Middle East Business Review – 23 Feb

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UAE IT SERVICES ONE OF THE MOST EXPENSIVE IN THE WORLD

According to a report published by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), the UAE has one of the costliest internet and telephone service in the world despite price cuts during the last few years. “Telecommunications services in the UAE are far costlier than those in Europe. There is a big price gap between the UAE and Europe especially in high-speed broadband services, which could reach $1700 a month,” the UAE Arabic language daily Emirat Al Youm quoted from the TRA survey. The daily added that internet and mobile phone charges in the UAE are also the highest among Gulf Cooperation Council nations.

UAE’s JAN AVERAGE OIL OUTPUT 2.58M BPD: IEA

According to latest data released by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the country’s average oil output in January was around 2.58m barrels per day, unchanged from December last year’s output. The report added that the UAE has a sustainable production capacity of 2.74 million bpd. “The UAE, Libya and Iraq are all expected to bring on new production capacity over the course of 2012, potentially as much as 850,000 bpd, while non-Opec supply is expected to rebound to the tune of nearly 1 million bpd in 2012,” the IEA report explained.

ETISALAT ABORTS ITS INDIAN PLANS AFTER TELECOMS SCANDAL

The UAE’s top operator has announced it is shutting down its proposed operations in India after its joint venture was stripped of the licence amid a massive telecoms scandal. Etisalat received a huge blow when the Indian Supreme Court revoked 122 3G licences issued by the Ministry of Telecommunications after finding out that they were sold below market rates and that government ministers pocketed huge sums of money in the scam. “The decision has been taken in order to protect the interests of all stakeholders and to avoid incurring further costs at this time of rapid change and continued uncertainty in the Indian telecommunications sector,” the company said in a statement.

KUWAIT RENOUNCES NUCLEAR AMBITIONS AFTER FUKISHIMA CATASTROPHE

According to media reports Kuwait has abandoned its nuclear programme this week in the wake of last year’s Fukushima disaster. Japan Times quoted Kuwaiti government officials as saying that plans of building four nuclear reactors by 2022 had to be scrapped following the nuclear tragedy in Japan almost a year ago. Reports said Kuwaiti nuclear authority is concerned about the safe storage of radioactive waste and with a large section of society questioning the need of having a civilian nuclear energy programme given its vast oil reserves. Kuwait’s National Nuclear Energy Committee told Reuters in September 2010 it was considering options for four planned 1,000 megawatt reactors and would release a “roadmap” for developing atomic power in January 2011.

BINLADIN GROUP AWARDED MAKKAH LIGHT RAIL CONTRACT BY SAUDI GOVT

Chief executive officer of Albalad Alameen Development and Urban Regenration at the Makkah Municipality said Binladin Group has been awarded the contract to build the first phase of a rail line linking Haramain train route with a metro in Makkah. The kingdom’s largest construction firm has already secured the contract to build Kingdom Tower which will replace Dubai’s Burj Khalifa as the world’s tallest building. Al Eqtisadiah newspaper said the value of the project so far remains unknown.

OIL EXPLORATION IN NORTHERN IRAQ PUTTING BAGHDAD – ERBIL AT LOGGERHEADS

The signing of oil exploration agreements between the Iraqi Kurdistan’s autonomous government and oil companies is causing a major tension in war-torn Iraq as Baghdad warned major oil powers not to bypass its authority and violate the 2005 constitution. “There’s been a huge amount of interest from the big majors. This year we expect to see a number of significant new entrants to the market,” an official with the Kurdistan government said on condition of anonymity. Reports suggest the political wrangling between Erbil and Baghdad is also affecting smaller oil companies and hampering oil pipeline projects.

EU AWARDS MULTIBILLION AID PACKAGE TO JORDAN

European Union has announced it will grant Jordan $4bn in financial assistance over the next three years. The announcement was made by Catherine Ashton, the Vice President of the European Commission and Awn Khasawneh, Jordanian Prime Minister. “The meeting had been successful in tackling frameworks of cooperation and support that can be provided by the EU to Jordan’s political and economic reforms,” the Jordanian Premier said during the joint press conference in Amman. “The European Investment Bank is currently working on an extensive pipeline of already identified new projects with an estimated lending activities of up to 400 million euros over the next two years,” Ashton told reporters.

PALESTINIAN COMPANIES FACING TOUGH TIME DUE TO ISRAELI OCCUPATION

Palestinian businesses insist they’re fighting off harsh restrictions imposed by the Israeli occupation at home in their quest to expand their presence in the Gulf and boost exports. Israel’s destruction and confiscation of olive oil orchards in Occupied West Bank territories is choking Palestinian economic activity and driving international prices high, the traders told in an interview at the sidelines of Gulfood exhibition. “Israeli obstacles are not just on exports in the logistical sense, but on the whole supply chain for any Palestinian product, industrial or agricultural. The borders and checkpoints are controlled by Israel and we have to finish procedures with the Palestinian authorities and then go through a complex and laborious routine with the Israeli authorities. The products get spoilt during delays with problems that increase costs. The checks are just an excuse to stop exports, not just for us but all Palestinian companies,” Ziad Anabtawi, chairman and chief executive of Al Ard Palestinian Agri-Products said while hoping the event will raise awareness about Palestinian economic hardships.

(By Moign Khawaja – Editor: Arabian Gazette)

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