Monday, September 25, 2017

GULF NOTES, the week ending 22 August 2009

August 25 2009

The UAE’s National Media Council said it would not ban distribution of Herve Jaubert’s much hyped book Escape from Dubai. A study of Middle Eastern families in regional television programs found that UAE families are presented in the most positive light, followed by Tunisian families. The UAE development sector has suffered a drop in local media coverage, and Abu Dhabi’s developers were close to overtaking Dubai’s developers in media presence. Internet phone service Skype looked for office space for its regional headquarters in Bahrain, despite its being banned in the UAE and other Gulf countries. The UAE was measured to be the most connected country in the Arab world, followed by Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Dubai’s export activity increased 6.5% last quarter, though Dubai World revealed it owed $59 billion in debts and started to back out of a $4.5 billion maritime center project in Malaysia. Dubai World’s development arm Nakheel saw its bond prices rise as investors became optimistic that the government would cover its $3.52 billion loan due in December. Nakheel began demanding payments from investors in cash, not credit. Abu Dhabi-based developer Aldar reported a $310 million profit for the first half of 2009, but the increase seemed to have been fueled by an increased land portfolio.

A World Bank study found that expatriate workers in the UAE remit between $8-10 billion annually to the rest of the world, with the largest recipients being in other Middle Eastern countries and South Asia. UAE (Abu Dhabi) sovereign wealth funds accounted for more than half of the global M&A deals so far this year. Abu Dhabi’s crown prince visited China to discuss oil deals, culture, and defense and confirmed his country’s commitment to the “one China policy.” The UAE sent 121 vehicles to Gaza to help doctors traverse difficult parts of the road network. After weeks of media build-up, Qatar bought a $7 billion share in Porsche as part of an agreement that will see some R&D and testing facilities located in Doha.

More analysts observed that Dubai’s residential market is still in decline but at a slower pace. Dubai developers Sama and Mizin adopted the buzzword “swap” in offering buyers new homes in other projects by their parent company. JP Morgan foresaw Dubai harboring 30,600 vacant homes by end-of-year, partially due to population shrinkage, while Abu Dhabi had to confront a shortage of 28,000 homes. Abu Dhabi’s Reem Island developers said they were slowing development because of the suffering market.

Qatar-based developer Barwa announced its $9 billion Cairo project will begin construction in 2010. The Kurdistan regional government in Iraq said it was “facing some difficulties” in the $15 billion project by Dubai-based developer Damac, whose spokesperson conceded they were reviewing all projects in planning. Meccah’s governor said that a development plan prepared by a “Canadian consultancy” and reviewed by the UN “should be different from that of any other city and should protect [Meccah’s] cultural identity.’

The Dubai metro, whose original price tag was $4.2 billion, has seen increases “by billions” according to the transit chief. Iran issued $24 billion worth of contracts for rail projects that total 10,000 km in new rail in the country. The Economist Intelligence Unit estimated GCC countries would invest $50 billion in new energy plants through 2015. Oil prices helped raise Abu Dhabi’s share of the UAE economy and decrease Dubai’s. Parts of Sharjah — including its airport, industrial areas and free zones — were hit by frequent power outages due to high demands for energy.

1 Arabian Business August 19, 2009 / The National August 16, 2009 / Business 24/7 August 19, 2009; Business 24/7 August 18, 2009 / Arabian Business August 20, 2009 / Gulf News August 20, 2009 / Zawya August 18, 2009 ; Khaleej Times August 21, 2009; The National August 20, 2009 / The National August 18, 2009 / The National August 20, 2009 / Business 24/7 August 16. 2009 / Gulf News August 16. 2009 / Business 24/7 August 17, 2009 / The National August 16, 2009 / Construction weekly online August 22, 2009 / The National August 16, 2009 / Business 24/7 August 17, 2009 / Business 24/7 August 19, 2009 / Business intelligence Middle East August 16. 2009 / The National August 18, 2009 / Qatar Dally News August 16. 2009 / The National August 16, 2009 / Arabian Business August 18, 2009 / Zawya August 20, 2009 / Business 24/7 August 22, 2009 / Business 24/7 August 20, 2009.

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