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Saudi Arabia Improves Ranking on Wolrd Bank Survey

Saudi Arabia has advanced 15 places in the World Bank's Doing Business 2008 survey, reported Gulf News. The kingdom has now reached number 23 in the table and has been flagged up as one of the world's fastest reformers with regards to developing an attractive climate for new businesses. One of the improvements has seen companies be able to start up their businesses in 15 days, as opposed to 39 previously.
via ameinfo.com end post

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Dubai Financial Market Draws more Investment

Foreign investors are stepping up their activities on the Dubai stock market. The value of shares and bonds bought by foreign investors or non-UAE nationals, during last week (September 23 to 27) has reached Dh1.570 billion (0.427 billion).

It comprises 35.2 per cent of the total value of stocks traded at the Dubai Financial Market during the period.

The value of stocks sold by foreign investors during the same period reached Dh1.183 billion comprising 26.5 per cent of the total value of stocks traded during the period. Net foreign investment on the market reached Dh 387.1 million during the same period, as aggregate buy.

The value of stocks bought by institutional investors during last week reached Dh1.268 billion comprising 28.4 per cent of the total value of stocks traded during the period.

The value of stocks sold by institutional investors during the period reached Dh 903.4 million which constitutes 20.2 per cent of the total value of stocks traded during the period.

Net institutional investment on the market reached Dh364.5 million during the period as aggregate buy. – TradeArabia News Service


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Iran, Pakistan to sign Multi-billion Dollar Gas Deal

Iran will sign a multi-billion dollar gas pipeline deal with Pakistan in the absence of India by the end of October, a top Iranian official said. 'The peace pipeline contract ... will be ready to sign by the end of October,' Hojatollah Ghanimi-Fard, Iran's representative to the talks, told the oil ministry's news service Shana.

Indian officials have been absent from the talks over the so-called 'peace pipeline' between Iranian and Pakistani officials to finalise the long-delayed deal, which would see Iranian gas sent to Pakistan and to India via Pakistan.

'It was agreed that the price be calculated according to the current gas market standards,' Ghanimi-Fard was quoted as saying by the Irna news agency.

'Pakistan asked for 60 million cubic metres per day, 30 million of which was approved,' he said.

'All issues of disagreement were studied again and all points have been finalized,' he said, adding the final meeting will be held in Pakistan in mid-October to 'study the text of the contract to see if it does not contradict agreements.'

Ghanimi-Fard said India was welcome to join the contract 'whenever this country's problems are resolved and it will be a tripartite deal”.

An Iranain official said earlier this week that India was not taking part in the discussions because it had yet to finalise a deal with Pakistan over the cost of transit across its neighbour's territory.

Discussions on the $7.4-billion project started in 1994, but have been held up by technical and commercial issues.

There have also been strong objections to the pipeline from the US -- a key friend of Pakistan and an ever closer ally of India -- which is at loggerheads with Iran over its contested nuclear programme.

The 2,600-km pipeline from Iran's giant South Pars gas field would initially carry around 60 million standard cubic metres gas per day.

Iran has the world's second largest gas reserves after Russia but until now has remained a relatively minor player in the global export market. via Trade Arabia


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Masdar awarded 'Sustainable City of the Year' by Euromoney

Masdar, the landmark initiative by the Abu Dhabi government to promote advanced energy and sustainability worldwide, has been named 'Sustainable City of the Year' at the Euromoney and Ernst & Young Global Renewable Energy Awards 2007.

The award, the latest plaudit for the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, was presented at the 9th Annual Global Renewable Energy and Finance Forum (REFF) in London on Monday (September 24, 2007) by veteran BBC journalist John Humphrys. The REFF is Europe's largest and most established event for the renewable energy finance community.

Masdar CEO Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber said the award shows the centrality of the Masdar Initiative in the global renewable energy sphere.

'This is a valuable recognition of Masdar's commitment to and vision of a clean energy future for the world, and provides a significant impetus for us to move forward,' he said. 'We are honoured by this gesture of trust and confidence from our peers in the industry.'

The REFF conferences unite public and private investors, project developers and senior executives from across the renewable energy, technology and corporate funding sectors worldwide. Conference delegates and members of the public can vote in the Global Renewable Energy Awards, which recognise the projects, companies and individuals who have made significant contributions to the renewable energy sector.

The 2007 awards were presented in 12 categories, including IPO of the Year, Emerging Technology Promoter of the Year, Climate Change Investment Programme of the Year and Sustainable Region/City of the Year.

In June, Masdar received the first World Clean Energy Award from the Transatlantic21 Association in Basel, Switzerland.

Masdar is a comprehensive Abu Dhabi government program addressing the issues of sustainable energy sources and environmental practices. The program is focused on developing and commercializing advanced and innovative technologies in renewable, alternative and sustainable energies. via ameinfo.com


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New Laws by Monopoly Control Authority Pakistan

The Monopoly Control Authority (MCA) is introducing a new law to restrain companies/manufacturers from sharply lowering prices of consumer goods, in a bid to create monopoly, by preventing entry of new competitors or forcing existing companies out of the market.

Terming the new law as historic, MCA Chairman Khalid Mirza told Business Recorder on Thursday the Authority has taken a bold step to notify a "general order" preventing companies from committing 'predatory pricing', in the long-term interest of consumers.

The MCA has notified regulations to deal with the 'predatory pricing', a method where a manufacturer, producer or proprietor sharply drops a price of goods to non-competitive level to drive out competitors and subsequently raise the price sharply.

This act of the companies would be considered as "unreasonable monopoly power", which would be subjected to penalty under the provisions of Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices (Control and Prevention) Ordinance, 1970.

The MCA chief said the enforcement of the new law would fill a major gap in regulating framework for competitors. Most astonishing aspect of the 'predatory pricing' is that the established company, who deliberately bring its prices to extreme low level for causing damage to new competitors, would later raise prices, exceptionally.

In short term, the consumer thinks that the price of a product is very low, but once the competitor is out of the market, the company would recover all their losses by raising prices, he said, adding this sharp increase in prices at a later stage would cause real damage to the consumers in long-term and needs to be checked under MRTPO.

In some cases, the Authority has observed that the companies/manufacturers have been allegedly involved in substantially decreasing prices of finished products to prevent entry of new competitors or forcing the existing competitions out of the market. The company intending to make such practice would be considered as involved in "unreasonable monopoly power".

Khalid Mirza said the Authority has adopted a definite measure for the first time to effectively regulate and retain the manipulative practice of predatory pricing. The aim of predatory pricing is to drive out competitors from or prevent new entrants in the market, he added.

Meanwhile, sources said that certain companies in leading sectors of Pakistan have committed "predatory pricing" to kick out their competitors from the market. In the past, a top Tetra Pack Company had attempted to create monopoly by lowering prices of milk and mineral water products to force a new competitor out of the market. The prices of milk were again substantially raised once the new competitor left the business.

Quoting another example, sources said that a manufacturer of polyester also tried to create monopoly when a new competitor entered into the business. Similarly, cement units had decreased prices of cement in the past when a new competitor entered into the market.

Following is the text of the SRO(I)/2007 issued on Thursday: Suggestions or objections from any person or undertaking affected by the following General Order are invited by October 24, 2007, for the consideration of the Authority under section 7 of the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices (Control and Prevention) Ordinance, 1970.

Pursuant to section 7 of the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices (Control and Prevention) Ordinance, 1970 and the enabling powers conferred on the MCA in that behalf, the Authority has prescribed that the following is deemed to constitute a practice prohibited under the Ordinance:

Any price or fee charged by an undertaking that is below the average long-run incremental cost (average variable costs plus any product specific fixed costs) incurred in the production of goods or in the provisions of services, (or such cost reasonably determined as imputable to the undertaking) which has or is likely to have the effect of driving competitors out of a market or preventing the entry of new competitors in the market, shall be deemed to be the exercise of unreasonable monopoly power. Copyright Business Recorder, 2007


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Dollar Vs. Euro- New Low

The dollar fell to a record low against the euro for a sixth straight session on Thursday. US economic data this week have provided no respite for the beleaguered dollar and have affirmed the view the Fed will cut its benchmark rate again after last week's half percentage point cut to 4.75 percent.

Overall, the reports provided evidence of further US housing market decline, deteriorating consumer confidence and a sharper-than-expected fall in durable goods orders. Chances of an October rate cut are down to about 84 percent from as high as 92 percent, according to Reuters data.

But traders will look to data due later in the day on new home sales in August and weekly jobless claims to see whether it makes a stronger case for the Fed to cut again, which would further hurt the dollar's yield appeal.

"It's more of the same. There is still the broad dollar bear trend so the dollar is performing poorly, particularly against the high-yielders like the Australian dollar, Turkish lira, and Hungarian forint," said Chris Turner, head of FX strategy at ING.

The euro rose to a new peak of $1.4166 versus the dollar, according to Reuters data. BY 0749 GMT, the euro traded at $1.4140, up 0.1 percent on the day. It has risen nearly 4 percent against the dollar so far this month.

The dollar index was at 78.450 after sliding to a 15-year low of 78.210 earlier this week, near an all-time low of 78.190.

The US currency edged up 0.1 percent against the broadly weaker yen at 115.59 yen.

US economic data stays a focal point for the foreign exchange market after the Fed cited the need to forestall damage to the broader economy from credit troubles when it cut interest rates last week.

Markets are awaiting the release of August new US home sales, which are estimated to have fallen to an annualised rate of 830,000 from 870,000 in July.

Analysts said an unexpectedly strong report could prompt a technical rebound in the dollar which some investors felt had been oversold.

Traders still expect the euro to continue its climb, although some worried that the euro zone economy may be hit by the US subprime mortgage mess and global credit crunch.

"The Fed's rate cuts and a weaker dollar may act to prevent the (US) economy suffering too much, which ironically given the extent of bad news already priced into the dollar, may eventually help the currency to recover. But we are probably some way off a turnaround in the dollar yet," said Calyon in a research note.

The yen, meanwhile, was under pressure against the euro as Tokyo shares rallied, drawing some investors back to carry trades in which the low-yielding currency is used to fund high-yielding currencies and assets.

The euro rose to a new 7-week high of 163.76 yen, with the euro paying little attention to a slightly softer than expected German jobs report for September and an in-line reading for August euro zone M3 money supply growth.

High-yielding currencies such as the Australian and New Zeal and dollar have also done well, rising 0.4 percent and 0. 7 percent versus the greenback. - Reuters

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GCC Losing Out Talent

The Middle East is losing out in the war for talent, according to a global survey by search firm Heidrick & Struggles and the Economist Intelligence Unit. Saudi Arabia and Egypt rank in the bottom five of the Global Talent Index, a new 30-country survey, and their ranking is forecast to remain static over the next five years. The report said a strategic approach is required to ensure the region develops, attracts and retains the best people (ameinfo.com)

It would be interesting to see if a study on how fast the region is losing existing or aspiring entrepreneurs. It is not only the new entrepreneurs who would walk out but also existing businesses would suffer.
end post

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Omantel to Acquire WorldCall Pakistan

Omantel has announced that its company board has approved acquiring a majority share in Worldcall Limited, a Pakistan-based telecom company. No terms were released. Finalization of the deal is subject to the approval of Worldcall shareholders and the Pakistani regulatory authorities.
"A break through for a Pakistani Company, speaks of how the booming IT and Telecom Sector in the sixth biggest market of the world is being eyed by foreign stake holders."
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Nasdaq, Dubai raise OMX bid, control 47.6 pc shares

Nasdaq and Borse Dubai on Wednesday raised their bid for OMX to $4.9 billion and said they had control of 47.6 percent of shares in the Nordic exchange operator. The bid was raised to 265 Swedish crowns per OMX share from 230 crowns, the firms said in a statement.

The two firms also said they had lowered the acceptance level to complete the offer to above 50 percent from the previous level of above 90 percent.

Earlier, a report said they had won agreement from Investor AB, OMX's biggest shareholder, and other investors to sell their shares at 265 Swedish crowns ($40.57) each.

The other sharesholders are Nordea Bank, OMX chief executive officer Magnus Bocker and founder Olof Stenhammar.

Meanwhile, Borse Dubai chief executive said they hoped to get a controlling stake in OMX soon.

Per Larsson said it was difficult to say when they would cross the 50 percent barrier.

"We are talking to other shareholders as well. How soon we will get over 50 percent is difficult to say, but hopefully fairly soon," Larsson said in a telephone interview.- Reuters

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Microsoft eyes Facebook Stake

Microsoft is reported to be in talks to buy a stake in Facebook that could value the social networking website at as much as $10 billion (£5 billion). The talks could lead to a showdown with Microsoft's rival, Google, which is also keen to invest in Facebook, the Wall Street Journal says.

The newspaper says Microsoft wants to buy up to 5 per cent of Facebook, for a price between $300 million and $500 million. Microsoft and Google both declined to comment on the report.

Facebook already has a relationship with Microsoft, which is the exclusive provider of banner advertising and sponsored links on the site.

'We think it's likely that Microsoft would be considering an investment in Facebook given their existing relationship and the strong growth potential of that market,' said Andy Miedler from the US brokerage Edward Jones.

One of Facebook's directors, Peter Thiel, recently said that the site would consider a buyout offer in excess of $10 billion.

More than 40 million people use Facebook to set up personal web pages and communicate with each other.

The company expects to make a profit of $30 million this year so on conventional valuations a $10 billion price tag would look expensive.

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Khudee - Business Plan Competiton Pakistan

The Indus Entrepreneurs, TIE Lahore, Khudee Business Plan Competition

Business Plan Competition "Ideas for Tomorrow" being organized by TIE Lahore and Lahore University of Management Sciences. It is a very commendable efforts for Pakistani Entrepreneurs and those who seek to do business in Pakistan.

Awards and Prizes

  • 1st Prize RS 500,000

  • 2nd Prize RS 300,000

  • 3rd Prize RS 200,000

Eligibility Criteria

  • Team size: min 3 and max 5 members.
  • At least one member must be Pakistani.
  • Team must be multi-disciplinary.
  • Participant's minimum age: 21 years.

For more details please log on to their website http://www.businessplan.pk/. Bizzwhizzdubai is encouraging team formations and support, those interested please contact us or leave comments on our website.

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Pakistan briefs Wolrd Bank on establishing Foreign Investment Counsel

Secretary, Board of Investment (BoI) Mushtaq Malik, here on Thursday apprised a delegation of the World Bank regarding the proposal for the establishing "Foreign Investment Counsel" (FIC).

"This will eventually bring together selected global Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) to give advise on policy issues to the Government of Pakistan", he told a six-member World Bank's delegation which called on the Secretary Bol on Thursday.

The delegation comprised Said al-Habsy Operations Adviser Pakistan, Satu Kristiina J Kahkonen, Lead Economist, Paul Wade, Senior Economist, Zahid Hasnain Senior Economist, Shaheen Mali, Research Analyst and Sayem Ali Analyst.

The World Bank delegation shared their common views about the impressive economic turnaround in Pakistan, which has also been depicted in many of the World Bank reports. The group asked about the future strategy of the government to carry on the momentum of foreign investment inflows and inquired about the Government's policies to promote FDI in the Power Sector and export oriented businesses.

The Secretary said that during this current fiscal year 2006-07, gross domestic product (GDP) growth rose at a better pace and stood 7 percent, regarding the GDP agriculture growth 5 percent, industries by 8.4 percent, others 8 percent growth recorded. He also briefed the delegates that BoI was actively playing its due part and representing investors' interests.

BoI proactively passes a policy concern and holds stakeholders meetings regularly. He further explained that BoI is involved in processing and providing work visas, permissions for opening of branch offices/liaison offices, airport entry passes, provincial security clearance to expatriates and dealing with grievances of investors. BoI also has two International Directorates, which work very closely with Pakistan's missions abroad and foreign missions in Pakistan for facilitating Investment projects, delegations' visits and approaching their markets, he added.

He said BoI has also appointed honorary investment counsellors in key countries, preferably of non-Pakistani origin, to interact with business communities and lure them to invest in Pakistan. BoI has also taken an initiative to sign MoUs with foreign investment promotion agencies. He told the delegation that BoI signed a MoU with Competitiveness Support Fund (CSF) for improving the investment climate and enhancing competitiveness of economy and with Infrastructure Project Development Facility (IPDF) for similar purpose. via Business Recorder.


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Saudi Arabia Multiple Entry Visas for Businessmen

Saudi Arabia's government has authorized its embassies abroad and other immigration authorities to issue multiple-entry visas valid for 12 months to foreign businessmen, reported Arab News. The multiple-entry visa means that business travelers to the Kingdom will no longer need to go through the process of getting a letter, authorized by the local chamber of commerce, each time they need to come to Saudi Arabia.
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Sharjah unveils New Rent Law

"The UAE's Sharjah emirate has enacted a new rent law that prohibits landlords from increasing the rent until three years after signing the lease, and every two years thereafter, reported Gulf News. Under the new rule, increases can be no higher than rents of properties of similar value, and Sharjah's dispute committee is authorised to determine the rent increase if there is disagreement between landlord and tenant. " via ameinfo.com
It is a commendable step but depends how it is understood and implimented. The biggest ambiguity is that of the rent being no higher than rents of similar properties, specially for businesses with some lands being owned by a company, some being rented rented by old tenets and others being given to new ones, fair price determination is difficult. More over landlords would get old tenets evacuated to rent to new ones on higher rate.
end post

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Nasdaq DIFX - the new MENA Brand

Nasdaq will take a 33 percent stake in the Dubai International Financial Exchange, invest a further $50 million and allow Dubai to use its name in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, Borse Dubai said.

Under its share-swap deal with Nasdaq over Sweden-based bourse operator OMX, state-owned Borse Dubai will also have a separate joint venture agreement with Nasdaq in China, Borse Dubai chairman Essa Kazim told Reuters from Stockholm.

"The great thing for us is that we will now be able to use the Nasdaq brand in the Mena region and the sub-continent," Kazim said.

The Dubai International Financial Exchange will be re-named Nasdaq DIFX, Kazim said. - Reuters


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Borse Dubai and Nasdaq - European Exchanges Trade Off

Borse Dubai and the Nasdaq Stock Market on Thursday announced an agreement that will allow Nasdaq to secure the pan-Nordic stock-exchange operator OMX in return for giving up most of its stake in the London Stock Exchange as well as a fifth of itself.

The plan would put an end to months of fighting between Dubai and the Nasdaq over the fate of the OMX -- and would give Middle East ownership to one of America's two main stock exchanges for the first time. But a rival Qatar fund stepped in on Thursday and threatened to derail the whole pact.

The deal calls for Dubai to buy a nearly 20% stake in the Nasdaq Stock Market NDAQ at an implied price of $41.04 a share, or a 14% premium to Wednesday's close. Dubai will get only 5% voting rights, however, with the rest held by an independent trustee.

Dubai also will purchase 28% of the London Stock Exchange at a price of 14.14 pounds a share from the Nasdaq, which will retain a 3.5% stake it secured in an unsuccessful takeover attempt.

Dubai then will transfer all the shares it acquires in the OMX with its 230 Swedish-kronor-a-share bid to the Nasdaq.

Nasdaq also will take a "strategic shareholding" in DIFX, Borse Dubai's market, which will take on the Nasdaq name. The companies didn't say what investment the Nasdaq will make in the DIFX.

Bob Greifeld, Nasdaq's president and chief executive, said on a conference call that the deal will allow it to share technology with the OMX and bring further liquidity into the Swedish and Nordic stock markets.

"We want to take advantage of opportunities in the post-MiFID world," he added, a reference to a piece of European legislation that will force best-execution practices on brokers, which many expect will increase competition for European stock trading.

OMX shares initially traded sharply lower on the news, as the Dubai-Nasdaq fight came to an end.

But the shares rebounded, rising 2.3% at 246 kronor after the Qatar Investment Authority said it was "evaluating" the situation and told shareholders of the Stockholm, Copenhagen and Helsinki exchange not to take action.

The Qatar announcement came as executives from Nasdaq and Dubai were on a conference call -- eliciting a "no comment" from Greifeld.

Dubai gets Nasdaq boost ... and LSE investment

Essa Kazim, Borse Dubai's chairman, said the deal will help it develop a "world-class" Dubai market, noting $2.3 trillion in excess liquidity in the region that he said needed to be put to work.

"The growth potential is huge," Kazim added, saying that the region may emerge as the world's fifth-largest economic bloc. "You are all aware of oil prices at very high levels."

Nasdaq's Greifeld agreed. "Nasdaq combined with the DIFX will bring additional liquidity and help the economic lives of many," he said.

As for the LSE, the Dubai executives called it a "purely financial investment." There have been no talks between LSE CEO Clara Furse and Borse Dubai.

LSE shares rallied 9.7% to 16.01 pounds a share as investors speculated the U.K. exchange could once again be in play.

"The market certainly thinks so," said Michael Long, an analyst at Keefe Bruyette & Woods. "Dubai has already denied it, so a further denial won't make any difference."

He doesn't expect Dubai to launch a bid for the LSE anytime soon as it will have to concentrate on pushing through the OMX-Nasdaq deal.

But Long added he wouldn't expect the exchange to "sit on its hands" should Qatar -- which previously had been considered a front-runner to buy the LSE stake that Nasdaq put for sale -- mount a bid.

Needs U.S. stamp of approval

In addition to OMX shareholder approval, the exchanges will seek clearance from the U.S. government for the deal.

Nasdaq's two largest shareholders already have approved the deal, Greifeld said.

Nasdaq plans to rename itself Nasdaq OMX Group, with four OMX directors and two Dubai directors sitting on what would be a 16-member board. Stockholm will be the center of the European market activities.

J.P. Morgan, SEB Enskilda and UBS advised Nasdaq, and HSBC and ABG Sundal Collier advised Borse Dubai.


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ME Stores to have no Imact from Virgin Megastore sale

Following the announcement that Richard Branson is to sell the British and Irish Virgin Megastore, the Middle East operation has confirmed that this move will have no effect on its local and regional business as it is a franchised operation owned by Lagardere Group, the French media company. They have confirmed that all Virgin branding in the Middle East will remain intact.

However, the 125 British and Irish outlets will be re-branded in line with the recent management buyout. The Virgin Megastore worldwide was split six years ago between the Virgin Group and Lagardere. Virgin kept the British, Ireland, USA and Japan outlets while Lagardere obtained shops in France and travel retail locations globally including Australia, China, Greece, Middle East and North Africa.
Virgin is currently the largest entertainment retailer in the Middle East region, with more than a 60 per cent share of the market.
Virgin employs more than 700 people regionally, receiving an average of 15,000 customers daily and operates a total of nine retail stores in the United Arab.
via Bahrain Tribune

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'Pakistan in top 10 in Trade dynamism, Market flexibility'

Pakistan has been listed among top 10 countries in the world business dynamism and market flexibility, according to a 'Competitiveness Support Fund' (CSF) report, issued here on Saturday. The report says that Pakistan has shown serious efforts in improving competitiveness ranking which the World Economic Forum measures on performance basis of any country.

It said that Pakistan's private sector played a pivotal role in making Pakistan competitive in the world market. The report said that CSF undertook a number of initiatives during the last over one year to help Pakistan get fit in global market. It engaged public and private sector leaders to address the economic issues jointly.

CSF is an independent body established in 2006 to reposition Pakistan's economy on a more competitive global footing. It is a joint initiative of Ministry of Finance and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)1.

The precursor work identified several gaps in important sectors of the economy. CSF proposed a series of interventions to accelerate the adoption of practical competitiveness-building initiatives in Pakistan. The gaps lack innovative approaches, linkages between academic community and industry, poor dialogue on policy and reform issues, slow commercialisation of innovation and weakness in the legal framework for a viable economic environment.

CSF is meant to help Pakistan achieve the goal of a competitive economy by providing input into policy decisions, improve regulatory and administrative frameworks and enhancing public-private partnerships. It will also provide technical assistance and co-financing for initiatives related to entrepreneurship, business incubators and private-sector led initiatives with research institutes and universities that contribute to creating a knowledge-driven economy.

CSF activities will help the producers to ultimate product quality. By obtaining better value and better prices for quality products, and improving co-operation throughout the Pakistani economy, CSF will contribute to poverty alleviation by providing more income for producers and better employment prospects for employees.

The government has included, for the first time, competitiveness into poverty reduction strategy. Its salient features were private sector development, intensifying deregulation, privatisation and liberalisation, enhancing competitiveness and productivity, special economic zones, value-addition in agriculture and riding the globalisation wave in export markets.

CSF also carried out a study on special economic zones (SEZs) by benchmarking Pakistan against China, India, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand. Globalised economies require policies based on de-regulation, privatisation and liberalisation. This theme requires reduction in tariff barriers and custom duties for imports, the prices and increase in quality of the products for the consumers.

CSF has developed an action plan on unifying the policies and promoting the effective creation of special economic zones in Pakistan. This action plan includes developing an Act on Special Economic Zones which is based mostly on the Indian model and includes the legal and institutional framework for establishing and effectively operating the SEZs, incentives for developers and investors, standards for SEZ approval and the role of private sector and provincial and federal governments. via Business Recorder Pakistan


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Careers Expo to be hosted in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi will be hosting Najah, a comprehensive education, training and careers exhibition, in November. The event will be held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre from November 4 to 6 and offers the UAE's 500,000 students essential guidance for further education, careers advice and business industry information.

It is a 'must attend event' for school, college and university students, and their parents, who are eager to learn more about education opportunities, said an official spokesman.

The event, which is supported by the Abu Dhabi Emiratisation Council and the Ministry for Labour, is expected to attract more than 6,000 visitors, including teachers, students, university deans, Ministry of Education personnel, HR managers and education professionals.

The exclusive features of the show include topic-specific seminars, CV and job profiling, and career advice sessions. The three-day event will give visitors the opportunity to meet career counsellors on a one to one basis to discuss how to achieve life goals.

Organised by the Institute for International Research (IIR), the show will support the ongoing Emiratisation programme through a specialised careers counselling service provided by Tawteen, which will be highlighting its initiatives and projects to help nationals find careers in the government and private sectors.

Among the leading international and local learning institutes and companies taking part at Najah will be Abu Dhabi University, the University of Sharjah, the Paris Sorbonne University-Abu Dhabi, ADNOC, Abn Amro and Schlumberger.

'As the number of young people in the UAE grows at such a fast rate it is essential for students and parents to research their opportunities as fully as possible so that they are able to make the right educational decisions,' said Exhibitions Director of NAJAH Christine Weaver.TradeArabia News Service

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Chevening announces scholarships for Bahraini Nationals

Bahraini nationals aged between 25 and 35 are invited to apply for post-graduate Chevening scholarships to British universities.

The scholarships, for the 2008-2009 academic year, are being offered by the British Embassy in co-operation with the British Council.

Application forms can be downloaded from www.britishcouncil.org/bahrain or www.chevening.com.

Once the application form is filled, it must be returned to the British Council by January 2 next year at the latest.

Chevening scholarships are the British government's premier scholarship scheme for international students. It provides talented young graduates and young professionals with the opportunity to pursue post-graduate courses or research and to become familiar with the UK and the English language in some of Britain's finest universities.

Most Chevening scholarships are for one-year Masters courses and the competition is fierce. Chevening Scholarships are offered in more than 150 countries worldwide and currently provide more than 2,400 scholarships a year in almost every field of study at a cost of £41 million.

The British government contributes £32m a year, while co-sponsoring partners in business and industry, contribute £9m. In Bahrain, the sponsors include Bapco, HSBC, BBBF, AXA and Bahrain National Holdings. -TradeArabia News Service

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Interests of OMX Shareholders and Management not Aligned - UAE

The battle between US stock exchange Nasdaq and Borse Dubai for ownership of the Nordic stock exchange operator, OMX AB, has taken a further twist following an article by the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper saying that the interests of OMX management and shareholders may not be aligned.

The article states that the interests of OMX AB management and shareholders may be divergent, and cites a filing made by Nasdaq to the US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) in connection to the OMX bid. According to the newspaper, the filing said: "In its recommendation to shareholders to accept our bid, OMX shareholders should be conscious that members of OMX's board and executive leadership, have relationships, agreements and arrangements (with us) which gives them an interest in the offer which can exceed and diverge from OMX shareholders interest."

OMX management allegedly has "millions" of reasons to want Nasdaq's bid to succeed. This includes more than doubling their pay in a potential merger when five OMX board members take a place on the Nasdaq board.

Another Swedish daily, Dagens Nyheter, has also reported that Boecker, along with OMX president, Jukka Ruuska had allegedly negotiated secret "golden parachutes" with Nasdaq in August last year, soon after the takeover negotiations with Nasdaq had begun.

Separately, news agency Reuters has said that Sweden's financial regulator, Finansinspektionen (FI) is likely to announce findings next week from an investigation into whether OMX had engaged in bid interference, quoting head of prospectuses and listings at the financial regulator, Annika von Haartman. On 4 September the regulator said that it would be investigating OMX for possibly using inappropriate defence measures against Borse Dubai's unsolicited bid for the exchange operator.

Borse Dubai has until September 14 to present its OMX offer document to the regulator. Nasdaq has until October 12 to present its offer. Nasdaq made a $3.7 billion cash-stock offer for OMX in May and Borse Dubai made a $4 billion all-cash offer in August.


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E-commerce spending over $1.15b in UAE

The number of e-commerce consumers in the UAE has exceeded 1.16 million, according to a report by the Arab Advisors Group. These users have spent over $1.15 billion in the past 12 months, the report said. The survey of internet users in the UAE reveals substantial adoption of e-commerce in the affluent and booming economy.

About 51.2 per cent of internet users in the UAE reported purchasing products and services online and through their mobile handsets over the past 12 months. Based on the survey findings, the Arab Advisors Group estimates e-commerce users in the UAE to exceed 1.16 million consumers who have spent over $1.15 billion over the past 12 months.

The survey, 'UAE internet users and e-commerce survey 2007', concluded on September 7. With over 75 detailed exhibits and 64 pages, it provides the results of a major comprehensive online survey of internet users in the UAE.

The survey covered internet usage, e-commerce and cellular usage and habits of internet users in the UAE.

"The booming economy of the UAE, its burgeoning population and wide adoption of internet, provide an ideal context for a thriving e-commerce scene.

"Our major survey of internet users in the UAE revealed a massive size for B2C e-commerce in the country. This presents opportunities for global and regional e-commerce players to tap into this growing market," Jawad Abbassi, founder and general manager of the Arab Advisors Group said.

The survey received online replies from 1,108 respondents who answered the survey questions online. The survey was conducted on the general internet population, including both genders and all age groups across the UAE.

The online survey yields a confidence level of 99 per cent with a margin of error of less than three per cent.

"The majority of UAE e-commerce users make their payments through credit cards: 83.8 per cent of e-commerce users reported using credit cards as their e-commerce method of payment.

"Following credit cards, 31.7 per cent of e-commerce users reported using bank account transfers for their payments," Hussam Barhoush, Arab Advisors Group research analyst wrote in the report.


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Gulf Central Bankers failed on Monetary Union Plans

Investors betting on an appreciation of the dollar-pegged United Arab Emirates dirham pushed the currency to a six-week high on Monday after Gulf central bankers failed to revive a monetary union plan.

Bids on the dirham firmed to 3.6718 per dollar in early trading, the highest level since July 26, the day after Kuwait allowed the dinar to appreciate to an 18-year high against the sliding US dollar.

Kuwait dropped its peg to the dollar in May saying the dollar's slide on global markets was making imports more expensive and fuelling inflation. The dollar hit a 15-year low against an index of six major currencies on Monday.

A possible US interest rate cut this month will test the UAE's commitment to a currency peg put in place to prepare for monetary union by 2010, a deadline central bank governors said after a meeting on Saturday would be difficult to meet.

Should the US Federal Reserve cut rates on Sept. 18 as markets expect, the UAE would be under pressure to follow to maintain the relative value of its currency, and ignore rising inflation, which hit a 19-year high of 9.3 percent last year.

'With inflation rates rising across the region there is increasing pressure for a policy response,' Deutsche Bank regional economist Caroline Grady said in a note on Monday.

The dirham eased to 3.6726 per dollar at 1045 GMT, partly because traders were not betting on a quick revaluation.

'People aren't expecting it to happen in the short term, but the pressure is there,' said a treasury manager at Emirates Bank International Ltd, who asked not to be named.

Governors of the six Gulf Arab states would develop separate policies to tackle rising inflation, Saudi Arabia's central bank governor said after Saturday's meeting.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait and three neighbours had agreed an inflation target of no more than 2 percent above the regional average as part of plans to create a single currency.

With central banks free to chart their own course on monetary policy, economists said changes to the dollar-pegged exchange rate regime were increasingly likely.

'Such comments raise the likelihood of further fx moves across the Gulf with the dirham continuing to be our top pick for the next move,' Grady said.

Deutsche Bank said last week the UAE would allow the dirham to appreciate against the dollar this year.

Monica Malik, chief economist at Cairo-based EFG-Hermes, said such a move probably wouldn't happen this year.

'Gulf countries will not jeopardise currency stability and any currency reform would involve a move to a currency basket like Kuwait, which would allow greater monetary flexibility and the ability to counterbalance any US dollar weakness,' Malik said. - Reuters

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Al Habtoor eyes IPO of Engineering & Other Units

Dubai's Al Habtoor Group said it is considering selling shares in its engineering and other units next year under a new law allowing families to keep control of businesses after initial public offerings.

Leading Australian contractor Leighton Holdings said on Monday it will pay about $707 million for a 45 percent stake in Al Habtoor Engineering as it expands in the Gulf market.

'We are studying a possible public offering of some our companies next year ... the most important one is Al Habtoor Engineering which has billions of dollars in projects,' the group's chairman, Khalaf Al Habtoor, told Al Arabiya television.

Al Habtoor is one of the Middle East's biggest engineering firms and one of the builders of Dubai's sail-shaped Burj Al Arab -- the world's tallest hotel.

Al Habtoor Engineering was established in Dubai in 1970 and has more than 25,000 employees. It is part of the Al Habtoor Group, a family-owned conglomerate that also has interests in hotels, real estate, publishing and luxury cars.

Khalaf Al Habtoor is ranked by Forbes as the 22nd billionaire in the Middle East, with a net worth of some $2.5 billion.

The UAE last month approved a legal amendment allowing families to own as much as 70 per cent of their companies after IPOs. Earlier, families had to sell at least 55 per cent of their stock in IPOs.Reuters

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Dubai Aerospace pulls out of $1.8b Auckland bid

Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) announced that it has abandoned its $1.8 billion bid for a majority stake in Auckland International Airport after mounting opposition to the acquisition in New Zealand and a legal wrangle over higher airport landing charges, Khaleej Times reported.

The Dubai-based company said in a statement that Auckland International Airport Limited (AIAL) and DAE have determined that they have no alternative but to terminate the Merger Implementation Agreement (MIA) on a mutually acceptable basis, including that each party bears its own costs.

DAE, which planned to take between 51 percent and 60 per cent in New Zealand's largest airport, decided to terminate the deal following moves by Air New Zealand to legally challenge the airport's five-year plan to raise landing fees put the deal into question.

Aviation industry analysts described the withdrawal as one of the first setbacks suffered by DAE as the state-owned group seeks to build a global presence for the emirate of Dubai in the aerospace industry.


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Leighton Holdings of Australian Buys stake in Al Habtoor

Al Habtoor Engineering and Leighton Holdings of Australia have agreed to join forces in a landmark transaction worth Dh2.6 billion ($715.4 million) for a 45 per cent stake in the Dubai-based company.

The newly merged entity, Al Habtoor-Leighton will become one of the region's largest multi-disciplined contractors. In this transaction, Leighton Holdings will merge its Leighton International operations in the Arabian Gulf with Al Habtoor Engineering and acquire a 45 per cent stake in the Dubai firm, a move which analysts believe signals the beginning of a new era of mergers and acquisitions involving Gulf's family-owned companies and international groups.

According to Khalaf Al Habtoor, Chairman of Al Habtoor Holding, the strategic tie-up would enable Al Habtoor Engineering to provide the broadest spectrum of construction services, which will further enhance its competitive edge and leadership position.

Analysts said the tie-up with Al Habtoor, one of the biggest engineering firms in the region and one of the builders of the iconic Burj Al Arab, would enable Leighton increased access to a growing market with low risk.

Riad T Al Sadik, Managing Partner of Al Habtoor Engineering, said it was a key strategic move that lays strong foundations for the expansion of both Al Habtoor Engineering and Gulf Leighton in the broader region.

"The combined resources of Al Habtoor Engineering and Leighton will create one of the strongest construction platforms in the region".

Chief Financial Officer of Leighton Holdings, Scott Charlton, said he was delighted to be aligning the Leighton Group with Al Habtoor Engineering, one of the leading construction contractors in the Gulf. "Al Habtoor is regarded as one of the leading builders in the region. Their track record in large-scale building projects is second to none and this complements our expertise in large-scale civil infrastructure projects," said Charlton.

Managing Director of Leighton International, David Savage, said in a statement that Leighton's presence in the Gulf construction market would now be substantially strengthened.

"Since establishing Gulf Leighton just over two years ago, we have secured a number of iconic projects including the Al Shaqab equestrian centre in Doha, Qatar and the Saadiyat Island Expressway in Abu Dhabi.

Leighton International has developed a considerable presence in the Gulf region in its own right but this investment provides us with a quantum leap in one of the world's fastest growing construction markets," said Savage.

"The partnership with Al Habtoor provides us with the increased capacity we require to really capitalise on the huge number of opportunities available. The unique strengths that each company brings will enable all parts of Al Habtoor-Leighton to grow and produce strong results. Al Habtoor has a highly qualified, experienced and professional team with a multi-national workforce in excess of 25,000 employees, and market-leading capability in major building projects," he said.

The consideration paid by Leighton for the stake includes cash and the contribution of Gulf Leighton's assets.

The transaction values Al Habtoor Engineering at Dh7 billion.

EFG-Hermes acted as sole financial adviser to Al Habtoor Engineering on the transaction.

Leighton Holdings Limited is the parent company of Australia's largest project development and contracting group.

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UAE Facilities Management to hit Dh2.5trillion in 25 years

In the next 25 years, the UAE will account for some Dh2.5 trillion out of the Dh3-trillion GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) market for facilities management, an emerging market in the Middle East seeing tremendous growth due to the booming construction sector.

Saudi Arabia will account for Dh352 billion of the total GCC market while Qatar is set to get a share of Dh337 billion, according to UK-based Macdonald and Company, quoting research by the Middle East Strategy Advisors (MESA).
A leading recruitment consultancy solely for the property industry, Macdonald said it will take advantage of such growth through an extensive database of 60,000 employable individuals from across the globe and a team of consultants with good knowledge of the market.

It said in a Press statement that the surge in the market facilities management market began in the later part of 2006 due to the need by developers and investors to sustain quality and control maintenance costs long after the completion of projects.

It also said property developers are now aware of the need for an outsourced facilities management team, prompting a high demand for professionals and service providers in the sector.

"A developer with the right facilities management team will be able to achieve crucial maintenance of the high quality standards of its buildings," said William Buck, international director at Macdonald. "And efficient facilities management is also a way of ensuring customer satisfaction, making it a valuable edge over competitors."

Danielle Le Faucheur, senior consultant at Macdonald, said the traditional practice in the Middle East is that landlords, owners and managers handle the management of real estate properties, resulting in the lack of focus on the way integrated facilities are being handled.

La Faucheur added: "With the shift to a modern concept in facilities management and the continuing construction boom, we expect a heightened demand for practitioners and service providers in this sector."

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Abu Dhabi Group ventures into Mobile Content

A spokesperson for the Abu Dhabi Group announced that the group set up mobile content, offered by Germany's Bertelsmann to telecoms and media markets in several countries throughout Asia and Africa, Gulf News reported.

He further stated that the company bought 50 percent of Bertelsmann's Middle East mobile phone affiliate Arvato Middle East Sales in August of 2007. The group is also planning to establish operations in Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Contents include songs by famous international artists mainly in the United States and Europe and that the company is not only seeking business in the telecoms market but also in the digital media services market including areas of mobile and PC entertainment.

It is worth stating that the Abu Dhabi group has investments in banking, construction, real estate and manufacturing and seeks business in under-penetrated mobile phone markets where growth potential is high.

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Borse Dubai - The Umbrella to Borse Dubai

DFM is known to everyone and so is DIFX. But recently the media started talking about Borse Dubai. Some searches on the net pointed out Borse Dubai to be DIFX, until i found the website for Borse Dubai itself. According to the website of Borse Dubai is:

"Borse Dubai is the holding company for Dubai Financial Market (DFM) and Dubai International Financial Exchange (DIFX). Borse Dubai was created 6 August, 2007 to consolidate the Government of Dubai’s two stock exchanges as well as current investments in other exchanges, expanding Dubai’s position as a global capital market hub."

The site goes on to explain Dubai Financial Market as:

"The Dubai Financial Market (DFM) was established in March 2000 as a public institution having its own independent corporate body. It has recently turned itself into a public shareholding company and lists its shares on its own platform; a first in the region. Its goal is to create a fair, efficient, liquid and transparent marketplace that provides choices through the best utilization of available resources in order to serve all stakeholders. DFM is operating as a secondary market for trading of securities issued by public joint-stock companies, bonds issued by the Federal Government or any of the Local Governments and public institutions in the country, units of investment funds and any other financial instruments, local or foreign, which are accepted by the Market."

Dubai International Financial Exchange is introduced as:

" Launched in September 2005, the Dubai International Financial Exchange (DIFX) is the region’s first international exchange.

A liquid and transparent electronic market with equities, Sukuk, conventional bonds and structured products, with standards comparable to those of leading international exchanges in New York, London and Hong Kong, the DIFX enables regional and international investors and issuers to share in the rapidly growing wealth of its region."

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