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UAE government has approved a draft of companies law that will allow foreign ownership stake above the current 49 per cent. According to state news agency WAM, the country is looking forward to ways to attract more foreign investment and diversify its economy. The draft did not specify the types of businesses and sectors that will benefit from the new amendments. Currently, foreigners are eligible to a maximum of 49 per cent ownership for listed companies, with a compulsory UAE national working as partner to conduct business. Full foreign ownership is permitted only in “free zones” spread across the country.

Nakheel, one of Dubai’s biggest property developer has reported a first-half net profit Monday. The surprise turnaround comes after the company saw AED78.6 billion ($21.4 billion) written down from its real estate value after Dubai’s property prices bust in mid 2008. Revenues…..were mainly driven by the handover of development properties in a number of Nakheel projects. Other business segments including retail and leasing also contributed positively to the results, the iconic developer said in an email statement. Revenues stood at AED1.5bn ($410 million), mainly driven by the handover of development properties in a number of stalled Nakheel projects. Cost cuts also reduced overheads by AED 131m ($35.66 million) compared to the same period in 2010, the company said.

Abu Dhabi emirate maintained high public spending in 2010 in a bid to boost the economy and mitigate the effects of 2008 credit crunch. Official data released by Department of Economic Development suggested capital expenditure was as high as 38.3 per cent of total public spending in 2010, slightly lower compared to 39.2 per cent in 2009 but much higher than in year 2008 which stood around 35.7 per cent. DED 2010 report gave no figures on the size of expenditure but analysts suggest Abu Dhabi’s total budget accounts for nearly two thirds of the UAE’s consolidated financial account (CFA), which covers the federal budget and spending by each of the seven emirates.

Expatriates in the UAE are rejoicing a 45 per cent surge in dirham’s value that has helped remittances shot up during the last few weeks. Currencies like Pakistani rupee, Indian rupee, Bangladeshi taka, Philippines peso, British pound and euro are down 45, 33, 12, 5, 25 and 9 per cent respectively, leading to record remittances sent overseas by expats. “The depreciation of the currencies of some large receiving countries created incentives to send remittances to take advantage of the ‘sale effect’ on local currency assets,” latest World Bank report on remittances said.

Reports coming from Riyadh said Saudi government is considering a ban on usage of smartphones and tablet computers in public offices during working hours after receiving complaints from members of public. Saudi Gazette cited sources in three government ministries where director generals have asked their superiors to look into the matter and take action on technology abuse and improve work productivity. Government employees, mostly Saudi nationals, have no restrictions on the use of gadgets like iPhone, Blackberry, iPad etc.

A survey conducted by Bayt.com, Middle East’s leading job site, and YouGov, an international research and consulting agency, suggested 34 per cent of Middle East and North African (MENA) professionals are considering an industry shift. Around one fifths of people are looking towards oil, gas and petrochemicals industry as their career choice. However, 35 per cent of respondents denied they’re looking elsewhere for better prospects and insisted they will stick to their profession. The survey, carried out in the UAE, suggested many respondents considered oil and gas; banking and finance; IT; human resources and manufacturing as the top five industries because of high wages and better job security.

Iraq announced it is seeking a joint defence agreement for airspace with Gulf Cooperation Council nations in a bid to secure its air borders once US occupation forces move out from the country later this month. “In terms of the Iraqi air space sector, I cannot say that we are capable of securing Iraqi air space as the Iraqi capabilities are limited,” Naseer Al Ani, President Jalal Talabani’s chief of staff, said in an interview. He added: “We also rely on the proposal to sign a joint agreement with Gulf countries and that is what we hope for and what we are seeking, that there is a joint defence agreement for air space, not only Iraqi air space but for the region as a whole.”

(By Moign Khawaja – Editor: Arabian Gazette)

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