Middle East Business News Review – 6 June

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A look at today’s important financial news and business updates from the Middle East region:

Dubai Tourism launches new environment initiative for green tourism

The Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) has launched a new initiative to improve the service standards and excellence in the green tourism industry. Together for a Green Enviroment was launched by the DTCM at a ceremony organised at the Le Meridien Dubai Tuesday (5 June) to mark the World Environment Day. (Source – DTCM Press Release)

Qatar banks’ reliance on foreign lenders higher than ever

Qatari banks are borrowing record loans from foreign lenders to shore up their funding as the tiny gas-rich nation starts preparations to host the 2022 football World Cup. According to Bloomberg News calculations based on central bank data, net interbank borrowing from foreign banks almost tripled in the year to April, with Qatar’s lenders being net borrowers of 111.9 billion riyals ($31 billion) – the highest since at least 2004.

Middle East gas consumption more than production: IEA

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Tuesday that demand for natural gas in the Middle East is registering a rise that will outstrip supply over the next five years, forcing the resource-rich region to import more. The international watchdog expected Middle East gas consumption to rise by 79 billion cubic meters (bcm) or 20% from 2011 to 2017. Low gas prices encourage consumption and discourage production, the agency noted.

Promising Q1 results help Jordan tourism recover from Arab Spring shocks

The Jordan Tourism Board announced it aims to increase the number of tourists to the country by 30% by the end of 2015. Taleb Rifai, secretary general of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), hoped the number of tourists worldwide to hit one billion mark this year, up from 982 million in 2011. He also said that Jordan will be among the countries to benefit from the global growth thanks to the country’s ‘solid roots’ in tourism industry.

Syria inflation hits 31.5% in April

Syrian government’s Central Bureau of Statistics reported on Wednesday the rate of inflation soared to 31.5% in April compared with the same month a year ago, as the cost of food products increased due to fuel shortages and political unrest. The agency said the rate of increase is slower than the 30.8% recorded in March.

Algeria to invest $80bn in oil and gas during next 5 years

Algerian state-run energy company Sonatrach announced an investment of up to $80 billion over the next five years as part of its plans to expand its gas resources and boost its refining and petrochemical capacity. The planned investment of $12 billion is in addition to previously announced plans by the North African producer, which is one of the major suppliers of natural gas to Europe.

Moscow firm eyes major UAE cultural project

Moscow-based Olympic City Group on Wednesday announced plans to build a Russian cultural complex in the UAE. The company said it has embarked on a study to set up the complex which will include an opera and ballet theatre, museum, hotel, apartment hotel, and apartments. The announcement was made during a second meeting held by the company with the UAE Ibiza Company in Dubai, Olumpic City Group said in a statement.

UAE’s Gulf Capital to invest US$267m in KSA property market

Abu Dhabi’s Gulf Capital will enter Saudi Arabia’s real estate market with a SAR1bn (US$267m) investment plan to tap growing demand for residential property in the kingdom, the private equity firm said on Wednesday. Gulf Capital will enter the Saudi property market through its Gulf Related unit, which is a joint venture with Related Companies, the largest privately-owned property developer in the US.

Kuwait metro project to be ready by 2020 – Second phase to start soon

The Kuwait metro project is intended to relieve the traffic jams on Kuwait’s roads, which often become severe during peak hours. Engineer Fatima Al-Kandari, Project Leader at the Partnerships Technical Bureau (PTB) noted that the metro project has entered into its first phase already. “Each part of the project consists of three phases: the announcement phase, the phase in which companies send letters of interest in investing in this project, and now we are reviewing the letters of the interested companies.”

Qatar’s AZF takes over Belgian football club

Qatar’s Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF) said on Wednesday it has taken over control and management of a Belgian second division club.
The Foundation, which was established by Emiri decree in 2008 to develop sports champions and the sports economy, said in a statement that it had acquired KAS Eupen. The agreement stipulates that AZF oversees the management of the football-related activities of KAS Eupen.

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad eyes at least 10 pct in Virgin Australia: CEO

Abu Dhabi’s flagship carrier Etihad Airways plans to raise its stake in Virgin Australia Holdings to at least 10 percent, Etihad’s top executive said, after stating it owns a near 4 percent stake in the Australian carrier on Tuesday. Etihad, which is on a aggressive expansion drive, acquired a 3.96 percent stake in Virgin Australia through the stock market, it said in a statement.

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