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  • Wednesday, December 31, 2008

    Emirates Airline to be privatised?

    With comments such as this, one can only wonder what is next for Emirates Airline:

    "We can confirm that ownership of Emirates Group Decree Companies which include Emirates and Dnata have been transferred to the Investment Corporation of Dubai under official decrees...," a spokesman for the airline told Reuters, without stating a reason for the move.

    Certainly, nowis not the time to be raising capital, so there must be less obvious moves than this for the move. Only those in the know with Sovereign Wealth Funds will know what's going on with shifting this from one company to another.

    Dubai moves ownership of Emirates airline to state-owned investment fund


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    Tuesday, December 30, 2008

    Abu Dhabi Bus Route Map

    A little less than 2 years ago, the thought of taking a bus in Abu Dhabi seemed to be a thought that one would not consider. But since then times have changed, and a structured improvement plan continues. And once that plan is fully operational to places such as Khalifa City or to cover places where people need to commute to and from, then more and more will become dependent on the service. And that's when they will start charging. It's amazing that it is still free. The National have produced an excellent route map demonstrating all the bus routes. Excellent if you ont have the printed one handy.

    Abu Dhabi to add two new bus routes from Monday
    The National Abu Dhabi Bus Route Map

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    Tuesday, December 23, 2008

    Jobs for Arab Women - what does freedom really mean?

    It's an interesting way of looking at how freedom has changed in the Arab world but,the New York Times has tried to examine stewardesses working for some of the big airlines in the Middle East.

    A decade ago, unmarried Arab women .., working outside their home countries, were rare. But just as young men from poor Arab nations flocked to the oil-rich ..Gulf states for jobs, more young women are doing so, sociologists say, though no official statistics are kept on how many.

    And while the article appears to be factually correct, there is no discussion of other professions that Arab women have used to further themselves in society. And to an outsider,or someone not in the know the assumption is that a the furthest that a woman can go from being a housewife is to become a stewardess! I'm sure that is not what is intended. Nevertheless, the premise still holds that some women have changed their life through using the skies and the freedom associated with being a stewardess - that versus an option of not traveling or seeing the world.

    An interesting article that could have been furthered by providing some exact data as well as looking at the wider impact of girl power in the Middle East. Whatever you think of the article, the debate seems to be hotting up.

    In Booming Gulf, Some Arab Women Find Freedom in the Skies

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    Friday, December 19, 2008

    High Rollin' in the United Arab Emirates

    Slate are painting a bullish picture of the UAE at a time of downturn, Some great pictures though!

    High Rollin' in the United Arab Emirates


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    Downturn hits Dubai's migrant workers.

    Great slideshow from the FT


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    Dubai Downgrade & Debt

    Fitch is cutting its ratings on Dubai Holding Commercial Operations Group (DHCOG), a holding company owned by Dubai's ruler, and state-owned utility Dubai Electricity and Water Authority DEWA. That's a big deal - as it says that there is less confidence in Dubai.

    Despite the downgrade, both DEWA and DHCOG still benefited from potential support from the local and federal governments, Fitch said.

    “The ratings continue to benefit from potential support from the Government and Dubai’s strong position and role within the UAE federation,” Fitch said. If separated from the Government, both companies were likely to warrant ratings lower than the ones they were currently assigned, the company said.

    So because the companies are tied to Dubai, which is tied to the UAE Govy, which is propped up by Abu Dhabi, they are at a higher level than they would have been. But even so, a downgrade is on state companies is somewhat worrying.

    Previously, the government of Dubai has been acting prudently by slowing or pulling back on their building spree whereby projects will be clowed or phased or even scrapped.

    Fitch lowers credit ratings of several GCC banks

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    Monday, December 15, 2008

    No recession predicted, but it ain't going to be a great time

    A good summary article from Reuters worth reading in full regarding growth, slowdown, job cuts and recession. If you are interested in the UAE, you will read this:

    The United Arab Emirates is poised for a more abrupt slowdown in economic growth than its Gulf Arab neighbours, as job cuts batter demand in the property and service industries which had enjoyed a six-year boom....But economists have stopped short of predicting a recession in the UAE because they expect the government will use a massive cushion of oil revenue surpluses to keep the economy moving.

    UAE economy poised for abrupt slowdown amid job cuts

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    The Arab Rich list

    The World's richest Arabs (excluding royalty) has been published by Arabian Business. Number in USD BN. Yes, billions of US Dollars.

    1 Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud (17.08)
    2 Nasser Al Kharafi (9.6)
    3 Maan Al Sanea (9.3)
    4 Sheikh Mohammed bin Issa Al Jabber(8.8)
    5 Mohammad Al Amoudi (8.8)
    6 Abdulaziz Al Ghurair(7.8)
    7 The Bin Laden Family (7.2)
    8 The Olayan Family (7.2)
    9 The Kanoo Family (6.1)
    10 Said Khoury (6.0)

    The richest UAE (United Arab Emirates) Arabs on the list are:

    6 Abdulaziz Al Ghurair
    14 The Gargash Family
    15 Mahdi Al-Tajir
    17 Majid Al Futtaim
    18 Abdullah Al Futtaim
    35 The Al Rostamani Family
    38 Omar Ayesh
    41 Al Tayer Family

    The worrying thing about this Arab rich list is that World's 50 richest Arabs have lost $25bn over the last year due to the downturn.

    See the full Arab Rich List report for more.

    The richest Arabs
    World's 50 richest Arabs lose $25bn

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    Discounts in Dubai (Yves-Marie de Malleray)

    Yves-Marie de Malleray is an artist that is continually innovating in his technique and material application, crossing new frontiers in the creation of art. He has developed a unique form of bas-relief, which combines engraving and painting. This aesthetically beautiful technique combines classical traditions in art with modern skills, thereby manifesting his desire to reconcile a glorious bygone era with contemporary times. He is known for, among others things, hisArabian horses, wild camels and the Houbara birds that Arab falconers hunt.

    Yves -Marie de Malleray says: “ I has dedicated my life work to conveying the beauty of nature through art”.

    This week he is exhibiting in Dubai, in the Grand Gallery at the Royal Mirage:

    For $5000 a purchaser can take away from him a hunting scene fit for a Hermes scarf or a horseman's palace, one that two years ago would have cost twice as much.

    If he wins some royal approval, if a member one of the big Dubai families approves a pair of panthers framed in gold reliefs, the artist will be smiling all the more.

    There are thousands of northern Europeans here for a brief break from the winter horrors at home.

    So, does that mean that the product was initially overpriced? Or does it mean that times are hard? I'm not sure this is the best time to be exhibiting, but if you must exhibit, then exhibit where those with money may purchase.

    Aside, what else is half price today in Dubai?

    To buy in Dubai


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    Tuesday, December 09, 2008

    Is Dubai too big to fail?

    There is an element of truth in the Newsweek article that talks of potential of Dubai failing. It's not that Dubai is too big to fail. It is that Dubai is too important to fail. Too important to the Rulers, too important to the UAE, too important to the region and too important to the Eastern world that has looked at Dubai as a haven to channel goods and cash, to invest when the West said no to their money.

    Whether Abu Dhabi has bankrolled Dubai's growth is not clear. A betting man would say that the FDI associated with the growth in Dubai is not all from shores or a distant land. The AbuDhabians with their oil cash have made strategic investments in places where there are returns to be made. This is both in the UAE and beyond. Dubai has been the Emirate seen to be achieving those investments on a global scale, but what we will see going forward is a further cementing of ties through troubled times. Abu Dhabi will support its neighbour - and the favour will be repaid through a sharing of skill and know how - as well as offering preferential treatment in investments guaranteed to bring in hefty returns.

    There is no doubt that there will be troubled times ahead, more so in the over exposed emirate of Dubai, but talk of failure is embellishment too far. Failure is a big big word. In the eyes of some, success has already been achieved. To recount the transformation that has already been undertaken, one can see that Dubai has fast tracked itself onto the world stage. But its ambition of unprecedented growth will need to be curtailed. Dubai wont necessarily hit a recession. Dubai will hit slow down its growth. In a period of severe economic hardship, low single digit growth is impressive.

    What we will see over the coming months is phasing and prioritising. Projects will come to fruition later and some projects wont be undertaken at all - but that is smart business practice, and whether you are a country or a company, that is how one should be operating at present. It's time to lose the weight and travel to the next juncture a little lighter.

    Too Big to Fail

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    Monday, December 08, 2008

    Job Cuts in Dubai - what does it mean?

    The effect if this global recession is wide and deep, but some key pieces of data are important to examine whether places such as Dubai are affected.

    Firstly, one must look at asset prices. The stock markets have halved over the last few months. For a company that has floated half their stock, that's nearly a quarter of its asset price gone. That is significant in any market place.

    Secondly, you can look at any amount of data, GDP rates etc that demonstrate the full effect of what is going on in the economy.

    But there are also some other bits in the news that demonstrate the depth of the situation - redundancies and job cuts. For global companies to cut jobs in Dubai or in cities where they have a presence is one thing - this is scaling back to even out exposure and aiming to focus on their core business. But when companies such as Emaar and Damac, companies local to the area start announcing that they are making wholescale cuts with plans to scale back, that is the point where you know that the region is affected in a big way.

    We have already seen significant property asset value reduction in Dubai, and rental returns are not what they were. And now consolidation will occur. Companies will need to come together to survive this storm. The very fact that there is a discussion going on between Emirates Airline and Etihad is significant whether or not anything happens.

    The worrying thing for Dubai is that its debt is larger than its GDP and its over reliance on FDI has left it over exposed. But no worry, next door is Abu Dhabi. Despite the Oil price reducing over the previous weeks, Abu Dhabi has coffers of cash to start to stand tall in this downturn - the question is how they will strategically make their power count.

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    Dubai and the global financial crisis

    Discussion of keeping the Gulf Dream Alive.

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    Sunday, December 07, 2008

    Ugly Dubai?

    The Times visits Dubai and is pleasantly surprised that Dubai doesn't meet the hype of its gaudiness:

    It should be ugly but isn’t. Put up enough cranes and there’s beauty in the optimism. From the rooftop bar of the One & Only Royal Mirage – another meltingly Moorish hotel – the glimmering towers in the ribbon of lit-up darkness remind me of all that is left of the New York skyline poking up through the apocalyptic sands in the closing scene of Planet of the Apes. The difference being that Dubai is a beginning, not an end... always provided that the sky and roads do not run out. I rock with the giddiness of the view.

    Like every city, Dubai does have some ugly parts, but like every city, there are some shining examples of beauty - whether or not this is a city whose current depiction is as a very recent thing.

    Is beauty in the eye of the beholder or of the builder?

    Dubai: it should be ugly but it isn't


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