Middle East Business News Review – 7 October

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

Etihad Airways eyeing opportunities in India, Asia

Etihad Airways, which has been aggressively expanding on a global level through stake purchases in firms like Air Berlin and Virgin Australia, announced on Sunday it is set to extend its geographical reach to India and other Asian markets.

Abu Dhabi’s flag carrier is competing with regional rivals like Emirates and Qatar Airways and wants to secure more airline stakes, its chief executive said in an phone interview with Reuters on Sunday.

UAE sees 1.5m cyber victims in past year – Norton

Norton by Symantec on Sunday revealed that more than 1.5 million people fell victim to cyber crime in the UAE in the last year.

Its annual Norton Cybercrime Report said the average UAE victim suffered direct financial losses of $283.

The global study is based on self-reported experiences of more than 13,000 adults across 24 countries and calculated the direct costs associated with global consumer cybercrime at $110bn over the past 12 months.

UAE private sector deposits down

The UAE private sector cut its deposits with local banks by nearly Dh19 billion in the first five months of 2012 apparently to invest in other more profitable sector given the relatively low rates in the second largest Arab economy.

But the reduction was more than offset by a surge in government deposits as a result of a large increase in the country’s oil export revenue.

Central Bank figures showed private sector deposits with the country’s 23 national banks and 28 foreign units dipped to nearly Dh374 billion at the end of May 2012 from around Dh393.5 billion at the end of 2011.

Dubai’s Arqaam to buy Libya financial services firm

Arqaam Capital, a Dubai-based emerging market investment bank, has agreed to buy a financial services firm in Libya to tap into economic growth as the country rebuilds after its civil war.

The acquisition of Al Rashad Finance and Management Advisory will give Arqaam a presence in the country and the potential to buy and sell securities and manage portfolios there, Arqaam said in a statement on Sunday.

$33m ‘The Pyramids’ of Egypt to adorn Dubai skyline

The Pyramids of Egypt will be adorning the Dubai skyline in the next 30 months, comprising of offices and a museum which will speak of UAE and the world civilisation.

At the cost of Dh120-million, Falconcity of Wonders , the master developer, will be building an 11-storey -high Pyramid, which will house offices and a museum. It expects to complete the monument in 24 to 30 months after it receives clearance from the authorities.

Qtel set to gain control of Kuwait’s Wataniya telecom

Qatar Telecom (Qtel) is poised to control more than 90% of Kuwait’s Wataniya after the Gulf state’s sovereign wealth fund tendered its entire stake in the unit, a Reuters report quoting two unnamed sources said on late Saturday.

Wataniya was offered $2.2 billion in August by Qtel for the 47.5% it does not already own. The Qatari telecoms giant operates in 16 countries across the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The tender offer expired on 4 October.

Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) is one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds with about $300 billion in assets. It is also the second biggest shareholder in Wataniya with a stake of 23.5%.

Qatar’s Barwa to sell $4.4bln in assets to repay loans

Barwa Real Estate plans to sell assets worth 16 billion riyals ($4.4 billion) in Qatar and Egypt to pay down loans, the Qatari property firm said on Sunday.

The assets being sold include land in the Gulf Arab state as well as the Barwa New Cairo project in Egypt. The sale will be reflected in fourth-quarter results, Barwa said in a statement.

Iraq earns $8.4bn from September oil exports

Iraq’s September oil exports peaked the highest in three decades with about 2.6 million barrels per day, earning the exchequer $8.4 billion, figures disclosed by the oil ministry said on Sunday.

According to the figures compiled earlier this week, oil exports in August were slightly lower at 2.564 million bpd and brought in $ 8.445 billion at an average price of $107 per barrel.

The volumes exported in September mark the highest export level in over three decades, according to the ministry. Iraq says it has plans in place to hike its oil exports to 2.9 million bpd in 2013 by increasing production, which already stands at over 3 million bpd, to 3.4 million bpd by the end of the current year.

GCC economies to post 6% growth in 2012 – report

The economic performance of the GCC countries is robust with an expected growth of 6% for the region, a specialised economic report said on Sunday.

The report, compiled by Gulf Investment Corporation, highlighted two forces which helped the GCC to shoulder the weight of the global sluggishness.

“First, is the continued expansive fiscal policy on an assortment of investment projects as well as current expenditure that act as safety nets for consumers and wage earners. Secondly, firm oil prices and increased oil and natural gas exports are helping the economies achieve sustained economic growth and achieve robust surpluses in trade and fiscal accounts,” the report said.

Kuwait transfers $250m to Jordan’s central bank

Kuwait transferred $250 million to the Central Bank of Jordan, the state-run Petra news agency reported, citing Finance Minister Suleiman Hafez.

The funds are Kuwait’s contribution to a $5 billion grant for Jordan that was endorsed by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) last year.

At a GCC summit in December 2011, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar agreed to extend $5bn over a five-year period to support development projects in Jordan, with each state contributing $1.25bn. The $250 million transferred by Kuwait is the first tranche of the GCC countries’ support for this year.

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