Middle East Business Review

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UAE government Wednesday announced setting up a AED10bn ($2.7bn) debt fund to pay off loans of low-income citizens and increase salaries of some state employed nationals. The state news agency WAM said UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan made a number of concessions on the eve of country’s 40th independence day. UAE has been buoyed by high oil prices that has helped the economy?grow by 4.2 per cent.

Qatar consolidated its sterling financial reputation as safe haven for investors by issuing its first sovereign bonds worth $5billion. The international bond sale, biggest from any Gulf state this year, was priced late on Tuesday. “This is a very big deal. There are very few credits in the world today who can come in and raise $5 billion under such choppy market conditions,” said Abdul Kadir Hussain, Chief Executive of Mashreq Capital in Dubai.

Bin Ladin Group, Saudi Arabia’s largest civil contractor, has acquired a loan worth $2.27 billion from a consortium of regional and international lenders to help develop and expand King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah. ?GIB was initially mandated to arrange a 6 billion riyal syndicated facility for SBG, which subsequently was raised to 8.5 billion riyals to accommodate additional financing requirements of SBG,? the company said in a statement.

According to Accenture survey of major Gulf banks, the banking industry in the region is facing an acute shortage of skilled banking staff. The survey also suggested that the gap can be plugged by hiring Western banking industry workers who are facing redundancies in the wake of job cuts and austerity measures. ?As European and American banks undergo large domestic workforce reductions, financial institutions in the Gulf region are struggling with a shortage of skills to support the growing demand for banking services,? said Amr Elsaadani, managing director of Accenture?s banking practice in the Middle East.

German sportswear giant Puma has apologised for offending sports enthusiasts after it released a pair of limited edition trainers which featured the colours of the UAE national flag. The company also promised to withdraw it from its stores. ?Puma apologises for any trouble caused on this matter. The shoe was never intended to upset or offend our customers here in the Middle East, but to give the people of the UAE a piece of locally-created design as a symbol of recognition of this great occasion,? the popular sports brand said in an email statement.

Abu Dhabi’s finances received a big boost when Standard & Poor’s Rating Services affirmed ‘AA/A1+’ long and short-term rating for the emirate’s sovereign credit. Financial pundits say Abu Dhabi earned the rating thanks to its strong fiscal and external position as well as the government’s net assets.

(By Moign Khawaja – Editor: Arabian Gazette)

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