Middle East Business Review – 21 Feb

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COKE, PEPSI TO WITHDRAW UNLAWFUL CANS FROM UAE SHELVES

Coca-Cola and Pepsico, after admitting the violation of Ministry of Economy’s Consumer Protection laws, announced they will withdraw their 300ml soft drink cans from supermarkets across the country. “We started the inspection campaign more than two weeks ago to solve the issue of the Pepsi, Coca-Cola’s cans being sold at outlets without price tags and in reduced sizes after receiving complaints from consumers. We took this measure against the two companies after we had received public complaints that the two companies had reduced the can size without decreasing its price.” Hashem Nuaimi told in an interview while adding that five suppliers had already paid AED100,000 ($27,225) each for violating the department’s regulations.

du PLANS REALITY TV SHOW TO FOSTER ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT

Dubai-based du telecom group announced it aims to launch ‘The Entrepreneur’ later this year to encourage new business ideas and promote small and medium enterprise sector. The reality TV show, inspired by popular shows like The Apprentice and Dragon’s Den, will offer contestants a chance to win up to AED2 million ($544,500). “The UAE is brimming with fantastic entrepreneurial talent which just needs a platform to take it to the next level. We are convinced there are many good ideas out there which needs to be heard and, which needs to be promoted. The Entrepreneur aims to empower and support the new breed of UAE entrepreneurs that build new enterprises which are innovative, sustainable and, most importantly, contribute meaningfully towards the social development of communities,” Hala Badri, executive vice president, Brand and Communications, Du, said.

UAE MINISTER GCC STATES TO PLAY KEY ROLE IN RENEWABLE ENERGY ISSUES

“States producing the hydrocarbon energy should play a role in the development of renewable energy sources,” Dr. Anwar Mohammed Gargash said while speaking to Qatar News Agency (QNA) on the sidelines of 2012 Brookings Doha Energy Forum. He also added that this diversity comes from multiple sources of energy as the UAE is relying on traditional energy sources to secure part of its energy needs, especially oil.

UAE PLANS CENTRES IN SOUTH ASIA TO TRAIN UNSKILLED WORKERS

The UAE is drawing up plans to set up training centres in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh to help workers acquire necessary skills and turn them into a more efficient workforce. “The UAE will start by opening an office in India in early 2013 to train and rehabilitate workforce. The government seeks to decrease the number of unskilled workers in the construction sector, considered a sector which employs the highest number of unskilled workers,” state-owned WAM news agency quoted Saeed Abdullah, the national productivity improvement programme manager at the Federal Development Council, as saying.

AL GHURAIR GROUP ACQUIRES FARMLAND IN SUDAN; INVESTS IN ALGERIA’S FOOD SECTOR

Al Ghurair Resources announced it has signed a deal with the government of Sudan to acquire 100,000 hectares of farmland on a 99-year lease to grow soy, wheat and other grains and secure UAE’s food security policy. The group also announced it is investing AED146 million ($40m) in grain storage facilities in Algeria to build a 160,000 tonne grain silo due to be completed by the end of this year. “Food sector investments are a long-term investment unlike real estate… there is a low margin but the long-term prospect is stable, about a five to 10 per cent return on investments. The channels of distribution and channels of finance are not there. It is a rain cloud [over the region] and then things will go back to normal,” Essa Abdullah Al Ghurair, chairman of Al Ghurair Resources, said in a statement.

REPORT SAYS GLOBAL DROP IN FOOD PRICES HELPED CONTAIN GULF INFLATION

According to latest data released by the Saudi central bank, a global drop in food prices and a weak property market are helping contain inflation across the Gulf region. “There are two factors that may lead to the expectation of a relative stability or a slight decline in the inflationary pressures in the coming period. These include a decline in world food prices and relative stability in the domestic market,” the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency said in a statement.

GULF AIR DEMANDS OUTSTANDING DUES FROM OMANI GOVERNMENT

Gulf Air, former national flag carrier of Oman, has sought around $310.3 million from the government of Oman which it reportedly owes since 2007. “There is a residual amount of 117 million Bahraini dinars that remains outstanding from the Sultanate of Oman from the time it withdrew as a shareholder of the airline. This continues to be a matter of discussion amongst concerned parties,” the airline said in an emailed statement. Muscat, which abandoned Gulf Air four years ago to set up its own flag carrier (Oman Air), did not issue a comment on the airline’s statement.

UK ADMITS SELLING ARMS TO BAHRAINI FORCES DURING CHANGE PROTESTS

Vince Cable, British Business Secretary and leading Liberal Democrat politician, accepted his government sold military equipment including rifles, guns, silencers for pistols, peepholes of weapons and equipment for the training of military aircraft worth more than $1.5 million to Bahrain between July and September 2011, at a time when anti-monarchy riots engulfed the country. “We do trade with governments that are not democratic and have bad human rights records. We do business with repressive governments and there’s no denying that,” the senior British politician told a committee of MPs.

IRAQ PERMITS JORDAN TO USE LAND ROUTE TO TURKEY

Hadi Al Ameri, Iraqi Minister for Transport, announced his government has agreed in principle to let Jordanian trucks drive through the country to reach Turkey and Europe in their bid to bypass strife-stricken Syria. “The transit system has not been working in Iraq for more than 15 years. Security and customs issues were the primary problems hindering safe transport of goods,” the Iraqi minister said in a statement. Alaa Batayneh, Jordanian Minister of Transport, insisted both sides would benefit from the deal. Both ministers also discussed progress on the Aqaba-Baghdad railway project which was signed in May last year.

(By Moign Khawaja – Editor: Arabian Gazette)

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