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American University Dubai Opens Scholarship Applications

The American University in Dubai (AUD) said that the scholarship application process for the upcoming academic year is now open.

Students with outstanding academic performance can submit their application forms and all prerequisite requirements on the university’s website, aud.edu, said a AUD official.

The deadline for scholarship applications for the academic year 2007-2008 is July 12, 2007.

Elias Bou Saab, Executive Vice President at AUD, said the university had a number of scholarship opportunities available to students.

'General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Scholarship is open to all students (UAE nationals and expatriates). To be eligible for this scholarship, new students must apply to one of AUD’s degree programs. Applicants must have a minimum high school average of 90 per cent.'

Students interested in applying for the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Scholarship will need to fill two sets of application forms, one for the university and other for the scholarship, in addition to supporting documents mentioned on AUD’s website, he noted.

AUD also offers scholarships that cover 50 per cent of the tuition for students who score 95 per cent and above in high school, provided that the student satisfies the admission requirements of studying at AUD's School of Engineering.

Bou Saab said the competition for Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid scholarship is very high.

'Last year’s recipients were top students who scored 98 per cent and 99 per cent on the General Secondary School Certificate,' he said.

He pointed out that Young Arab Leaders, Nokia Select, Damac and Deyaar too offered scholarships for eminent students and sponsor students with exceptional academic performance.

'Young Arab Leader Scholarships is open to all students with a minimum high school average of 90 per cent. Recipients of this scholarship can major in any field. Nokia Select Scholarships, on the other hand, is open to all prospective IT, Engineering and Business undergraduate students at AUD with a minimum grade average of 90 per cent or equivalent.'

'Damac Achievers Scholarships, for UAE Nationals only, are open to all AUD prospective Engineering, Visual Communication, Interior Design and Business undergraduate students. Deyaar Scholarships, which is open to UAE Nationals only, requires a minimum high school average of 80 per cent. Recipients can major in Engineering, Interior Design or Business Administration. TradeArabia News Service

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Dubai aims to become Carbon Trading Hub

Dubai has launched a bid to become a centre for trading greenhouse gas emissions permits. The emirate is diving into a fast growing market and the potential to turn the region's sizeable carbon footprint into cash.

Famed for its man-made islands, non-stop construction and cavernous air-conditioned shopping malls, Dubai is part of the UAE, one of the highest per capita producers of greenhouse gas in the world.

Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) and London-listed carbon-credit company EcoSecurities have signed a deal to try and make Dubai the regional centre for trading carbon offsets.

The two are eyeing several projects in the UAE that could cut greenhouse gas emissions and generate carbon emissions reduction certificates (CER) under a UN scheme.

Later, they will look at similar projects across the rapidly growing economies of the Middle East.

Under the Kyoto Protocol developing countries can sell emissions reductions from their energy-intensive industry to help rich countries offset their own contribution to climate change.

'For sure, it is on our agenda to launch a futures contract on carbon emissions,' Tilak Doshi, DMCC's executive director of energy, said

'It is very hard to say when. There must be trade (first).'

The market in the Middle East is still nascent.

EcoSecurities acts as a go-between in the growing trade in carbon offsets between rich and developing countries, worth $5 billion last year. The DMCC is a controlling shareholder in Dubai's Gold and Commodities Exchange, which hosts commodities and currency futures trade.

The region is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, through its oil and gas industry which produces over 30 per cent of global oil supply and over 10 percent of its gas.

'The immediate emphasis will be on projects in infrastructure and major industries such as oil and gas, cement and aluminium,' Souheil Abboud, EcoSecurities' regional manager for the Middle East said.

For example, EcoSecurities recently registered a project in Qatar to cut gas flaring at the Al Shaheen oilfield. The project aims to cut emissions by some 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, implying carbon offsets revenues of around 30 million euros ($40.37 million) annually.

The global carbon market traded volumes of over $30 billion last year, up from less than $1 billion in 2004. The rapid expansion has caught the attention of a growing number of international investment banks.

UAE greenhouse gas emissions per capita were among the highest in the world in 2003, according to a UN Development Programme report issued last year. The UAE emitted 33.6 tonnes per capita, second only to Qatar and over nine times the world average of 3.7 tonnes.

Mindful of its reputation as a belcher of greenhouse gases, the state has launched a series of initiatives aimed at reducing emissions by around 40 per cent. Reuters

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Bahrain - Qatar to have High-Speed Train Link

A state-of-the-art high-speed rail-link could soon connect Bahrain to Qatar, taking passengers from Manama to Doha in only 30 minutes.

German firm Transrapid International confirmed that it had been in "close contact with government agencies" in both countries with a view of developing a link, which will transport passengers across the waters of the Gulf at speeds of up to 300mph on one of its famed Maglev trains.

Maglev technology - which involves the suspension of objects by electromagnetic forces - first hit the headlines in 2002 with the opening of the world's first operational high-speed conventional Maglev Railway in Shanghai, and Transrapid now has details of prospective projects for the Gulf region on its website.

Its proposals show two main projects - a 145km rail-link between Manama and Doha, and a further 185km route joining Dubai to Abu Dhabi via Jebel Ali and Abu Dhabi international airports.

"The Transrapid and the possibilities it has to offer would be a fitting choice to establish a modern and attractive infrastructure in this economically attractive region," according to the introduction to the proposed project on the firm's site.

The idea has first discussed back in 2005, when former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder led a high-profile German delegation to each of the GCC countries to gauge the local appetite for such hi-tech transportation infrastructure.

There has been little news of the project since, but this week a spokesman for Transrapid confirmed to GDN that the firm was still in negotiations with authorities regarding work on Qatar's internal transportation system and the potential link across the water to Bahrain.

"The Transrapid-Maglev is one potential alternative in the discussion and planning procedure including alternative high-speed rail links inside Qatar as well as across the future bridge to Manama in Bahrain," the spokesman said, adding that the adoption of the Maglev would represent a "futuristic transportation solution" for the region.

He was unable to give more detailed answers regarding the cost or a potential completion date, saying the project's planning stage "has not yet concluded".

Preliminary work has begun on the $3 billion, 40km 'friendship causeway' for motor vehicles to travel between Bahrain and Qatar, and the local authorities have tipped the road-link to bring an influx of investment from a neighbouring Gulf state in the midst of its own economic boom.

The addition of a Maglev link to the causeway - which will make landfall in Bahrain at the small fishing village of Askar and is still officially scheduled to be completed in 2010 - could give Bahrainis the chance to earn higher wages by working in Qatar and yet avoid that country's notoriously expensive real estate by still residing in their homeland.

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UAE 9,000 new Millionaires

The UAE and Saudi Arabia, riding a breathtaking economic boom, led the region's surge in millionaire population, with the Emirates alone adding more than 9,000 new super-rich people within a year.

As the number of high net worth individuals (HNWIs) — individuals with net assets of at least $1 million, excluding their primary residences and consumables — in the world increased 8.3 per cent in 2006 to 9.5 million, the number of millionaires in the UAE grew 15.4 per cent — from 59,000 in 2005 to 68,100 in 2006 — placing the Emirates among the world's top five countries that recorded the fastest growth rate in their super-rich population.

According to the 11th annual World Wealth Report, released yesterday by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini, in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia followed the UAE with its millionaires growing by 11.8 per cent to 89,600.

In 2005, UAE's HNWIs rose 11.8 per cent to reach 59,000 from 52,000 in 2004, making the Emirates home to the second largest concentration of millionaires in the Middle East, a region which recorded the highest growth in HNWI financial wealth at 19.7 per cent. In 2005, Saudi Arabia led the growth in the number of millionaires by posting an increase of 13.5 per cent.

In 2006, while Singapore and India led the millionaire boom with 21.2 per cent and 20.5 per cent surge respectively, Indonesia and Russia came third and fourth in the millionaire population growth rate.

"Driven by a strong global economy, the wealth of the world's high net worth individuals (HNWIs) increased 11.4 per cent to $37.2 trillion in 2006, first double digit growth in seven years," the report by global wealth management company, said while predicting that by 2011 it would cross $52 trillion.

According to the report, in 2006, the number of ultra high net worth individuals (Ultra-HNWIs — individuals with net assets of at lest $30 million) grew by 11.3 per cent to 94,970.

The report said the Middle East was the only region to see a dispersion, rather than consolidation, of wealth as a result of negative market capitalisation growth which in the UAE plunged by 57.3 per cent. "The global demand for oil in 2006 helped increase the number of HNWIs by 11.9 per cent, but a correction in an overvalued stock market pulled down market capitalisation rates, slowing total wealth accumulation."

Noting that the Middle East continued to benefit from relatively high oil prices, the report said that the GCC countries continued to drive wealth creation throughout the region, while negative market capitalisation rates helped decelerate their total wealth accumulations.

"Total HNWI wealth grew by 11.7 per cent in 2006, down from a 19.7 per cent advance in 2005, suggesting a dispersion of wealth among the region's wealthiest individuals."

Imad El Aawar, resident director, Middle East, Merrill Lynch, said while emerging economies proved resilient with continued growth in their HNWI population and solid investor cash flow to riskier corners of the market, that economic growth will slow in 2007 as mature economies grow more moderately.

He said real GDP and market capitalisation growth rates — the two primary drivers of wealth generation — accelerated through 2006, which helped to increase the total number of HNWIs around the world as well as the amount of wealth they control. The realisation of economic gains on par with those of 2003 and 2004 was led by emerging markets that continued to outperform the rest of the world. China and India, for example, sustained real GDP growth rates of 10.5 per cent and 8.8 per cent respectively, in 2006.

Market capitalisation grew rapidly in Europe, Asia-Pacific and Latin America, driven by strong corporate profits, IPO activity and ongoing foreign investment. Although performance varied across the world, almost all indices posted gains. For example, the Dow Jones World Index grew by 16.4 per cent in 2006.

"This year's report found that the number of wealthy people, and the amount of wealth that they control, continued to increase in 2006, with extraordinary wealth creation in Singapore and India," said Imad El Aawar, Resident Executive Director Middle East, Global Private Client Group.

"The level of wealth creation around the world provides a tremendous opportunity for wealth management firms, and success will go to the firms that offer a service model that meets the ever-changing needs of today's sophisticated clients."

The BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) continued to play increasingly important roles in the global economy in 2006. China and Russia were among the top ten countries with the fastest growing HNWI population. China's HNWI population grew by 7.8 per cent and Russia's increased by 15.5 per cent. Brazil and India also showed continued strength based on domestic private consumption and competitive service and manufacturing sectors.

"The globalisation of wealth creation has accelerated," said Jonty Crosse, Resident Director Middle East, Global Private Client Group. "If 2005 was characterized by a flow of investment to international funds from HNWIs, 2006 ushered in a new era whereby emerging economies leaped ahead with direct foreign investment, strong domestic demand, and hefty stock market gains."

In 2006, HNWIs shifted more money into real estate investments, at times liquidating some of their alternative investments to fund these real estate opportunities. Global direct real estate transaction volumes reached $682 billion in 2006, up 38 per cent from 2005. Real estate investment funds, or REITs, performed strongly to create an overall preferred investment channel. While alternative investments remained a key component of HNWI portfolios, overall HNWI allocations to those investments dipped in 2006.

In its first breakout of philanthropic giving, the report found that HNWIs, led by the ultra-wealthy, gave an estimated $285 billion to philanthropic causes in 2006.

The report found that the global perspective of HNWIs continued to increase in 2006, driven by an expanded awareness of international developments, better international fund performance and risk mitigation. "Looking ahead, mature markets like the United States are expected to act as an anchor on the world economy as moderate growth rates settle in. With many central banks tightening monetary policy, the period of high liquidity that has so stimulated recent growth may soon come to an end. Finally, the growth rates of Asia and Latin America are expected to ease back as global demand slows," said Crosse. (Khaleej Times)


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Qatar urged todevelop technology-intensive SMEs

Qatar needs to develop a Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) sector and make it as technology intensive as possible to pave the way for setting up research and development (R&D), according to an economics expert.

R&D is something that requires finance and a lot of institutional support, but in the absence of an SME sector and the collaboration of universities, there can be no R&D within the SME, said Dr Milford Bateman of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in remarks to The Peninsula.

There was no SME network in place in Qatar at the moment and institutional SME support structures in Qatar were largely absent, said Bateman, noting that a lot of the research and development that take place in EU countries are undertaken in SME sector.

He said that there was a need to establish specialised SME support institution providing direct and long term programme support to SMEs to get established and to grow.

Such initiatives as the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) can help in this direction, he noted, but the Park is rather centered on very high specification industries.

The focus should be the introduction of SMEs across a wide range of industries starting with oil and gas in much bigger number, the idea being to increase the numbers of employees and the numbers of the SMEs themselves, he said.

But it was crucial to identify what technologies they needed and from where and inject training and finance to embed them locally, he said, adding there was a need to cluster SMEs together into Business Incubators specifically for oil and gas-related SMEs.

He added that it was also necessary to provide full support package (feasibility, start-up and growth) to develop subcontracting networks "It is a much bigger vision, but not so high technology as say QSTP," said Bateman who is also Visiting Professor of Economics at the University of Pula in Croatia.

Companies with advanced technologies in developed countries are more than willing to transfer technology, but for a price, he said when asked whether they were reluctant to share their know-how.

He said that for international oil and gas companies the idea to support local SMEs was quite routine and they fully accept government requirements that they introduce specific programmes supporting SMEs.

However, there should be constrains on these companies when they come in the country, rather than simply paying money over in terms of revenues with no real spin-off benefit.

There should be conditions attached to agreements with major companies in terms of know how transfer to SMEs which, he pointed out, is at the heart of the Chinese example. "They have got to get something on to the table if they want to join the party. And that wants need to be done and this is possible, because it happens in most of the oil and gas countries," he added.

Bateman presented a report of the Fact Finding Mission on SMEs in Qatar at the workshop which was organised by the General Secretariat of the Development Planning (GSDP) in collaboration with the UNDP. (the peninsula)

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Citibank UAE $1m SME credit

Citibank is offering a credit facility of up to $1m for SME owners in the UAE. The facility, called Property Power, will be secured against freehold properties owned by customers in projects by Emaar, Nakheel and Dubai Properties. Terms are up to ten years and it carries an overdraft. (ameinfo.com)

A commendable initiative which might be very useful for young entrepreneurs. But just wondering if an SME owner young or old has the power to buy a propoerty why wouldn't he or she invest it into the business himself?


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Emirates Engineering Apprenticeship Programme for Expatriates

Emirates will commence the Emirates Engineering Apprenticeship programme for Expatriates from September 2007.

This unique programme is designed to develop trained aircraft mechanics to service our growing fleet. With a projected growth in the fleet to over 200 aircraft within the next five years, it is essential to position highly-skilled mechanics to work on these aircraft, performing the regular checks and services required.

This two-year Apprenticeship programme will include classroom sessions and a year of extensive on-the-job training within Emirates Engineering.

At the end of this apprenticeship programme, successful students will be absorbed into Emirates as Junior Aircraft Mechanics. This programme aims to train graduates to a General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA)/European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) 'A' licence standard.

The programme is specifically designed for students who are mechanically-minded and passionate about the aviation industry.
To fulfil the minimum selection criterion, candidates should have completed at least 10 years of schooling with good grades in maths and physics. They must have the legal right to live in the U.A.E (preferably on residence visa, sponsored by their parents). The first batch of the apprenticeship programme will comprise 24 expatriate students, for which the selection process will commence at the end of July 2007.

For more information about the programme, visit the Emirates Group Careers Website under advertisement reference: JAM/JG/7609 (www.emiratesgroupcareers.com). Those interested in recommending their family or friends are requested to visit the website and have their referrals apply online on or before 15th July 2007.

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UAE New Work Permit Laws for Students over 15

The Ministry of Labour (MoL) will allow students above the age of 15 and people residing in the country on sponsorships of their parents or relatives to seek employment, according to Minister of Labour Dr Ali bin Abdullah Al Ka'abi. "According to the Cabinet decision taken on Sunday, we want to protect labourers' rights and give a chance to workers to work in the country legally. Hence, we will allow students above 15 years to enter the labour market,” Dr Al Ka'abi told Khaleej Times.

The international labour law and human rights charters stipulate that children should not work in heavy duty environment, such as construction sites. The minister said: "Students can take up light jobs such as in cafes, restaurants and hotels during holidays.”

"The government is always keen to abide by the international labour standards and the human rights charters following directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai,” he added.
end post (Khaleej Times)

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Private Equity in Gulf Untapped

The Gulf's private equity market remains underdeveloped, according to a report by Ithmar Capital and Dow Jones. The report, titled 'The Impact of Private Equity on the GCC', says the private equity market in the GCC reached $10bn in 2006, just under a third of the $33.2bn raised across emerging markets in Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Mena region. But the report predicts private equity will grow as a result of rapid economic growth, high liquidity, high fiscal and trade surpluses and interest from internationals looking to hedge investments.
end post (ameinfo.com)

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Bahrain Business Outlook Bright

Confidence in the future prospects for business in Bahrain among local businessmen has increased in the second quarter of this year, a new study says. The study was released by HSBC Middle East.

The latest HSBC Gulf Business Confidence Index - a comprehensive survey of confidence levels among GCC business people - reports confidence among Bahrain's business community has risen nine index points on first quarter results. The index is calculated using the results from the first quarter as a base, with a score of 100.

The latest second quarter survey measures changes from that base to indicate rising or falling levels of business confidence.

A score greater than 100 indicates a shift in the positive direction. A score lower than 100 indicates that business confidence is showing a negative trend.

Bahrain's latest score is 109 - a clear increase in the confidence recorded earlier this year.

That increase in confidence puts the country second only to Qatar, on 114, and the second quarter survey showed the UAE, Saudi and Oman are almost exactly on a par with first quarter, with Kuwait falling to a score of 95.

Overall, HSBC said the figures showed the majority of workers maintaining their positive outlook on prospects for the next quarter.

Compiled with polling organisation YouGov Siraj, HSBC surveyed 1,063 business people in the GCC states. The second quarter results show a strong correlation to the first quarter, with the prevailing mood of business once again being one of expansion and growth.

Among the key findings are that 57 per cent expect profits to grow by more than 5 per cent this year, against 59 per cent in the first quarter and more than half (52 per cent) are planning to increase investment in their business this year.

'The consistency of results in the Index reflects the sustained strength of the regional business environment in the first half of this year,' said HSBC Global Banking in the Middle East chief executive Antoine Cahuzac,.

'We continue to operate in a benign environment for business, and the Index reflects the positive outlook among the business customers of HSBC in the region,' he added.

Among the risks that the Gulf's business community face are rising inflation, rising property costs, and constraints on human capital.

More than 49 per cent of businesses see inflation as a threat, up from 48 per cent in the first quarter. The challenge of keeping up with staffing requirements has fallen slightly from 29 per cent to 25 per cent, although it remains an issue. The cost of real estate remains a major challenge, with 47 per cent citing this overhead as having a negative impact on their business - unchanged from first quarter.

'The findings of the Business Confidence Index underline what we are hearing from our customers: that Gulf business remains in good health,' said HSBC Middle East regional head of commercial banking Keith Bradley. (Trade Arabia News Service)

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Bahrain Family Business Association Calls for legislations to Protect Family Business’

Bahrain must create legislation that is dedicated to protecting the interests of family businesses, says a local entrepreneur.

Ninety-four per cent of all businesses in Bahrain are family-owned, yet there are no laws defining what constitutes a family business, said Arab Centre for the Development of the Arab Family Business board member Dr Yousef Mashal.

'The government should start implementing new rules and regulations that will free family businesses from the strict conditions of the usual limited liability and public companies,' he said.
'Some countries have created private-public limited companies, which are a combination of limited and public companies.

'BMW, Ford and Kellogg's for example are family businesses that are run according to special laws and this is needed because if anything happens to the company it will affect the family directly.'

Dr Mashal said new legislation would also help family businesses survive to the second and third generations and beyond.

He said it was also crucial for each business to create a family council, which would be responsible for solving problems and helping develop the company.

According to the latest study by the centre, 52.7 per cent of family businesses in Bahrain are still run by the founders and 40.2 per cent by the second generation.

A total of 48.7 per cent of businesses have less than two of the founding members still involved in the business, indicating they must still be young companies and still in the hands of the owner, added the board member.

'Only 1.4 per cent belong to the third generation,' said Dr Mashal, who is also Mashal Group chief executive officer.

'And 28.5 per cent of family businesses were started by founders after finishing secondary school, which tells us that companies are still managed by high school educated owners.

'11.7 per cent of parents would like their children to work in the family business, but the tendency is to let them make up their own minds.

'And 62.9 per cent of the second generation regret having worked in the family business.'

Meanwhile, the future challenges facing family businesses in Bahrain will be discussed at a forum at Beit Al Quran, Manama, from 8.30pm tonight.

It is organised by the Bahrain Family Business Association.

Association president Khalid Kanoo said that because around 95 per cent of businesses were family owned, they were strategically important to the national economy and therefore needed to be better protected.

He said 30 per cent of family businesses worldwide carry on to the second generation, 14 per cent to the third generation and only three per cent continue into the fourth generation and beyond.

'The problems facing these businesses include globalisation and expansion of the market and therefore extensive efforts are needed to make them more competitive,' he said.

'The current and future challenges facing these businesses should be of great importance and policies are needed to strengthen their protection.' (Trade Arabia News Service)

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Dubai Mercantile Exchange says IPO an option

The Dubai Mercantile Exchange is considering an initial public offering as one of its options for future growth, the DME chairman said.

The DME, backed by the New York Mercantile Exchange, launched on June 1 with its debut futures contract in Oman sour crude.

The Dubai exchange is competing for the sour crude futures market with the Atlanta-based IntercontinentalExchange, Nymex's principal competitor.

'An IPO of the DME may be an option for the future,' DME chairman Ahmad Sharaf said.

'However, it is still early days for the exchange and we are focusing on growing the business. At this point, no decision has been made on possible timelines for any potential IPO or, indeed, whether an IPO will actually take place.'

The DME is working to build trading volumes in its Oman futures, as it looks to avoid the fate of several previous failed attempts on other exchanges to launch high-sulphur, or sour crude contracts.

The Oman contract is the latest attempt to provide a futures link to crude supply from the Middle East. The region provides more than 30 per cent of the world's 85 million barrels per day (bpd) crude oil and much of it goes to Asia.

But the contract has yet to attract much volume from Asian refiners, and sees most activity during New York trading hours.

DME chief executive Gary King said he expected volume to pick up next month once traders are more familiar with the exchange's settlement procedure.

The exchange was also working on a jet fuel futures contract for launch before the end of the year and has previously said it is looking at futures contracts outside of the energy sector.

Dubai's Tatweer and the Nymex each own a 32.5 per cent stake in the DME. The Oman government has 30 per cent and the remaining five per cent stake is held by DME floor members.Reuters


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Foreigners to have 100% Ownership in UAE companies

Minister for Economy Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi yesterday said the UAE may allow foreigners the right to own 100 per cent shares of companies in certain sectors of economy including the services sector. "Under the new Companies Law, the UAE may allow foreigners to own 100 per cent of companies in the services industry," she said.

"We have received comments from the private sector, chambers of commerce and industry, last week...The comments from private sector are very important,", she told reporters at the launch of 'Investors' guide to the UAE'.

She said Companies Law will be sent to the cabinet by the end of the summer, though, she did not give any time frame for promulgation of the law, saying there were several procedural formalities involved.

The minister said companies in the finance sector will be allowed majority foreign ownership.

In reply to a question, she said that there is no need for a national exchange or a merger of Abu Dhabi and Dubai financial markets, as present set up has strategic dimension.

"We have no problem with the two stock exchanges operating in their separate domains," she told a questioner.

Shaikha Lubna also ruled the possibility to bring the regulatory functions of banking and non-banking institutions under the purview of one authority, as is being discussed in Qatar, on the lines of Financial Services Authority of UK.

"Though, at the Emirates Securities and Commodities Authority (ESCA) we have a strong presence of Central Bank of the UAE," she said.

She, however, hinted that there would be a separate regulatory authority for the insurance sector.

The minister further said she got interim approval from the cabinet last year for the greater role for ESCA in evaluating and processing the applications for Initial Public Offering s (IPOs), thus by-passing the earlier role of Ministry of Economy.

Earlier, Shaikha Lubna launched the 'Investors' guide to the UAE'. The annual guidebook highlights potential investment opportunities in different business sectors of the UAE and, at the same time, provides details of the legal requirements as well as up-to-date information for investors who intend to start a business in the country.

She termed the guidebook an attempt to compile all essential information regarding the UAE business environment in an easy-to-read format.

"We have tried to provide comprehensive and accurate information, which honestly reflects the industrial economic reality and which will be a useful tool for companies and individuals wishing to invest in the UAE," she said.

Published by Concept Media, the guidebook has eight chapters, each of which covers a different aspect of the UAE society and business environment.

Published by Concept Media, the guidebook has eight chapters and it covers a various aspects of the UAE society and business environment. The book will be available on sale soon at leading outlets in the UAE and will also be extensively distributed in international markets.

"In 2006, the UAE recorded a nominal GDP growth rate of 23.4 per cent with an overall nominal GDP figure of Dh599 billion," said Shaikha Lubna.

The tremendous increase in foreign investment, is a major factor in the development of the UAE, and has paved the way for investment in future projects.

"The International Monetary Fund estimates that the net Foreign Direct Investment inflows reached more than $11 billion in 2005," she said.

According to approximate figures by the Central Bank of the UAE, the IMF figures for the FDI for 2006 were $12.8 billion compared with $9.2 billion in 2004.

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UAE Finanace houses sign Cooperation agreement to enhance Forex & Commodities Trading and Investment

NOOR CAPITAL and Advanced Currency Markets (ACM) today signed a cooperation agreement providing NoorCapital Clients with access to the advanced trading facilities provided by internationally leading Forex & Commodities trading broker ACM.

This partnership is a valuable business match between a pioneering UAE investment house and an international trading and investment counterpart. Not only will this agreement open new avenues for UAE and GCC investors, it will also yield positive results in the regional finance market.

"This partnership is going to enhance the diverse financial services that we offer to our client base across the GCC, and is an added value to the many exciting products and investment opportunities that Noor Capital is seeking to launch in the near future." Said Dr. Hani Shammah, CEO of Noor Capital.

With a global transaction volume averaging $100 billion every month, and some 60,000 site visitors per day, ACM's trading and investment offering for the region and its regional partners is quite substantial. "We are very excited about expanding our client base to cover Noor Capital's local and regional investors, and will in return offer Forex & Commodities trading opportunities that have proven great value to our diverse client portfolio, and are sure to yield great results to our new valued partner in the region," concluded Saber Daboussi, GM of ACM Middle East & Asia.

Signing the MoU were Dr. Hani Shammah from Noor Capital and his ACM counterpart Mr. Saber Daboussi. Also representing Noor Capital was Mr. Hussain Al-Awaid, CEO of Noor capital's brokerage arm, Noor Financial Services.

Noor Capital is a Private Joint Stock Company investment house licensed and regulated by the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates with an authorized capital of AED 1.2 Billion and a paid-up capital of AED 342.9 Million. The company's main financial services include asset management, investment banking, private equity, wealth management, treasury and structured products, international and local brokerage.

ACM is Swiss Based Brokerage House offering clients transparency, low margins and simplicity of use of its online Forex & Commodities trading platform. ACM is the first online Forex & Commodities broker to implant in the Middle East & Asia, and is the only online trading platform to offer fully Islamic conditions to its clients.(menafn.com)

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QSTP - Carnegir Mellon Qatar Launch Entrepreneurship Program

The Qatar Science & Technology Park and Carnegie Mellon University have launched a training course for entrepreneurs. The Executive Entrepreneurship Certificate Program is a nine-month part-time course designed to teach managers and executives how to build technology-based business. The course is run by Carnegie Mellon's Tepper School of Business.

Being there on the same day that the program was formally launched I had the chance to meet the professors who would be managing and running the program. It was impressive to see that such attention is being paid to the most vital need of the region. Development of entrepreneurial skills are very essential for the regions growth. The Chair of Entrepreneurship program from Carnegie Mellon, a true entrepreneur at heart would bring knowledge to students that is not only academic but time tested and worthy.
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Abraaj Capital closes Largest Private Equity Transaction in history of MENA Region

Abraaj Capital's US$1.41 billion leveraged buyout (LBO) acquisition of 100 per cent of the shares of Egyptian Fertilizers Company (EFC), a private joint stock company and one of Egypt's largest private-sector fertilizer manufacturers and exporters, was made by the firm through its Infrastructure and Growth Capital Fund (IGCF) and Abraaj Buyout Fund II (ABOF II).

Dubai Capital Group (DCG), the regional asset management arm of Dubai Group, Saudi-based Rashed Al Rashed & Sons Group and other prominent regional firms have co-invested in this historic transaction. Together with Abraaj Capital, these strategic partners will pursue further growth opportunities in this fast-growing sector across the Middle East and Africa. Mustafa Farid, Chief Executive Officer of DCG, will join Abraaj representatives on the Board of EFC.

Deutsche Bank acted as advisors and provided the acquisition finance for the EFC transaction.

EFC was established in 1998 as a free-zone joint stock company in the Northwestern Suez Economic Zone, near Egypt's Sokhna Port. The company, which operates two factories and employs approximately 600 staff, distributes its products worldwide. EFC's main products are granulated urea and liquid ammonia, nitrogen-based fertilizers that are widely used in the agricultural industry in Egypt and abroad. Especially in the United States and Europe, demand for urea is increasing as a result of expanded production of biofuels such as ethanol.

Sheikh Abdulrahman Ali Al Turki, Chairman of Abraaj Capital, said:

'The region is witnessing unprecedented growth in both foreign and domestic investment. The acquisition of EFC exemplifies our confidence in Egypt's increased attractiveness as an investment destination. Rising levels of regional cross-border capital flows are leading to greater economic integration and an even stronger MENA economy.'

Arif Naqvi, Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Abraaj Capital, said: 'The size and scope of this transaction represents a landmark for the region and the private equity industry here. EFC is one of the most efficient firms in the high-growth global fertilizer industry. With state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, an experienced management team, and competitive labour and production costs, EFC will continue to lead the sector in Egypt, while also increasing its international reach.'

He continued: 'Today's announcement signals Abraaj Capital's ongoing commitment to the economic development of Egypt, following our landmark investment in Cairo-headquartered EFG-Hermes last year.'

In September 2006 Abraaj became the single largest shareholder in leading investment bank EFG-Hermes by way of a capital increase bringing Abraaj's own issued share capital to US$1 billion. Abraaj Capital is today one of the largest foreign investors in Egypt.(ameinfo.com)

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$3.39 trillion to be Invested in Mid East Hotels and Tourism by 2020

The Middle East Hotel Outlook 2020, an update of the groundbreaking Global Futures and Foresight (GFF) research study on the Future of Travel and Tourism in the Middle East, was unveiled during The Hotel Show, today.

According to the study, which covers 13 Middle Eastern countries, over US$3.39 trillion will be invested in regional hotels and supporting infrastructure by 2020. The study, which is taking a 'futures' perspective on the trends and drivers shaping travel and tourism in the region to 2020 and beyond has identified plans to add at least 750,000 hotel rooms to the hospitality landscape from Egypt to Iran. They found projected construction costs for the most recent announcements from over 30 developers, investors and operators vary from US$100,000 to US$2.3m per room.

"The research draws on a range of methods to explore potential scenarios, challenges and opportunities for regional travel and tourism and provides practical advice on how players in the sector can factor these insights into their planning," said Rohit Talwar, Joint CEO of GFF and co-author of the study.

The study has three main deliverables - the Pathfinder Report launched on May 1st 2007, a full study report to be launched in November 2007 and a 'Response from the Region' to be launched in summer 2008. This latest update analyses some of the most recent key hotel project developments announced since completing the research for the Pathfinder Report. The research highlights five key emerging strategic challenges for the hotel sector - managing the risk of overcapacity, direct action to address resource shortages, differentiation, innovation and reducing the growing environmental impact of the hotel sector.

"A concerted effort is required if key environmental issues are to be addressed. Industry players must drive down the consumption of resources and the generation of waste and emissions throughout the lifecycle of a hotel from construction to operation. With so many new developments underway, the region is in a position to leapfrog existing standards and establish global environmental best practices in the construction and operation of these new hotels," added Talwar.

"Correctly analysing demand cycles both at the macro and micro levels is essential for the sake of national economies and for individual operators. Hotel and tourism players need to start modelling different possible future scenarios to understand the levels of demand required to meet targets for revenue per available room (RevPAR) and to help develop strategies for overcoming any weakness in demand or potential overcapacity," said David Smith, GFF Joint Chief Executive and co-author of the report.

"In our experience, such scenarios help an organisation 'rehearse the future' and prepare for a range of possibilities," added Smith.

"Given the scale of likely human resource demand and the competition from around the world for the best service talent, regional hotel owners and operators need to take a long term perspective and think strategically about how as an industry they will cultivate sufficient staff from around the world to meet future demand, " said Talwar. He went to add that "recently the World Travel and Tourism Council forecast that 1.5 million extra jobs would be created in the sector, but we now estimate that with the new announcements, the figure could be closer to 2 - 2.5 million. This may be an opportunity for collective action by the industry to invest in primary, secondary and tertiary education of future hotel staff in different locations around the world."

The study highlights that with so many high end properties coming to market, guests and their travel agents will have a wide range of options to select from. The challenge for operators will be to differentiate their proposition, both in terms of brand positioning and in their service delivery so as to maximise on the strongest form of advertising, 'word of mouth' recommendation.

'Research studies such as this are invaluable to the sustainable growth of the hospitality industry. The region is already setting international standards for innovation in the new developments planned and those already underway. As the report suggests, the challenge will be to keep innovating but also to continuously drive industry best practice to new levels,' said Bernard Walsh, Managing Director, dmg world media dubai Ltd.
The Hotel Show 2007 is taking place at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre (DIEC) until Tuesday 5th June. (MenaFN.com)

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Over 100 Students Asked Veteran Panel of Entrepreneurs How They can make Their Business Dreams a Reality; Panel Answered Questions and then Held Competition for Best Business Plan

Dubai youths feel that the country and their schools are not doing enough to encourage their leadership and entrepreneurial skills. As a result, AIESEC, the leading international student organization and longest standing NGO, set up a one-day seminar to cater to this need and demand.

The seminar was held at the American University in Dubai on Saturday, May 26th, from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Entry fee was 25 Dirhams.

Honored guests and key note speakers imparted their knowledge on what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur. All of the panelists agreed that all successful business plans have sprung from just an idea. However, this idea must present an old idea in a new way or be completely original. Panelists stressed the importance of having original ideas so as to encourage the students to think in innovative ways and not intimidate them with the technicalities of making a business plan.

Another key point stressed was the presentation of this idea. Dr. Dwayne Banks, business dean of AUD, exemplified presentation by telling a story of how a coat vendor in the U.S. had begun to sell quality coats for merely $15. Within a few weeks of opening his coat business, this vendor noticed no one was buying his coats. Confused as to why people wouldn’t buy a quality product for such a reasonable price, the vendor sought the consultation of a friend. His friend told him to increase the price of the product, because people associate quality with price. Heeding his friend’s advice, the vendor priced the coats at over $100. In just a week the coats began to sell out.

“You need to think like your customers,” said Dr. Banks in explaining the importance of psychology when starting a business.

The panelists divulged other knowledgeable tidbits such as: exude confidence and be organized, tenacious, and intrepid, take risks and do not be afraid of failure.

During the Q & A session student hands pointedly sprung up. The main questions revolved around funding and where they can get help to finance their entrepreneurial dreams. Dr. Banks assured the students that although such concerns are valid, they should not be discouraged if they do not have the finances to start a business. He said many people and businesses in Dubai are able to finance and thirsty for such entrepreneurial projects. The only downfall, Dr. Banks explained, is that there are not enough people quenching this thirst or taking the initiative to start their own businesses.

The moderator, Alexander Mc Nabb from Spot On, suggested the lack of entrepreneurial spirit in the UAE stems from a culture which does not nurture leadership projects. He explained that in the United States young children entertain themselves by holding lemonade stands in their neighborhoods. These lemonade stands are prepared by the children and also priced at the children’s discretion. Thus, teaching youths how to run a business and the skills needed to do so in the future. He said such activities are needed in Dubai.

In an attempt to nurture and foster an entrepreneurial environment, the students were asked to divide into nine separate working groups of their interest. In these working groups the students read case studies on the topic of entrepreneurship and then drafted their own business plan.

The working groupings were divided into nine such categories: Environment, Women, Youth, Culture, Economy, Arts, Family, etc.

The competition was so fierce and projects so intriguing that the panel of judges could not decide on one winner. As a result, two groups took home the winning title. The prize given was a 13-week entrepreneurship course awarded by INJAZ. This course will guide students and give them the resources to start their own business.

Shareena Mubarak from Abu Dhabi Women’s college said of the seminar, “Thank you AIESEC for the seminar. I had great day and met many interesting people. I am looking forward more opportunities like this in the future.”

Stella Grancheva, Vice President of AIESEC in the UAE said of the seminar, “It was amazing to see students from Dubai and Abu Dhabi coming on a weekend day to interact with Academia, business and NGOs and to develop business ideas...There is so much entrepreneurship spirit in this country, it only needs a bit of support from all of us.”

Moderator Alexander Mc Nabb posted on his blog (fakeplasticsouks.blogspot.com):
“…the student groups attending the event not only listened politely to the presentations and the panel session, but asked the panellists questions that reflected evident interest in the whole thing before they went off and worked together, never having met each other before, coming out of the two-hour workshop having worked effectively as teams to produce presentations that had ideas behind them and that were presented creatively. I’ve worked with teams of PR people that have had 3-5 years of practical work experience that couldn’t do that.”

Names of honored guests: Dr. Dwayne Banks, Business Dean of AUD; Mr. Krishna Murthy, General Manager of Acer Computers; and Mr. Abdulhussain Tejani, Human Resources senior director for TNS Middle East & Africa.

Names of guest panelists:
Academia Representatives:
a. Dr Kenneth J Preiss, Zayed University, Abu Dhabi
b. Dr Monica Gallant, Dubai Women's College - NGO Representative
a. Sulaf Al-Zu'bi, Executive Director, INJAZ - UAE Business Representatives
a. Sherif Abaza, Sundance events
b. Abdul Tejani, TNS

Names of Judges:
Dr Kenneth J Preiss, Zayed University, Abu Dhabi; Sulaf Al-Zu'bi, Executive Director, INJAZ UAE; Sherif Abaza, Sundance events; Rahul Mohnani, President of AIESEC in Dubai; J.Trivikram, Human Resources Manager, Acer Computer (M.E.) Ltd.

Audra Pakalnyte
Telephone: +971 4 390 0335
Email: audrone.pakalnyte@aiesec.net


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UAE Third in Air Traffic

The United Arab Emirates is in for a stiffer competition from players in the global aviation industry as a world leader in air traffic forecasting rated UAE as the third fastest growing country in the world after India and mainland China in terms of the number of air passengers.

Catherine Harmel-Tourneur, director of Canada-based ACI Traffic Forecast Advisory Services, said UAE's annual average growth of people leaving and coming through airports is estimated at 6.7 per cent from 2006 to 2025. She added that forecast for India's annual growth rate for the 20-year period is 10.4 per cent and, China's, 8.1 per cent.

"There's gonna be more competition because you're so successful and other people will copy you," Harmel-Tourneur told participants in a recent conference held on the sidelines of the just concluded Airport Expo Dubai, an exhibition of products and services in the global aviation industry.

While other industry players called for the improvement of air traffic control management in the expanding and growing number of airports in the UAE, Harmel-Tourneur praised local aviation authorities saying the country, especially Dubai, is years ahead than other countries in the region in terms of traffic development.

She said that ACI Traffic's latest forecast covers passengers, cargo and aircraft movements in 230 airports worldwide, representing 2.3 billion passengers or about 60 per cent of global activity.

ACI Traffic is the air traffic forecasting arm of Airports Council International (ACI) Worldwide, the world's trade association for airports, and DKMA, a leading aviation market research and analysis specialist.

Harmel-Tourneur said Asian and Middle Eastern countries would "grow the quickest" in terms of air traffic because these are young markets compared to those in Europe and the Americas.

She noted Asia Pacific's tremendous growth rate because of the populous nations of China and India, and the Middle East due to massive investments. She also stressed the growing number of populations having more disposable incomes in both regions.

She said that over the 20-year period total passenger traffic at world airports was estimated to reach from 4.32 billion in 2006 to 9.1 billion by 2025.

The growth rate forecast was set at 4.9 per cent in 2006 (but the actual growth was 4.8 per cent), 5.7 per cent for this year, and 3.6 per cent by 2025.

Streamline Marketing Group, organiser of the three-day Airport Show, said a good forecast allows the industry to better prepare for future scenarios of air traffic movement.

"An increase in passenger numbers does not correspond to an increase in air traffic," it said in a conference programme.

It stressed that there are now bigger aircraft carrying higher passenger loads, not to mention the low-cost carriers using secondary airports and the impending introduction of A-380.

By world region, the Middle East was at the top three with 4.6 per cent growth in passenger volume over 20 years against the 2005 figure, along with Asia Pacific and Africa with 5.8 per cent each. Europe and North America were seen to grow slowly, with 3.6 per cent and 2.7 per cent, respectively.

The average growth rates by airport category were estimated at 4.4 per cent 3.7 per cent for 2005 to 2010 and 3.7 per cent over the 20-year period for large and medium airports. But small airports would grow the fastest at 5.7 per cent during the 2005-2010 period and 4.4 per cent over 20 years. (Khaleej TImes)


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Skills Crunch in GCC Customer Service Personnel

A severe crunch in the skills of customer service personnel in the region is threatening the quality of service being delivered, says an expert. The industry is facing the challenge of recruiting, training, managing and retaining the right people, said Mohamed Fouad, COPC services manager, Xceed Professional Services.

There is an urgent need to invest in training both management and staff to maximise performance of the customer contact operations, he said.

“In a best practice organisation, the important thing isn’t having coaches and supervisors simply to report what calls agents are doing. What is important is that customer satisfaction levels accurately reflect the agents’ performance. And in order to achieve this desired result, contact centre managers need to address this gap or they may find their organisations losing market share as customer satisfaction levels fall,” said Fouad.

“Training the managers on industry standards is therefore critical to keep the company profitable. The COPC-2000 CSP Standard is the industry’s first, most rigorous and only high performance set of global best practices. Many of the world’s leading companies require knowledge of such best practices for their first line management,” he said.

Bringing global expertise to the region, Xceed Professional Services, the premier customer contact consultancy in the Mena region, is holding its Registered Coordinator Training course with COPC Inc (Customer Operations Performance Centre Inc) in Dubai from June 3 to 7 at the Burjuman Rotana Suites.

The Registered Coordinator Training introduces service organisations to the COPC Family of Standards, provides insight into operational performance management and the key drivers around revenue, service, cost and quality as well as global best practices and benchmarks.

For five days, attendees will receive information on how to provide a consistent customer experience across all channels and stay ahead of competitors. COPC Inc has trained over 5,000 registered coordinators worldwide, from leading organisations such as Accenture, Canon, General Motors, Lenovo, Starwood Hotels and Volvo.

“The course is not about individuals receiving a certificate,” Fouad added. “It is based on practical, real-world examples, and focuses on the key elements executives and managers need to drive business results. All organisations, banks, operators, airlines, hotels, etc, claim to be customer-centric, and all claim having high levels of customer satisfaction. But at the management level, there is a very low awareness of the real metrics required to make such a claim. With COPC Inc., we want to bring these metrics and global standards to the region to help contact centres reduce the time, cost and risk to achieve operational excellence.” -(Trade Arabia News Service)

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\Women in Business’ Conference Muscat, Oman.

The ‘Women in Business’ conference is attracting great interest from speakers, sponsors and delegates from around the Gulf. It will be held on June 2 and 3 at Shangri La’s Barr al Jissah Resort and Spa in Muscat.

Dr. Sheikha Hissah Saad Abdullah Al Sabah is the latest speaker to join the impressive list of outstanding leaders and successful businesswomen addressing the participants. The Wave has confirmed its position as platinum sponsor, Omantel and Oman Mobile have joined as Partners.

Rihab Al Hajj, business development manager of Envent, said: “We are delighted to be receiving such enormous support from neighbouring countries as well as within the Sultanate and continue to handle many enquiries on a daily basis.

“We are honoured that Dr Sheikha Hissah, chairperson of the Council of Arab Businesswomen, chairperson of Kuwait Businesswomen Committee and also deputy chairperson of Woman Affairs Committee, has given her support to the conference and agreed to be part of this fascinating line-up of speakers.”

Thanks to the generous educational sponsorship of Qalhat LNG, senior undergraduate business students from Sultan Qaboos University and business colleges in Muscat have been invited to attend the conference as delegates, free of charge, while Silver Sponsor Ericsson, is sending all female employees to the groundbreaking event.

“I see this event as very important for women from a variety of backgrounds, countries and industries to gather for good discussion and knowledge sharing,” said Ericsson general manager Peter A Anderson.

“Seeing the participation list of speakers, I am convinced that all attendees will walk out very much empowered and this is exactly why Ericsson Oman is proud to send our employees to this excellent initiative,” he said.

The conference’s Platinum Sponsor, The Wave, will host a visit of the prominent speakers at their project on the 1st June.

Omantel and Oman Mobile will be supporting the conference with the latest technology in telecommunications and two of their senior executives namely, Aneth Arosemena, head of sales and marketing for Oman Mobile and Fathiya Nasser Al Farsi, IT director of Omantel, will share knowledge and expertise with the delegates

The conference is being held under the patronage of Sayyida Aliya bint Thuwaini Al Said, with one of the most prominent group of speakers to be assembled in Oman at any one time.

Delegates will have the opportunity to benefit from inspirational opportunities for mutual support and networking.

The energising event seeks to create new contacts and co-operation, impacting on business in the future.

Impressive speakers include Anousheh Ansari, the first female private space explorer who has received multiple honours including the Working Woman’s National Entrepreneurial Excellence Award, Isabel Aguilera, CEO of Google Spain and Portugal, ranked by Forbes Magazine as one of the 50 most influential businesswomen in the world and Michelle Mone, the self-made, leading UK entrepreneur, who has won many accolades including the ‘World Young Business Achiever Award’, ‘Business Woman of the Year’ and one of the top 30 woman entrepreneurs in the UK.

The powerful line-up continues with Farhana Huq, named as the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2005, Aisha AL-Kharusi, Deputy Director of Strategic Analysis – Middle East, Boeing International, Malak Al Shaibani, general manager of Corporate Affairs for the $2.4 billion Sohar-Aluminium project and Zahra’a Taher, Managing Director of T&M Eventscom, Bahrain.

Gulf Air is the official carrier for the conference, and other interested parties are invited to contact the organisers at the earliest opportunity in order to participate in this not-to-be-missed historic forum.

The packed two-day programme, not only boasts phenomenal speakers but also incorporates productive and interactive workshops, luncheon on both days, valuable networking opportunities, a glittering reception, and an exhibition of sponsors, organisations and companies showing their newest products, services and innovations, providing for face-to-face meeting opportunities with future business contacts.

Detailed programme information can be viewed on the conference website at womeninbusiness-oman.com with registration discounts applicable for group bookings and for individuals.

The Women in Business Conference will provide the tools, techniques, information and contacts that will prove invaluable for the future and are sure to leave an indilible mark on all those who participate. (Trade Arabia News Service)

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Thani Investments Bond Sale

Thani Investments plans to sell $100 million of Islamic bonds in June for general corporate funding purposes, co-lead arranger Bahrain's Liquidity Management Centre (LMC) said.

Emirates Islamic Bank, a unit of Emirates Bank International, and the LMC have been mandated to arrange the sale of the five-year Islamic bonds, or sukuk, LMC said in a statement.

The bonds will be priced at 2.5 per cent over the six-month London interbank offered rate, LMC said. (Reuters)
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Shamil Bank Bahrain's capital-protected Mo

Bahrain-based Shamil Bank has launched the 100 per cent capital-protected Shamil Navigator Modaraba. Moradaba or Navigator is an innovative, Sharia'a compliant investment product that gives investors an exposure to the best returns achieved on a basket of global equities and commodities.

The subscription is open for one month only starting on May 28, 2007 and closing on June 28, 2007. As a sign of confidence in the product, Shamil Bank will co-invest, from its own funds, an additional 10 per cent of the total capital raised in the Class A investment pool at the close of the subscription period.

The Navigator is a 3-year structured product with 100 per cent capital protection which provides exposure to two profiles of diversified assets comprising global Islamic equities, as well as commodities. The product differs from other capital protected investments currently in the market through its ability to "Navigate" between the better of the two performing profiles at maturity (equity overweight or commodity overweight) to provide for a participation in the best performing profile.

Commenting on the product, Ahmad Tayara, head of investment banking at Shamil Bank said: "By offering capital protection at maturity, the product is ideally suited for those investors who would want to take a balanced exposure to global equities and commodities, without risking their invested capital".

Tayara said: "To ensure that investors get the best returns from both global Islamic equities and commodities, the Navigator takes an exposure on two profiles, an equity overweight profile (75 per cent equity, 25 per cent commodities) and a commodity overweight profile (75 per cent commodity, 25 per cent equity). The basket of equities consists of an equally weighted exposure to 18 Islamic stocks selected from the Dow Jones Islamic Index while the basket of commodities consists of an equally weighted exposure to 4 commodities (excluding gold) and 4 indices. At maturity, the Navigator would measure the performance of both profiles. Investors would first receive their invested capital, and then the best performance among the two profiles, multiplied by a predefined participation rate (70 per cent for Class A and 35 per cent for Class B)."

Commenting on the two investment classes, he said: "The product offers the flexibility to cater for two classes of investors: Class A Investors receive distributions only at maturity based on 70 per cent of the return of the best performing profile in addition to their invested capital. Class B Investors receive distributions close to 2 per cent and at maturity 35 per cent of the return of the best performing profile in addition to their invested capital."

He said: "Since we are upbeat on the medium term outlook for global equities and commodities, Shamil has decided to co-invest in the product along with our investors, which should give them additional confidence in the expected returns of the product."

Tayara continued: "Due to the diversity of the underlying assets and the equal weight allocated to each one of them, investors gain an automatic hedge against the swings in the global equities and commodities markets while investing a minimum of $10,000 in the Navigator and gaining exposure to global financial markets. Add to that the feature of "capital protection at maturity" and we have a product which would effectively suit the risk appetite of the majority of retail investors".

"Investment Banking has always been keen to structure and offer retail products to complement the range of products and services offered by Shamil's retail banking to their valued customers.

"While retail products do not form the bulk of the Investment Banking product offering, we make it a point to release a few of them in the course of a year to cater for a wider investors' audience and create further visibility to Shamil Bank" Tayara concluded.-(TradeArabia News Service)

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