Middle East Business News Review – 9 September

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Photo – Vahid Salemi/AP

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

UAE energy consumption 225% more than Europe

Commercial and residential properties in the United Arab Emirates are using 225% more energy than their European counterparts, recently revealed figures suggested.

“In fact, UAE’s per capita footprint of 9.5 hectares is four times more than the global per person 2.1 hectares availability,” said Alan Harpham, chairman, APMG-International, a global examination institute. He added that the UAE must step up management of its ecological footprint, in response to research which revealed the equivalent of 6.5 planets is needed to regenerate resources and absorb carbon emissions, if globally everyone lived like the average Middle Eastern resident.

“With international arrivals to the Middle East expected to reach 68.5 million by 2020, carbon footprint management is key in generating projects that create an effective presence within the UAE to ensure ecological, economic and social success,” he added.

US bank grants $2bn loan to build world’s largest nuclear power plant in UAE

Barakah One Company of the UAE has received authorisation from  the US Export Import Bank for $2 billion in direct loan, to purchase US equipment and construction services, to build one of the world’s largest nuclear power plants in Abu Dhabi.

The Export-Import bank stated that it has the backing of White House’s National Security Council and that the Department  of State and energy.  According to estimates derived from US Census Bureau statistics, the line of credit is expected to support nearly 5000 jobs across 17 US states.

Iranian rial plummets to record low

Reports coming from Tehran on Sunday said Iran’s currency slid to a new record low against the dollar, with the central bank saying it was trying to manage the plunge amid an “economic war with the world.” According to specialised websites giving real-time rates, street traders were exchanging one dollar for more than 24,000 Iranian rials.

That was a plunge of some 5% over Saturday’s rate and around 10% since last Wednesday, when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad admitted on state television that Western sanctions were causing “problems” in exporting oil and international financial transactions.

The latest street rate was nearly double the fixed, official rate of 12,260 rials that the government reserved for its agencies and a few privileged businesses.

Turkmenistan cancels Caspian Sea railway deal with Iran

Turkmenistan announced on Saturday it has scrapped a $700 million contract with an Iranian company to build a key section of a major new railway line along the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea.

According to state newspaper Neutral Turkmenistan, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov decided to annul the contract with Iran’s Pars Energy Company, signed in January 2010, at a cabinet meeting in the capital.

Pars Energy had won the $696 million contract to build the Turkmen stretch of the new 900 kilometre railway that is to link Kazakhstan with northern Iran through Turkmenistan.

Egypt eyes World Bank, Africa Development Bank aid after sealing IMF deal

Egypt’s prime minister said on Sunday he expected to reach a $4.8 billion loan deal with IMF in the next few weeks and is holding talks for additional budget support worth about $1 billion with the World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB).

Cairo has been negotiating with the International Monetary Fund since last year, when a popular uprising brought down Hosni Mubarak’s almost three-decades old rule and sent the economy crashing.

Dubai’s H1 EU trade volumes flat at $21bn

The volume of Dubai’s trade exchange with the European Union countries totalled AED77.2bn ($21bn) during the first six months of 2012, new official data showed on Sunday.

The total represented flat growth compared to the AED77bn registered during the same period last year as Europe continues to struggle with its financial crisis.

According to Dubai Customs’ latest statistical report on foreign trade, Dubai’s imports from the EU countries reached AED61.2bn while its exports to the 27-member state union reached AED3.7bn during the first six months of the year. The value of re-exports to the EU states stood at AED12.3bn, the report revealed.

Dubai Metro lifts 184m passengers since launch

The Dubai Metro rail network, which celebrates three years in operation on Sunday, has lifted a total of 184 million passengers since its launch.

The public transport project, which opened with the Red Line on September 9 2009, has carried 151.7m on the original line with another 32.5m using the Green Line which started operations a year ago.

The Red Line extends 52km and comprises 29 stations while the Green Line spans 23km and comprises 18 stations.

Saudi to unveil world’s largest fountain

Saudi Arabia is to unveil the world’s largest fountain at a ceremony on Sunday, according to reports in the kingdom.

The King Abdullah Fountain in the eastern region will be unveiled to officials and citizens on Sunday and representatives from the Guinness Book of World Records will be in attendance to mark the fountain’s entry into the record books, according to a report by the Al Riyadh Arabic newspaper.

The display is part of a new 500,000m park the eastern town of Hufouf and will be part of a 700m man-made lake.

Lebanon’s offshore gas may exceed Syria, Cyprus findings

The size of Lebanon’s offshore natural gas deposits in the eastern Mediterranean is greater than that of Cyprus and Syria, the Daily Star reported, citing the CEO of Norway-based Spectrum Company which carried out a recent 3D seismic survey.

In its first study in 2010 of the Levant Basin, the offshore Mediterranean region which stretches from the north of Egypt to the north of Lebanon and south of Cyprus, the US Geological Survey estimated the area has about 122 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas and holds 1.7bn barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil.

Kuwait oil output rise outweighs UAE, Saudi cuts

Oil output by the big three Gulf producers saw a net increase of around 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) in August from July as a sharp rise in Kuwaiti output outweighed cuts by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, industry sources said.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE both cut their production by around 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) in August, to 9.7 million bpd and 2.7 million bpd, respectively, according to Gulf industry sources.

But top producer Saudi Arabia used 100,000 bpd from storage to offer crude supplies to the market of 9.8 million bpd, while Gulf-OPEC ally Kuwait ramped up production by around 600,000 bpd to 3 million bpd in August.

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