Middle East Business Review – 28 Feb

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UAE TO INVEST $4BN IF WORLD EXPO BID ACCEPTED

Officials part of the Dubai World Expo 2020 team announced the government is ready to spend as much as $4 billion on construction and infrastructure projects in Dubai should it win the prestigious bid. “The estimates we have of what other countries had spent on hosting such an expo in the past, range between $2 billion to $4 billion on projects related to the expo including developing of infrastructure and construction. And Dubai looks to spend a similar sum while adding that Dubai will be spending on campaigning until the name of the host is announced on November 2013, will be a really small amount. The $2 billion to $4 billion, give or take, will be spent on expo-related projects until 2020 if we get to host it,” Hilal Al Marri, CEO of Dubai World Trade Centre, told reporters.

ABU DHABI TOURISM REVENUES UP 11% IN JANUARY

According to the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, the city registered a 30% increased in tourism numbers last month compared to the same month last year. The figures released by the body suggest a total of 198,139 tourists stayed in 127 hotels, hotel apartments and resorts of the UAE’s capital city. “The strong increase in guest arrivals and guest nights appears to have been significantly influenced by January’s dynamic events calendar, which included the hosting of the Volvo Ocean Race and the fortnight of activities staged to coincide with it, the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and the World Future Energy Summit,” Mubarak Al Muhairi, director general Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, said in a statement.

DUBAI’S JEBEL ALI HOTEL GROUP SEEKS EXPANSION IN INDIA, SRI LANKA AND THAILAND

Jebel Ali International Hotels general manager Kevin Wallace has announced the group is embarking on a major tourism destinations expansion in Asia, east Africa and the Indian Ocean islands. “We’re embarking on major expansion overseas both by acquisition and by third party management contracts which we’ve never done before but now we’re in four countries just in the last four months. They are significant moves for us and we’re close to signing another 10 contracts as well,” he revealed.

NEW UAE FINANCIAL RULES SET TO BE ANNOUNCED SOON

According to a Reuters news item, the United Arab Emirates’ financial authorities are set to finalise new rules on mutual funds, short-selling and rights issues by mid-2012 as part of measures to strengthen investor confidence, attract overseas investors and regulate operation of exchanges. “These new regulations and mechanisms, products and services for the markets will complete the regulatory framework for the system,” Abdullah al-Turifi, CEO of the Securities & Commodities Authority (SCA), told reporters on Tuesday while adding that the new companies law won’t allow up to 100% foreign ownership but only to certain industries.

OMAN TO GO AHEAD WITH $6BN OIL REFINERY JOINT PROJECT WITH ABU DHABI

According to the Times of Oman report, state-owned Oman Oil Company announced it will partner with Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) to build a $6bn oil refinery in Duqm. The project will include a 230,000 barrel per day refinery and petrochemical complex which will be completed within five years. “Land has been reserved for the project at Duqm and it takes five years to complete the project,” Yahya bin Khamis al Zadjali, head of planning and engineering at Duqm Special Economic Zone Authority, told the Omani daily.

ROYAL SAUDI BILLIONAIRE TO INVEST $300M IN TURKISH TOURISM INDUSTRY

According to Hurriyet Daily News, a leading Turkish newspaper, Bander bin Fahd Al Fehaid will pump cash into the ‘My Tuana’ chain of hotels and resorts in the country. The Saudi royal, also the chairman of the Arab Tourism Organisation (ATO), is partnering with Turkish businessman Mehmet Yücel, and both tycoons have reached an agreement on four hotels while negotiating on another seven properties. “The chain will grow to 50 hotels in five years. Some of the hotels will be built from scratch,” Yücel told the Turkish daily while adding that all of the hotels would be five star.

SYRIAN CENTRAL BANK HIT WITH MORE EU SANCTIONS

European Union foreign ministers announced a new set of sanctions against Syria which include prohibiting trade in gold and other precious metals with Syrian state institutions, banning of cargo flights from Syria and halting trade with the country’s central bank. “Today’s decisions will put further pressure on those who are responsible for the ruthless campaign of repression in Syria. The measures target the regime and its ability to conduct the appalling violence against civilians. As long as the repression continues, the EU will keep imposing sanctions,” the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, Catherine Ashton, said in a statement. The EU has banned European firms from doing business with nearly 40 Syrian companies and institutions, including some large businesses involved in trading and oil exploration. Economic sanctions are damaging Syria’s vital source of hard-currency income as EU countries used to buy some 90% of oil exports. The Syrian pound has also hit record lows against the dollar on the black market.

(By Moign Khawaja – Editor: Arabian Gazette)

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