy in one of the most volatile parts of the world.

GCC foreign ministers to hold Gulf Union talks in Sept, says Saudi paper

Six Gulf Arab foreign ministers will meet in September to discuss a plan for closer integration of the mostly Sunni Muslim monarchies, Saudi Arabia’s English-language Arab News reported on Sunday.

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah proposed last December that the Gulf Cooperation Council, which also includes Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, should move “to the stage of unity in a single entity” in response to uprisings in the Arab world and the perceived threat from Iran.

Dubai Investments posts 54% fall in Q2 profit

UAE conglomerate Dubai Investments, which has been looking at opportunities to divest some of its businesses, posted a 54% decline in second-quarter net profit on Sunday as revenue dropped.

The company, in which sovereign fund Investment Corp of Dubai (ICD) owns 11.5%, reported a net profit of AED63.4m ($17.3m) in the second quarter compared to AED138.3m in the same period in 2011, according to the quarterly balance sheet released on Dubai’s bourse.

Sharjah’s Shurooq announces third tourism plan

Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) has announced plans for a third major tourism project in the eastern region of the emirate.

The launch of Al Hisn Island in Dibba Al Hisn comes after the approval of Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, ruler of Sharjah.

Shurooq said it plans to invest more than AED500m in the project which follows recently announced plans for the Chedi Khorfakkan Resort and the Kalba Eco-tourism project.

GCC projects market sees 10% drop in H1

The value of major projects awarded in the GCC has fallen 10 percent in the first half of 2012 compared to the year-earlier period due to a slowdown in Saudi Arabia, new data showed on Sunday.

A report said that the GCC projects market has struggled so far in 2012 after a pick-up in activity in Qatar and the UAE was not enough to offset a slowdown in Saudi Arabia, the region’s largest projects market.

Qatar Telecom unit agrees $406 mln tower deal with Tower Bersama

Qatar Telecom QTEL.QA unit Indosat ISAT.JKhas concluded a sale and leaseback agreement worth $406 million with Tower Bersama Infrastructure TBIG.JK (TBIG), the Qatari firm said in a statement on Sunday.

The deal, which covers 2,500 towers, will be financed using cash and newly-issued shares worth 5 percent of TBIG’s enlarged share capital, the statement said.

US firm wins $23m Saudi navy support contract

US-based Booz Allen Hamilton said on Sunday it has been awarded a $23.2m contract to provide training and support services for the Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF).

Booz Allen Hamilton, a leading provider of management and technology consulting services to the US government in defence, intelligence, and civil markets, will provide support services associated with Saudi Naval Support Programme requirements in the US and Saudi Arabia.

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