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International CES/hometech opens Doors

International CES/hometech, the UAE’s leading consumer electronics show, opened its doors today (25/5/08), with this year’s exhibition expected to be the biggest and most exciting yet.

The show features hundreds of exhibitors in the fields of Consumer Electronics, Home Automation, Networking, In-Car Entertainment, Home Appliances and Gaming.

International CES/hometech is the region’s most popular platform to showcase the hottest new products and trends, as well as the latest technology and innovation in intelligent home systems and timesaving state-of-the-art domestic devices.

“Last year’s event was a tremendous success. This year the International CES/hometech show floor has expanded by 50 percent to accommodate the exhibiting companies and increase in visitors,” said Karen Chupka, senior vice president, events and conferences, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), sponsor of CES/hometech.

“The Middle East and North Africa has a consumer electronics business worth $7 billion a year, with double digit annual sales growth predicted through 2010, so this year’s show promises to be the most exciting yet.”

International CES/hometech features many of the world’s top brands and equipment, from the latest laptops and sound systems to 3D TVs and personal flight simulators, as well as the unique Last Gadget Standing contest.

An annual favourite at the International CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, the world’s largest consumer electronics tradeshow, Last Gadget Standing is making its debut in Dubai. Hosted by technology expert, author and columnist Robin Raskin, the contest will see 10 of the world’s top gadgets compete on stage to be the last gadget standing.

A conference runs alongside the show, featuring talks from Noel Lee, Head Monster of Monster Cable, and senior executives from world-leading electronics companies such as Microsoft, Sony and Intel.

The keynote address will be delivered by Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, UAE Minister for Foreign Trade, in which she will discuss the importance of innovative technology to successful business leaders.

The show is brought to Dubai in partnership with the Consumer Electronics Association, which organises the world’s largest consumer electronics show, the International CES, every January in Las Vegas.

International CES/hometech runs until May 27 at Dubai International Exhibition & Convention Centre, and is open from 10am to 7pm.

The International CES/hometech is the Middle East’s dedicated exhibition for Consumer Electronics, Home Automation, Networking, In-Car Entertainment, Home Appliances and Gaming.

About CEA:

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is the preeminent trade association promoting growth in the $161bn consumer electronics industry. More than 2,200 companies enjoy the benefits of CEA membership, including legislative advocacy, market research, technical training and education, industry promotion and the fostering of business and strategic relationships. CEA also sponsors and manages the International CES – Where Entertainment, Technology and Business Converge. All profits from CES are reinvested into CEA’s industry services. Find CEA online at www.CE.org.

For media information contact:

Sharon Pereira on sharon@matrixdubai.com or Shady Naseraldeen on Shady@matrixdubai.com.

Matrix PR, Dubai
T: +9714 3430888

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GCC in need to create 300,000 more Jobs

The GCC region needs to create over 300,000 jobs and the private sector's role is crucial in creating a huge number of jobs, a senior official at the Economic Development Board, Bahrain, said.

The role of the private sector as a major driving force for social development and in providing the key impetus for economic growth in the region was highlighted at a World Economic Forum panel discussion between leading Arab experts at Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.

Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa, EDB chief executive, took part in the discussion as a member of the Bahrain delegation, emphasising the need for massive investment in educating the youth to provide them with necessary skills for the workplace, to ultimately be well prepared for the challenges of the future. He said that by looking at the examples of smaller countries such as Singapore, Switzerland and Ireland, one can see that investments made in young people have created massive wealth, skilled workers and increased productivity.

He said: "Singapore, for example, has limited natural resources but has still succeeded in overcoming these limitations to develop a highly skilled workforce across various professional classes." Shaikh Mohammed further pointed out that the region's workforce still depended on the public sector for employment even though, according to a McKinsey report, over the past 10 years, the private sector managed to create about 55,000 medium- and high-skilled jobs in the GCC.

The report further underlines that to absorb the number of GCC nationals with a secondary-school degree or higher, the annual figure must rise five-fold, to almost 300,000. To provide a living wage, these jobs must pay at least twice what the private sector jobs offer at present.

Following the panel discussion, Shaikh Mohammed implored, "We can no longer sit back. Now is the time to think of our future generations, and the starting point has to begin with educational reforms.

"We need investments in vocational and technical training if we as a region are to avoid a skills crunch in the years to come. And let us not forget the private sector. They have a pivotal role to play in the design and implementation of future educational and skills training."

This future, he added, is one where the Gulf states are no longer exporters but importers of labour and that the region's economic stability is guaranteed by a highly skilled and flexible workforce. The EDB is a strategic partner at WEF. In a delegation led by Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, Minister of Finance, leading executives and government officials of Bahrain addressed a high-power gathering in several panel discussions to focus on its agenda for a number of key social and economic issues.( via Bahrain Tribune )

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Abu Dhabi Plans to Involves Private Sector in Tourism Policy Making

Abu Dhabi Council for Economic Development (ADCED) would review laws concerning the economy for government consideration to make Abu Dhabi a preferred destination for foreign investors.

In its five-year strategy plan for 2008-2012, which is part of the 2030 economic vision for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, the newly setup Abu Dhabi Council for Economic Development(ADCED), which will maintain an interface with private sector, said it would consult private sector representatives on issues of economic policy.

"We will also develop a process to integrate feedback from public-private communication forums into policy recommendations," said Waleed Al Mokarrab Al Muhairi, director general of ADCED.

He said that the council was established to facilitate economic diversification and growth through greater understanding, cooperation and engagement between the public and private sectors of Abu Dhabi.

In order to achieve this, Al Muhairi said that the ADCED aims to be involved in the coordination on a forum for the private and public sectors that will lead to an objective, creative and open environment for discussing and debating economic issues; enhancing public-private sector partnership; having in place the ideal resources and processes to provide insights and actions on economic issues and creating an enabling environment for attracting foreign direct investment.

Waleed Al Mokarrab Al Muhairi said that the council's vision concentrates on private and public partnership to accelerate Abu Dhabi's position as a sustainable and diversified international economic hub. "The Council's mission is to develop policy recommendations and kick-start initiatives that promote sustainable and diversified economic growth by improving Abu Dhabi's infrastructure and business environment, as well as enhancing human capital development," Al Mokarrab concluded.

On the strategic focus, Mohamed Al Hameli deputy director general of ADCED said, "The Abu Dhabi Council for Economic Development (ADCED) will continue to foster and support economic development within the emirate through the initiation of targeted initiatives in privatisation, economic restructuring, and policy development." (via Khaleej Times) End Post

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UAE - High Rents Hurdle for Women Entrepreneurs

A survey of 110 businesswomen in the UAE, of both Emiratis and other nationalities, has revealed that exorbitant rents in the emirates was one of the major challenges in running their businesses. The findings of the report, "Women Business Owners in the United Arab Emirates", which is a part of a regional project focusing on other countries like Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia, were disclosed at an event yesterday at Dubai Women's College (DWC).

The survey, which was conducted between September and October 2006, also noted that the business women surveyed, aged 25 to 44 years, in the UAE were well-educated and optimistic about their future.

Dr Monica Gallant, Business Department Chair at DWC and UAE research partner, said, "They run small, technology-enhanced, mostly service type businesses that tend to have international connections and are generally self-funded."

At least 73 per cent of them were well-educated and held post-graduate degrees. Of the surveyed women, 47 per cent were Emiratis and rest Europeans, Lebanese, South Africans and Americans.

Dr Gallant said the challenges faced by these women entrepreneurs included, "high costs of rent, finding and keeping good employees, balancing work and family, access to start-up capital, access to technology and being taken seriously as they were women."

Raja Easa Al Gurg, President of Dubai Business Women Council (DBWC), a subsidiary of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), explained that 44 per cent of the women-owned businesses in the UAE are small and only 2 per cent are medium-sized.

The survey results identified that one of the main challenges facing women-owned businesses is access to capital. Two new initiatives have been launched in the UAE to address the needs and to encourage businesswomen to invest in funds that are run by recognised banks and highly recommended investors. For example, Forsa is a fund that caters to wealthy women who aim to invest amounts over Dh1 million. Enmaa is a fund for investors from the business community who wish to invest amounts starting from $1,000.

About 45 per cent of the women felt that one of the three most important areas for the government to address was to create special loan funds or loan guarantee schemes to help business women with financing. As much as 32 per cent favoured the development of a special government advisory board for women's business development issues.

Thirty-seven per cent reported that one of the three most important issues was the reduction in the amount of money it took to register a business and 35 per cent highly desired a change in employment laws to increase business flexibility for hiring and replacing workers.

Gurg emphasised the importance of providing independent studies and precise statistics dealing with different issues and fields concerning the UAE and its women, in particular, and regional and global societies, in general, because of the benefits for decision makers since it helps them set future strategies and plans based on right scientific rules and parameters.(via Khaleej Times)

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Qatar's Inflation rate set to rise Further

Qatar's inflation rate, high as it is, is set to rise further this year, an economic expert has said.

Marios Maratheftis (pictured), Regional Head of Research, (Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan ? Global Markets) of Standard Chartered, told The Peninsula yesterday the inflationary trend is set to continue and can only be reined in through a tightening of Qatar's monetary policy.

However, even if the monetary policy is tightened, it will take time for its effects to set in. "It will take some time to work. It will take a year or so for inflation to go down," said Maratheftis.

Generally though, Maratheftis and Standard Chartered is bullish on Qatar as an investment destination. "There is a long-term vision with an established track record. Diversification is also taking place," he said. (The Peninsula) End Post

Qatar and the rest of the GCC, he said, have been hurt by rises in the prices of steel and other construction materials. There have been delays in deliveries to the GCC as countries like India, China and Brazil are in the middle of construction booms of their own. It has led to a veritable queue for construction essentials.

The end result is projects have been delayed. "There are $2 trillion of projects in the region, a figure that will soon rise to $2.5 trillion. Only 25 percent of projects have been started. Capacity constraints are a challenge,"
he said.

"There are delays in deliveries (of raw materials) to the Gulf. The phenomenon is worsened as the currencies are tied to the US dollar," he said.

Maratheftis feels there is a need to break the Qatari riyal-dollar peg. "A move away would be preferable. But there is also a sense of loyalty (to the greenback)," he said.

The dollar has served the country well in the past and perhaps Qatar's sticking to the currency peg could be a way of showing it has been with the dollar in good times and will stick with it through the bad. Said Maratheftis: "The pegs have been in place a long time and have served the countries well in the past."

Some encouraging signs are being shown in tackling inflation, which is the highest in the region.

"The Qatar Central Bank (QCB) move to impose restrictions is a measure to be welcomed. But there is a need for monetary policy tightening. But we remain confident on Qatar and we do not think it (economic boom) is a one-off," he said.

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UAE - Labour disputes on the rise in Dubai

Over the past few years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of labour disputes in the emirate of Dubai, according to Judge Abdul Qader Moosa Mohammed, Chief of Preliminary Labour Court at the First Instance Court, Dubai Courts.

He attributes the trend to UAE's and specially Dubai's fast-paced growth as a business hub with regional and international business houses launching their operations in every conceivable business activity. Another factor, according to him, is that a greater number of expatriate workers have chosen to take up assignments in the emirate. Lot of residents and entreprenrus in Sharjah, Ajman and Abu Dhabi ofetn setup business or get work in Dubai. The ease of setting up business in Dubai is another reason

The Labour Court was established on November 9, 2006. Besides Judge Mohammed, there are 10 judges - two Emiratis and eight Egyptians ? in the Labour Court. Explaining the procedures of seeking redressal to labour grievances and dispensation of justice, Judge Mohammed said the legal process begins from the Ministry of Labour (MoL).

"Any worker who is facing problems with his employer, including the payment of dues, should follow the proper legal channels. He submits a complaint to the Disputes Section at the MoL. The officials in the section try to resolve the matter within two weeks during which they call both the parties. If the dispute remains unresolved, the ministry refers the matter to the Labour Court along with its remarks," he said.

Judge Mohammed underscored the fact that unlike the Labour Court's verdict, the Ministry of Labour's decision is not binding on the litigants.

As to the costs involved in the filing of a case at the Labour Court, the judge pointed out, "By virtue of Article 5 of the Labour Law, the labourer and his heirs are exempted from the judicial fees at all the stages of the lawsuit process, and the pronouncement and execution of the verdicts."

"If the court dismisses the case, it may order the labourer to pay the costs of the lawsuit partially or fully as it may deem proper in particular cases," he added.

The grounds for dismissal of case could be many, he said. "For instance, the court can dismiss a case if the labourer has filed a suit against his employer, who is not his sponsor. Or in cases where the labourer has deliberately sued the employer with the intention of extending his stay in the country, because MoL does not cancel the labour card of the worker if there is a legal case pending. The case can also be dismissed if there is insufficient evidence or absence of witnesses to support the allegations of the complainant," Judge Mohammed pointed out.

The Labour Court takes one week from the date of filing of the case to notify the party against which the case has been filed. "If the second party is in Dubai, the notification should happen within one week; and if the second party lives in another emirate, the notification should happen within 10 days. The second party should be notified three days before the hearing date. On the hearing day the second party comes and is expected to have his defence plea prepared in Arabic, a copy of which is handed over to the first party," Judge Mohammed said.

According to Judge Mohammed, in lawsuits related to financial claims up to Dh20,000, the verdict given by the First Instance Labour Court is final and uncontestable.

If the claims exceed Dh20,000, the case can go to the Appeals Court and if the claims are above Dh200,000, the case shall be decided by the Court of Cassation.

In labour cases where the claims are up to Dh100,000 or less, a single-judge bench examines the litigation, but if the claims are above Dh100,000, the case shall be heard by a three-judge bench, he added.

Talking about the grounds for dismissal of employees, Judge Mohammed said that under Article 120 of the Labour Law, the employer may sack the employee without prior notice if he has justification, including arriving late to work, consuming liquor or drugs before or while at work, or if the employee has not completed the probationary period.

Also, committing a disgraceful act or breaching decency rules at the workplace may give the employer a justification to arbitrarily sack the employee. If the labourer assaults the employer, the employer's assistant or a colleague he may be sacked, the judge pointed out.

Judge Mohammed maintained that as of 2007, all the labour cases referred to the court had been settled.

"When a labour case remains pending it is usually for factors beyond our control. Sometimes, it has something to do with the finalisation of technical reports," he clarified.

"Last month, we introduced a new system where the judge tries to settle the litigation amicably between the parties without resorting to the court procedures," he pointed out. (via Khaleej Times)

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Gulf Depeg may not Yield Quick Fix

A decision by Gulf states to drop their currency pegs to the dollar is unlikely to provide a “quick fix” to slowing inflation as a similar move by Kuwait has only had a small impact in fighting price increases, an IMF official said.
Kuwait has allowed the dinar to appreciate 7.6% against the dollar since it dropped its dollar peg in favour of a basket of currencies, including the euro, the yen and the pound.
Inflation has since accelerated to 9.5% from 5.3% last May.
“A basket for Kuwait has probably worked, but at the margin,” Mohsin Khan, International Monetary Fund regional director for the Middle East and Central Asia, said in an interview in Dubai yesterday. “There is a view that Kuwait’s inflation could have been much higher had they not dropped the peg.”
Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have been under pressure to follow Kuwait and drop their pegs after inflation hit record levels. They have all kept their links, citing the need to keep currencies fixed until they form a monetary union in 2010, and the limited inflationary impact of the weak dollar.
“It’s very tempting to say” that revaluation would provide a “quick fix” for inflation, said Khan, who was in the region to mark the IMF’s release of a report on regional growth. Gulf currencies’ dollar pegs are “a part of it, but a small part,” he said.
Inflation in the UAE accelerated to 10.9% in 2007 from 9.3% in 2006, according to National Bank of Abu Dhabi, the country’s second-largest commercial bank by market value.
Consumer prices in Qatar rose an annual 13.7% in the fourth quarter, the highest rate of inflation in the region.
“The driving force behind inflation in these countries is supply side factors like rents, housing, supply shortages, absorptive capacity constraints, to some extent imported inflation and most recently food prices,” said Khan.
The UAE and Qatar, the two Gulf Arab states most likely to revalue their currencies according to trading in forward contracts, ruled out any change to their currency regimes in April causing investor speculation to fall.
Meanwhile, the IMF’s report on regional growth said the economies of the Middle East and Central Asia may grow by 6% this year, slightly slower than 2007.
“The key macroeconomic policy challenge in the short run for most countries in the region is to contain rising inflation,” Khan said.
Almost all of the 30 countries studied, which include oil-exporters Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Kuwait, have largely been unaffected by the recent financial turmoil in the US.
Khan said inflation is a concern in the oil-exporting countries that have greatly benefitted from record oil prices that have helped spur rapid economic growth.
“In oil-exporting countries with currencies pegged to the US dollar, it will be a challenge to control inflation as long as there is monetary easing in the US and a weakening US dollar, especially if the price of imported goods, in particular food, continues to rise,” Khan said. Khan said economic reform remains a top priority across the region regardless of the current benign economic conditions.
“For most countries, competition and efficiency would be enhanced by restructuring and privatizing inefficient state banks, by developing local debt markets, and by encouraging the establishment of foreign banks,” Khan said. – (via Gulf Times Qatar)

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Waste Management in Dubai becoming a Challenege

With Dubai witnessing a never-ending boom in the construction industry, the construction and demolition waste generated also has touched a record high.

According to the annual report of the Waste Management Department in Dubai Municipality, the construction and demolition waste generated in Dubai registered a record 163 per cent growth last year as compared to the previous year.

In 2007, a total of 27.7 million tonnes of construction waste was removed from various construction sites of the city. The figure rested at only 10.5 million tonnes in 2006. Construction and demolition waste makes up 75 per cent of the total solid waste generated in Dubai every year.

Meanwhile, the volume of domestic solid waste generated in Dubai rose by 13.7 per cent in 2007 as compared to 2006 with a total of 3.34 million tonnes.

According to the report, the agricultural waste generated in Dubai during the last year was 142,816 tonnes registering a 14 per cent growth over the previous year. The total volume of liquid waste was 76,456 tonnes.

The report further said that the municipality treated over 31 million tonnes of general solid waste, 83 million gallons of liquid waste and 347 tonnes of hazardous waste last year.

The civic body has entered into several joint ventures with groups like Tatweer, Zenath Group and Al Serkal Group to recycle domestic waste, medical waste and waste edible oil. These joint ventures are currently run on BOOT (build, own, operate and transfer) basis.

Zenath Group, the recycling and waste management arm of ETA Star Group is currently building UAE's largest and first vertical medical incinerator plant for safe treatment of medical waste. The incinerator, which will be located in Jebel Ali close to the existing incinerator of the municipality, will have a treatment capacity of 20 tonnes per day and will be fully operational by the end of this year.

This project assumes much significance as Dubai Municipality handled 1188 tonnes of medical waste in 2006 compared to 579 tonnes in 2002. By 2017, this quantity is estimated to reach 4030 tonnes, especially with the full-scale functioning of facilities like the Dubai Health Care City which will have nine hospitals.

At present, all medical wastes generated in Dubai are treated and disposed of at the Jebel Ali Medical Waste Treatment Facility (via Khaleej Times)


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Al Futtaim Capital Closes $500 Million Real Estate Fund

Al Futtaim Capital yesterday announced it had completed fundraising for its Dh1.84 billion ($500 million) Al Futtaim MENA Real Estate Development Fund and the related Al Futtaim MENA Real Estate Shariah Development Fund (Funds).

This is the largest investment vehicle of its kind in the region, according to a Press statement.

The funds will focus on large-scale urban mixed-use developments in the MENA region. The funds will be managed by Al Futtaim Investment Management Limited (AFIM), a DIFC incorporated company wholly owned by Al Futtaim Capital. (via menafn.com) End Post

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Saudi Arabian Mining Company Plans IPO

Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden) plans to sell 50% or 462.5 million of its shares for SR9.25bn ($2.46bn) at an initial public offering in July, reported Arab News. The shares will be sold at the rate of SR20 per share, including SR10 premium, during the July 5-14 IPO. via ameinfo.com End Post

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New Hotel Institute in Dubai

A new hotel school, Dubai Hotel and Tourism Management Institute, a joint venture between an internationally-acclaimed Australian higher education provider and a prominent Dubai-based company, will open in the emirate next year.

The opening of the institute is almost perfectly timed, following debate at the recent World Travel & Tourism Council Summit concerning shortages of trained and qualified hotel sector workers, said a company official.

UAE-headquartered Al Hai, part of the Al Hai Group of Companies has joined hands with the Blue Mountains Hotel School, an Australian-based international hotel school, to bring the institute in the Middle East.

“We are very excited about this joint venture which will result in the formation of an international hotel and tourism management institute in Dubai. It will facilitate the growing needs of the industry both in terms of training existing human resources in the hotel sector and by providing quality undergraduate and postgraduate education for future hoteliers.” said Fritz Gubler, director, Blue Mountains Hotel School.

According to Gubler, the first student intake is scheduled for early 2009 and the institute will be a member of the Orion Hotel Schools global alliance.

“Being recognized as an Orion Hotel School will add value to the institute. We take great pride in watching our students grow and develop, going on to graduate and become the future leaders of the global hospitality and tourism industry.” said Gubler.

Al Hai group chairman Jamal Al Hai said, 'The company already operates within the tourism, hotel management, aviation and aviation related sectors and the opportunity to move into education was a natural progression for us.”

He said the students for the undergraduate programmes would be recruited both locally in the Gulf and from the international pool of emerging talent.

'We are confident that both existing and new employees of the region’s hotels will benefit from the training offered.” he added.

The Blue Mountains Hotel School has two campuses in Australia: the Blue Mountains Hotel School in Leura, New South Wales (90 minutes drive from Sydney) which has been operating for 16 years; and the Australian International Hotel School in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, which has been operating for more than a decade.

The group also operates educational facilities in China with two campuses in Suzhou and Tianjin.

Operation of the new hotel school will follow the Australian model from the Blue Mountains Hotel School, recognised globally for its highly sought-after first class graduates.

The undergraduate programmes will involve rigorous academic studies, applied practical on-campus training and an internship component.

The new hotel school will embrace the three pillars approach to education - a balanced integration of theoretical knowledge, practical skills and personal development.

The core programme will be a three-year bachelor degree whereby students will gain exposure to all areas of hotel and resort management as well as tourism, leisure and event management.

Currently in the final design stages the new state of the art facility will incorporate the latest in educational aids particularly with regard to practical training aspects.-TradeArabia News Service

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$1.7trillion to be Invested in Emerging Markets Real Estate

The most popular targets for real estate investments now are countries in the new economic region stretching from China across India and the Middle East to Africa (CHIMEA), said a report.

The top 50 emerging markets represented in A T Kearney’s recent Real Estate Opportunity Index spent a combined total of $1.7 trillion on construction in 2007, with a five-year CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of up to 6 per cent.

The US credit crunch and financial meltdown are pushing a growing number of real estate investors to look outside the United States and Europe for opportunities, it said. Robert Zielger, vice president, A T Kearney added that international property developers are finding these large and rapidly growing markets too attractive to ignore.

“Developers grow within their local geography until they run out of opportunity or need to diversify their risk profile. For a sustainable business strategy, companies have to expand internationally during the good times to be prepared for the bad.”

Focusing on a short list of emerging markets globally, the index weighs real estate development potential based on construction spending and growth as well as a combination of country risk and ease of doing business.

The global real estate industry as a whole is not in the same desperate situation as the US, and is keeping the industry afloat. China and India are growing at such a rapid rate, that they dominated the index by a vast margin with Thailand in third place.

China’s economic boom has created a heated real estate market, driven not only by office, residential and retail demand but also by the 2008 Olympics and the 2010 World Expo. The opportunity is substantial indeed: China’s estimated construction spending for 2007 alone totals more than $500 billion.

Saudi Arabia dominated the Middle East sitting in 6th place on the whole list, with the UAE coming second in the region.
Large-scale activity in the Kingdom is driven by increasing funds for mega-scale developments, stemming from its petroleum-based economy. In addition, public funds are financing schools, hospitals and low cost housing among other infrastructure and social sector projects. A recent increase in private sector investment has spurred the development of premium office, residential and retail space.

The UAE, one of the most affluent economies in the region and home of its real estate boom, is experiencing both, the advantages and disadvantages of being in the forefront. Dubai, where the real estate boom originated, is a market waiting for the impact of oversupply, but construction delays may create a soft landing. Abu Dhabi has also been a real estate star, and now needs to modernize its superstructures and office space.

The Index also notes that investors from CHIMEA have $4.1 trillion to invest, and real estate development remains an attractive destination for capital. Yet strong markets can turn sour quickly.

“Investing in global markets isn't without risk. Investors often have a tough time getting data to assess individual properties and many investors face a myriad of murky tax laws, government regulations and political instability in some regions,” added Maktoum Al Maktoum, associate director, A T Kearney Dubai.

Property developers have long known the need to diversify geographically through a carefully balanced portfolio, while managing the risk of entering unknown markets. The report will assist in getting a better picture, globally, it said. - TradeArabia News Service

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State Bank of Pakistan Bans Export of Pound, Euro and Dirham

State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has halted indefinitely all exchange companies from exporting British Pound, Euro and Dirham, meanwhile, the dollar in open market still got costlier.

Central Bank spokesman, Syed Wasim Ahmad told Geo News that the cash export of currencies by the exchange companies has been stopped forthwith. Exchange companies used to carry out in cash different currencies with the permission of the Central Bank and as against that dollars were imported. Forex market sources told that the government had taken this step in 2001 also for salvaging the sinking rupee, which had triggered black marketing of dollar.

Dollar in the inter-bank market was sold during Friday trading at Rs69.70, while in the open market it remained at Rs69.20. Forex Association president, Malik Bostan urged the Central Bank to take action against banks instead of exchange companies, as they were indulging in rupee value speculation trading.(via The News) End Post

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Abu Dhabi Securities Market Rebrands

The UAE capital’s bourse “Abu Dhabi Securities Market” has been renamed as Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX). The ADX in a press release said that the renaming, and accompanying rebranding, reflected international practice and the increasing diversity and sophistication of the types of securities to be traded on the exchange.

“The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange is taking steps to provide our clients with more varied and more sophisticated investment products,” said Tom Healy, Chief Executive of the ADX.

A new corporate logo, featuring the abbreviation “ADX” in blue and grey color, is accompanying the name change.

“The exchange, and the former name, are eight years old. This rebranding is an effective way to refresh the brand in line with our ongoing evolution. The new logo and brand also provide a clear visual representation of our strategy to benchmark ourselves against the world-class standards of other leading exchanges,” Healy added.

The ADX is looking to add exchange-traded funds and foreign listings to its current offering of share trading in publicly-listed companies.

The announcement comes just a few weeks after the ADX concluded a successful roadshow to raise awareness on the rebranding across Asia through visits to the regional financial centers of Singapore and Tokyo, Healy added.-TradeArabia News Service

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VAT in Dubai - Coming Soon

Dubai Customs is well advanced with its studies into the introduction of value-added tax (VAT) in the UAE. Dubai Customs Executive Director Mr. Abdul Rahman Al Saleh told a seminar at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai that his Department has been commissioned to study the VAT project and has been working over the past two years to develop a VAT system that could be applied across the emirates and expects to have the infrastructure in place by the final quarter of 2008 for implementation.

A team of specialised UAE nationals have been driving the project in consultation with international experts.
However, he stressed that the decision about when exactly VAT should be introduced in the UAE was one to be made by higher authorities.

The UAE has to phase out customs duties as part of the Free Trade Agreements it was signing with a number of its major trading partners and VAT is being considered to replace this lost revenue source for further investments in health, education and public infrastructural needs, which will benefit UAE nationals, expatriates and tourists.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is backing the UAE on this initiative, he said in a statement.

VAT is considered one of the healthiest forms of taxation and has been adopted by most leading economies of the world. It is now in use in more than 140 nations, after being first introduced in France 52 years ago.

The seminar was told that VAT is expected to be a single rate between three and five per cent, with a high threshold set for registration to exempt small businesses.

Tourists would also be able to claim back the VAT they pay on purchases over a certain amount under the current proposals, according to statement. – TradeArabia News Service

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GCC Banks Slash Interest Rates

Several Gulf States cut interest rates on Thursday in line with a reduction in the US as they sought to ward off currency speculation while tackling inflation at near-record peaks.

Dollar pegs in all Gulf states bar Kuwait compel their respective central banks to track the Federal Reserve to maintain the relative value of their currencies, even though inflation is spiralling and their economies are booming.

The UAE, the second-largest Arab economy, reduced its overnight repurchase rate by 25 basis points to 2 percent, keeping the rate the same as the Federal Reserve's Fed Funds rate.

Qatar continued with a trend of only cutting its deposit rate, also to 2 percent, while leaving its benchmark lending rate unchanged at 5.5 percent to prevent lower borrowing costs from stoking inflation -- already at a near-record 13.7 percent.

'Even though speculation on Gulf currency revaluations has come off since the beginning of April, Gulf countries don't want it to come back again,' said Monica Malik, the regional economist at Cairo-based investment bank EFG-Hermes.

Bahrain acted similarly, lowering its one-week deposit rate by 25 basis points and leaving its lending rates on hold. The one-week deposit rate was lowered to 2 percent from 2.25 percent and its overnight deposit rate to 1.5 percent from 1.75 percent.

Investors had piled into Gulf currencies beginning late last year on speculation some states in the world's biggest oil-exporting region would sever their links to a US currency tumbling to record troughs against the euro.

That speculation has died down since Gulf central bankers decided at a meeting in Doha to get a monetary union project back on track to avert unilateral currency revaluations.

Kuwait, which severed its link to the ailing greenback last May to fight inflation, had not made any announcement about rates by 0650 GMT.

Saudi Arabia is due to have an interest rate policy meeting later on Thursday. Oman sets interest rates at a weekly auction on Mondays.

Gulf central banks, meanwhile, could get some relief later this year after the Fed hinted its seventh move since September could be the last in a series meant to buffer the economy from a credit crunch and housing downturn. The Fed has slashed rates seven times by a total of 3.25 percent since September 18.

'The Fed looks likely to be coming to the end of its easing cycle and that will be very welcome for Gulf policymakers whose main concern remains inflation,' Malik said.

Inflation is accelerating across the Gulf, almost doubling in the six months to March to 9.6 percent in Saudi Arabia, the highest since at least the oil boom of the 1970s.

UAE inflation hit a 19-year peak of 9.3 percent in 2006 and probably accelerated to 10.9 percent last year, according to an estimate by the National Bank of Abu Dhabi.

But the pass-through effect of central bank rate cuts is minimal. The UAE repo, introduced in November, is the Gulf state's benchmark and sets the rate at which banks borrow funds from the central bank.

With interbank rates lower than the repo rate -- the three-month Emirates Interbank Offered Rate (EIBOR) was 1.92 percent at 0650 GMT -- most banks have no reason to borrow from the central bank. - Reuters (via TradeArabia)

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