Middle East Business Review – 22 Feb

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COKE, PEPSI GIVEN 30 DAYS TO REMOVE UNLAWFUL CANS

Officials of the Consumer Protection Department of the Ministry of Economy have issued a month long ultimatum to remove all 300ml cans from hotels, restaurants, stores, and other places or face severe fines. “We met with the companies who agreed to remove the 300ml cans from the market. There will be no fines now unless the deadline is not met,” Hashim Al Nuaimi, the head of consumer protection at the Ministry of Economy, said in a statement after meeting the distributors of the two brands. Pepsico and Coca Cola agreed Tuesday to withdraw the cans that have violated the UAE’s consumer protection laws.

DP WORLD IN TALKS WITH BANKERS TO SECURE $1BN LOAN

According to Reuters, Dubai’s DP World is in talks with banks to secure a syndicated loan of $1 billion that will replace its existing $3 billion deal which matures in October this year. “The deal will get done and it will be well supported. A bit of price-finding will need to be done as DP World want to pay less than the banks do. But, it is a good credit and they have plenty of time before the maturity to get it done,” one anonymous London-based broker told Reuters.

DUBAI WORLD-OWNED LAS VEGAS CASINO REPORTS LESS THAN EXPECTED LOSSES

Meanwhile, MGM Resorts International, a Dubai World part-owned Las Vegas casino operator, reported a narrower Q4 loss of $113.7m compared with a loss of $139.2m a year earlier thanks to a recovery in Nevada’s gambling market and increased revenues from Macau’s bet havens. According to data supplied by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, gambling revenue soared 5.1% to $6.07bn last year to record a second straight annual gain, and the biggest since 2006. Revenues also rose in the former Portuguese enclave in southern China which witnessed a 42% increase to $33.6bn in 2011.

DUBAI GOVT SETS ASIDE $675m FOR TRAM PROJECT

The government of Dubai announced it has secured a $675 financing deal to initiate the first phase of the Al Sufouh Tram project that will connect Dubai Marina to the Knowledge Village through a 10km track. The transaction comprises of two portions: (1) a $401m loan extending to 13 years and guaranteed by the official government export credit agencies of Belgium (ONDD) and France (COFACE) which will amortise over 10 years starting 2015 (2) a $274m Islamic Ijara facility extending to 6 years, split equally in US dollars and dirhams, and amortizing over three years, also starting 2015, according to a statement issued by the Government of Dubai’s Media Office. “We have seen a very encouraging response to this financing, which is a testament to the strong confidence that the international banks have in Dubai’s economy,” Abdulrahman Al-Saleh, director general of the Dubai Department of Finance, said.

DUBAI METRO’S GREEN LINE TO SEE FURTHER EXPANSION

Adnan Al Hammadi, chief executive officer of the rail agency of Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), told local media that plans are under way to extend the Green Line to cover Academic City, International City and Lagoons within the next five years. The transport authority recently got a massive boost when the Guiness Book of World Record recognised Dubai’s metro as the longest driverless metro network in the world at 74.6km. “The extension plan, drawn up after two separate studies, already has the approval of RTA’s board of directors as well as the blessing of the government. Connecting to the Academic City alone will benefit an over 30,000-strong student community” the RTA chief said. He also added that the RTA is planning to extend the Red Line up to the Dubai-Abu Dhabi border subject to development projects along the route.

OIL PRICES HIT 9-MONTH HIGH AMID US-IRAN TENSION

Oil traded near the highest level in 9 months amid speculations that Iran will disrupt its supplies to Western countries that have imposed sanctions on its oil and banking industry. According to a Bloomberg News survey, prices fell earlier as crude’s relative strength index indicated prices may have shot up too quickly while adding that manufacturing in China may shrink for the fourth consecutive month. “The price of crude has more to do with what’s happening in Iran and the Middle Eastern risk premium. While the stalemate is there, the premium exists. Demand forecasts for the U.S. remain neutral to bearish,” said Jonathan Barratt, chief executive of Barratt’s Bulletin, a commodity markets newsletter in Sydney told Bloomberg.

MOROCCO TOURISM GETS BOOST AMID ARAB SPRING

Moroccan Ministry of Tourism said a total of 9.34 million tourists visited the kingdom in 2011, generating a revenue of $7.5 billion, up 4% compared to last year. “The sector, which contributes about 9 percent of the GDP, achieved satisfactory results in 2011 despite a difficult world and declining travel demand due to the economic crisis which hit the main tourist source markets of Morocco,” Lahcen Haddad, Minister of Tourism, said in a statement while adding that 2011 was still a good year despite a difficult environment. Morocco globally ranks 24th in terms of arrivals and 36th in terms of tourism receipts.

(By Moign Khawaja – Editor: Arabian Gazette)

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