Middle East Business Review – 1 Mar

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DUBAI UTILITY COMPANY DENIES ISSUING 2012 BONDS

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) announced it has no plans to issue bonds this year in order to repay a AED1.2bn ($326.7 million) securitisation maturity this year ahead of time. “There is no bond this year,” chief executive Saeed Mohammed al-Tayer told Reuters on Thursday. DEWA issued bonds worth AED7.35bn ($2bn) in October 2010 to raise capital and meet its liabilities.

UAE HOTEL OPERATOR SECURES 6 PROPERTIES WORTH MILLIONS ACROSS THE UAE

Time Hotels Management, owned by the Gulf General Investment Company (GGICO), has secured the management contracts for six properties in the UAE including two hotels and four hotel apartments along with 385-strong staff. The acquired hotels are the Time Oak Hotel & Suites in Al Barsha, and Time Grand Plaza Hotel in Al Qusais, while the four hotel apartments are the Opal, Topaz and Crystal Hotel Apartments in Dubai, and the Ruby Hotel Apartments in Sharjah.

UAE MOBILE OPERATOR TEAMS UP WITH CISCO TO DELIVER 4G/LTE SERVICES

Cisco announced that du, UAE’s leading telecommunications service provider, will be using the Cisco ASR 5000 Series to establish a nationwide mobile broadband network capable of delivering high-speed 4G long-term evolution (LTE) mobile services. LTE 4G will enhance du’s five million mobile customers’ access to Internet services, providing an effortlessly fast service with speeds up to 150Mbps. This opens up online opportunities like never before, allowing for HD video streaming on mobile devices, seamless gaming experiences, quicker than ever social networking and an overall enhanced connectivity experience that takes mobile internet and Internet on the go to the next level.

UAE AIRLINES NOT TO INCREASE AIR FARES AMID RISING FUEL PRICES

Dubai’s flydubai and Sharjah’s Air Arabia have announced they do not intend to hike air fares in order to make up for the rising global fuel prices. “As of today, we have no plans to introduce such a surcharge. But, we will continue to monitor the fuel price movement closely. And if it continues to escalate, then the whole air transport industry will add the surcharge,” Air Arabia CEO Adel Ali told Gulf News in an interview, while adding that a special fuel surcharge would be considered if prices continue to rise. Separately, a flydubai spokesperson also expressed similar views in a statement. “We are not immune to price fluctuations but do take every step we can to keep our fares as low as possible to encourage more people to fly to more places more often. The budget carrier constantly monitors its fares and these can go up or down depending on many external factors, including the price of fuel, currency fluctuations or market forces. Fuel is the single biggest cost for airlines,” the budget carrier’s spokesperson said.

NOOR ISLAMIC BANK ENDS TIES WITH IRAN UNDER US PRESSURE

According to a Wall Street Journal report, Noor Islamic Bank, a privately owned institution, has agreed to close its operations with Iran after the US Treasury Department disrupted one of its operation under the belief that it was evading US-backed sanctions on Iran. “As a UAE bank we comply with all UAE Central Bank and UAE government directives and international regulations, including those emanating from the UN, regarding sanctions on Iran. When we became aware, in December 2011, that unilateral US sanctions were to be applied against a number of Iranian banks we took pre-emptive action to end our business relationships with Iranian banks licensed in the UAE,” a Noor Islamic bank spokesman told in an emailed statement while refusing to give any details of the reported action by the US Treasury Department.

SAUDI PLEDGES FINANCIAL AID TO EGYPT

Saudi Arabia has promised it will honour its $3.7 billion financial aid to Cairo amid complaints lodged by Egyptian government that several countries are failing to keep their word on assisting the nascent transitional government. “The kingdom has already committed to supporting the brotherly Arab Republic of Egypt and standing by it to meet the challenges facing the Egyptian economy through a package of aid amounting to $3.7bn,” the state news agency said while adding that $500m were transferred in May but talks over a $1.45bn aid package offered by the Saudi Development Fund has hit snags.

ROYAL JORDANIAN AIRLINES SHARES HIT RECORD LOWS

Jordan’s national flag carrier’s shares hit a 52-week low of JD0.56 ($0.79) as the airline struggles to make its ends meet. According to state-run Petra news agency, RJ has suspended flights to five destinations this month blaming regional turmoil and rising fuel prices. The airlines also cancelled 1,300 flights last year and more than 460 flights scheduled in the first quarter this year citing a drop in passenger numbers. “Trailing one year: the value of 1,000 dinars invested one year ago is 368 dinars against 859 dinars for the Amman Stock Exchange index, for a capital loss of 632 dinars. The total return to shareholders for one year is minus 63.2 per cent,” News Bites, the independent financial news website, wrote in its assessment of Royal Jordanian.

(By Moign Khawaja – Editor: Arabian Gazette)

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