Middle East Business Review – 26 Feb

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PEPSICO, COCA-COLA MIGHT LAND INTO FURTHER TROUBLE FROM CONSUMER RIGHTS WATCHDOG

Soft drinks giants Pepsi and Coca Cola fear they could be forced to change the packaging of their cans to avoid further violation of the Department of Economic Development’s Consumer Protection Agency. According to a statement released by the Department of Economic Development, some cans destined for export may have been leaked to retail outlets, a clear violation of consumer protection rules. Both Cola-Cola and PepsiCo in January hiked the price of their cans in the UAE for the first time in more than 20 years citing inflation, rising fuel prices, salary costs and a steep rise in worldwide sugar prices as reasons behind the move. Authorities from both the companies failed to notify and seek permission from the Department of Economic Development’s Consumer Protection Agency, hence facing an inquiry and potential fines.

2012 SET TO BE CONSTRUCTION BOOM YEAR FOR UAE WITH DEALS WORTH $15 BN

According to a report released by research agency Ventures Middle East, construction contracts worth more than $15 billion, an increase of 26.5% compared to last year, are likely to be finalised this year in the UAE. The research added that the total value of current UAE construction projects is $1.249 trillion with buildings worth $871.6bn, energy projects over $190.9bn, and infrastructure projects totalling around $187.2bn.

UAE BUSINESSMAN ACCUSES NAKHEEL OF DAMAGING DUBAI’S REPUTATION

A leading UAE businessman claimed Nakheel is damaging Dubai’s reputation by charing for beach access on its flagship Palm Jumeirah project, a decision he insisted would have never been approved by the Government of Dubai. “It was 100 percent [damaging] and unacceptable. If I am buying a house and using the beach and later told I have to pay for the beach, this is abnormal. This is damaging the reputation of my country. I am 100% sure that the higher authorities were not aware of such a thing because they would not have accepted it. They would never have [agreed to] it but some people try to show they are making money for the government – they are damaging its reputation two million times [over] for a few dirhams,” Khalaf Al Habtoor said in an interview.

NAKHEEL MAKES TIMELY PAYMENTS IN ACCORDANCE WITH RESTRUCTURING COMMITMENTS

Meanwhile, troubled property developer Nakheel announced it has paid AED202.2m ($55m) in profit and interest payments to its lenders at the end of February in compliance with the agreements. “The timely discharge of the committed payments signals the successful execution of the restructured operations by Nakheel,” the firm said in a statement on Sunday. Nakheel was one of the biggest casualties of Dubai’s real estate crash in 2008-09, and had to suspend at least 100 projects after an unprecedented property collapse that more than halved house prices in the emirate.

UAE MINISTER OF FOREIGN TRADE NAMED MOST POWERFUL ARAB WOMAN 2010

Forbes Magazine has named Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, UAE Minister of Foreign Trade, as the most powerful Arab Woman in 2010 and also included her on the list of 100 most powerful women in the world. Hailing the recognition by a renowned international magazine, Shaikha Lubna termed it a ‘global achievement for the UAE’. “Policies adopted by the national leadership, beginning with Shaikh Zayed, have bolstered the role of UAE women in sustainable development as well as their international and regional status. There is a keen interest in advancing women’s role in social and economic development within the UAE’s leadership,” the UAE Minister of Foreign Trade said during a special ceremony hosted by Ajman’s Municipality and Planning Department. The 51 year old member of the Sharjah’s royal family has already been named on The Wall Street Journal’s “50 International Women to Watch” list and was chosen as the “Most Powerful Arab Woman” by Arabian Business magazine.

GCC COUNTRIES TO BUY ELECTRICITY FROM IRAN

A senior Iranian energy minister claimed his country will export electricity worth $2 billion to the UAE, Qatar and Oman once a gas field is operational in the Gulf. “The field will produce 3000 megawatts of electricity. A little of it will be consumed at home and the rest will be exported to neighbouring countries, particularly (the United Arab) Emirates, Oman and Qatar,” Iranian deputy energy minister Mohammad Behzad told the Fars news agency. He estimated that Iran would export up to $2bn worth of electricity to the GCC nations.

IRAN TO BE BANNED FROM WORLD’S BIGGEST E-BANKING SYSTEM

Belgian-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) has indicated its readiness to block Iran’s central bank and other institutions sanctioned by the EU from using its network to transfer funds. “SWIFT is hoping that the final EU regulation includes the central bank.  They would rather have an outright expulsion order than they can use it for this and not for that. It take them a lot of money, time, to revise their software to have come up with a system where some banks are allowed to use their network for certain transactions,” a source close the the negotiations between SWIFT and the US told on condition of anonymity.

(By Moign Khawaja – Editor: Arabian Gazette)

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