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Barclays bank announced it is willing to extend financing to the Government of Dubai if and when needed as it expects the emirate will support state entities help meet their debt obligations during this year. “We have a level of balance sheet to support Dubai Inc among other clients. We’re committed to Dubai and the UAE but every credit decision has to stand up to its merits,” Vitalo, Barclays’ chief executive officer for the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region, said in an interview. According to a Moody’s report, Dubai government-linked entities have bonds worth $3.8 billion maturing in 2012.

Dubai is luring millions of shoppers from around the world by throwing daily firework shows, midnight-long souks, 19kg gold lottery raffle prize, and hotel promotions as part of the 32-day long Dubai Shopping Festival in a bid to give massive boost to the economy. “The Dubai Shopping Festival plays a major role in supporting the economy of Dubai and boosting it in various sectors,” said Laila Suhail, chief executive officer at organiser Dubai Events and Promotions Establishment (DEPE). She added that last year’s festival drew more than four million visits, mostly from the Middle East, India and the UK.

Meanwhile, Premier Inn, Britain’s largest budget hotel chain, has announced plans to open 80 hotels as part of its 2020 Middle East region expansion plan. Terming Premier Inn’s first hotel in Dubai Investment Park a big success, Darroch Crawford, managing director of Premier Inn Middle East, termed the region as promising: “Our growth in Dubai over the previous year was just under 30%. It was way ahead of our expectations.” He advised investors to put their money in value-priced hotel model to benefit better. “If you want to make a good return on your investment, you are often better off investing less money in a budget hotel than a huge amount of money in a five-star property. The returns actually can be considerably better in our sector than in the top of the market.”

Damas, the region’s leading jewellery and watch retailer, announced it will join hands with Tiffany & Co., world’s premier jeweller, to operate its retail stores in the UAE. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), first of its kind signed by Tiffany with any international jeweller, the proposed joint venture will be governed by a board of directors representing both Damas and Tiffany & Co. and will be initially headed by the chairman of Damas International Limited, Ibrahim Belselah. “Under the agreement, all Tiffany & Co. stores in the UAE, Tiffany & Co. will manage the business operations in the UAE,” the company said in an emailed statement.?Damas recently agreed to sell 58.79 per cent of its shares to?Qatari consumer goods and automobiles retailer, Mannai.

Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways chief executive officer, claimed the airline has “identified” targets with potential takeover prospects as part of the its expansion plan. ?We need to look at every business opportunity we can get. I just want to make sure Qatar Airways grows in a very sustained environment,? Al Baker said in a statement. He also hinted that Doha-based airlines is also planning business ventures in India.

Meanwhile, Gulf Air has defended its decision to give preference to a full-paying customer in favour of Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa who demanded his ‘favourite’ seat 1A in business class during a recent flight from Malaysia to Bahrain. The minister has reportedly ordered government workers to boycott the state carrier after his wish was denied. ?Priority was given to the minister on the next available flight? [but] passengers had already been checked in. Therefore, the minister?s request for the specific seats could not be accommodated. It is unfortunate that we were not able to meet the minister’s request,? a spokesperson for Gulf Air said.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has urged Gulf states to conclude talks on a free trade pact to boost trade ties. “Both sides need to show political will to sign the agreement as soon as possible. The launch of a free trade area will bring benefits to both sides,” the Chinese leader said while participants of a joint Chinese-Arab business conference in the emirate of Sharjah, UAE. The UAE’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahayan said bilateral trade between the GCC and China grew tenfold to $100 billion in the past decade. He added the GCC aims to increase it by the same amount this decade.

On the other hand, the Chinese premier has defended his government’s economic ties with Iran and said measures taken to curb legitimate trade will harm global economy. “China has normal trading relations with Iran, but will not bargain away its principles. We support the UN resolutions related to the Iranian nuclear issue. I believe that China is not the only country to buy oil from Iran… Legitimate trade has to be protected if global economic chaos is to be avoided,” Chinese foreign ministry quoted Wen as saying in Qatar.

(By Moign Khawaja ? Editor: Arabian Gazette)

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