Middle East Business News Review – 6 September

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Photo – Vahid Salemi/AP

Today’s top business news from the Middle East and North Africa:

Dubai’s posts record H1 trade figures

Dubai’s non-oil foreign trade hit a record AED602 billion ($163.9 bn) during the first half of 2012, registering a 12% increase compared to the same period last year. Dubai’s trade totalled AED 537 billion during the first half of 2011, latest statistics from the Dubai Customs revealed.

Ahmed Butti Ahead, executive chairman of Ports, Custom and Free Zone Corporation, and Dubai Customs director general, said Dubai’s imports grew by 11.5%, up to AED 357 billion. He added that the value of exports and re-exports hit AED 245 billion, up 13% over same period last year.

Qatar to splash $125bn on construction boom

Qatar is planning to spend around $125bn on construction and energy projects over the next six years, ahead of the FIFA 2022 Football World Cup, a new report said on Thursday.

A report compiled by the Saudi NCB bank said the tiny gas-rich nation will embark upon public spending projects as part of its plan to foster growth in the non-oil areas including construction of stadiums and other supporting facilities for the 2012 World Cup.

The Qatar Financial Centre recently suggested that Qatar’s project pipeline can increase from its current level of $63bn to $108bn in the coming years, driven partly by increases in government spending, but also by efforts to reverse a recent decline in its oil production to 730,000 barrels of oil per day – 630,000 of which are exported.

Middle East leads growth in long-haul airline seats

The Middle East will see strongest growth of any global region in available long-haul airline seats in September, adding 22,000 extra seats per day, according to latest statistics from OAG.

The FACTS (Frequency and Capacity Trend Statistics) report for September 2012 reveals an expected 5% growth in available seats to and from the Middle East, compared to September 2011, with 13.1 million anticipated in the month. Meanwhile, flight operations to and from the region are expected to increase by 4% to 59,771.

Morocco’s solar, wind energy ambitions get $800 million AfDB boost

The African Development Bank has approved $800 million in loans to Morocco to support renewable energy programs, the bank said on its website on Thursday.

The loans will help Morocco develop a concentrated solar power (CSP) plant at the town of Ouarzazate, the Tunis-based bank said.

The project would be the first to be implemented under a programme which seeks to deploy about 1 gigawatt of generation capacity through plants and transmission infrastructure stretching across Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan, the bank added.

Oil-rich states attracting nearly $2 trillion a year: report

A Citi Research report said on Thursday oil-rich states are attracting nearly $2 trillion a year, greater in real terms than they saw at the peak of the last oil boom. The flow is expected to continue for the next two-three years, the report added.

Identifying the eight oil-rich equity markets: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Norway, Kazakhstan, Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, and Nigeria as the key markets for investment, the report said these markets have a capitalisation of nearly $2 trillion, and daily trading of over $6 billion.

The oil-rich states identified in the report enjoy an excellent macroeconomic position with which to confront global shocks, the report explained while adding that on average they run a fiscal surplus of 5% of GDP and a current account surplus of 12% of GDP.

Hundreds swindled in Dubai property scam

Hundreds of Dubai residents are facing eviction after falling victim to a huge property scam in the emirate.

Tenants in Emaar’s The Greens said they had been left in limbo after Dubai-based Shamyana Entertainment Services cashed rental cheques but failed to pass the full amount onto the landlord.

Tenants claimed that Shamyana’s owner has since fled the country.

Saudi’s Kingdom Tower has ‘unbelievable’ budget

Australian construction company Grocon says that the Saudi Binladin Group (SBG) faces a considerable challenge in meeting the timeframe and projected budget for the Kingdom Tower in Jeddah.

The proposed 1km-plus super-tall tower is scheduled for completion in 2017 at a total cost of US$1.2bn.

India exports 176,000 T sugar to Iran-trade sources

India has sealed deals to export 176,000 tonnes of sugar to sanctions-hit Iran so far this year and a vessel with 32,000 tonnes of that, the last consignment, is being loaded at a southern port, trade sources said on Thursday.

India is Iran’s second-largest crude oil buyer and has struggled to find ways to pay for the oil. The two countries agreed in January to settle 45 percent of the oil trade in rupees and are also making some payments through a Turkish bank.

But some Iranian buyers are channelling import payments through unofficial routes involving several layers of middlemen based in Dubai. India, the world’s top sugar consumer and the biggest producer behind Brazil, kicked off exports to the Islamic Republic in March.

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