Emirates NBD, Dubai’s biggest bank, reported a 30 per cent increase in net profit in the first half as the emirate’s economy grows amid regional unrest.

But its main shareholder, the indebted Dubai government, continues to raid its piggy bank. In the past six months, Dubai borrowed an extra Dh7bn from the lender, in which it holds a 55.6 per cent stake, extending its overdraft to Dh98.6bn ($26.8bn.) Read more

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. Read more

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. Read more

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. Read more

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. Read more

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. Read more

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. Read more

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. Read more

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. Read more

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. Read more

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. Read more

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

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. Read more

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.’ Read more

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.

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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. Read more

While multibillion dollar scandals have been making headlines during the financial crisis, here’s a cautionary story from the Gulf about what went wrong when a boutique investment bank was found by regulators to have breached the rules in accounting for the the value of eight contemporary Iranian art works.

Dubai investment bank Arqaam Capital and its auditor, Ernst & Young, have been fined $50,000 each by Dubai’s regulator for contraventions of accounting rules in relation to the valuation of eight art works by a renowned Iranian artist. Read more

Sorting out Dubai Group’s $10bn debts was always going to be tougher than most negotiations over the emirate’s total $110 debt pile.

Now RBS, Commerzbank, Standard Bank and Commercial International Bank of Egypt have raised the stakes by launching arbitration proceedings in London, calling for immediate repayment of their loans after claiming two years of talks had failed. Read more

Qantas has ditched its alliance with British Airways for Dubai’s Emirates airline, in a further sign of the shifting balance of power from Europe’s legacy carriers to the Gulf.

As part of the 10-year deal, the Australian carrier will move its long-haul hub from Singapore to Dubai, where Emirates’s cavernous Terminal 3 building is already filling up to the rafters. The move dovetails with Dubai’s plan to ramp up capacity through Dubai airport to match the airline’s aggressive expansion plan and boost the number of passengers travelling through the emirate. Read more

An air of normality has returned to Bahrain’s central business district and the government is keen to focus on positive matters. But violent protests continue and, as events this week have demonstrated, political reform and economic progress still face severe obstacles. Read more