Middle East Business News Review – A look at today’s important financial news and business updates from the Middle East and North Africa
Gold vending machines were used by tourists and investors in the UAE for transactions worth $7m over the last 18 months, a leading Middle East business news website reported on Sunday.
Quoting the CEO of Ex Oriente Lux, a German firm which installed four units in the country, Arabian Business said gold auto-teller machines have been a rage in the Emirates.
“Around 17,000 consumers took the chance to purchase gold bars or coins from the UAE gold vending machines. Each single purchase had an average of AED1,500 ($408),” Thomas Geissler, CEO of German firm Ex Oriente Lux, told the business news website.
At a time when Iran’s economy is under attack from sanctions and financial “warfare”, Tehran is developing a “resistive economy” which is intended to wean the country of its heavy dependence on oil revenue through fiscal belt tightening, increased industrial output, and the strengthening of science to boost technological innovation, a Western media report said on Sunday.
The initiative comes in response to international sanctions imposed over Iran’s nuclear programme that are designed to hamper Iran’s ability to conduct international trade and strike its economic lifeline – oil exports.
As part of the defence strategy, the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described Iran’s dependence on oil income as a ‘destructive addiction that must be cured’ in due time.
Tunisia’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) increased by 44.9% between 2011 and 2012 rising by 1064.2 million Tunisian dinars ($655.90m) during the first half of 2012, Tunisian state news agency reported.
Riadh Bettaieb, Minister of Investment and International Co-operation said in Tunis that 71 new firms including 40 industrial units started production with some 120 extension operations of enterprises also achieved during the same time. He claimed that 6,750 jobs were created during the period.
He added that the government has identified a strategy which mainly aims to re-establish trust among the investors, and relaunch the economic activity by means of introducing several structural and legislative reforms.
Sudan said it welcomed a Washington statement which promised mobilising international community to plug part of the country’s debt and demanded lifting of the decades-long economic sanctions imposed by the world’s most powerful nation.
According to a recent Financial Times report which quoted a Western diplomat as saying that Washington is finding it hard to contribute to the international effort to shoulder Sudan’s financial burden as it pledged in a donors’ conference after the signing of the 2005 peace agreement due to the sanctions it has imposed on the African nation.
He pointed out that US administration will encourage Sudan’s friends like Qatar, Kuwait and China to step in. The diplomat also hinted a move to waive sanctions preventing dollar transfers.
Muslim world cities could realistically pitch to host the Olympics from 2020 and beyond, despite cultural, political and climatic hurdles, a leading Oxford University academic said.
Kasim Randeree, a researcher at the internationally renowned Said Business School, said in a study that Istanbul, which has bid in vain on four previous occasions, tops the list.
With London readying to pass the baton to Rio de Janeiro, which will host South America’s first ever Games in 2016, the report explored the possibility of a Muslim nation hosting the coveted sports event for the first time in Olympics history.
A Qatar and Australia-led consortium has won a competition to design a FIFA/Olympic-standard stadium and sports village in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Work on the stadium project, which is shaped like a coffee bean, the main source of income in Ethiopia, is scheduled to begin in 2014.
Doha-based Australian firm, DESIGNSPORT, and Australian LAVA (Laboratory for Visionary worked on the project in collaboration with local Ethiopian architects JDAW.
Global Investment House, the Kuwaiti investment firm undergoing its second debt restructuring in three years, will seek shareholders approval for a debt-for-equity swap which if approved will see creditors own 70 percent of the company.
The proposed plan, which will see the remaining debt met by assets transferred to the creditors, would be a rare example of debt-for-equity being used in a Gulf Arab restructuring.
Like a number of Kuwaiti investment firms, Global’s business and its investment portfolio were hit hard by the financial crisis, with real estate and stock valuations plummeting and investor confidence drained as a result.
Qatar Gas Transport Co (Nakilat), the world’s largest shipper of liquefied natural gas (LNG), signed a $380m murabaha-structured Islamic loan, a statement from one of the banks providing the finance said on Sunday.
Qatar Islamic Bank provided $180m of the facility, the bank said in a bourse filing. Qatar International Islamic Bank provided the remainder of the cash.
No other details of the deal were provided.
Shipping lanes in the Strait of Hormuz, through which 40 percent of the world’s seaborne oil exports pass, have not been affected by the collision of an oil tanker with a US navy ship on Sunday, an Oman coast guard official said on Sunday.
“Both vessels are okay and the Strait of Hormuz is not closed and business is as usual there,” the official told Reuters, declining to be named under briefing rules.
Earlier, the Bahrain-based US Fifth Fleet said a guided-missile destroyer, USS Porter, had collided with a Japanese-owned tanker near the strait in the early hours of Sunday.