Political unrest has caused divergent company performance in the region, writes Camilla Hall. Bahraini company earnings dropped the most in the Gulf in the third quarter while companies in the United Arab Emirates outperformed their regional peers. Continue reading »
The agreement announced on Tuesday – under which Alcoa will pay Aluminium Bahrain (Alba) $85m – has thrown a fresh spotlight on the commission payments at the heart of a growing number of probes into western multinationals operating in the Middle East. It has also opened the way for other companies to come to The US courts with claims that they have been ripped off by western multinationals involved in bribery. Continue reading »
“Don’t forget, revolutions are expensive”, says Dimitris Tsitsiragos. He should know: his responsibilities as a vice president at the International Finance Corporation include north Africa and the Middle East, not least the countries hit by the Arab Spring.
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. Continue reading »
Halwani Bros, a Saudi food producer, seems to think it has a recipe for labour market transformation – beyond the dense, sesame halawa dessert, for which it is famous. The 60-year-old, Riyadh-listed company has set a minimum wage of SAR3,000 ($800) per month for Saudi employees, according to a report in Arab News.
The move may only benefit 80 nationals employed at food production plants across the kingdom, as well as 50 more that the company plans to hire – but the decision could have far-reaching ramifications for other Saudis. Continue reading »
Bahrain, the Arab spring’s forgotten revolt, had fallen off the radar of the fickle global media. But thanks to Formula 1, the world has been at least been reminded this weekend of Bahrain’s scorched social fabric.
Now, 14 months since the island was rocked by the worst unrest in its history, the future of Bahrain’s economy also remains unclear. Continue reading »
A Gulf-based budget airline might sound like a contradiction in terms. But as Camilla Hall reports, Flydubai is one of several carriers rapidly making low-cost travel a reality in the region.
It may have only 22 planes, but Flydubai has weathered the global financial crisis and is now expanding. Even among some of the world’s richest fliers, there are those who don’t mind a spot of cut-price flying – though without the bargain basement feel of some of the industry’s stalwarts. Continue reading »
Bahrian’s Arcapita bank has thrown creditors a bit of a curve ball. The bank has decided to file for bankruptcy protection in the US after talks over an upcoming bank maturity of $1.1bn on March 28 broke down.
It’s the first time a Gulf company has sought Chapter 11 refuge in US courts, and creates a new level of public scrutiny for the bank – as well as an uncertain outcome for those wanting their money back. Continue reading »
The Arab spring has turned into a ka-ching [£££] for London’s new-build residential property market, according to real estate consultants Jones Lang LaSalle.
The value of Middle East investment in London’s new-build market almost doubled last year as unrest in the region prompted buyers to look for havens abroad, the property consultants say. Continue reading »
Dubai or Bahrain: which is safer for bond investors? A year ago the answer was easy – Bahrain. Dubai’s reputation had been rattled by the manifest difficulties of its overborrowed companies.
But in the wake of the Arab Spring, things look different. The rulers of Dubai have avoided the turmoil that has struck the region. Bahrain, of course, has not, with anti-government protests early last year that provoked a violent reaction from the authorities. It’s clear where investors prefer to put their money. Continue reading »
Bahrain’s national carrier is used to perennial business problems, but the state-owned airline wouldn’t have expected a public row with the foreign ministry.
Gulf Air, one of the Middle East’s oldest airlines, has seen its glory days eroded over the years with the rise of Gulf competitors, such as Dubai’s Emirates, Qatar Airways and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad. Continue reading »
Sheikh Ali Salman, head of al-Wefaq, the main Shia opposition party in Bahrain, says that the Arab spring has created an expectation of democracy across the region. He tells Roula Khalaf, middle east editor, that western allies should back calls for change in his country.
After the tumult of February demonstrations through the crackdown of March and the dark days of effective martial law through June, Bahrain has something to chew on.
The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry’s damning report into systematic abuses against pro-democracy protesters earlier this year is an historic moment – never before has an Arab state opened its doors to such rigorous scrutiny. Continue reading »
Despite deep political tensions and a vulnerable economy, Bahrain has managed to issue a $750m sovereign bond, becoming the first strife-hit country of the ‘Arab spring’ to tap capital markets since unrest began in January.
The seven-year sukuk is paying out 6.3 per cent, twice as expensive as, say, oil-rich Abu Dhabi, one of the city-states to have escaped street protests this year. But, in the circumstances, the Bahrain government will be grateful for the terms it has secured. Continue reading »
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