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29 April 2009
The Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone (RAK FTZ) reported a 16 per cent increase in revenues in the first quarter of 2009, compared with the first quarter of last year.

RAK FTZ, one of the fastest-growing free trade zones globally, also reflected a four per cent increase in company registrations compared with the same period in 2008.

So far 378 new companies have registered this year, the five largest being Jamal Travel Agency, Middle East Spark Trading, Al Mohandis International, Info Seven and Aysha Trading.

Posted by emPost at 1:24 AM | Link | 0 comments
Abu Dhabi Municipality is planning to set up the Six Continents Fun City in the capital at a total cost of more than Dh550 million,

Engineer Abdul Aziz Al Jiraishi, Director of Parks Department at the municipality, told Khaleej Times that the mega project will span over an area of more than 350,000 square metres, and the municipality will select a suitable location for construction of the facility. The project will take one year to complete.

“The Fun City will house a pavilion designed in the shape of the UAE map, VIPs’ building,  city management offices as well as six indoor halls containing trade stores, food court and constructional and cultural landmarks denoting to the nature of every continent in the world.”

Posted by emPost at 1:21 AM | Link | 0 comments
Home prices in Dubai plunged by 41 per cent in the first quarter of the year compared to the previous three months, as a result of a loss of jobs and a drying up of bank credit during the economic slowdown, a property consultancy said on Tuesday.

The price plunge, which erased nearly two years’ of gains in property values, was the second consecutive quarterly decline, Colliers International said. Colliers reported an 8 per cent decrease in home prices during the October-December period, the first quarterly decrease since Dubai’s property boom began.

Posted by emPost at 1:17 AM | Link | 0 comments
24 April 2009
Emirati legislators passed a controversial law Wednesday that includes hefty fines for journalists, the official news agency reported.

The report did not include details of the final law, but a draft version included fines up to about $136,000 for "carrying misleading news that harms the national economy." It also included a staggering fine of $1,350,000 for "insulting" members of the government and ruling family, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch.

Journalist groups in the United Arab Emirates and international rights groups have criticized the draft law. They accused the Persian Gulf state of trying to muzzle the press, turning news outlets into the country's image-building machine in challenging economic times after years of basking in coverage of hyper-growth.

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The deputy commander in chief of Dubai police has denied allegations published in a UK-based newspaper that the emirate has been laundering money belonging to Somali pirates. The Independent ran a story on Tuesday claiming that huge amounts of money taken in ransom from vessels hijacked off the Horn of Africa were being laundered in Dubai and other Gulf countries.

The paper, quoting investigators hired by the shipping industry, said around $80 million (£56 million) has been paid out in ransom to pirates in the past year. The paper added that the so-called “godfathers” of the illicit operations include businessmen from Somalia and the Middle East, as well as people of South Asian nationalities.

Maj. Gen. Khamis Mattar Al-Mazinah gave a statement to the Arabic daily Al-Emarat Al-Youm saying the report was baseless and untrue.

Posted by emPost at 9:34 PM | Link | 0 comments

THE first glamorous residents have already made a home for themselves at “The World”, an archipelago of 300 artificial islands (pictured above) created off the coast of Dubai by Nakheel, one of the emirate’s big three developers. Pilot fish and parrot fish have colonised the man-made reef surrounding the islands. The reef, built from 34m tonnes of rock, forms a protective ring around the islands—a breakwater that stops the Gulf’s currents from slowly washing The World away.

To its many critics, Dubai’s economy is as artificial as Nakheel’s islands. The emirate borrowed capital and labour to make speculative bets on real estate, of which The World is only one outlandish example. Now policymakers are scrambling to build an economic breakwater that might protect the emirate’s prosperity from adverse tides: plunging property prices, ebbing trade and tourism, and the unaccustomed difficulty of refinancing its ambitions.

Posted by emPost at 9:33 PM | Link | 0 comments
19 April 2009
Rent rises in Abu Dhabi have been capped at five percent per year under a new law passed by UAE President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Saturday, according to the official news agency.

Sheikh Khalifa, issued Law No. 6 of 2009 making amendments to Law No. 20 of 2006 regulating the landlord-tenant relationship, WAM said.

It sees restrictions on rent increases on residential, commercial and industrial properties, and those used for professional services, remaining at the the previous five percent cap.

The law is applicable to existing contracts of three years or less for already signed contracts and those that are agreed after the law takes effect.

However, with rents falling by up to 20 percent many landlords will be unable to increase the rents by even this much.
Posted by emPost at 6:35 AM | Link | 0 comments
The Dubai Land Department is planning to issue an amended property law that will determine refunds for investors who default on their payments based on construction progress of the project, according to lawyers briefed on the matter.

The move will bring clarity to the property market in Dubai, where a credit squeeze and the effects of the global financial crisis have led to defaults by home buyers. But some investors have criticised the amendment for being too heavily in favour of developers.

Lawyers say the amendment to article 11 of Dubai Law 13 of 2008 will stipulate that in cases where a buyer defaults and the developer has constructed at least 80 per cent of the project, the buyer loses all money paid to that point. The home can then be auctioned to compensate the developer for the rest of the cost.

Posted by emPost at 6:34 AM | Link | 0 comments
16 April 2009

Rental rates in Dubai have become one of the favorite topics of research for firms in the region, and while most agree that they are falling, the numbers vary from one report to another. Here’s a selection:

1. Property consultancy firm Asteco has just released the Dubai Report, according to which apartment and villa rents in the emirate have fallen by 22 and 34 percent respectively in the first quarter of 2009, as compared to the prices in the fourth quarter of 2008.

It also says that the biggest apartment rental drops seen were in Palm Jumeirah, Al Barsha, Bur Dubai and Discovery Gardens, where average rents were around 30 percent lower than in the fourth quarter of 2008. The largest decrease in villa rents was reported in Springs and Jumeirah Island, at 41 percent.

Posted by emPost at 8:01 PM | Link | 0 comments

Demand for Abu Dhabi property could receive a boost, following the announcement that the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) has struck an agreement with four banks and a finance firm to grant mortgage finance for purchasers of homes in the emirate.

Banks have tightened their belts since the global credit crunch kicked-in, which in part, have contributed to the slowdown in the emirate’s property market.

However, it is now hoped that efforts to get banks lending more freely again, will rejuvenate the property sector, once more.
Abu Dhabi Finance, an organisation set-up in collaboration between several house builders in Abu Dhabi developers and Mubadala Development, an investment company owned by the government, is now offering mortgages with an 85% loan-to-value for period of up to 30 years.

The banks that signed agreements with TDIC are Mashreq Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank.

Posted by emPost at 8:00 PM | Link | 0 comments
15 April 2009
Banks and property firms in Dubai are renegotiating contracts and litigation cases are mounting as the global financial crisis hits the once-booming real estate sector, partners at an international law firm said.

Ashley Painter, partner at Clyde & Co's Middle East financial services unit specializing in banking and finance, said his company was dealing with dozens of cases.

"Anything that is not completed I think would be under some form of negotiation. It depends, of course, which developer you are talking about..." Painter told Reuters Islamic Banking and Finance Summit in Dubai.

"They are looking to give haircuts to the sub-contractors so that the cost of building the things is going down... They are renegotiating the payment terms with the borrower..." he added.

Posted by emPost at 12:52 AM | Link | 0 comments
Mashahoor Afzal pulls his gold-and-white taxi up to the rank at Marina Mall, expecting another passenger to get in.

Instead Jaber al Braiki, an inspector with the taxi regulator TransAD, opens the door and extends his hand.

The two men shake hands and exchange smiles. Things go downhill from there for the Pakistani driver who has lived in Abu Dhabi for 33 years. Asked to produce his taxi permit, Mr Afzal pulls out a blue sheet from his wallet – a permit that expired in 2005.

The driver pleads with the inspector and tells him he has been out of the country for some time. He has to sign for a fine of Dh1,000 (US$372) and could face further punishment later.

Posted by emPost at 12:51 AM | Link | 0 comments
11 April 2009

A Dubai consortium is bidding to turn one of British Airways's seven remaining Concorde supersonic jets into a tourist attraction, a report said Wednesday, while BA said it was mulling its options.

The Times said that if the jet -- which reached supersonic speeds and halved the total flight time from London to New York -- were to be shipped to the Middle East, its wings would have to be clipped off to fit on a ship.

It cited a source close to the Dubai consortium as saying the group would spend millions of pounds (euros, dollars) to restore the interior of the plane, which is currently kept at London's Heathrow Airport.

Posted by emPost at 2:21 AM | Link | 0 comments
Dubai's Public Prosecution indicted Wednesday a former minister of state and several others including former company executives as a year-long probe into alleged corruption at one of the city's biggest property developers draws to a close.

Mohammed Khalfan Bin Kharbash, former government minister for finance and industry, and ex-chairman of Dubai Islamic Bank PJSC (DIB.DFM), faces charges of alleged embezzlement and "harming state interests", according to an emailed statement from the prosecutor's office.

Kharbash is alleged to have seized "public money and harmed the state's interests" in relation to an investigation into financial wrongdoing at Deyaar Development PJSC (DEYAAR.DFM), according to the statement.

Posted by emPost at 2:19 AM | Link | 0 comments
08 April 2009
Abu Dhabi is pumping nearly $10 billion (Dh37bn) into projects to expand its gas output capacity despite plans by several Middle East nations to shelve key hydrocarbon projects because of the global financial turmoil.

The government-controlled Abu Dhabi Gas Industries Company (Gasco), the main onshore gas operator in the emirate, said the projects will increase the firm's production in five years.

"The projects are in line with Adnoc's general plans to expand its sustainable oil and gas production capacity by developing its associated and non-associated gas resources," Gasco general manager Mohammed Al Suwaidi told Adnoc's quarterly bulletin, Adnoc News.

He said the investments would nearly triple the company's output of around three billion cubic feet within five years, adding the expansions cover LNG, LPG, sulphur, condensates and other products.
Posted by emPost at 12:03 AM | Link | 0 comments
The United Arab Emirates said on Tuesday it would move to bring down the cost of basic food items charged by retailers because they were no longer appropriate following a slump in world commodity prices.

The second-largest Arab economy last year signed a series of agreements with supermarket chains to fix the cost of basic food items such as sugar, cooking oil, rice and flour at 2007 levels in an effort to curb inflation at a 20-year peak.

But many of those prices now exceed the global average by 25 percent after oil prices collapsed almost $100 a barrel from a peak last July, said Hashim Saeed al-Neaimi, the manager of consumer protection at the UAE's Ministry of Economy.

Posted by emPost at 12:01 AM | Link | 0 comments
06 April 2009

WHY do foreign journalists love to hate Dubai? While it’s certainly true that like the rest of the planet Dubai is experiencing a downturn through no fault of its own, if you read some of the shrill headlines, the emirate is on the point of becoming a deserted wasteland. “Dubai is in danger of becoming a ruin-in-waiting” writes the Toronto Star, which describes the city as “some sheikh’s mad idea of what a metropolis should be”.

“Dubai-bashing is in fashion right now,” an official from the Standard Chartered Bank in Dubai told Time magazine. He’s right except that gleeful attacks on Dubai have been prevalent ever since the 1990s when its charms were no longer a best-kept secret.

Just look at the envy or inverted snobbery oozing out of these pre-downturn descriptions.

Posted by emPost at 9:37 PM | Link | 0 comments
The Gulf emirate of Dubai announced on Monday the launch of its first budget airline called flydubai, which will be taking to the skies in two months despite the global financial crisis.

Flydubai will start with flights to the Lebanese capital Beirut on June 1 and to Jordan's capital Amman on June 2, company chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum told reporters.

"We are committed to bringing a new option to the market and to growing the region's budget air travel business," Sheikh Ahmed said at a press conference.

"This will benefit our economy, our people, and tourism business as a whole."

Posted by emPost at 9:35 PM | Link | 0 comments
03 April 2009
The Ras Al Khaimah Transport Authority (RAK TA) has blamed the delay of the internal bus services in Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) on the infrastructure problems including poor roads especially in the remote (areas.

Mohammed Yuosuf Esmaeel, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of the RAK TA told Khaleej Times recently that the poor roads linking to the various areas of the emirate delayed the introduction of internal buses in RAK that were originally scheduled to start operating in September 2008. The delay in the installation of bus stands by the authorities concerned on various streets of the emirate has also hindered the introduction of buses in Ras (Al Khaimah.

Esmaeel noted that the emirate does not have a proper structure for (bus stops.

“The city bus services have been held back until next year in order to give ample time for the authorities to address the infrastructure problems,” he said. He however noted that arrangements for the inter emirate bus services have been finalised and that the buses will start operating in April including Dubai, Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain amongst others.  

A senior official of a local company that had been commissioned to launch the bus services in Ras Al Khaimah noted that the addition of new taxis in the emirate last year, also added to the overall delay.

Three new taxi companies including Al Hamra, Cars and Al Arabia Taxi Company with a combined fleet of 1,600 new cabs, were introduced in Ras Al Khaimah in February 2008.

Many RAK commuters did not welcome the new taxis, as they are expensive compared to the old taxis.

Posted by emPost at 9:06 PM | Link | 0 comments
Swimmers were advised to stay out of the sea yesterday as government scientists continued to test for a harmful algae bloom that has devastated marine life in other emirates.Evidence of the bloom, known as red tide, could be seen off the coast of the Palm Jumeirah and close to the Atlantis Hotel. Nakheel, the Palm developer, yesterday issued a statement from EHS-Trakhees (Environment, Health & Safety) informing residents that because of the “potential risk due to direct exposure to algae we advise the public to avoid contact with affected water”
Posted by emPost at 9:03 PM | Link | 0 comments
The Dubai Taxi Agency is working on a plan to improve the taxi service in the emirate with a focus on increasing dwindling revenues, a senior official has said.

"Our focus now is on the marketing of Dubai Taxi, customer service, driver training, reduction of costs and improving productivity to increase our income," said Abdul Aziz Malek, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Roads and Transport Authority's (RTA) Dubai Taxi Agency.

Malek said that Dubai Taxi would be introduced to other emirates to compete with rival taxi companies. Of Dubai's approximately 7,500 taxis, 3,500 are owned by Dubai Taxi Corporation, a subsidiary of Dubai Taxi Agency. The other 4,000 are owned by six franchised taxi companies.

"So far, we have been operating Dubai Taxi in Dubai only, but we now have plans to introduce it in other emirates to compete with private companies," he said.

Malek said that the agency is concentrating on training drivers in techniques that can increase their revenues.

Posted by emPost at 9:01 PM | Link | 0 comments
01 April 2009
The number of taxis in Dubai will go up to 10,000 by the year end from the present strength of 8,000, a senior Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) official said.

Yousef Al Madani, Director of Transport Systems Department at the Public Transport Agency said a satellite surveillance system will be in place to help manage the fleet.

“Taxi service is a subject of a rising demand triggered by the urban development and demographic expansion in Dubai. The existing taxi fleet includes more than 8,000 vehicles owned by Dubai Taxi Agency and a host of franchise companies.

Posted by emPost at 10:00 PM | Link | 0 comments
A high-capacity metro system complemented by high-speed trains, buses and trams besides ferries and taxis have been envisaged in a surface transport master plan unveiled by the Department of Transport on Wednesday.

"As growth continues, a multi-faceted, multi-modal transport system will be vital to creating a vibrant, sustainable world-class city," said Abdullah Rashid Al Otaiba, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Transport.

The government, he said, is considering options for meeting future transport needs as the emirate continues to grow at a rapid rate.

Posted by emPost at 9:49 PM | Link | 0 comments

Dubai has launched a wide- ranging restructuring of its government-controlled companies. Those owned by the emirate's ruler will also be reorganised.

The restructuring is aimed at consolidating the sprawling empires that were instrumental in fuelling Dubai's debt-driven growth, and reducing costs at a time when the city-state's revenues from trade, tourism and finance, have been reduced.

Last month, Dubai turned to the United Arab Emirates for a $10bn (€7.5bn, £6.9bn) loan.

The consolidation will leave fewer government partners for the foreign investors that had been banking on Dubai as their regional launchpad for investment in the gulf.

Posted by emPost at 9:49 PM | Link | 0 comments



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