Middle East Business Review – 30 January

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According to Reuters, Dubai Investments recorded quarterly losses of AED61.4 million ($16.72 million) when its manufacturing businesses received hit by political uprisings in Libya and Syria last year. The conglomerate recorded a profit to the tune of AED117.4 million ($31.96 million) during the same period in 2010. “The profit for the year 2011 is comparatively lower mainly due to lesser fair valuation gain on investment properties and loss on fair valuation of investments,” it said in a statement.

According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report, around 28% businesses and organisations in the Middle East reported economic crime in the last 12 months with cases of accounting fraud, asset misappropriation, bribery, corruption and cybercrime reported the most. The report revealed that fraud is most commonly detected by accident in the Middle East due to the absence of fool proof mechanisms. Almost half of Middle East respondents who reported fraud indicated that their organisations suffered financial losses in the range of $100,000 – $5 million and 14% indicated that the financial loss exceeded $5 million.

According to a survey conducted by Informa Exhibtions, only one out of 10 Emirati nationals is looking for a job in the private sector despite the government’s Emiratisation drive. The study concluded that higher wages, flexible working hours, job security, and public sector organisations’ preferential treatment toward Emirati nationals compared to private sector organisations are the most common reasons for inclination towards employment with government-linked institutions. The Informa survey was based on a total of 365 respondents, out of which almost half (45%) were unemployed.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is mulling to cut down private sector working hours in a bid to encourage more Saudi citizens to work for private firms. Hattab Bin Saleh Al Enezi, spokesman of the Ministry of Labour, told Saudi Gazette that a committee is looking into the factors that discourage locals from taking private sector jobs. The newspaper reported that many Saudis demand seven hours-long working day, weekly two days off, 45 days annual leave and longer Eid holidays like those given to employees in the public sector.

The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) has signed an agreement with the US Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCOAB) to improve ties between both the agencies and combat financial wrongdoing in the emirate’s financial free zones and overseas. “The latest agreement adds another link between regulators in both countries that are intended to stamp out malpractice. The ability of audit regulators to cooperate and share information is critical in the current environment when the need to protect investors and the public interest has never been more important,” said Paul Koster, the DFSA chief executive.

The UAE’s Ministry of Labour has conducted a poll which revealed majority of workers in the UAE want authorities to extend a summer season midday work ban from existing two months to three. Around 15,000 workers responded to the online survey which was designed to take the opinions and concerns of labourers into consideration. All the UAE companies are obliged to enforce a two-month mid day work ban from 15 July to 15 September between 12:30 and 3pm on all work days.

Ras Al Khaimah’s state carrier, RAK Airways, has announced it is planning to launch its first long-haul flight to Bangkok within the next five months. The Thai capital will be the 12th route with the airline offering four non-stop flights a week. RAK Airways is aiming to capture high number of Emiratis who visit Thailand every year, which stands at 110,000 tourists, spending a total of AED6.7 million ($1.82 million), according to the figures maintained by the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

According to a report compiled by the General Secretariat for Development Planning (GSDP) in close co-ordination with the UNDP, the gas-rich State of Qatar is spending 4.1% of its GDP on education, the highest in the GCC region. The government takes care of 79% of educational expenses of every Qatari family while the rest is borne by the parents. The report revealed that a staggering $8,585 is spent annually on educating each of its secondary school pupils while students at primary level receive funds worth $6,590. However, the findings expressed concern at the drop out levels of Qatari students after the primary level. It also warned about the drop in numbers of Qatari students that are opting for specialist courses in science, mathematics and technology.

(By Moign Khawaja – Editor: Arabian Gazette)

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