Gulf in the News – October 28, 2013

Gulf stability of paramount importance to Egypt: PM

Source: Khaleej Times (Read full story)

“There is huge potential for cooperation between [Egypt and the UAE]. We look forward to attracting more Emirati investments and wider cooperation among the private sectors of the two countries. The UAE is the second largest Arab investor in Egypt,” [Egyptian Prime Minister Dr Hazem Al Beblawi] said.  Al Beblawi noted that Egypt could benefit from UAE’s vast experience in alternative and renewable energy fields.  “There is a need for diversified sources of energy, particularly in the Egyptian countryside. I am glad that the assistance that will be extended by the UAE to Egypt will include supporting the energy sector.”

KSA backs OIC rights commission

Source: Arab News (Read full story)

Saudi Arabia strongly supports the establishment of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Human Rights Commission, said Mohammed Tayeb, director-general of Makkah province’s branch of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  Addressing the third session of the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) on Saturday in Jeddah, Tayeb underscored the importance of this commission and the hard work of the commissioners to fulfill their mandates.

The commission is to work on highlighting the relevance of Islam in solving modern day problems, said Ihsanoglu. He urged commission members to conduct studies on priority areas and recommended establishing a close working relationship with international and regional organizations in the field of human rights, in particular the United Nations.

PM warns gravy train about to fly off rails

Source: Khaleej Times (Read full story)

Depending on various scenarios, the budget deficit will accumulate to reach between a staggering KD 51 billion and KD 414 billion by 2035, which would take up all of Kuwait’s foreign assets estimated currently at $400 billion. “The fact that all must be aware of … is that the current welfare state that Kuwaitis are used to is unsustainable,” Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah said in an introduction to the 37-page program. “It is necessary that the Kuwaiti society must transform from a consumer of the nation’s resources to a producer,” the premier asserted.  The premier’s statements and the government program were strongly blasted by scores of Kuwaiti activists on Twitter and other social networks. The activists blamed the government’s policies for the current financial situation of the country besides what they called the generous aid Kuwait has extended to foreign nations, especially Egypt.

UAE cabinet okays big budget chunk for social welfare

Source: Khaleej Times (Read full story)

The UAE Cabinet on Sunday approved a Dh140 billion three-year federal budget and allocated 51 per cent of the total spending in 2014 for development and social welfare sectors.  Overall, the 2014-2016 spending plan shows a 15 per cent surge compared to previous three years average.Chaired by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Cabinet session held at the Presidential Palace also endorsed Dh46.2 billion for the federal budget of 2014, which is up by 3.5 per cent compared to the Dh44.6 billion spending approved for the current year.For 2014, the budget has set aside Dh23.5 billion (51 per cent) for development projects and social benefits underscoring the government’s increased focus on citizens’ welfare, well-being and progress….

Bahrain in early stages of bank mergers, says official

Source: The Peninsula (Read full story)

Bahrain is still in the early stages of a series of bank mergers designed to strengthen the sector in the face of regional competition, the central bank governor said.  The tiny kingdom’s banking industry, once the most vibrant in the Gulf, was hit hard by the global financial crisis and, since 2011, by political unrest which has deterred some foreign investment.  But Rasheed Al Maraj said there were signs of recovery in the sector, which would be aided by a central bank policy of encouraging mergers and acquisitions.  Islamic lender Al Salam Bank said in September it had agreed to merge with fellow Bahraini lender BMI Bank, an affiliate of Oman’s Bank Muscat, through a share swap. The deal is expected to create the kingdom’s fourth-largest commercial bank.

Dubai’s newest airport an alternative to Abu Dhabi

Source: Gulf News (Read full story)

The location of Dubai’s newest airport Al Maktoum International along the Dubai-Abu Dhabi corridor could be poised to directly compete with Etihad and Abu Dhabi customers flying into the United Arab Emirates.  While the new airport is not set to compete on hub status with Abu Dhabi in the immediate future – it currently has only three airlines locked in to fly to two destinations in the Gulf and four in Central and Eastern Europe – it is certainly set to be a contender.  “I doubt that it [Al Maktoum International] will cannibalise any traffic from Abu Dhabi International in the short term,” Simon Elsegood, Senior Analyst (Middle East & Africa) at Capa – Centre for Aviation said.  Once completed though the airport will be a super aviation hub with a capacity of at least 160 million passengers per year but reports have said it could be increased to 200 million.