Dubai’s Gold and Commodities Exchange will this week launch a futures contract linked to a popular Indian equity index, allowing investors to bet offshore on movements in the Mumbai bourse’s biggest companies, writes Camilla Hall.

The move, expected on Friday, will target the Gulf’s large Indian population as well as the corporate market, in an effort to offer foreign shareholders a cheaper and easier way to access equities in one of the world’s great growth economies.

 Read more

Saudi Arabia’s clampdown on instant-messaging and free call companies from Skype to WhatsApp and Viber has riled the very people it needs on side right now: young people.

In the Gulf kingdom, where men and women who are not related are forbidden from fraternising in public, instant messaging and the ability to call for free – outside the purview of parental bill payers – is an outlet many have become used to. No wonder restricting the services is going down badly. Read more

When a big deal falls apart, finger-pointing is rarely far behind.

But in the case of the failed bid by Qatari government-backed QInvest to create a joint venture with Egyptian investment-bank EFG-Hermes, Egypt’s market regulator certainly has a thing or two to learn about tact. Read more

In the oil-rich UAE, people like to spend, and people like to spend on cars. Your motor is everything: it has to be either fast and expensive or as big as a tank.

Taking that into account, First Gulf Bank – an Abu Dhabi bank – has launched the first Ferrari credit card alongside Visa to be offered in the Middle East and Africa. Read more

It’s not everyday that a conservative Gulf state is accused of copying American rapper and entrepreneur Dr Dre.

But wealthy Qatar is making waves with a branding exercise that has kicked up a social media storm. Read more

Saudi Basic Industries Corp, Saudi Arabia’s biggest publicly-traded company, has a very non-Saudi problem: striking workers.

The Riyadh-based petrochemicals behemoth is facing the wrath of the labour unions – not at home in the kingdom where such groups are banned but at its Chemicals Geleen plant in the Netherlands. Read more

Savvy as a market trader, Dubai knows when to strike bargain. With everyone mumbling that “Dubai is back” the government realised that now is the time to borrow.

So on Tuesday, the emirate sold $1.25bn in Islamic and conventional bonds, to appeal to a broad spectrum of buyers from the Middle East, Asia and beyond. Bankers said Dubai issued $750m of 10-year Islamic debt at 3.875 per cent and $500m of conventional 30-year notes at 5.375 per cent. Read more

Sentiment is everything in the Gulf. Without reliable or regular economic data, it is a struggle to know which direction the wind is blowing.

The underdevelopment and lack of disclosure of public statistics explains in part why so few saw Dubai’s 2009 debt crisis coming. And now, as some Gulf economies appear to be pulling out of the economic crisis, there are still few concrete numbers to prove it. Many are relying on improved sentiment…on anecdotes here and there. Read more

So, Qatar Airways will appear as the main logo on FC Barcelona’s shirts from next year, replacing the Qatar Foundation.

That means Doha’s state-run carrier will go head-to-head with Dubai’s Emirates, which sponsors Arsenal, and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad, which sponsors Manchester City, in yet another battle ground for regional aviation supremacy: football sponsorship. Read more

Distressed debt players who took a bet on bonds issued by Blue City of Oman should be cheered by a chance to get out.

The Gulf country’s sovereign wealth fund has offered to buy “class B” subordinated notes of the ailing real estate project – a $20bn beachside development that stalled as the financial crisis took a grip. Read more

Oil-rich Abu Dhabi has quietly issued a new public debt policy to its state-linked companies as it tries to rein in boom-time borrowing and get an idea of what debt it is responsible for.

The most important articles of the policy are here, from documents seen and translated into English by beyondbrics. Read more

Some might say it was a good day for Saudi Basic Industries Corp, the world’s biggest petrochemicals maker.

When it announced on Wednesday that third quarter net profits fell 23 per cent from a year ago its share price in Saudi Arabia rose 1.4 per cent. Clearly, the numbers weren’t as bad as had been expected in the light of plunging world prices for petrochemicals. Read more

New Islamic banks in Oman are bolstering their balance sheets to challenge the country’s larger conventional lenders after the sultanate allowed sharia-compliant lending for the first time last year.

This month, Al Izz Islamic bank, Oman’s second dedicated Islamic bank, opened subscription for its initial public offering of 40 per cent of the lender. So far, it says interest has been strong. Read more

The Gulf banks, so long somewhat passive players in international markets, are flexing their muscles. As Camilla Hall reports for the FT, European banks’ retreat from far-flung territories, is creating new opportunities – and Qatar National Bank, the state-backed lender of Qatar, is among the institutions on the hunt, with a bid to buy control of Société Générale’s subsidiary in Egypt.

 Read more

The extraordinary case of Zack Shahin, the ex-chief executive of Deyaar, a Dubai-based real estate company, took a dark turn this week after reports emerged that he had fled to Yemen whilst on bail and was re-arrested there.

“Shahin is still being detained by the security apparatus,” a Yemeni security source, who declined to be named, told Reuters on Sunday. “We expect that the man will be deported to the UAE before the end of the week.”

Shahin was caught up in a corruption investigation that swept across state-linked developers and financial companies before Dubai’s real estate boom imploded. He was released from prison on July 12 after three years of inconclusive trials. Read more