Middle East Business Review – 11 Mar

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Dubai registers house prices increase

According to the latest Knight Frank Global House Price Index, house prices in Dubai increased by an average of 2.3% during the last quarter of 2011, putting the city in the top ten house market performers worldwide for that period. The leading real estate firm said Dubai stands at 26th position out of 52 in the property market list around the world. The report added that house prices rose by 0.5% during entire last year.

Dubai best Arab city to live in

Saneou Al Hadath, an Arab business publication, has voted Dubai as the most popular living destination in the Middle East and North Africa for the third time. The report is based on several indices and figures obtained from international research institutions across the business, culture, economy, education, health, human rights, leisure, telecom, transportation, and security sectors and closely examined 19 Arab cities across the region to pick the best one. The business magazine added ‘the best Arab cities in the Levant’, and ‘the best Arab city in North Africa’ classifications this year, with Amman and Tunisia securing the top spots respectively. Following are the other cities on the list: Abu Dhabi, Doha, Manama, Muscat, Riyadh, Jeddah, Tunisia and Kuwait City.

Abu Dhabi property giants negotiating possible merger

Aldar Properties and Sorouh Real Estate said they were discussing ways to merge under the blessings of the Abu Dhabi government. Aldar has twice been rescued by Abu Dhabi with bailouts totalling $10bn and recently got its rating upgraded from negative to positive by Moody’s Investors Service after posting a full-year net profit of $175m last year.

Abu Dhabi moves to restrict hotel licences to curb falling room rates

The Abu Dhabi government has announced it will issue licences for new hotels on selective basis amid dropping average room rates to around AED450 ($122.50) per night. “We have not completely stopped issuing licences. We still receive applications and are studying them on a case-by-case basis. We have our criteria for licensing,” Naser al-Riyami, director, tourism standards division at the Abu Dhabi Authority for Tourism & Culture told Reuters in an interview. He also denied a local newspaper report that Abu Dhabi will not issue new hotel licences in the capital as total number of hotel rooms reached almost 23,000 by the end of last year.

UAE economy grew roughly 3.3% last year

The UAE Economy Minister Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri said the country’s economy grew 3.3% in 2011, which is slower than analysts had expected. He noted that the economy’s growth rate was twice than it was in 2010 despite several regional and global challenges. Reuters polled several analysts in December 2011 who forecasted that the economy would grow 3.9% in real terms in 2011, after 1.4% expansion in 2010.

Saudi allocates $5.4bn for Makkah metro

Osama Al Bar, the mayor of Makkah, has announced around 20bn Saudi rials ($5.4bn) have been earmarked for the execution of the first phase of a metro network which will cover all parts of the Islam’s holiest city. “Work is currently going on in the blueprint of the project. Six months after that we will start signing contracts for the execution of the project,” Mayor Osama Al-Bar told Saudi business daily Al-Eqtisadiah while adding that the holiest city is a safe haven for investment.

Iranian businesses owe $272.2m to Dubai-based traders

Traders in Dubai owe more than AED1 billion as the slide in Iranian riyal due to US-led sanctions is hampering the ability of country’s businessmen to pay for goods. It costs 19,000 rials to buy US$1. As a result, traders are relying on cash deals or informal credit arrangements with the Iranian central bank stepping in to ease the situation by authorising the use of gold for making payments. Dubai serves as a gateway for the passage of goods to Iran for a wide range of goods including grain and cars. Capital Economics estimates suggest trade with Iran accounts for 7% of the UAE’s GDP.

(By Moign Khawaja – Editor: Arabian Gazette)

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