Middle East Business News Review – 10 June
A look at today’s important financial news and business updates from the Middle East region:
The United Arab Emirates will begin pumping oil through a new pipeline in upcoming weeks that connects directly to its Indian Ocean port of Fujairah and enabling it to avoid the strategically important but potential flash-point Strait of Hormuz. The work on the project is almost complete. The 480-km pipeline with a capacity of up to 2.5 million barrels per day runs through the mountainous emirate and will reroute bulk of the country’s oil exports around the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf, the waterway for a fifth of the world’s oil supply.
The International Monetary Fund warned the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf countries could face major financial repercussions if the eurozone contagion spreads across global markets. The global financial institution said in a report that countries depending on foreign financing and having financial links to Europe will face serious risks and difficulties. The report was prepared in April after consultations with the UAE and released in June.
Russian Railways announced it is planning to participate in the Abu Dhabi railway project, estimated to cost around $2 billion, and various railway projects in the Middle East and North Africa region. “We have the best chances in the Gulf. Today we have all rights to think that we passed the pre-qualification stage for the project in the UAE,” Yury Nikolson, the head of Zarubezhstroitekhnologii (ZST), told reporters. He added that the company is also interested in building light-rail metro systems in several Gulf cities.
Qatar announced it will fund infrastructure projects worth $1.25 billion in Jordan by contributing to the $5 billion Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) which was allocated during last year’s summit to support development projects in the Hashemite Kingdom. According to official Jordanian news agency Petra, Jordanian Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Jafar Hassan met Qatari government officials in Doha during a state visit and discussed investment projects related to energy, health, transport, public works and railway projects.
Tunisia’s Economy Minister Ridha Saidi said Turkey will grant $100 million in aid to help Tunis overcome its social and economic difficulties, and bounce back from socio-economic crisis that has mired the North African country since December 2010. The accord was signed between the two countries during the World Economic Forum which concluded in Turkey on weekend. The aid deal also included a $400 million low interest loan package.
London-based architect Markus Jatsch Partners has been awarded a contract to rejuvenate a 4km stretch of beach front in Abu Dhabi.
The firm will redesign the emirate’s Corniche Beach for the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council, Architects’ Journal reported. Working with American landscape stars Martha Schwartz Partners, Markus Jatsch said it hopes the project will act as a springboard to other public realm projects in the region.
Saudi Arabia’s annual inflation eased to a nine-month low of 5.1% in May, despite a slight rise in food and housing prices, official data showed on Saturday. Consumer prices slowed to 5.1% in May from 5.3% in the same month a year earlier, while monthly inflation remained unchanged from April at 0.2%, data from the Central Department of Statistics (CDS) showed.
A Chinese construction firm is planning to snatch Dubai’s status as home to the world’s tallest building, but has drawn criticism for claims it plans to complete the 838m tower within seven months. A model of the Sky-high City project, to be built in the central Chinese city of Changsha, was unveiled at the weekend with developers claiming it will be completed by the end of the year, the Modern Express newspaper reported. Sky-high City will have 220 floors and provide housing, dining, shopping and medical services, but commentators have criticised the backers’ ambitious construction schedule.
A potential $500 million sale of a 79-percent stake in Gulf Marine Services (GMS) by its Abu Dhabi-based private equity owner has collapsed due to financing issues and differences over valuation, three sources said. They said that talks between seller Gulf Capital, a regional private equity firm with around $1 billion in assets and two bidders shortlisted from over a dozen suitors had ended, in a fresh blow to private equity exits in the region.
Iran’s state finances have come under unprecedented pressure and the resilience of ordinary people is being tested by soaring inflation as oil income plummets due to tightening Western sanctions and sharply falling oil prices. Tough financial measures imposed by Washington and Brussels have made it ever more difficult to pay for and ship oil from Iran. Its oil output has sunk to the lowest in 20 years, cutting revenue that is vital to fund a sprawling state apparatus.