Middle East Business Review – 5 February

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The Department of Economic Development’s foreign direct investment office said Dubai managed to attract AED3.44 billion in capital from 77 companies with a collective turnover of AED16.57 billion. “The past year also saw significant gains by Dubai FDI in strengthening its links with governments, investment promotion agencies and the investor community across the globe. The 77 companies set up in Dubai represent different operations including logistics, construction, technology, chemicals and renewable energy, reflecting the growing diversity of enterprises leveraging Dubai to gain traction and service strategic growth markets,” Dubai FDI said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi’s Department of Economic Development announced it will unveil the Abu Dhabi Investment Forum in Tokyo on Monday which aims to showcase Abu Dhabi government’s efforts to attract investment in the fields of energy, finance, industry and infrastructure. The UAE is Japan’s biggest trading partner among the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council and trade balance between the two countries has been in favour of the oil-rich emirate.

Banking stocks at Dubai Stock Exchange dropped amid disappointing annual results posted by local banks. The emirate’s bank index fell 3.8% despite Dubai Islamic Bank and Mashreq Bank reporting a rise of 25 and 2.1 per cent respectively. “Today’s earnings announcements were disappointing. The focus right now has been on dividend yield,” Marwan Shurrab, chief trader at Gulfmena Alternative Investments, said. On the other hand, Abu Dhabi’s major banks reported an increase in earnings and payouts to shareholders with First Gulf Bank staking a dividend payment worth AED1.5 billion.

UAE’s anti-corruption watchdog, the State Audit Institution, announced it is after more than a billion dirhams gained through illicit financial flows, misappropriation of public funds, fraud, forgery, bribery and other fraudulent means in 2010. Dr. Harib Saeed Al Amimi, president of the State Audit Institution, revealed public prosecutors are investigating 10 graft cases that took place over the last two years involving hundreds of millions of dirhams coming from illegal channels.

The UAE Central Bank announced it is lifting a freeze on Libyan assets imposed after the UN imposed financial sanctions against the Gaddafi regime in March last year. Abdulrahim Mohamed Al Awadi, the UAE Central Bank’s executive director and head of anti-money laundering, instructed financial institutions to cancel the freeze on accounts in Central Bank of Libya, Libyan Arab Foreign Bank, other related bank accounts, and Libyan Oil Supply DMCC.

According to a report published by Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), the UAE boasts a total of 16 200 metres+ tall buildings (skyscrapers). The annual report said China tops the global list with 23 skyscrapers followed by the UAE (16), South Korea (11), Panama (10) and Qatar (8). “It had been expected that skyscraper completions would drop off very sharply after 2011, as a result of the 2008 global financial crisis and the large number of projects put on hold. However, due in large part to the continuing high activity of skyscraper design and construction in China, as well as the development of several relatively new markets, this global dip is no longer expected. The effect this will have on the skylines of the world will be tremendous,” the CTBUH report said.

Kuwaiti financial markets witnessed a strong surge after the Islamist-led opposition clinched snap polls this weekend. The country’s stock market index registered a modest boost of 0.03% on Sunday while the Kuwaiti dinar remained steady against the US dollar. Analysts believe the new opposition-dominated government might increase government spending on welfare projects and infrastructure that could stimulate the economy while bringing down social discontent. “It also depends on the type of social spending…If there is more spending on infrastructure and other social projects, then of course this would benefit the economy long-term,” a Kuwait-based equities trader told Reuters.

(By Moign Khawaja – Editor: Arabian Gazette)

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