Gulf in the News – September 10, 2013

Gulf ministers to weigh measures against Syria

Source: Gulf News (Read full story)

The GCC supports taking international measures ‘to deter the Syrian regime’.  Foreign ministers of the Gulf states will meet on Tuesday in Saudi Arabia to discuss measures against Syria, as Washington drums up support for its plan to strike Damascus, a diplomat said. Countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council “support taking international measures to deter the Syrian regime”, the diplomat told AFP on Monday. The ministers will meet in Saudi Arabia’s western port city of Jeddah. The GCC, which comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, has openly voiced support for the rebellion against President Bashar Al Assad.

Fitch affirms Saudi Arabia’s rating at ‘AA-‘

Source: Arab News (Read full story)

Fitch Ratings has affirmed Saudi Arabia’s Long-Term foreign and local currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) at “AA-“. The Outlook is Positive. Fitch has also affirmed Saudi Arabia’s Country Ceiling at “AA” and Short-Term foreign currency IDR at “F1+”. Fitch Ratings said Saudi Arabia’s external balance sheet has been bolstered so far in 2013. Central bank net foreign assets, the bulk of sovereign foreign assets, are up by 4.4 percent of GDP over the first seven months of the year and with no sovereign external debt, the net external creditor position is likely above 100 percent of GDP (from 96 percent of GDP at end-2012). Double-digit current account surpluses are expected each year to 2015, which will further bolster the external position.

42 killed in Yemen sectarian violence

Source: The Peninsula Qatar (Read full story)

There have been days of clashes between gunmen loyal to tribal chief Hamid Al Ahmar — a leader of the Sunni Islah party, and Shia Huthi rebels in Amran province north of the capital, several sources said. More than 30 people have been killed in the past 10 days in fighting in Osaymat and Ozur, a tribal chief said of two areas named after the Sunni and Shiite tribes who live there. At least 12 others were killed in firefights between Huthis and Sunni Islamists in the Rudma region near Ibb, a local official said. The Huthis’ Ansaruallah website accused Ahmar and his Islah party of sending scores of gunmen to Amran and Ibb. Meanwhile, two bombs exploded yesterday in Sanaa. They targeted two buses carrying members of the air force and the military academy, a security official was quoted by the official Saba news agency as saying.

Dubai house prices surge the most in the world

Source: Emirates 24/7 (Read full story)

As the world economy gathers momentum, global residential property prices in the second quarter of 2013 witnessed their best annual growth in three years, rising by 2.4 per cent for the quarter, according to a latest report by global property firm Knight Frank. House prices in Dubai raced ahead of the global pack and have clocked a massive 21.7 per cent surge in the past 12 months (ended June 2013), and the emirate was the only destination to register a 20-per-cent-plus annual growth rate. “Dubai leads the annual rankings, recording price growth of 21.7 per cent in the year to the end of June. The emirate’s housing market has gained momentum since late 2012, while its prime market led the way, mainstream prices are now following suit,” Kate Everett-Allen of International Residential Research at Knight Frank said in the report.

Oman among happiest countries in the world

Source: Times of Oman (Read full story)

Oman scored an overall 6.853 points. On a scale of zero to 10, people in over 150 countries, surveyed by Gallup over the period 2010-12, revealed a population-weighted average score of 5.1 (out of 10). Six key variables explained three-quarters of the variation in annual national average scores over time and among countries. These six factors included: real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption, and generosity. The report identified countries such as Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Netherlands and Sweden as enjoying the highest levels of happiness. Middle East & North Africa countries have registered a significant increase.

UN rights chief’s comments rapped

Source: Gulf Daily News (Read full story)

Bahraini legislators have lashed out at “one-sided” comments by the United Nations (UN) human rights chief, who directed criticism at the country during the 24th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva yesterday. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay claimed there was a lack of co-operation between the UN body and the Bahraini government, which she accused of not implementing recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI). However, parliament’s human rights committee chairman MP Abdul Hakim Al Shammari described her comments as being “dictated by opposition groups”. “The comments by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights are clearly one-sided and should not be given any importance,” he told the GDN. “It seems these comments are dictated by opposition groups as they completely ignore the reality on the ground.”