The competitition to attract financial business in the Gulf is hotting up.

Dubai’s financial centre says it will slash telecommunications rates as it seeks to sustain growth amid increasing competition from neighbours such as Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

The DIFC is set this year to roll out a technology transit zone within its data centre, offering prices that can compete with London and other western cities to ease costs for trading desks and asset managers. Continue reading »

Socially-conservative Sharjah, the third largest economy in the United Arab Emirates, is showing a bit of leg – financially speaking.

The emirate bans alcohol and enforces a modest dress code, marking Sharjah out from its flashier neighbour, bling-tastic tourist magnet Dubai. But the education- and culture-focused emirate has stepped out, opening its books to credit agencies. Paving the way for a potential sovereign bond, Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s on Wednesday issued it long-term sovereign credit ratings of A and A3, respectively. Continue reading »

Majid Al Futtaim, the malls operator that brought an indoor ski slope to Dubai, is seeking to double revenues over the next five years by bringing Carrefour markets and mega-malls to more countries across the broader region.

Having expanded across 12 countries in the Middle East, North Africa and central Asia, the retailing giant is scouting four out of the 14 sub-Saharan African countries for which it holds Carrefour franchisee rights. Continue reading »

March 2011

A three-week teachers’ strike in Oman suggests that the genie of unrest is out of the bottle in this unassuming corner of the oil-rich Gulf.

The strike has affected up to three quarters of Oman’s roughly 1,000 schools, where open dissent is becoming a regular occurrence since the strategic sultanate had its own outburst of Arab spring-inspired unrest in March 2011. Continue reading »

Transparency International’s latest report on emerging markets companies has slammed Chinese companies for their lax reporting standards, comparing them unfavourably with the relatively more open Indian corporate scene.

Faring little better than their Chinese counterparts were a handful of Middle Eastern companies included in the report. Continue reading »

It hasn’t taken long for the recovery in Middle Eastern markets to persuade once-shy companies that now could be the time to list.

The announcement this week that the Bank of London and The Middle East would list on NasdaqDubai, which has just two actively traded stocks, signalled the first new listing in Dubai in nearly five years. Continue reading »

Strife-torn Bahrain is looking to tap debt markets a week after Moody’s placed the Gulf kingdom on review for a possible downgrade.

If Bahrain can get the bond away during tougher market conditions, this will be the second time the Gulf state has issued a sovereign bond since widespread unrest struck the islands in the wake of the Arab spring. Backed militarily and financially by its larger and financially more secure neighbour Saudi Arabia, yield-seeking bankers were keen on last July’s $1.5bn 10-year bond. Continue reading »

Real Madrid and Barcelona are known for their annual gladiatorial contest for Spanish football supremacy.

Now the two clubs have become pawns in a proxy war among Middle Eastern airlines for global recognition. Continue reading »

The Gulf is set for economic growth and accumulation of financial reserves in 2013 says the Institute of International Finance.

Sound familiar? Well that’s because most macroeconomic forecasts make similarly rosy forecasts for the oil-rich region. But the IIF, the world bankers’ club, warns that the good times may not last – and the region’s governments need to pursue economic reform before the outlook changes. Continue reading »

Dubai is renowned for its indoor ski-slope, boasting a black run for experienced skiers and a parcel of penguins for the kids. Ski Dubai is one of the emirate’s biggest attractions, particularly popular with tourists from the parched Gulf.

But its upstart neighbour, Ras al-Khaimah, says it plans to go one better: building a winter resort in its craggy mountains that will offer sweeping open-air runs. Continue reading »

Dubai’s trade statistics for 2012 are in. And they show that, finally, western sanctions on Iran are crippling trade with the Islamic republic. Continue reading »

Iraqi telecoms firm Asiacell’s $1.3bn initial public offering is the Middle East’s largest in four years.

There are also hopes the issue will mark a turning point in the history of post-Saddam Iraq, with the authorities seeking to broaden public share ownership throughout the country. But the buzz around the landmark event has not travelled far. Continue reading »

With Dubai’s economy recovering, the emirate is rediscovering its mojo. That brimming confidence has already seen the return of large-scale development projects. Now the government is moving on to big concepts.

The ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, on Wednesday oversaw the launch of an attempt to place Dubai at the centre of the ‘global Islamic economy.’ Continue reading »

Dana Gas, the Abu Dhabi-listed energy company, has seen its share price climb since unveiling details of its $1bn Islamic bond restructuring deal on Monday.

Dana Gas, which has had to overcome cash flow issues because of late payments in troubled Egypt and Iraqi Kurdistan, offered a $70m cash payment to the creditor group led by Ashmore and BlackRock.

 Continue reading »

Dubai has been back for some time. The trade, tourism and transport that are the foundations of its economy have been thriving for a couple of years, bringing an air of optimism back to the city after its 2009 debt crisis.

But now, some fear, the old hubris is back, too. Continue reading »