Saturday, March 25, 2017

GULF NOTES, the week ending 11 July 2009

July 12 2009

pavarotti-tower2

Dubai was ranked the most expensive city in the GCC, 20th in the world; Jeddah was the cheapest in the region. The GCC was responsible for 99.8% of the amount of capital raised in the MENA region: $1.2 billion, a number which is down 87% since last year. Standard & Poor’s downgraded three of Dubai’s largest banks Emirates NBD, Mashreq and Dubai Islamic Bank. From S&P’s official statement: “The risks to Dubai’s economy have, in our view, increased.” In response to talk of “green shoots” in the economy, chief economist at NCB Capital: “I suspect the green shoots debate will … wilt away [this summer] in the extreme heat.” Following its business secretary in April, the UK’s trade minister visited Abu Dhabi to urge payment of the estimated $600 million in outstanding fees due to British consultants. The minister: “People are owed money and they have to be paid. But on the other hand, let’s not move from that to saying Dubai is somehow finished. That’s just not the case.”

An analyst’s report on the proposed merger of two of Dubai’s largest development companies, Dubai Properties and Emaar, called the plan “distressing.” Another of Dubai’s largest development companies, “master developer” Nakheel, laid off 400 more staff members. Investors and home-buyers in Ajman’s Emirates City issued a complaint to the local police about their payments still being taken despite the fact the site is “still just desert.”

Steel imports to the Gulf are expected to fall another 20% this year, after having already dropped 75% since last year. German-owned developer Alternative Capital put its Ferreti and Pershing yacht-themed towers on hold, urging investors to take condominiums in their other towers named after Austrian/German sports heros, Boris Becker, Michael Schumacher and Niki Lauda. An Italian property firm launched The Pavarotti Tower on Palm Jebel Ali, with construction expected to start in September; each floor will be dedicated to an opera performed by the deceased tenor. Hotel revenues in Dubai fell 40% this May and June compared with the same months last year, yet Dubai Tourism claimed that the five-year-going hotel occupancy rate of 81% remained unchanged. Dubai World considered mooring its purchased QE2 cruise ship in Cape Town rather than in Dubai. A cluster of tiny islands in Abu Dhabi were ahead in an online election of the seven new wonders of the world.

Backed by Saudi royal family money, Jadwa Investment announced plans to invest $1.2 billion in UK and US commercial properties. Dubai-based Noor Islamic Bank relaunched its plans to invest $1 billion in acquisitions in Indonesia, Egypt, and Britain. Abu Dhabi’s national energy company targeted opportunities to invest in Iraq’s power sector. Saudi Arabia announced an $800 million investment in overseas farms, and the Kuwait China Investment Company claimed its agricultural investments were purely commercial. Saudi-based Planet Food World eyed 20,000 industrial farms in Turkey for a $3 billion investment. Abu Dhabi pledged $350 million for seven years of investments in renewable energy projects in Africa and developing countries. Emaar closed its offices in Algeria, resigning from its $20 billion worth of projects in the country.

Kuwait’s oil minister: “We would not like to see the price [of oil] go below a certain level so it at least meets our budgetary requirements.” Kuwait assigned $4.2 billion for eight new hospitals. Kuwaiti real estate sales continued with housing prices dropping over 55% while the country suffered a backlog of 90,000 housing applications. The interior minister submitted a proposal for a “humanitarian solution” to the stateless bedoons in the country.

Shell upgraded Qatar to the status of a “region” in response to its huge energy resources. Residents and shop owners in the Qatari town Umm Al Amed complained of power outages as “a regular phenomenon.” Qatar launched its Green Building Council branch, the second in the Middle East. The power grids of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain were set to be linked later this month.

Saudi Arabia delayed the $7 billion East-West rail line to consider a fully government-financed option. The UAE established Union Railways Company to oversee an Emirates-wide rail plan. UAE Emirate Fujairah committed to paving all roads in new residential districts. Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah inspected progress of the Prophet’s Mosque’s expansion which will replace all residential quarters of Madinah.

Another fire broke out in a makeshift Bahraini labor camp, leaving twenty laborers homeless and stirring a call for more regulation of hired laborers. Abu Dhabi’s Urban Planning Council jump-started the relocation of labor camps from Mohammed bin Zayed City to make the area “family designated.” Local business owners opposed the plan, claiming relocation of laborers to marginal areas would increase their operating costs. The Kerala Social Centre and other local organizations began feeding stranded laborers, left unpaid for six months, in the same area. Laborers were banned from Al Ain’s Al Bawadi Mall. Management: “This is not a total ban. Laborers are allowed to use the mall’s rear entrance during the day and early evening, but they cannot come to the mall on weekends.” A Bangladeshi tea boy: “I went to the mall to go to Al Ansari Exchange to send money home but security would not let me in.”

Iraq’s government allocated $446 million for a new sports city in Basra. UNESCO condemned the use of Babylon as a US base during the Iraq invasion as a “grave encroachment” on the archaeological site. A new art fair, Art Abu Dhabi, was launched in the UAE’s capital.

Three UAE students set up a program to promote Emirati culture in expatriate communities. One student: “Females have been raised that to talk to a stranger is not good. … The new generation is thinking otherwise.” A new UAE committee was set to begin drafting a test for applicants for residency visas. Sample questions: “What is the country’s official religion?” and “What is the country’s flag?” Five thousand young men and women signed a petition to launch “Saudi Arabia for Saudis,” against the hiring of foreigners “except in rare specializations.” Prince Fahad bin Saad Al Saud of Saudi Arabia wrote an op-ed piece in a Saudi paper criticizing the government’s uneven distribution of wealth to different regions of the kingdom.

Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai appeared on Facebook. Dubai police stopped a public signing of a petition against Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinjejad.

Gulf News July 7, 2009 / Emirates Business July 5, 2009 / The National July 8, 2009 / Financial Times July 8, 2009 / The National July 5, 2009 / Gulf Daily News July 9, 2009 / Zawya.com July 9, 2009 / Gulf News July 7, 2009 / Zawya.com July 8, 2009 / The National July 10, 2009 / The National July 8, 2009 / Business Intelligence Middle East July 9, 2009; Khaleej Times July 5, 2009 / Middle East July 10, 2009 / The National July 5, 2009 / Zawya.com July 6, 2009 / Kuwait Times July 8, 2009 / Emirates Business 24/7 July 8, 2009 / Financial Times July 10, 2009 / Arab News July 11, 2009 / Emirates Business 24/7 July 10, 2009 / Kuwait Times July 5, 2009 / Kuwait Times July 6, 2009 / Kuwait Times July 7, 2009 / Kuwait Times July 5, 2009 / Kuwait Times July 8, 2009 / The Peninsula July 7, 2009 / The Peninsula July 11, 2009 / Zawya.com July 8, 2009 / Arab News July 8, 2009 / AMEinfo July 5, 2009 / The National July 8, 2009 / Khaleej Times July 8, 2009 / Arab News July 11, 2009 / Gulf Daily News, July 5, 2009 / Zawya.com July 9, 2009 / The National July 10, 2009 / The National July 7, 2009 / Construction Week July 5, 2009 / Associated Press July 9, 2009 / The National July 9, 2009 / The National July 11, 2009 / Gulf News July 7, 2009 / Arab News July 6, 2009 / The National July 7, 2009 /Gulf News July 7, 2009 / The National July 6, 2009.

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