Sunday, April 23, 2017

GULF NOTES, the week ending 23 may 2009

May 28 2009

Dubai’s finance department retained Rothschild to advise on the emirate’s $10 billion bailout fund in a move seen by many as a powerful position for a bank already enlisted to salvage the US auto industry. The UAE withdrew from the GCC monetary union project, and Barack Obama approved a civilian nuclear agreement with the UAE, signaling the likelihood the country will become the first Arab nation to harness atomic energy.

Barclay’s director of Middle East investing: “We certainly feel that there will be a sustained global recovery from this point. This is not to say the world is suddenly a better place.” UBS predicted Dubai house prices could fall up to 70% from a fourth-quarter peak. Head of research at Jones Lang LaSalle: “[The] Dubai market has further to fall and this very sentiment is itself putting off investors who do not wish to catch a falling knife.” One-third of Iranian investors in Dubai have returned to Iran due to the economic crisis. Nearly 400,000 Iranians live in the UAE running 10,000 small business firms.

278 people of various African nationalities were rescued as they tried to cross the Red Sea to the Arabian peninsula, fleeing poverty and famine. Saudi Arabia offered jobs to thousands of jobless Tajiks. 71% of UAE construction workers responding to a poll said they were happier in the UAE that in their home countries.

UAE’s foreign minister responded to a Human Rights Watch report on workers’ conditions on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island: “The UAE is particularly surprised and disappointed by HRW’s attempts to sensationalize the drawbacks in the country’s labor policies into media soundbites, without consideration of the rapid strides that have been made over the past few years.” HRW Middle East director: “It’s very clear to us that labor abuse and exploitation is a top priority for the Government…. But what we haven’t seen are results.” UAE health and labor officials announced spot checks on industrial sites during the summer months to check on workers’ health. Using the Schein Descriptive Index method, a researcher concluded that gender stereotyping does no prevent women from finding work in the UAE. The UAE and Saudi Arabia were found to be two of the 14 countries with “substantial” internet censorship at the government level. Iran’s government banned Facebook in run-up to presidential elections. The Saudi government dispatched eighty “educational caravans” to teach primary and intermediate students about computers and the Internet. The Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society joined Amnesty International’s global campaign to abolish the death penalty.

As part of its new parks program, Dubai Municipality announced Koran Park with plants and fruits mentioned in the Holy Koran, following an earlier announcement of “a greenery project,” which promises the planting of 40,000 new trees. Despite the economic slump, Dubai’s electricity demand rose 13% last quarter and water consumption increased 7%. About 90% of the farms around Al Ain have salinity problems as a result of over-irrigation. Beaches at Kuwait’s Doha Chalets were found to be “foul-smelling and filthy” as a result of discharged chemicals from the nearby water desalination plant.

2,289 people were evacuated from earthquake-hit villages in Al-Ais, 240 km north of Madinah, and housed in furnished apartments in Yanbu. Jeddah’s municipal government revealed its 20-year strategic plan to an invited audience. Iraq’s federal cabinet appropriated $25 billion for housing projects. Qatar’s construction sector was poised to grow by 17. 6% in 2009. Work started on the “world’s only free zone dedicated to international higher education” in Dubai, priced at $190 million. Bahrain launched a $1 billion “health oasis.” Qatar Airways committed $1 billion to Doha’s airport expansion. In preparation of quintupling its capacity, Riyadh’s airport announced it will soon dole out $11.3 billion worth of contracts. Contractor Saudi Oger said it has $7.2 billion in building contracts; its CEO: “We are looking at transportation projects, two airports and we are building universities.” City of Arabia officials revealed plans to build 40 villas on the roof of Dubai’s Mall of Arabia, the world’s future largest mall.

The National, May 17, 2009 / Gulf Times, May 20, 2009; The National, May 21, 2009 / Kuwait Times, May 18, 2009 / Zawya.com, May 21, 2009 / Zawya.com, May 21, 2009 / Arab News, May 20, 2009 / Arab News, May 21, 2009 / Arabian Business, 20 May, 2009 / The National, May 20, 2009 / The National, May 20, 2009 / The National, May 20, 2009 / The National, May 21, 2009 / Kuwait Times, May 23, 2009 / Arab News, May 23, 2009 / Arab News, May 20, 2009 / Business 24/7, May 19, 2009 / The National, May 17, 2009 / Kuwait Times May 17, 2009 / Arab News, May 21, 2009 / Arab News, May 18, 2009 / Zawya.com, May 17, 2009 / Zawya.com, May 20, 2009 / Zawya.com, May 18, 2009 / Zawya.com, May 18, 2009 / Zawya.com, May 18, 2009 / Zawya.com, May 20, 2009 / Reuters, May 17, 2009 / Zawya.com, May 21, 2009.

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