Middle East Business Review – 29 January

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According to the UAE’s leading recruitment consultancies, hiring initiated by Abu Dhabi’s state-linked companies for the construction and competition of infrastructure projects would rein in staff redundancies. ?The Abu Dhabi developers particularly have been letting a lot of people go. But the lowest point in the cycle of construction has probably been turned and the projects in Abu Dhabi seem to be picking up. That?s bound to be good for employment prospects,? Chris Greaves, regional managing director of recruitment consultancy Hays said in an interview.

Dubai Municipality has announced plans it will charge all expats housing fees by the end of June 2012 which is calculated at 5% of the tenant’s annual rent. ?It has to happen soon. Let?s say within the first six months of 2012, by the end of June [the whole of Dubai] should be covered. Customers who haven?t been billed up until now? they are not going to be backdated. If we do that will mean that there will be big amounts charged to their bill and it?s not their fault so it?s not something we feel is appropriate to do,? Abdullah Hashim Abdulghafoor, fees and revenues officer at Dubai?s housing fee department, told newsmen.

Dubai Industrial City opened its second phase spread across 3.2 million sq ft of warehouses and retail showrooms built at a cost of AED750m ($204.2m). “There is an increasing demand for quality and specialised storage facilities in the market, with a heightened emphasis on health and safety. The launch of the second phase of warehouses at Dubai Industrial City addresses such needs, and will further consolidate Dubai’s position as the current logistics hub in the UAE and the Middle East,” Abdulla Belhoul, managing director, Dubai Industrial City, said.

Inside sources within Qatar Electricity and Water Company (QEWC) said the company is on the verge of acquiring a 23% stake in Amman East Power Plant, which has a capacity of 300 MW, from Saudi-based Islamic Development Bank. The source, on condition of anonymity, added the Qatari utility company is also set to invest in the Hassyan 1 power project, the first public-private partnership project in the emirate’s power sector. “The Qatari company is negotiating with the Government of Dubai on pricing and other details, the source revealed. Fahad Hamad Al Mohannadi , the general manager of QEWC, had earlier hinted that the company is eyeing investment in the power sectors of all Gulf and Middle Eastern countries.

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said he expects Airbus will deliver its flagship A380 super jumbo airliner without any issues next year. “I’m sure that it [the cracks] is something that has emerged and that Airbus is capable of putting it right soon. If they don’t put it right we will delay taking an aircraft. But I am confident Airbus will fix the problem,” the boss of Qatar’s flag carrier said while opening the airline’s new premium lounge at London’s Heathrow airport on Thursday. He added that the airline will receive its first Boeing 787 in June and that its inaugural flight would be to the UK after being displayed at the Farnborough Airshow.

Meanwhile, reports of Gulf Air’s closure, selling off or restructuring gathered momentum when the airline chief admitted he is expecting some announcement this week. “Gulf Air has faced challenges in recent times, in common with other carriers around the world and combinations of unprecedented regional and economic factors have made business increasingly difficult. Given this, Gulf Air, its shareholder Mumtalakat and the government, both through the cabinet and parliament, are all working towards a common goal – to secure Gulf Air’s long-term sustainability and to actively address the airline’s loss-making position. A range of strategic options are currently under consideration,” the Manama-based airline said in a statement.

According to the World Press Freedom Index 2012, researched and released by Reporters Without Borders, Kuwaiti media stands as the most freest in the Middle East, ranking 78th in the world. The Gulf Sheikhdom is 15 positions above Lebanon which has enjoyed a reputation as the most media-friendly country in the region. The United Arab Emirates’ media stood as the third most independent in the region (112 globally) whereas Qatar, owner of Al-Jazeera news channel, managed to bag fourth position (114 globally) on the list.

(By Moign Khawaja – Editor: Arabian Gazette)

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