Middle East Business Review

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Dubai Airports will become the first airport in the region to use the ‘virtual assistant’ technology to communicate important travel information to around 50 million passengers that use the airport every year. The state-of-the-art digital signage solution uses a rear-projected audio-visual technology that creates the illusion of a real assistant. ?As a customer-centric company, we realise that it is essential, amid all the ongoing growth and expansion, that we make the journey through our airport as quick and pleasant as possible. Just like Dubai International, the virtual assistants work 24/7 and will play an important role in helping us to achieve that goal,? Sujata Suri, Vice President Service Development for Dubai Airports, said in a statement.

Citigroup announced Tuesday the value of stalled projects in the UAE has soared to $958 billion in the last 12 months to October. Analysts at Citi said the Gulf nation witnessed an addition of $20bn worth of development projects during the last year which accounts to more than half of the stalled or cancelled projects in the MENA region. ?This is 80 percent weighted to delayed projects. Given the slowdown in this market we believe there is further risk of cancellations,? the report said.

The University of Dubai has been named as the ‘Most Innovative Business School’ in the Middle East by European CEO Magazine. The award, given as part of its ‘2011 Global Business Education Awards’, is based on a host of factors such as accreditation, admission procedures, accessibility, value for money, diversity of curriculum and methodology, density (student to teacher ratio), graduation rate, placement opportunities and in-house state-of-the-art technologies.

Saudi authorities have given signals to open up its stock market to foreign investors. According to two industry sources who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, new plans will limit direct foreign ownership to investors with at least $5bn under management and allow each to hold a maximum 5 per cents stocks issued. Capital Market Authority and Tadawul, Saudi Arabia’s largest Arab bourses have indicated that they intend to share details of the proposed framework with foreign investors.

Arab Monetary Fund has refused to extended a helping hand to the troubled eurozone bloc and insisted Arab world is more worthy of its loans and emergency funds. “There is a big need in Arab countries, a constant need, taking into account the Arab Spring. Also, oil prices may drop because of weak economic growth ? I cannot see Arab countries could help Europe,? ADB Director General Jassim Al Mannai told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of regional bankers in the United Arab Emirates? capital.

According to the chief economist for the International Energy Agency, the world is at risk of significantly higher oil prices unless Middle East countries invest more in production facilities. “Less oil than today would not be helpful,? the IEA?s Fatih Birol told Bloomberg in an interview. ?Given the market condition we have and the very fragile economic recovery, any production lower than today?s level will not be good news,? he added.

TIME magazine has named “The Protestor” as 2011 Person of the Year on Wednesday. The US weekly magazine defines the Person of the Year as someone who, for better or for worse, influences the events of the year. Protesters from countries like Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Israel, India, Chile, China, Britain, Spain, the United States and several other countries are rising up against the status quo and seeking sweeping solutions that will tackle endemic unemployment, rampant corruption, inflation, rising food prices, and austerity measures taken by governments under the pretext of curbing sovereign debts.

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