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Young Arab Leaders (YAL) Bahrain

Young Arab Leaders (YAL) Bahrain is stepping up efforts to develop 100 future leaders this year. Young Arab Leaders (YAL) Bahrain resolved to step up their efforts to develop a new generation of leaders, drawing up an action plan to help at least 100 prospect leaders this year.

The decision was made at a meeting, chaired by YAL Bahrain chapter vice chairman Tariq Al Saffar, in which YAL members voted to add two new leadership programmes to its already busy annual calendar of activities.

While details of the two new events are still being finalised, they will both contribute towards achieving the chapter’s goal, that of providing bright students and young professionals in Bahrain with the skills, knowledge and support they need to build successful futures and play their role in the kingdom’s development process.

“Last year YAL helped more than 50 prospect leaders through its various programmes,” said Al Saffar.

“This year we hope to double that to at least 100.

“This is a natural next step for YAL’s activities in Bahrain.

“The more young people we help, the more our contributions will be felt by society at large when they grow into leadership positions in the future,” said Al Saffar.

“The programmes we have conducted so far have all proven to be hugely successful, with feedback from participants being overwhelmingly positive.

“We are currently working on developing new activities that will be of the same high quality,” he added.

The chapter currently organises three successful events each year.

These include an Internship Programme, which allows university students to experience the real life working environment in Bahrain.

This will enhance and compliment their education as well as help them build confidence and experience - the necessary ingredients for starting a career.

The two-week Leadership Trust programme, held in the UK, tests young professionals’ ability to cope under stressful situations such as managing a sail ship, mountain climbing, caving and scuba diving.

The participants are also asked to work in teams to execute various projects under very tight deadlines.

The idea is to teach the participants teamwork spirit, leadership skills and the ability to deal with extreme conditions.

The third activity is the Sophia Antipolis Mentorship Programme, which is held in the south of France.

The two-week programme includes training in leadership development and entrepreneurship skills.

Sophia Antiplis is the largest science park in Europe, housing prestigious international institutions, universities and research centres.

Through the mentorship programme, students are able to interact with professionals, academics and chief executives from these various centers as well as representatives of science and technology related organisations. (TradeArabia News Service)

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Abu Dhabi to build Free Trade Zone at Abu Dhabi Intl Airport

Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) plans to construct a state-of-the art free trade zone at the Abu Dhabi International Airport. Occupying a built area of over 7 million sq m, the free zone will offer investors an impressive package of world-class facilities and services.

Clusters of amenities will be brought under one roof and all the required facilities will be conveniently integrated to ensure that investors receive the best service. The creation of a free trade zone is in response to a large-scale development economic development in the capital emirate.

ADAC chairman and managing director, Khalifa Al Mazrouei said: "The creation of a free zone marks a milestone in Abu Dhabi's plans to establish itself as a dynamic business centre. The free zone will take advantage of Abu Dhabi International Airport's strategic geographical position on the crossroads between the east and the west, and the large-scale economic development of the Emirate.

"Developing a free zone at Abu Dhabi International Airport is an important part of the development and expansion of the airport. It will ensure that Abu Dhabi International Airport will become a thriving cargo and business hub as well as ensuring our goal of increasing non-aeronautical revenues."

ADAC was incorporated in March 2006 to spearhead a major redevelopment of the Emirate's aviation infrastructure. Its creation was part of an ambitious restructuring initiative launched by the Government of Abu Dhabi, aimed at delivering better services to support the Emirate's long-term economic and tourism strategies and to help build a more vibrant economy that attracts and promotes private sector investment.

The airport expansion will allow passenger traffic to grow beyond 40 million per year from the current seven million, while cargo capacity will be boosted from 150,000 tonnes per year at present to two million tonnes. The project includes construction of a second runway, two new terminals, a state-of-the-art air traffic control complex and expansion of cargo facilities.-(TradeArabia News Service)

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Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) - Focusing on Family Wealth

There are exceptional growth opportunities for family businesses, a conference was told. Experts from the Boston Consulting Group, the Wharton Global Family Alliance and Investcorp took the stage at the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC), at the conference focused on managing family wealth hosted by Investcorp.

A series of presentations and discussions covered key issues including trends in wealth management and private equity, financing the growth of family businesses and the evolution of the single family office.

Investcorp’s chief operating officer Gary Long welcomed the delegates, pointing out that the robust economic growth in the GCC had created tremendous wealth and provided exceptional growth opportunities for family businesses: “Many families across the Gulf are now asking two questions,” he said.

“These are, first, how can they manage their wealth more effectively, especially given an overabundance of wealth managers, and, second, how can they grow their businesses to take advantage of the regional expansion?”

The conference was designed to assist delegates in addressing these issues.

Two presenters from the Boston Consulting Group, Christian de Juniac, senior vice-president and head of private banking and asset management, and Dr Sven-Olaf Vathje, vice-president and director, described the market, highlighting that investors in the Gulf region were increasingly turning to alternative investments as part of a balanced portfolio and that their allocation to alternatives was growing at a rapid CAGR of 21 per cent.

Delegates were particularly interested in their descriptions of behavioral differences among wealthy investors and how they could be divided into three categories: ‘self directed’, ‘participative’ and ‘delegative’.

‘Self directed’ investors preferred to manage their assets actively themselves and looked for a broad product range, quick access, and accurate execution; ‘participative' investors relied on good investment advice customized to their personal circumstances; while ‘delegative’ investors depended heavily on banks and asset managers and valued solid net performance more than any other factor.

Dr Raphael Amit, Robert B Goergen professor of entrepreneurship at the Wharton School, and chairman of the Wharton Global Family Alliance Executive Committee, talked about a range of methods used by families to finance the growth of their firms without losing control of their family businesses.

He provided real-life examples of families from around the world who had chosen different alternatives to grow their businesses.

Todd Millay, Wharton Global Family Alliance executive director, spoke about the evolution of the single family office.

Christopher O’Brien, head of Private Equity and Real Estate at Investcorp, gave his view on private equity investment trends and discussed returns, manager selection and the increase in allocation to alternative investments.

Investcorp is a leading provider and manager of alternative investment products.

It has offices in New York, London and Bahrain and is publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange (IVC) and Bahrain Stock Exchange (INVCORP).

Investcorp has five lines of business: private equity, hedge funds, real estate, venture capital and Gulf growth capital.

Founded in 1982, Investcorp has grown to become one of the largest and most diverse alternative investment managers in terms of both product offerings and geography.

It currently has over $10bn in invested assets under management (AuM).(TradeArabia News Service)

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2nd Middle East IPO Summit - Dubai

Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) chairman Dr Habib Al Mulla has called on all markets to draw on the success of the major financial centres. Speaking at the 2nd Middle East IPO Summit in Dubai Dr Mulla said major financial centres had achieved high Investor Protection Indices in the World Bank Doing Business Survey.

In explaining the DFSA's regulatory approach with regard to the Offer of Securities and companies listed on the Dubai International Financial Exchange (DIFX), Dr Mulla described the DFSA as a strong regulator which was focused on "confidence and protection."

Dr Mulla said: "Shareholder confidence is an essential component of a sound capital market and with that comes a need to ensure that investors are protected. Too many markets are playing lip-service to the cause of investor protection and the gap is growing when compared to the best practice found in the major financial centres."

Dr Mulla also referred to DFSA's busting of an Internet fraud and the closing down the operation of fictitious websites called the Dubai Options Exchange, the United Arab Emirates Commodity Futures Board and Cambridge Capital Trading that were claiming to offer financial services within the DIFC, stating, "while a number of investors have been caught out by this fraud, many will have been saved."

"This brings another dimension to international best practice - international cooperation," he added.

Dr Mulla said: "The DFSA had cooperated both locally and internationally using its Memoranda of Understanding arrangements with the Emirates Securities and Commodities Authority, the Dubai Police and the Malaysian, US, UK and Australian Regulators."

He called on all markets, governments, and practitioner associations to cooperate to increase investor confidence in the region stating, "They need to embrace regulatory measures and exceed them wherever there is an opportunity to improve transparency, enhance disclosure and good governance."

Concluding, Dr Mulla explained that "the DFSA's regulatory approach provides a unique insight and response to globalising markets and we are keen to share and exchange our knowledge and experience with other regulatory bodies, governments and practitioner associations; we can all learn from each other to boost shareholder confidence throughout the Middle East."-(TradeArabia News Service)

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KASB Bank Pakistan Advancing with Misys Core Banking System

Misys Core Banking announces today that KASB Bank has completed the implementation of Misys Equation across its operations in 12 major cities in Pakistan. The solution, which was chosen over systems from Temenos and Systems Access, will now accelerate the growth of KASB's retail banking business and further enhance its customer relationships across the country.

The bank's executive team wanted to maintain its competitive edge in the market and ensure that it was using the most innovative solutions available. So it chose the Misys solution to replace the existing system, and, following a rapid implementation of less than six months, KASB Bank now provides its customers with a greater range of retail products and services - and a platform from which to launch new products quickly and effectively.

'The very fast implementation was testament both to the quality of the solution and the implementation team from Misys and KASB,' comments Muneer Kamal, President of KASB Bank Limited.

'Our existing distributed environment was reaching the end of its natural life and we needed a centralised core banking system of the calibre of Equation to improve our performance and enhance the service we provide to our customers. We are aiming to grow our business ten fold over the next three years and we are delighted that our team, and the experts from Misys, have enabled us to go live so quickly.'

KASB Bank has 35 branches across the country and Misys Equation now gives the bank a consolidated view of all interactions, making it easier for our customers to bank with us from any branch or via the Internet, ATM or telephone. The plan is to increase the number of branches to 50 by the end of this year, underpinned by Misys Equation.

Misys was chosen for its proven technology, rapid implementation successes and the expert knowledge of the banking industry in the region and from the experience of working closely with other institutions, such as Habib Bank, Mybank and Union Bank.

Roy Froud, General Manager Core Banking, Middle East and Africa, Misys, states, 'The very experienced team on site at KASB has accelerated this implementation. The knowledge that we have gained through hundreds of successful projects not only in the region but across the globe, has enabled us to give true value-added advice and support to the bank. We look forward to continuing to work closely alongside the bank as they expand their business rapidly and stay ahead of the market.'

Mark Yamin-Ali, core banking sales manager, Pakistan, Misys, adds, 'The swift success of KASB's project is a great example of how Misys Equation can be implemented quickly and smoothly. Pakistan is a very important market for Misys, and the success and speed of the KASB project further highlights that our solutions can provide excellent banking automation services for all sizes of banks.'

KASB Bank is building its Islamic finance services, which will be launched later in 2007. Misys will work with KASB Bank to provide this additional capability for their customers.

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Saudi Arabia Opens up Economy

Saudi Arabia's Supreme Economic Council has scaled back the sectors in which foreign investment is not permitted, reported Arab News. The SEC has given the green light to foreign investment in insurance services, wholesale and retail trade, air and train transport and communication services. The move is part of the kingdom's drive to boost the private sector, attract more investment and comply with its commitments as a member of the WTO.
via ameinfo.com end post


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Abu Dhabi to launch $1 billion satellite

The UAE emirate of Abu Dhabi plans to launch its first satellite in 2009 and will choose one of two firms from Europe and the United States for the $1 billion project, state-owned Mubadala Development Company said.

The hybrid military and communications satellite will be launched in second quarter of 2009, Mubadala's chief operating officer Waleed al-Mokarrab Al Muhairi, told the Reuters Middle East Investment Summit in Dubai on Monday.

'The project cost is about $1 billion,' he said, adding the satellite footprint would extend to Africa and Central Asia.

Al Muhairi said there were two companies vying for the project, European and US bidders, but declined to name them.-Reuters end post

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Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) - Dubai

The Middle East business outlook for 2007-2010 is great but the political situation is not that good says an expert.Dr Daniel Thorniley, senior vice president – Corporate Network of the Economist Group, said: “Companies look set for three good years of business but the political background will do them no favours.

“That said, companies here have lived with this kind of risk for many years,” said Thorniley, prior to the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC), where he will be a key speaker. AHIC is jointly organised by The Bench and the Middle East Economic Digest (MEED) from April 28-30 at Dubai’s Madinat Jumeirah Convention Centre.

More than 800 leaders of the region’s tourism and hospitality sector will take part in the conference held under the theme “Global Aspirations”.

A variety of topics related to the global market place in relation to hospitality development in Arabia, including investment to and from the region will be discussed at the conference.

The forum is held under the patronage of Shaikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president of Dubai Civil Aviation, chairman of Emirates Airline and recently cited as the world’s fifth most influential Arab by Arabian Business following Emirates’ claim for compensation from Airbus over the delayed A380.

Thorniley observes that up to two years ago Western multinationals outside the energy sector didn’t take the Middle East very seriously as a business region.

“Things have changed,” said Thorniley citing the double digit growth being experienced by region-based companies as a major pull to the alert multi-nationals who have yet to brave the Middle East.

“As sales and profits in the developed markets became very tight in recent years, agile multinationals turned towards the emerging markets and part of this shift affected the Middle East.”

“Companies in FMCG, food and beverages, packing, industrial products, manufacturing, IT and health realised that there was in fact good business potential in the region. Others are slow to trot,” he observed.

However, Thorniley warns that some markets and sectors are doing better than others and companies must be prepared to manage winners and losers in the region.

“If we take the greater region, we are looking at some 31 countries. Turkey is reporting excellent business results despite a spring 2006 dip. But the Levant region is, not surprisingly, a poor one for business overall.

“Egypt has seen a massive positive turn around in business results in the last two to three years – until about 2004 it had been the worst performing market but the new government has changed the playing field and goals are being scored. The rest of North Africa is a mixed bag but with good potential in Algeria.

“Saudi Arabia has long since been a market operating below potential but this too has changed for the better – companies report double digit growth as an overall expansion takes place in the economy,” he said.

Elsewhere in the GCC, Thorniley shared that Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar are doing well for non-energy companies but the markets are generally small and companies don’t get too excited about them: “Saudi aside, companies report that the smaller GCC markets together often equal the real star of the region, the UAE with Dubai at the centre.”

With just five million population, some 80 percent expatriates, the UAE has a GDP 50 percent bigger than Egypt’s – and rising - and its imports are larger than those of Saudi Arabia.

Dubai has sets its sights high and is standing firm as the unequalled hub for companies working in the region, as Halliburton management must have noticed.

However, Thorniley warned of rising costs across housing, salaries and fees and he stressed that competition is becoming more intense.

“In some ways, Dubai is no longer an emerging market. Western companies are complaining of tough competition, from low-price Asian companies, for example.

“Also, the job market talent supply is very tight; the infrastructure is under pressure and traffic congestion infamous. However, when you talk with executives, there are few viable alternatives,” he says.

“The low risk for security is clearly a major positive and most foreign and Arab companies look upon Dubai as the ‘Switzerland of the Mid East’.”

Thorniley suggested that the business cycle looks sustainable over the next three to seven years.

“Clearly if oil prices collapse to less than $30 per barrel, some of the bubble will pop. But despite the recent fluctuations in oil price, demand from China and the US looks like keeping the oil price above $55-60 as an average for the next two to four years.

“At this ticket, liquidity will continue to flow through the better markets, where many are also reporting success in diversifying away from total reliance on standard oil and gas revenue.”

He said that the real measure of sustainable success was that many governments are now keeping more of their petro-dollars in their own local economies boosting construction, investment and infrastructure and social spending.

However, a positive economy aside, he warned that the political outlook is bad.

“In summary, the Middle East business outlook in 2007-2010 is business great, politics awful.

“Companies look set for three good years of business but the political background will do them no favours.”

“That said, companies here have lived with this kind of risk for many years. The political outlook will not improve in the near future and could even get marginally worse.

“But the chance of a major implosion which would destroy the business outlook completely remains ever manageable.”

Meanwhile, AHIC organiser, Jonathan Worsley noted that on the flip side, it was interesting to see that AHIC sponsors were actively pursuing an international growth agenda with one third of Jumeirah’s portfolio now overseas and Istithmar Hotels acquiring hotels in New York and elsewhere.

In addition, Abu Dhabi’s Rotana Hotels, Suites & Resorts currently notches six properties outside of the GCC and is looking to fuel its growth to 42 properties in the next two years. Rotana recently announced a pioneering private placement, and an IPO listing inside three years is mooted by industry consultants.

Worsley said that topics for discussion during the two-day event include opportunities in emerging markets; anomalies of Middle East management contracts; presentation on selected mega projects in the region; residential real estate & hotels – the ultimate combination?; and the future of independent luxury lifestyle hotels in a consolidating environment.

To register for the conference visit www.arabianconference.com
via -TradeArabia News Service

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ETA brings Vacuum Sewer Technology

Zenath, an ETA Ascon division, will introduce alternative Japanese vacuum sewer technology to the UAE later this month. An agreement to this effect was signed between the Dubai-based group and the Sekisui Chemical Company of Japan.

Vacuum sewers offer operational, fiscal and construction advantages over traditional gravity-based collection systems, and are an ideal solution for areas with restricted construction conditions, unstable soils, flat terrain or sensitive ecosystems, and for remote communities.

With the UAE's rapid urban growth, and its flourishing resort and offshore community development, the alternative technology is ideally suited for the emirates, said J.S.A Bukhari, Executive Director of Zenath.

'With the UAE's cities growing at a tremendous pace and the increasing interest in luxury suburban communities, the country deserves the very best infrastructure technology available,' Bukhari explained.

'The Sekisui vacuum Sewer system is cost-effective, low maintenance, efficient and reliable, and offers a great deal of flexibility.'

Unlike conventional sewer systems, the vacuum sewer networks use gravity only to move wastewater from homes to the vacuum pit packages, located near homes. A pressure differential in the system then moves the wastewater to a vacuum station, Dr Altaf Khan, Sr Manager of Zenath Environmental Engineering Services said.

'Cost-effectiveness is one of the major benefits of this technology, but it is by no means the only advantage. The vacuum system offers much shorter construction periods, flexible pipeline construction, smaller diameter pipes at shallower depths, versatility around obstacles, and a closed atmosphere so sewers and water mains can be laid in a common trench. Also, a central vacuum station replaces many pumping stations.'

The vacuum sewer technology system, he explained, can be used in potentially problematic areas with flat or difficult terrain, adverse gradients, nearby bodies of water, or in places like holiday facilities where wastewater flows are highly variable.

'The importance of the vacuum sewage system is increasing in the Gulf area, and the next few years will witness widespread application especially in remote sites and offshore projects,' said Dr.Altaf Khan. 'Some of the unique benefits of this system are its usability in areas where houses and buildings are not close to each other, and its ability to cross major roads and bodies of water.'-(TradeArabia News Service)

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Enoc hunts UAE talent

Enoc has stepped up its efforts to train and employ nationals for positions at the company. Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Minister of Finance and Deputy Ruler of Dubai and chairman of Enoc, visited the Enoc stand at Careers UAE 2007,

The leading recruitment exhibition in the UAE and largest of its kind is taking place with 179 companies from different business sectors participating. As part of its participation at Careers UAE 2007, Enoc signed a MoU with Emirates National Development Programme to collaborate on training and employment of nationals for positions at ENOC.

The agreement was signed by Zaid Al Quafaidi, Eppco chief operating officer and Azza Sharhan, director of Emirates National Development Programme during the opening ceremony of exhibition. Basema Al Hassawi from the Group Human Resources Department was present at the Enoc stand along with a delegation from Enoc to provide visitors with an overview on the company.

Commenting on the initiative, Enoc Group chief executive Hussein Sultan said: “This is a positive development which should further enhance the Emiritisation drive within the Enoc Group of companies at the entry point level.

“With over 20 per cent of Emiratis as part of our workforce, Enoc has been a pioneer in the development of nationals. We have also worked closely with TANMIA in the past to recruit nationals at technician and support staff levels.”

Visitors to the Enoc stand were briefed about the company, the types of roles which exist in Enoc and also the existing vacancies.

This was supported by a running video on the role of the Enoc Group, a fact sheet and a binder with relevant information on the company.

Having received hundreds of applications this year, potential applicants were given the choice of applying for a position at Enoc either by directly utilising the available PCs at the stand, submit CVs via a USB or through the Enoc website online.

Established in 1993 as a wholly-owned company of the Government of Dubai, Enoc aims to promote the interests of its shareholders through the development of further downstream and upstream activities in the oil and gas sector and beyond and to encourage the economic diversification of Dubai and the rest of the UAE.

Enoc actively participates in an increasingly broad range of business ventures.

Its joint ventures with major international companies allow partners to pool their technology, know-how and expertise along with their resources to further their commercial success.

Since its inception, Enoc has been guided by its philosophy of quality and professional management based on modern business concepts for commercial success and sustainable growth.

Today it is poised to engineer a new and challenging period of growth and diversity.

Enoc’s mission is to be the reliable Energy Partner of Choice in each sector in which it operates. (TradeArabia News Service)

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UAE Ministry of Finance takes Air Arabia Stake

The UAE Ministry of Finance and Industry has subscribed to five per cent of the shares offered in Air Arabia’s Initial Public Offering (IPO). The move, which comes in accordance with the Council of Ministers’ resolution number 8 of 2006, was welcomed by both Air Arabia and Shuaa Capital, who saw it as an expression of confidence on the part of the ministry in the offering and the company.

In addition, the fact that the ministry’s investment came early, on the fourth day of subscription, is a confirmation of the bullish demand for the offering, they said. The Ministry of Finance will be allocated the full percentage prior to the allocation of shares among subscribers. The five per cent of shares subscribed to by the Ministry, the maximum allowed to it under the law, will be deducted from the 2,116,700,000 shares of the second tranche.

Shuaa Capital is the Lead Manager, Financial Advisor and Bookrunner for the Air Arabia IPO.-(via TradeArabia News Service) endpost

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Investcorp Plans $1bn GCC Investment Fund

A billion dollar fund to initiate and develop strategic projects within the GCC is being launched a major investment bank. Investcorp will target important sectors that will contribute to the economic development of the region and the broadening of the private sector.

The bank will launch the fund with a $75 million pledge and will be asking other banks and investors to contribute the rest, said president and chief executive officer Nemir Kirdar. The plan marks the first time that the Investcorp directly invests in companies in the region, although its acquisitions abroad have regularly done business here.

"We estimate that the fund will finance between 20 to 25 projects," said Kirdar. "Around $30 to $50 will be injected into each project from the fund, with banks supplying any additional funding that may be required.

"We don't have any particular sectors in mind, but the projects that will be selected will either be in areas that are either new to Bahrain or have room for growth."

The fund will be used to either launch new companies or buy existing ones and develop them.

Foreign expertise will be hired to manage the businesses, at least for the first few years, to ensure that it has the right know-how to be successful.

The companies will then be sold off to the private sector.

Kirdar said that the initiative would have a positive effect on the regional economy, helping to broaden the private sector of the region.

He added that governments are welcome to participate in this fund also if they wish to.

"We will not be taking any money initially, but collecting pledges from companies and investors," continued Kirdar.

"We expect by the end of the year to have secured $1bn and to have established a mechanism through which we can implement the idea.

"That's when we will start collecting the funds."

The bank's other four lines of business, namely corporate investment, real estate, asset management and technology investment, continue to do well and will remain in place, said Kirdar. -(TradeArabia News Service)

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Dubai International Capital sells DaimlerChrysler Shares

Dubai International Capital (DIC), a private equity firm, has cut its holding in automaker DaimlerChrysler to profit from higher share prices. "Dubai International Capital reported that it continues to manage its DaimlerChrysler position and that it has taken advantage of recent strength to reduce its holding," a spokeswoman for the private equity firm said by text message.

The sale took place recently, the spokeswoman said, declining to give details. Shares of Daimler have surged almost 21 per cent since Dubai International Capital chief executive Sameer Al Ansari said on November 11 that he was considering selling some of his roughly 20 million shares in the Stuttgart, Germany-based company.

Dubai International bought the shares in January 2005 at 32 euros each. They were trading at 55.21 euros at 0933 GMT, a rise of 72.5 per cent. -Reuters end post

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Kuwait's Markaz launches IPO

Kuwait Financial Centre 'Markaz', a leading investment banking and asset management companies, has launched its new investment portfolio programme, which is to invest in IPO and pre-IPO issues globally.

The programme seeks to achieve capital appreciation over the medium to long term by participating in IPOs and pre- IPOs predominantly focused on emerging markets, particularly Asia and the GCC/ Mena regions, said an official spokesman.

The programme will strive to achieve superior risk-adjusted returns, such that an IRR exceeding 15 per cent is expected to be achieved over the life of the programme.

'Markaz IPO and Pre-IPO programme is a product that invests globally. The programme is not restricted to any region or sector. We will provide a dedicated team of analysts including sector specialists in order to examine the financial strength and potential of the corporations seeking IPOs. With our impressive track record in management of funds locally and internationally, investors will welcome this investment portfolio programme,' said executive vice-president of International Investments' Gopal Menon.

Investments would be made after a thorough due diligence of the available opportunity based on fundamental analysis. The team will also look at the prevailing macroeconomic environment in terms of economic growth, reform initiatives, capital market regulation, and political stability.

Investment into any specific IPO / pre-IPO or other instruments will be at the discretion of the investment advisor.

'Corporations in these emerging economies have higher earnings growth and RoE compared to most developed markets. Unlike in the past, corporate governance is rapidly improving, and the capital markets in most leading emerging markets are characterised by ample liquidity due to capital inflows (Asian economies) and Oil (GCC),' said associate vice-president of International Investments Barrak Al Usaimi.

Among the attractive features of the programme, an investor needs to pay only 25 per cent of his commitment at the time of subscription. In addition, there is no subscription fee.

The remaining balance will be called in stages at the discretion of the investment advisor, Markaz, subject to adequate notice being given to the investor. TradeArabia News Service

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Qatar to show strong growth till 2012

Qatar's economy is likely to grow strongly until 2012, the Qatari Finance Minister said. The economic performance may level off by 2012, he added. 'The IMF and World Bank, actually they were talking about the region, but (they said) that the Qatari economy will grow by almost double digits until 2012 and 2013. We were saying that before the World Bank,' Qatar's Finance Minister Youssef Hussein Kamal said at a conference in London.

'We are going to reach the plateau for the economy by year 2012 because at that time we will (have) almost finished all the projects related to oil and gas and don't have anything to add. That means we have today to think what we will do beyond 2012. 'Still we have (a) strategy for our goal after the year 2012 GDP (growth) should not be less than 7 per cent.'

Qatar is planning to triple its output of liquid natural gas to 77 million tonnes by 2011 from 2006 levels. Analysts forecast Qatar's economy will post a real growth rate of 7.5 per cent in 2006, the second-fastest in the Gulf after the UAE.

The economy of Qatar, which has a population of less than 1 million and is home to the world's third largest gas deposits, has tripled in size since 1998.Reuters endpost

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ME Families in Business Conference - Bahrain

The third Middle East Families in Business Conference will be held today (March 20) at the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain Hotel and Spa. The two-day conference will bring together family-business owners and significant private investors from the Middle East and around the world in to a private environment where they can meet, learn and conduct business.

The conference is organised by Campden Publishing Limited, an independent media provider based in London that publishes Families in Business Magazine and specialises in private conferences for family offices and family businesses around the world. It is an invitation-only event and will convene an audience of over a hundred participants for two days of presentations, workshops and debate.

The conference is being produced in official association with the Bahrain Financial Services Development Bureau (part of the Economic Development Board), and is supported by the Bahrain Family Business Association and professional partners Norton Rose and PricewaterhouseCoopers Middle East.

The programme will focus on vital issues for family businesses, ranging from family office management and family investment opportunities, to family transition and the challenges of intergenerational transfer.

"At the Economic Development Board we're working hard to secure conferences of this calibre to showcase Bahrain as a leading business destination," said Bahrain Financial Services Development Bureau managing director Jane Dellar.

"In addition, this conference provides us with the opportunity to highlight Bahrain's financial acumen and regional sector dominance.

"Family businesses are a niche market where there is much room for growth - by actively targeting this area we can help create local jobs and boost Bahrain's economy." The first day features family business leaders from Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Syria. They will be joined by business leaders and experts from France, Finland, Greece and Italy who will provide a European perspective on governance and transition strategy.

In the evening the delegates and speakers will be entertained at a reception hosted by Bahrain International Circuit at the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix track. -(TradeArabia News Service)

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Daily Deposit Scheme - Qatar

Masraf Al Rayan has launched the "daily deposit" scheme, the first of its kind in the Islamic banking sector, in Qatar. With this new service, corporate clients and high net worth individuals who meet certain criteria can deposit from a period as short as one day with Masraf Al Rayan and benefit from Shari'ah compliant profit. An added advantage is that Masraf Al Rayan can disclose the profit rate the customer will receive upon maturity of the deposit.

Nasser Al-Abdulla, GM - Retail Banking, expressed his optimism that this new service will give Masraf Al Rayan customers the chance to benefit from Shari'ah compliant profits: "Their money can generate profits even if deposited for one day, which is definitely beneficial for corporations and high net worth individuals who have surplus funds to invest over short periods of time."

"The daily deposit service is an addition to a series of products & services that the Masraf Al Rayan has launched since operations started in October 2006. The regular introduction of new products and services comes in line with Masraf Al Rayan's objectives to add creativity to the banking sector and set the standards in Islamic banking. This service is the latest in a string of "Firsts" which proves, once again the capability of Masraf Al Rayan to create, innovate and lead in its sector", he added.-(TradeArabia News Service)

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Insurance and Regulatory Policies Exhibition - Dubai

Insurex 2007, to be held in Dubai on April 2 and 3, will highlight the need for Middle East businesses to adopt sound and stable insurance and regulatory policies. Held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance and Industry, and in association with Scottish Re, Insurex 2007 will enable delegates to gain strategic insights on the region's evolving insurance sector and interact with key figures from the insurance industry.

'Through this conference we aim to bring together industry leaders, brokers and regulators, finance and risk mangers under a common platform to discuss best practices and emerging trends in the insurance industry. 2007 is set to be our largest-ever Insurex event, with a comprehensive two-day programme taking an unflinching look at the region's current and projected insurance landscape,' said Paul Blebta, managing editor, Policy magazine.

Now in its fourth year, the two-day event will cover topics on corporate governance, medical and life insurance, the growth of takaful or Islamic insurance, bancassurance, training, management and industry specific issues. Industry figures estimate that the UAE insurance segment alone has grown by more than 50 per cent in the last two years, with an increase in Islamic banking having a knock-on effect on takaful offerings.

'Economic development in the Gulf and Levant regions has had a positive bearing on the region's insurance sector. There has been a steady increase in the number of local companies who now follow globally accepted procedures in corporate governance and regulations. The region's decision-makers are now viewing insurance as a vital part of their companies' policies rather than a simple business obligation,' Blebta added.

Recently, the Abu Dhabi government passed a law requiring all employers in the emirate to provide minimum cover for their employees. Regulators in Dubai also made an announcement which will soon allow employees and residents of Dubai to have access to health insurance coverage. Similar requirements are expected in other Gulf states as well.-(TradeArabia News Service)

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Middle East Communications 2007

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Dubai Bank's Sharia-Compliant 'Mulki'

Dubai Bank has launched Mulki, a Sharia-compliant property financing product. Financing is available for all major developers and the payment period can be up to 20 years. Financing will be offered for ready properties or properties under construction. The product is available to UAE nationals and expatriates residing in the UAE.

Dubai Bank’s MULKI Property Financing, a new Islamic Sharia’a Compliant product, is designed to facilitate the purchase of properties in the UAE. Adnan Chilwan, head of marketing and product development, said: “With the property market booming in UAE, the need for Shari’a compliant property financing solutions are increasingly necessitated”.

“MULKI” is an end-to-end Shari’a compliant property financing solution, constituting financing structures based on either the Murabaha or the Ijara.

“MULKI” is a unique property financing solution which caters to numerous & diverse property financing needs, be it the purchase of land; ready to own/lease properties, villas, townhouses or apartments; or even properties that are to be constructed. In ‘MULKI’ customer choice has been given the highest priority. This is clearly evident considering that, eligible customers have the choice to structure their own financial plan by setting the installment that they wish to pay depending on their individual payment capabilities.

“Furthermore, customers can benefit from either a fixed profit rate Murabaha structure or a variable profit rate Ijara structure, depending on personal preferences,” added Adnan Chilwan

In addition to being flexible and convenient, MULKI promises a very strong value proposition for its customers, which is witnessed through its competitive product features.

The product has high finance-to-value ratio, long payment period and very competitive pricing. Financing is available for all major developers and projects.

Mohammad Al Nahdi, head of distribution, added: “At Dubai Bank customer convenience is of paramount importance to us in all our offerings, and that is why we have employed a dedicated sales team which can visit customers at their place of convenience and assist the customer in completion of all formalities.”

Customers wishing to apply for MULKI property financing can call the bank’s toll free number 8005555 and request for a sales advisor to visit them, thus avoiding the need to make a visit to the bank.(Trade Arabia News Service)

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Capital Industries to plough Dh200 mil

Capital Industries and Investments (CII), a new private equity firm launched by UAE investors, said it will invest Dh200 million in 10 transactions in two years. Company officials said their strategy would be to own and buy stakes in small and medium-size firms (SMEs) that make products used in the construction sector.

"The unprecedented expansion in the UAE's construction industry has invigorated the related manufacturing sector and opened up new opportunities. This sector presents immense untapped investment potential," said company chairman Shaikh Sultan Bin Saud Al Qasimi, one the three contributors who have raised Dh200 million.

The other investors are Shaikh Majid Bin Saud Al Qasimi and Alliance Capital, a company headed by businessman Ziad Galadari. Shaikh Sultan said his company will target companies looking for "innovative funding solutions beyond what is offered by traditional commercial banking."
end post via Gulf News

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Franklin Covey on ME Business Leadership

Middle East companies need to develop new leadership style to cope with competition from multinationals, says an expert. According to Franklin Covey, a global professional services, training and development company, the trend for local family-owned businesses growing into multinationals, investing in foreign markets and becoming publicly registered companies, preparation for competition is key.

Speaking ahead of the regional debut of its groundbreaking "Great Leaders" programme to be held in Dubai on the March 11 at the Madinat Jumeirah, Murad Suleiman, general manager, Franklin Covey Middle East, said local companies are facing increasingly complex challenges with new entrants changing the competitive landscape in the region.

"High levels of competition and the fast-paced economic landscape are compelling businesses around the world to position uniquely and contribute to the business environment in order to excel," he said. "A significant number of companies in the Middle East including Dubai, are family businesses. In spite of being very successful organisations, competition and sophisticated customers' demands will urge them to evolve by adopting creative leadership and management styles in order to mitigate the risk of losing business and staff.

"Executive communities agree that human resources are the most valuable asset to any organisation, yet many organisations lack proper standards for recruiting, positioning, developing and rewarding the talents within the organisation in order to protect and retain such assets and provide the proper environment for such talent to creatively engage in their job. FranklinCovey believes that great leaders know how to create great teams and a great teams produce great results," he added.

Based on the new leadership concepts, leaders should work closely with employees at all levels in order to build a culture based on trust and in order to understand better what are the customers' hiring them to do. Leaders and teams should focus in delivering the "Job To Be Done" to the customers. This approach has proved to be profitable to any business from different aspects.

"Team members who are passionate about their job understand what is the "Job To Be Done" in an engagement with a customer and release all their creativity and energy in making it happen," added Suleiman. "This results in good relationship with the customers since they tend to see a partner who understands them.

"This also tends to create a better working environment. The impact of this on any organisation is more business and better corporate image. Our role as leadership development and management consultancy organisation is to partner with leaders to identify, develop, and manage the capability to achieve the organisation aspirations and objectives and "Great Leader" is one of the key programmes we are launching in the Middle East to address this."

Dr Covey, best selling author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, co-founder and vice chairman of Franklin Covey, the globally renowned leadership development and management consultancy firm, will introduce 450 business leaders to the "Great Leaders" programme.

Dr Covey will address prominent CEOs and key executives from various businesses across the region in public workshops, hosted by Franklin Covey Middle East in partnership with IIR - a leading event management organisation.

"The workshops will serve as a platform for businesses to share knowledge and learn about new management styles. Dr Covey will conduct these interactive sessions where the four imperatives of leadership will be discussed and analysed. Unlike many leadership programmes that focus on the character of the leaders, this programme is focused on leadership in the business environment. Executives will get the opportunity to see recorded videos of Harvard professors, Jack Welch, and others as part of this live presentation by Dr Stephen. It is business leaders talking to business leaders," concluded Suleiman.-(TradeArabia News Service)

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Intel's Independent Software Vendors Partner Programme

Intel Corporation has formed the Intel Software Partner Programme, a membership-based programme for independent software vendors (ISVs). The programme is open to any software company developing commercial products or services for Intel technologies, such as Intel Core 2 Duo, Intel Xeon and Intel Itanium processors.

The Intel Software Partner Programme offers a portfolio of planning, technical, marketing and sales resources designed to facilitate a member's ability to grow business, reach new customers and stay on top of the latest software development, marketing and competitive trends, said an official spokesman.

The Intel Software Partner Programme allows members to align their product development work directly with Intel's platform technologies as well as with a specific market segment area such as gaming or digital media creation.

Intel provides a flexible path for an ISV to develop targeted applications for specific vertical market segments and planning tools to give the partner insight to market opportunities.

Members also have the option to choose their level of interaction with Intel and can tailor their programme engagement based on their own business objectives.

"Innovation requires the software and hardware communities to work together to deliver value for their customers," said corporate vice-president and general manager, Intel Software and Solutions Group, Renee James.

"The Intel Software Partner Programme represents a further step by Intel to invest and foster innovation with the software community on Intel platforms. By providing ISVs of all sizes and in all regions the opportunity to access task-specific tools to plan, enable and promote their solution on an Intel platform, we accelerate the adoption of innovative solutions that drive further benefits and opportunities for customers," added James.

Members of the Intel Software Partner Programme have access to a variety of benefits including such planning tools as business acumen training and technology roadmaps; technical resources including application engineering services and developer resource kits; and marketing benefits, such as sales tools, marketing collateral and participation in channel events.

Furthermore, a key benefit of the programme is the opportunity to participate in the Intel Channel Marketplace, an online exchange among resellers, distributors and vendors. Intel has been piloting the marketplace in Russia, Taiwan, Thailand and Ukraine with plans to expand to other locations in the future.

Intel, the world leader in silicon innovation, develops technologies, products and initiatives to continually advance how people work and live.(TradeArabia News Service)

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Avaya unveils all-in-one IP telephony

Avaya Inc has unveiled a new all-in-one IP telephony platform specially designed for small and mid-size businesses (SMBs). The product will change the way most SMBs in the Middle East think of telephone systems, said the global leader in business communications systems.

It will give even the smallest firm an easy, affordable way to take advantage of advanced, IP-based communications to enhance productivity, mobility, customer service, and virtually any business process, said an official spokesman.

Avaya's ability to support all types of trunk lines (analog, digital and SIP) and all manner of phones (analog, digital and IP) provides companies in the Middle East with the flexibility of migrating from traditional systems to advanced IP systems at their own pace and without the need for significant investment.

"The SMB sector is of considerable importance to growing Avaya's regional business. The region's rapidly-rising SMB sector has a strong influence on IT spending and accounts for approximately 90 per cent of the companies in the region," said channel and marketing director, Avaya MENA, Roger El Tawil.

"We created Avaya IP Office specifically for small businesses. It has the right entry-level price, is affordable, has 'big business' communications capabilities, and options for companies to add more capabilities, capacities or locations as their business grows," El Tawil added.

Avaya's new IP Office Release 4.0 software and IP Office 500 communications server are available through an extensive network of Avaya resellers skilled in delivering SMB solutions to their customers.

Installation and support will be provided by Avaya BusinessPartners and Avaya Value-Add Distributors based around the region.

AMI-Partners forecasts that the worldwide small and medium business market for advanced communications will grow by more than 30 per cent in a cumulative annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2010.

The size of SMB market is greater than what many people think - 57 per cent of world's CPE lines are with SMBs - according to Canalys estimates, Converged Telephony Analysis, December 2006.

"Like enterprise firms, smaller firms are looking to get the cost-reduction benefits from converged communication solutions. Affordable price, security and mobility - in the sense of providing mobile workers with access to office features when they're on the road or working from home - are key aspects desired in communications systems," said senior consultant, AMI-Partners, Maria Carolina Guedes Smith.

The IP Office 500 Series is powered by Standard and Professional editions of new IP Office Release 4.0 software - an application that offers a number of benefits to SMBs:

It acts as a SIP gateway, whether the SMB has digital, analog or IP phones. Businesses can subscribe to new SIP trunking services and significantly reduce calling costs.

It introduces new remote diagnostic tools. Resellers can improve customer satisfaction by quickly and proactively identifying and resolving problems remotely.

It adds new multi-site hot-desking capabilities so employees can log into any digital, analog or IP phone at any of their company's networked locations and have their calls and voice messages follow them.

It offers 64 party conferencing suite including web-cast functionality for companies having customers, suppliers or employees in distant locations.

It can also integrate with back-end databases to allow interactive voice responses and text-to-speech and can provide full fledged call center applications.

And it offers many other functionalities that enhance productivity, mobility and customer service and thereby improve company image.

The new IP Office 500 Series builds on the success of Avaya's previous IP Office outreach. Over the last two years, Avaya and its worldwide network of certified resellers have nearly tripled IP Office sales to companies of all sizes in nearly 70 countries.(TradeArabia News Service)

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Bahraini-Jordanian Business Forum Expo for Iraq

Bahrain-based businessmen seeking an entry into Iraq have been invited to take part in a business exhibition in Jordan later this year. The Bahraini-Jordanian Business Forum and the Made in Bahrain Exhibition are being held in Amman from July 3 to 5, said a report in our sister publication Gulf Daily News.

Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) deputy executive manager Abdulrahim Naqi said the events would attract businessmen from all over the world, including Jordan-based companies. "One of the main areas of opportunity lies in Iraq, which is expected to experience a reconstruction boom," he said.

"This will be an excellent opportunity for Bahrain-based companies to make contact with Iraqi businessmen, many of whom are based in Jordan and have strong influence."

Naqi was speaking at a Press conference held at the BCCI's premises in Manam.

The events in Jordan are being organised by the BCCI and Sanabel Expo with the support of the Industry and Commerce Ministry, the Bahraini Embassy in Jordan, the Jordan Chamber of Commerce and the Jordan Chamber of Industry.

Naqi said that the trade balance was currently in Bahrain's favour. Bahrain's exports to Jordan currently total BD11.2 million ($29.70 million) a year and Jordan's to Bahrain total BD3m, he said.

Relevant government organisations, including the Industry and Commerce Ministry and the Economic Development Board (EDB) are expected to have a presence.

For more information email BCCI exhibition manager Duha Hussain on duha@bcci.bh or call 17576666.(TradeArabia News Service)

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SABB Takaful's IPO Approved

The Saudi Arabian Capital Market Authority (CMA) has approved SABB Takaful’s Initial Public Offering (IPO). SABB Takaful is raising SR35 million through the public share offering, which is scheduled to commence on March 17, 2007.

HSBC Saudi Arabia Limited is the financial advisor to SABB Takaful and SABB will act as the subscription manager. Subscriptions can be made through branches of SABB, Riyad Bank and Arab National Bank. The IPO subscription will open for public from March 17 till March 26 March 2007. The initial offer price per share will be SR10, with a minimum of 50 shares and a maximum of 100,000 per subscriber.

In addition to the 35 per cent public offering, the HSBC Group and SABB will each own 32.5 per cent of SABB Takaful Company.

SABB Takaful Company will offer a comprehensive range of Shariah-compliant Takaful products for both personal and corporate customers. These will include savings and protection products to meet individual needs for financial planning and business solutions for business risks.

Dr Abdulrahman A Al-Jafary, chairman of SABB Takaful Constituents Committee, said: “This is an important development for the Kingdom’s financial services industry as SABB Takaful will be one of the first Islamic Takaful companies. The joint investment by HSBC Group and SABB underlines their confidence in the insurance market operating under the Islamic principles.

”We expect the demand for the IPO to be healthy given the deep experience of the company’s founders”, he added.

Subscription will be available through electronic channels such as ATMs, Internet and telephone banking in addition to the branches of SABB, Riyad Bank and Arab National Bank.-(TradeArabia News Service)

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StanChart Launches Guide

Standard Chartered bank has launched the region's first working capital guide for business leaders. Introduced at the 5th Annual Eurofinance Conference, the guide provides expert commentary, insight and analysis and sets the standard for information available to the banking community, specifically Corporate Treasurers, CFOs, Finance Directors and CEOs who have current and future business interests in the Middle East and Africa regions.

As one of the main sponsors of the Eurofinance "Trade, Treasury, and Cash Management in the Middle East" conference, Standard Chartered further accentuated its position as the market leader in working capital services and corporate treasury for the Middle East North Africa region through the launch of this guide.

"Standard Chartered has a long history and commitment to developing strong franchises in the Middle East and Africa," said Karen Fawcett, group head of transaction banking.

"Standard Chartered's Middle East and Africa Guide to Working Capital Management is written by experts to provide an essential reference tool for businesses interested in expanding their capabilities and interests in these regions."

"Standard Chartered's Middle East and Africa Guide to Working Capital Management" provides a comprehensive overview of corporate treasury, cash management, and payments in the Middle East and Africa regions.

"As the Gulf States continue their rapid economic expansion and African countries increase their trading partnerships with both the East and West, the need for definitive information has never been stronger," continues Fawcett, "The ultimate purpose of this Guide is to share and promote best industry practice. For all companies investing and working within these geographies, we envisage that it will be an essential tool for their working capital and treasury areas."

The Guide contains a vast amount of previously unpublished case studies, including details on how a growing number of global companies are establishing regional centres in Dubai. With its tax-free status, liberal trade policies, modern infrastructure, central location, excellent regulatory system and significant liquidity, Dubai offers international investors access to the region's growing wealth. It is also a prominent centre for Shariah-compliant (Islamic law) products, with more than 20 per cent share of the $20 billion of Islamic bonds listed globally.

"Standard Chartered continues to reinforce our commitment to the region, and this unique Guide aims to further support local businesses in their growth and expansion plans," said Azeem-ur-Rahim, Regional Head of Transaction Banking, Middle East & Pakistan, Standard Chartered Bank.

"Standard Chartered aims to be the Bank of Choice for corporates and institutions for and in Asia, Africa and the Middle East at all times. With Transaction Banking currently contributing a significant proportion of our wholesale banking revenue, we've recognised a real need for our customers to have access to corporate treasury guidance in an easily digestible format."

As part of the Bank's global transaction banking solutions to corporates and institutions, Transaction Banking provides Cash Management, Securities Services and Trade Services through the Bank's network in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The business provides a full suite of transaction banking products and serves as a bridge to these markets for clients from the US, Latin America and Europe.

Part of a series which includes 'Standard Chartered's China Guide to Supply Chain Management and Logistics 2006/07", "Standard Chartered's Middle East and Africa Guide to Working Capital Management 2007" is published in English, with copies being made available to interested clients of Standard Chartered Bank across the region.-(TradeArabia News Service)

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Dubai Bank launches Sanad

Dubai Bank has launched Sanad, a unique and flexible Sharia'a compliant personal financing solution. Through Sanad, customers can get the liquidity that they need to either meet their diverse personal finance requirements or to transfer their outstanding liabilities from another bank, thus enabling them to start an Islamic relationship with Dubai Bank.

'Today the banking industry within the UAE, including both Conventional and Islamic Banks, has become increasingly customer-centric. For Islamic Banks, it is important to develop and deliver products that not only match the customers' beliefs, but are also value-packed,' said head of marketing and product development, Dubai Bank, Adnan Chilwan.

'The launch of Sanad and all our other products are in line with our strategy and commitment to deliver unique and innovative products for our customers.'

Furthermore, as a token of appreciation, we have launched Sanad with a reward campaign, where every customer is given a gift voucher of Dh500 ($136.2) up to Dh4,000, which can be redeemed for either electronics or air tickets, depending on the customers' choice.

Just like all the products of Dubai Bank, Sanad personal finance is approved by the Sharia'a Supervisory Board of the bank, that comprises of some of the most prominent names in the field of Islamic Sharia'a,' added Chilwan.

Sanad's uniqueness is in its product features. The product is available at very competitive profit rates that are agreed with the customer up-front at the time of signing the contract and which remain fixed throughout the term of the facility, said an official spokesman.

Affordable repayments, no early settlement fee, long repayment period of up to 120 months and quick approval are just some of the strong points of the proposition.

Also customers wishing to apply for Sanad can call the bank's toll free number 800 5555 and request for a sales advisor to visit them, thus avoiding the need to make a visit to the Bank.

'Sanad Personal finance is merely the beginning of a series of characteristic steps to become the service provider of choice. The journey to achieve this goal will soon witness the opening of our five new branches at the beginning of the second quarter of 2007 in order to enhance customers reach,' said head of corporate communication at the bank Mohammed Juma.(TradeArabia News Service)

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Entrepreneurship Spotlight of Young Business Leaders

Mohammed bin Rashid Establishment for Young Business Leaders will host a seminar on the sidelines of the Franchising Middle East Exhibition 2007 (FME 2007). Presented by the establishment, the exhibition will take place from March 5 to 7 at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre.

A highlight of the event will be a keynote address by the president and founder of 'Directive Communication International Entrepreneurship' Arthur Carmazzi and will include a presentation on 'The Five Pillars of Success'.

Carmazzi has more than 21 years experience specialising in psychological approaches to workforce enhancement and corporate culture transformation. He is the best selling co-author of 'The 6 Dimensions of Top Achievers', and author of 'Identity Intelligence' and 'Lessons from the Monkey King', said an official spokesman.

'The establishment is keen on educating the small to medium business community on the value they can harvest from franchising operations. We have invited renowned speakers who will share their diverse perspectives on this aspect of the business. We are confident the seminar will raise entrepreneurs' awareness on the franchising concept,' CEO of Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for Young Business Leaders Abdul Baset Al Janahi.

The agenda will also include key speeches by president of Francorp International Ramon Vinay on 'How to effectively franchise your business'. Head of SME Banking Middle East and South Asia, Standard Chartered Bank, Sandeep Bose will elaborate on financial institutions' methodology in evaluating SME funding applications and risk management.

A series of interactive sessions will focus on various legal aspects of franchising, including the mechanism of registering a franchise contract in the Middle East, and the protection and licensing of Intellectual Property in the franchising context.

Discussions will also tackle the growth of SMEs through franchising, the role of government organizations in promoting small business enterprises, development and marketing of home-grown franchises. The needs of small business owners will also be explored as part of the agenda.

Other topics that will be highlighted during the two-day seminar will include expansion strategies for better profits, corporate image development, leadership intelligence, effective corporate communication and public relations strategies, sourcing and securing the best location for franchise business.(TradeArabia News Service)

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Qatar's Economy to Double

Qatar’s economy is poised to double in size over the next five years as it invests in infrastructure, a report said.

“By 2012 the GDP of Qatar will be about $100 billion,” said the finance minister Yousef Hussein Kamal was quoted as saying in the Bloomberg report.

Qatar’s nominal gross domestic product grew 26 per cent to $52.5 billion in 2006.
end post via Trade Arabia News Service

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BUiD studies Computer Negotiations

The British University in Dubai's (BUiD) focus on advanced research into important industry sectors could enable the creation of networks of computers conducting business discussions and legal arguments, according to leading artificial intelligence experts.

BUiD's Institute of Informatics is engaged in the international discussion surrounding the development of artificial intelligence-driven "argumentation and negotiation," a process which enables computers to communicate with each other in order to solve complex problems.

Among the advanced AI developments the BUiD team is researching is the potential for multiple computers arguing and negotiating in a fully/semi-automated market in order to influence the price of goods and services, replicating the traditional processes seen in markets around the world.

Experts from the university have engaged in international seminars and published important new works in this area, generating global interest in their ongoing research.

"Argumentation and negotiation are key elements of human communication and if we are able to replicate these processes in computer networks, we will have the potential to have a fully-automated marketplace which achieves compromise through dialogue," said Dr Iyad Rahwan, Lecturer at the Institute of Informatics, British University in Dubai and Honorary Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, who is leading the research.

"The impact of this development would be hugely significant for both businesses and communities across the world," he added.

Prospective applications for this advanced research include the use of artificial intelligence in legal disputes, business negotiations, labour disputes, scientific inquiry, risk analysis, scheduling, logistics and even — potentially — democratic debate.

Argumentation is also being examined for its potential use in unmanned space exploration, where advanced robots could replace humans and be programmed to argue with one each other in order to decide the best course of action with limited resources.

"The theory of argumentation is really fascinating in so many areas. It is a rich, interdisciplinary area of research involving philosophy, communications studies, linguistics, psychology, logic and, more recently, artificial intelligence," continued Dr Rahwan. "Applying argumentation in artificial intelligence is a very challenging problem and requires the construction of very sophisticated mathematical models of dialogue," he added.

A key academic in the international field of AI, Dr Rahwan has played a central role in organising international workshops on argumentation in AI in the USA, Netherlands, Japan, and later this year will deliver a seminar in Hawaii. Dr Rahwan is also on the programme committee of the International Conference on Computational Models of Argument (COMMA)

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Middle East firms Urged to Create Jobs

M H Alshaya Co, leading Middle East retailer, has called on family businesses to spearhead job creation. 'The development and advancement of family businesses in the Middle East is of crucial importance to the well-being of all our region's economies and the generation of much needed jobs.

'With over 95 per cent of businesses being family run most of these new jobs will come from these businesses. It is vital for the future of the Middle East that family businesses take this responsibility and embrace this challenge by being innovative and entrepreneurial,' said Mohammad Alshaya, chairman, M H Alshaya Co, which was a key participant and panel sponsor at the first Forbes CEO Middle East Forum, in Doha, Qatar.

The forum became one of the most important management events in the region, with an audience of over 200 CEOs, chairmen, heads of companies, government officials and academics attending and participating in the discussions.

Alshaya participated in the session 'All in the Family - the Dynamics of Family Business' in which he discussed the important role family businesses play in creating much-needed jobs in the Middle East. He also highlighted the role of family businesses in building the region's economies in a time of fast-paced globalisation.

Alshaya went on to highlight his company's commitment to growing the awareness about the need for jobs in the Middle East.

'Our sponsorship and presence at the Forbes CEO Middle East Forum reflects how much we believe in family business and the role it can play in addressing this challenge for employment for our young people. It is well known fact, in the next two decades the MENA labour force will expand by 80 million new workers. In other words, 100 million new jobs are needed by 2020 - equivalent to doubling the current level of employment - family businesses need to play a leading role in achieving this target.'

The Alshaya Group is one of the leading family businesses in the region, founded in 1890 in Kuwait. Today, Alshaya's operations encompass the Middle East, Turkey, Cyprus, Russia and Poland.-(TradeArabia News Service)

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