Sunday, April 23, 2017

GULF NOTES, the week ending 10 October 2009

October 15 2009

Cityscape opened and closed with “spouting” of new buzzwords: completion, commitment, consolidation, delivery. Burj Dubai’s creators confirmed the tower’s opening for 2 December, the UAE’s National Day. The UAE’s population was said to have reached six million, with South Asians still composing the majority. Starting next year, the UAE will start collecting genetic samples from residents for security reasons.

In the first five months of the year, one in eighteen checks issued in the UAE bounced. Real estate earnings in the UAE fell 92% in the first half of 2009. The UAE’s consumer confidence rating still had the “most cautious outlook.” Director general of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry: “We expect a V-shaped recovery next year.” A senior executive of Meraas’ Jumeirah Gardens (announced last October at the start of the crisis) on the project’s prospects: “There is still a demand in the market for certain types of products.… We are looking to the times when the recession will be over.”

The UAE and Cuba signed agreements on political, economic, commercial and technical cooperation. RAK developer Rakeen defied the mood of crisis at Cityscape: “We now have projects in Congo, Georgia, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, India and Lebanon.” Middle Eastern investors make up 43% of overseas investment in the UK’s property development. A UN group named Saudi Arabia the most attractive target for foreign investors in West Asia; the UAE was third. Saudi banks looked to attract foreign investors with 10-25% returns on real estate investments. Ras al Khaimah assured event organizers that the emirate was safe enough to host February’s 2010 America’s Cup. Abu Dhabi’s economic development department unveiled an investment scheme for the new Capital District; first stop: London.

A report predicted Qatar’s salaries would increase 6% next year. Deloitte Middle East issued a report, estimating 17% construction sector growth in Qatar for this year and finding 50% of all GCC construction to be taking place in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Bin Ladin group secured a $3.7 billion contract to design and build thirty parcels in Riyadh’s new King Abdullah Financial District (masterplanned by Henning Larsen).

Abu Dhabi’s first freehold property was on track for a December, 2009 move-in date. Hydra Properties said it would pay the mortgage interest for customers of projects delayed six month or more, in the same week that they faced a court decision forcing refunds to customers of the Hydra Village development. A two-bedroom apartment was found to cost 40% more in Abu Dhabi than in Dubai. Dubai villa prices were said to have increased 8% in the year’s third quarter, but a Reuters poll revealed Dubai homes would face another 10% fall this year. Bahrain’s property market was found to be on the rebound, and the island country’s prime minister described housing and urban development as top national priorities. Kuwait planned to build 70,000 housing units by 2015, with the government having allocated $3.5 billion for housing, the largest amount ever for the country.

Following Bahrain’s lead, Kuwait’s government moved to grant self-sponsorship to expatriates who own their own businesses. Kuwait’s parliament moved to hold a special session on the plight of the country’s stateless bedoons to occur on 10 December, the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 700 expatriate workers convened a sit-in outside Kuwait’s ministries to protest “inhumane” conditions and withheld salary payments. 60,000 expat workers in Kuwait are believed not to be registered at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor.

Dubai agencies signed a “greenomics” pact. Abu Dhabi’s Masdar Institute announced it would research the availability of a biofuel source in a saltwater plant. Masdar City revealed it will host the first “real-time study” to test “smart” home appliances. Ras al Khaimah set up recycling bins on street corners. Al Ain opened its public bus system with a $.27 fare. UAE balloon tour companies have had to shift operations further into the desert: “From the air, instead of pristine desert we would see blackened campfire sites surrounded by a 30-meter circle of rubbish.” More than 100 tons of dead fish have washed up on Dubai Creek’s shores in the last few weeks; the cause is not confirmed.

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah removed a scholar from the Council of Senior Islamic Scholars; observers described this move as a reaction to the scholar’s words challenging the mixing of sexes at the new King Abdullah University of Science & Technology. Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, imam of the Grand Mosque in Meccah, commended the establishment of KAUST: “It is the duty of leaders, scholars, writers, media persons and youths to support this great effort and historic achievement.”

Business 24/7 October 7, 2009/ Arabian Business October 9, 2009 / Business 24/7 October 7, 2009 / The National October 7, 2009 / The National October 4, 2009 / The National October 5, 2009 / Business 24/7 October 5, 2009 / Business 24/7 October 8, 2009 / The National October 4, 2009 / Gulf News October 4, 2009 / Construction Week October 10, 2009 / Financial Times October 4, 2009 / Business 24/7 October 5, 2009 / Zawya October 6, 2009 / Arabian Business October 5, 2009 / Khaleej Times October 6, 2009 / Arabian Business October 4, 2009 / Zawya October 6, 2009 / Zawya October 9, 2009 / The National October 5, 2009 / Arabian Business October 4, 2009; Zawya October 6, 2009 / Arabian Business October 7, 2009 / Arabian Business October 4, 2009; The National October 5, 2009 / Gulf Daily News October 5, 2009; Gulf Daily News October 5, 2009 / Kuwait Times October 6, 2009; Kuwait Times October 10, 2009 / Kuwait Times October 7, 2009 / Kuwait Times October 5, 2009 / Kuwait Times October 5, 2009 / Kuwait Times October 7, 2009 / Gulf News, October 4, 2009 / The National October 10, 2009 / The National October 5, 2009 / Khaleej Times October 6, 2009 / The National October 4, 2009 / The National October 5, 2009 / The National October 7, 2009 / Arab News October 5, 2009 / Arab News, October 10, 2009

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