Middle East Business Review – 27 Feb

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BAN ON COKE, PEPSI CANS OVERTURNED BY UAE AUTHORITIES

The UAE’s Minister of Economy, Sultan Al Mansouri, has intervened in the Coca-Cola/Pepsi vs Department of Economic Development’s Consumer Protection Division affair and has permitted tourist hotels and restaurants to continue selling the disputed 300ml cans. Both Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) and Sharjah Department of Economic Development (SDED) said the UAE minister, Sultan Al Mansouri, intervened to settle the issue. The Consumer Protection Division earlier intervened when 300ml cans that lacked both a printed price-tag and label in Arabic listing ingredients, required by the consumer protection law, were sold in the market unchecked.

US GOVT CONFIDENT ABOUT UAE ARMS DEAL

According to a report published by Reuters, the US government is eyeing a hi-tech defence deal with the UAE. Lieutenant General Terry Robling, deputy Marine Corps commandant for aviation, said  the Middle Eastern country is being seen as a potential buyer of the V-22 Osprey, a tilt-rotor aircraft jointly built by Boeing and Bell Helicopter. The aircraft which flies like an airplane but tilts its rotors to take off and land like a helicopter was put on show at the Dubai Air Show last year. Bell Helicopter, a unit of Textron, and Boeing recently said the aircraft had received ‘significant interest’ from potential customers after the Dubai air show, without identifying them.

DUBAI STOCK MARKET DOWN BY 4.2% AMID INVESTOR SPECULATION, LOSSES

Dubai Financial Market, the only publicly traded Gulf Arab stock market, slipped 4.2% – the first time in more than two months – on speculation that this month’s shares rally was overdone and after the Dubai Financial Market PJSC revealed its first annual loss. The dip comes after stocks soared 15% this month when several companies reported improved earnings and dividends. According to data compiled by Bloomberg, the value of shares traded on Sunday jumped to AED713 million ($194 million), the highest since April 2010. Trade plummeted to around AED469 million ($127.69m) during today’s trade.

UAE PEARL PRODUCER SIGNS DEAL WITH LEADING MIDDLE EASTERN JEWELLER

Mouawad, Beirut-based jeweller, has entered into a deal with Ras Al Khaimah Pearls Holding as part of its Middle Eastern expansion plans. “We are delighted to be partnering with RAK Pearls Holding – the first and only producer of cultured pearls in the UAE and in the entire Gulf region. At Mouawad we believe in only using the finest quality gems and metals; for this reason we always search for the best suppliers around the world. We are delighted to have found a partner in RAK Pearls,” said Fred Mouawad, the company’s co-guardian. RAK Pearls Holding, jointly owned by the Investment and Development Office (IDO), Government of Ras Al Khaimah, and Emirates and Japan Holding, is a pearl cultivation and trading company which was established in 2009. “RAK Pearls Holding is delighted to partner with Mouawad and we look forward to having a long relationship over many years to come. We believe that Mouawad’s expertise and mastery in jewellery design and craft will only serve to enhance the beauty of our finest pearls,” Abdulla Rashed Al Suwaidi, vice chairman and managing director of RAK Pearls Holding, said.

RIYADH ANNOUNCES WAGE MONITORING PLANS TO BOOST ‘SAUDIZATION’ DRIVE

The Saudi Ministry of Labour has announced plans it will launch a wage payments monitoring system in the next 3 to 6 months as part of its efforts to keep track of foreign workers as well as boost the participation of Saudi citizens in the workforce. “The main objective is to recruit Saudis and Saudi women – reducing foreign labour is not an end in itself. Our country is growing at very fast rates and there are huge and historic projects. Reducing foreign labour is not a goal because it would affect the speed of implementation of development programmes in the kingdom. We have no objection to issuing more visas if this does not affect the availability of career opportunities for our sons,” Adel Fakieh, Saudi Minister for Labour, told Reuters in an interview.

SAUDI BILLIONAIRE ANNOUNCES $4.3BN INVESTMENT IN ETHIOPIA

Ethiopian-born Saudi billionaire Mohammad Al Amoudi said his company Derba Group plans to invest 59bn Ethiopian birr ($3.4bn) in seven industrial projects over the next five years. The company’s CEO Haile Assegide said Derba’s agriculture, cement, steel, sand transport operations are likely to generate an annual revenue of 41 billion birr ($2.35bn) and create more than 370,000 jobs in the Horn of Africa nation. According to Forbes, the 66-year-old businessman, close to the Saudi royal family, is the world’s 63rd richest person and is worth $12.3bn.

JORDAN’S 2012 BUDGET DEFICIT HITS $1.5BN

Jordanian Finance Minister Umayya Toukan announced the country’s annual budget for current fiscal year will be approximately 6.8 billion Jordanian dinars ($9.6bn) thanks to an unprecedented deficit of $1.5bn as revenues reached just under $8.1bn. Speaking before the Jordanian Parliament in Amman, the finance minister blamed previous governments for the financial decline and noted that the country’s debt skyrocketed during the past three years due to higher energy prices in the international markets. Jordanian government last month announced the hiking of electricity and gas bills in its bid to recover from several attacks on energy pipelines in Egypt during the past couple of months.

CONFUSION PREVAILS OVER IRAN’S GREECE OIL EXPORTS

Iranian semi-official news agency Fars reported Iran has halted a crude shipment of 500,000 to Greece in response to the EU sanctions imposed on the country’s oil industry.”Oil tankers that had come to transfer 500,000 barrels of Iranian oil to a refinery in Greece had to go back empty-handed after Iran refused to give the shipment,” Fars reported, without giving a source. Oil Ministry officials were not available to comment. The agency added that the tankers were destined to the Greek refiner ‘Hellenic’. However, another semi-official news agency Mahr quoted Pirouz Mousavi, a senior oil ministry official, as saying that exports to the southern European nation continue unhindered despite EU’s oil embargo against Tehran.

(By Moign Khawaja – Editor: Arabian Gazette)

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