I Can’t Explain!

the-whoHH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum opened the 10th World Islamic Economic Forum this week in Dubai. The three-day event was attended by nine heads of state, along with over 2k delegates, and showcased the importance of the city as a global financial centre.

The Dubai Ruler was also in attendance when plans for further developing Dubai Internet City and Dubai Media City were unveiled. The US$ 1.23 billion project, covering 10 million sq mtrs, will see TECOM with an additional 5.5k companies, to 10k, and an extra 30k workforce to 100k. The main aims of this initiative are to actively encourage the expansion of SMEs, develop new technologies and create sustainable infrastructure, thus making Dubai a smarter and more innovative location.

Although not up to market expectations, Emaar Properties reported a 20.7% hike in Q3 profits to US$ 191 million despite a 15.2% fall in revenue to US$ 537 million. The company has witnessed a marked slowdown in property handovers as well as holding on to plots of land for their own development use. Furthermore, the sector has been affected by the recent moves to raise the property transfer fee from 2% to 4% and the banks introducing tighter mortgage controls.

Despite this, Emaar has announced a multi-million US$ development with Dubai Holdings which will include 600 mtr + twin towers which will dwarf Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur. The Creek Harbour, located in The Lagoons, will be bigger than Downtown Dubai and will encompass a massive 1.5k acres. Phase 1, costing an estimated US$ 817 million, will incorporate six towers with harbour and city line views.

Hard Rock is to have a 281-room hotel in Marina 101 which is currently the world’s largest residential building. To be open within nine months, the 33-storey hotel will have a lounge area on the 101st floor, overlooking JBR and Jumeirah Palm. It will be managed by Hard Rock International for the developer, Sheffield Holdings, and Abu Dhabi Finance Group.

Following recent announcements by the Meraas subsidiary, Dubai Parks & Resorts, the company has appointed Marriott International to run its Polynesian-themed hotel in its massive Jebel Ali theme park project. The 503-key hotel will be open in 2016 and will be the base for many tourists slated to visit the Bollywood, Legoland and motiongate Dubai park attractions.

Both telecom operators came out with Q3 results this week. Etisalat announced a 21.3% rise in profits to US$ 605 million – slightly down on market estimates – as revenue surged 37.6% to US$ 3.6 billion; 48.5% of sales (US$ 1.74 billion) originated overseas in the 19 countries that Etisalat carry out operations.  Meanwhile Du posted a 17.9% hike in net profits to US$ 152 million, in line with a 14.8% rise in revenue to US$ 826 million.

Dubai International saw a 9.9% rise in September passenger traffic to 5.94 million as the YTD returns were up 6.2% to 52.4 million. Although freight saw a slight 2.8% increase in September to 202.4 million tonnes, the 9-month figures, at 1,763 million tonnes, are marginally down because of the on-going move to Dubai World Central airport.

DP World reported a creditable 9.9% rise in Q3 container volume from 14.17 million TEUs (20’ equivalent units) to 15.44 million, with a YTD total of 44.8 million units. Capacity at its home port, Jebel Ali, is expected to reach 19 million TEUs by Q1 2015.

Dubai’s latest IPO has already been over-subscribed despite not closing until next Tuesday. The Belhoul Group – a leading healthcare provider – has received the US$ 375 million required for 55% of its company.

There are reports that Dubai Investments is also planning to enter this ever-increasingly lucrative market. It is expected that it will build a school and university in its Dubai Investment Park in the near future and should have no funding with both its profits (up 17.4% in Q3) and a cash balance heading north. It is also considering the opening of a medical facility.

The Dubai Financial Market returned impressive quarterly results with net profit 85.4% up at US$ 42 million on the back of the value of traded shares surging 60.0% to US$ 21.4 billion during the quarter.

Having gained 7.1% the previous week, the DFM returned to negative territory, with the market falling 0.6% from its Sunday opening of 4573 points to close on Thursday on 4545. The index had a poor October falling 9.9% from its monthly opening of 5043 but is still up 34.9% this year. Bellwether stocks, Emaar Properties and Arabtec, were trading at US$ 2.72 and US$ 1.15 respectively.

It has not been a good year so far for gold as prices dropped to their lowest levels since 2010. This week alone, the yellow metal has fallen 5.3% to US$ 1,166 per oz despite the fact that the Fed had ended its QE programme. Whether its 28% 2013 fall will be replicated this year remains to be seen but the outlook, short-term at least, remains bleak.

A recent Independent Commission for Aid Impact report has concluded that UK overseas aid has failed in its aims to meet the needs of the poor and to reduce corruption levels in countries receiving aid. These include the top six receiving nations – Pakistan (US$ 540 million), Ethiopia (US$ 526 million), Bangladesh (US$ 435 million), India (US$ 430 million), Nigeria (US$ 398 million) and Afghanistan (US$ 339 million).

Following this week’s revelation that the EU is demanding a US$ 2.72 billion surcharge from the UK, there was more disturbing news for Prime Minister Cameron. In 2013, his country paid more than US$ 13.8 billion into the union’s coffers than it received – in 2007, this figure was US$ 6.4 billion!

RBS and Barclays have announced that they have each set aside US$ 800 million to cover possible fines and fees relating to their roles in manipulating the US$ 1.36 trillion–a–day currency markets. Other financial institutions, including Citi, JP Morgan and UBS, have already done likewise and all expect to know their fate from the British financial regulator in November.

Ebola has been with us for almost over 40 years but it has taken the World Health Organisation a long time to wake up to one of the world’s most acute public health emergencies. Back in April, MSF were warning that the spread of the epidemic was unprecedented and becoming uncontrollable but the world organisation rejected the severity of the warning. Even now it seems that the disease, that has officially killed 4.5k, but probably a lot more, is out of control with the French-based charity still in the firing line. What the WHO has been doing – I Can’t Explain!

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