Middle East Business News Review

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Qatar Airways and Airbus patched up their differences to seal a dramatic deal that confirmed the order for five A380 super jumbos and 50 A320neos along with another 30 options. Insiders said the deal stalled on the third day of Dubai Airshow over design and delivery bottlenecks. “A six month delay for a new programme in my opinion is insignificant. Any further delays will concern us because we have a plan. We cannot accept? disruption of our expansion. Every manufacturer knows that Qatar Airways will not wait indefinitely,? the outspoken Qatar Airways CEO said during a press conference adding he was still unhappy with the European plane makers’ plans.

Meanwhile, the Qatari boss rubbished allegations levelled by leading international airlines that their Gulf counterparts are riding on the back of their oil-rich state-sponsors and jeopardising competition. ?We have been, and will continue, to give other airlines a run for their money. The rest of the world’s airlines have no direction. They and the governments still treat them as cash cows,? Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways said in his keynote speech at Aviation Business Awards in Dubai.??Lufthansa, Air France, Iberia – all these airlines, they were all once upon a time government owned and it is only in the recent past that they have been privatised, the same way we are also going to privatised.?We are going to go for an IPO, so what is the problem?? he added.

United Arab Emirates Central Bank Governor said the country’s economy may see a drop of around 3 per cent next year amid European sovereign debt crisis and worsening of the US economy. “If we continue this up and down situation in the US and Europe, our (GDP growth) figures should hover around three per cent. That will rely on what will happen with the oil price and what will happen in the political scene in the region and the Middle East,” Sultan Nasser al-Suweidi, Central Bank Governor, expressed his views during a statistical conference.

On the other hand, a leading economist in Dubai said the UAE and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) should start to substitute credit lines and cross-border lending with US and eurozone economies with Asian banks that are very liquid. He also suggested country’s trade with China should be carried out in yuan instead of US dollar. “We can expect European banks to deleverage, reducing their international exposure and credit lines. So we?re looking forward to a restructuring of Gulf banking relations. Asian banks are very liquid, especially Chinese banks, so we need to develop credit lines and trade finance with them,” Nasser Al Saidi, chief economist of Dubai International Financial Centre, said in an interview with Bloomberg.

A leading British travel deals website said Dubai is one of the top five preferred winter sun destinations along with Australia, Florida, India and Thailand. Other high performers included Johannesburg, Las Vegas and Manila.

Saudi government is said to be readying plans to impose a ceiling on remittances by foreign migrant workers in what it says to ‘protect the economy of kingdom’. Under the ‘salary protection’ programme, Saudi Labour Ministry will force expatriate workers to keep the bulk of their salaries within the country. ?About nine out of 10 workers in the country are foreigners,? Fakieh was quoted by local newspapers as saying. This has led to millions of riyals being transferred back to their home countries, harming the local economy,? Saudi Labour Minister Adel Fakieh told in a TV interview. Analysts believe other Gulf economies might follow the suit.

Iraqi cabinet has given approval to a US$17bn contract with Royal Dutch Shell and Mitsubishi Corporation to extract natural gas from three oil fields in southern Iraq. ?The government has a 51 percent stake in the partnership, and the companies 49 percent, including 44 percent for Shell and the rest for Mitsubishi,? Iraqi government spokesman Ali Al-Dabbagh said in a statement. Iraq has already granted 15 licenses to mostly Western companies for the development of energy resources during the last few years.

Gulf stock markets continued to show a downward trend amid concerns over political uncertainty in Rome which has skyrocketed Italy’s cost of borrowing to an all-time danger level again. Today’s major losers include Air Arabia and Du at Dubai Stock Exchange. Abu Dhabi?s ADX General Index dropped 0.2 per cent while Bahrain?s benchmark registered a loss of 0.4 per cent. Saudi Arabia?s Tadawul All Share Index lost 0.3 per cent. Kuwait?s SE Unweighted Index braved the downward trend while Qatar?s QE Index marked a modest 0.3 per cent rise. Oman?s MSM30 Index dropped 0.1 per cent during Tuesday’s trading.

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