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Abu Dhabi: Khalifa issues new law governing purchases

Abu Dhabi: President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in his capacity as Ruler of Abu Dhabi, has issued the purchases, tenders, and bidding and warehouses law. The new law, which abrogates the existing law of 1977, is aimed at decentralising government purchases in a way that will strike a balance between powers and responsibilities and achieve a series of goals. The major goals include improving the procurement system and introduce best practices; ease procurement procedures while upholding principles of accountability, transparency, equality and free competition; create a legal mechanism for improving performance; use of the latest technology with regard to e-purchase and e-government; and improve efficiency in handling procurement tasks. WAM

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Dubai Shopping Festival brought to a close with awards ceremony

Dubai: The 2008 Dubai Shopping Festival was brought to a close with an awards ceremony on Sunday night. The ceremony was attended by Shaikh Maktoum bin Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai; Shaikh Ahmad bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the DSF Supreme Committee, and a host of other officials and dignitaries. The ceremony, at the Raffles Hotel, began with a visual presentation of the highlights of this year’s festival. Later an awards ceremony was held to reward contributions to the festival. Gulf News was amongst the big winners on the evening, with six awards for its journalsm. Brigadier Mohammad Ahmad Al Marri, a member of DSF Supreme Committee said DSF had attracted more than 28 million visitors between 1996 and 2007. DSF 2008 Innovation Award * Best Shopping Mall Promotion: Deira City Centre * Best Shopping Mall Décor: Dubai Festival City * Best Shopping Mall Event: Mercato. * Best Retail Promotion: Jashanmal * Most Attractive Point of Sale Display: Paris Gallery and Hyper Panda. * Outstanding Customer Service: Dubai Gold & Jewellery Group * Outstanding Promotional Campaign: VISA International and DAMAC. Journalism Award 2008 Arabic language * Jameela Ismail from Al Khaleej won the first place for Best Local Feature followed by Shereen Farooq, also from Al Khaleej. * In the DSF Prolific Writer category, Abdul Men’em Ashadeedhi from Al Bayan took the first place while Dia Abdul Aal from Al Bayan came second. * Al Bayan took the prize for the Best Design Layout award. * Salah Attiyah from Al Jamhouriya Daily, Egypt, took the honours in the Best Pan Arab Feature while the second place was shared by Bady Al Badrani from Ar – Riyad Daily and Ali Alkhahais from Ar-Riyad Daily. * In the Best Magazine Feature category, Gina Tadrous Ayyoob from Al Marr Al Youm took the second place. English language * In the Best Local Feature category, Saifur Rahman, from Gulf News, won the first place followed by Linda George, also from Gulf News. * The DSF Prolific Writer Award went to Kelly Crane from Gulf News, while Jyoti Kalsi, also from Gulf News, took the second place. * The Best Design Layout was won by Khaleej Times and the award handed to Mohammed Aroos. * In the Best Magazine Feature Award, Pratibha Umashankar from Khaleej Times took the first place while Indrani Mishra, from Gulf Today, took the second spot. Photography Awards In the DSF Celebrations category: * Shivram Nair from Khaleej Times, won the first place, * Devadasan and Arshad Ali, both from Gulf News, shared the second place. * Walid Kaddourah from Al Bayan took the third place. In the DSF Shopping category: * Ashraf Al Omra from Al Bayan won the first place * Haider Hasan Fouad from Al Khaleej coming a close second. * Yousuf Salim Younis Al Amir from Al Khaleej was given a special award for his entry. Ideal Arab Mother and Family Awards * His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum also gave away the Ideal Arab Mother award to Shamsa Hazeem Al Mehairi from UAE. * The Ideal Arab Family Award 2008 went to the family of Basit Faisal Kayed Abeidath from Jordan. Source : www.gulnews.com

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Doha’s wealth fund eyes European banks

Doha: Qatar’s prime minister has urged Gulf oil producers to bridge differences over a single currency, saying monetary union could avert possible unilateral revaluations designed to check soaring inflation. Qatar’s dollar-pegged riyal is undervalued by as much as 30 per cent and currency revaluation is being studied, among several options, to check inflation, Shaikh Hamad Bin Jasem Bin Jabr Al Thani said in an interview late on Saturday. Inflation in the richest Arab country by per capita hit 13.74 per cent in the fourth quarter. “It’s now the time for the Gulf to have its own currency,” Shaikh Hamad said in the Qatari capital, Doha. “We are thinking about it and in talks … we are discussing with Gulf countries, but there is no consensus.” Qatar, the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, would prefer to make any change to its currency policy in concert with Saudi Arabia and its other Gulf partners preparing for monetary union as early as 2010, Shaikh Hamad said. “We prefer always to act with all the GCC countries,” said Shaikh Hamad, whose country currently chairs the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council that includes the UAE and Kuwait. Asked how long Qatar could continue with its existing foreign exchange regime, he said: “We cannot give a time. It is something that we have to see how it goes and look at where the dollar is going.” Dollar pegs force Gulf oil producers to shadow US monetary policy at a time when the Federal Reserve is cutting rates to ward off recession and the Gulf economies are booming on a near five-fold jump in oil prices since 2002. Policy differences Rifts in Gulf monetary policy widened in May when Kuwait broke ranks with its neighbours by severing its dollar peg in favour of a basket of currencies, saying a weak dollar was driving imported inflation. Oman has said it will not join a single currency at all, and UAE Central Bank Governor Sultan Nasser Al Suwaidi said in November he was under mounting social and economic pressure to drop the peg. The GCC “should have a currency with a good weight internationally,” Shaikh Hamad said. “The GCC now is capable to do this and have a separate currency.” Doha (Reuters) Qatar’s prime minister, who heads the country’s sovereign wealth fund, said he favours investing in European over US lenders because US bank stocks are likely to fall further on subprime-mortgage writedowns. Qatar, which bought “under” two per cent of Credit Suisse, is looking to spend between $10 billion and $15 billion over the next two years on bank stakes to diversify the country’s economy from oil and natural gas, Shaikh Hamad Bin Jasem Al Thani said in an interview in Doha. “In the United States, we need to wait a little,” Shaikh Hamad said late on Saturday. “We think there are still problems with the banks.” In contrast, state-run Kuwait Investment Authority, which has at least $225 billion in assets, said last month it would invest $3 billion in Citigroup Inc and $2 billion in Merrill Lynch & Co as the two US banks scrambled for capital after billions of dollars in writedowns. Saudi Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal is also investing in the two, but has not said how much. “We are active in international markets and in wherever we find a good opportunity … in property, financial or industrial,” Shaikh Hamad said, declining to be more specific. The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), whose assets Standard Chartered puts at $60 billion, is considering making an investment in Britain’s second-biggest bank, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), The Sunday Telegraph newspaper reported, citing people familiar with the QIA’s plans. Shares in RBS were up 7.2 per cent at 1001 GMT. A spokeswoman for RBS declined to comment yesterday on the newspaper report. In January, The Sunday Telegraph was the first to report Qatar’s interest in Credit Suisse, saying the QIA was looking to build a five per cent stake in the Swiss lender. “Up to now, I think it is under two per cent, but, of course, when we reach the legal point where we have to declare, we will do so,” Shaikh Hamad said of his Credit Suisse shares. The threshold for public disclosure is three per cent. “We are buying them for the long-term strategic holding, and it’s not for selling,” he said. Source: Reuters

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Etihad could order 100 more planes

Beijing: Etihad Airways is in talks with Airbus and Boeing Co. to order between 50 and 100 aircraft as it seeks to turn Abu Dhabi into a global travel hub. The carrier expects to receive the planes between 2013 and 2020, chief executive officer James Hogan said yesterday in Beijing. The orders will probably include A380 superjumbos, he added. Etihad, which operated 37 aircraft in 2007, expects to carry 30 per cent more passengers this year as it adds new routes and expands its fleet. The Abu Dhabi-based carrier plans to have 53 aircraft by the end of 2011, it said in a statement on Friday. It has an order backlog of 14 Airbus planes, including four A380s, according to the planemaker’s website. Source : Bloomberg

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Sharp oil price rises set to continue

London: Oil prices are likely to continue to rise rampantly for awhile yet as supply worries and investor demand for commodities outweigh concerns of economic slowdown. Crude hit a record high of $101.32 on Wednesday. The price has climbed from below $50 at the start of 2007 and below $20 in early 2002. “From here, we think that the next stage may well be a period of consolidation in the high $90s, and that could include increasingly frequent moves above $100,” said Paul Horsnell of Barclays Capital. Prices have risen in part because of expectations that the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec), rather than increase oil output, will maintain or even cut supply at a meeting on March 5. Opec argues that factors beyond its control, such as speculation, are boosting prices. One Opec minister made clear on Thursday that oil’s push into triple digits would not bounce the group into changing supplies. Reaction “We will not just react to $100 oil,” Qatar’s oil minister, Abdullah Al Attiyah, said in a telephone interview. “Opec will move when it sees physical demand for its oil.” Besides the likelihood of no extra Opec oil, technical analysis – using past price moves to predict future direction – indicates crude may move higher still, according to London-based ODL Securities, a trading firm. Andy Riddell, joint head of commodities at ODL, said charts indicate that US crude and Brent could move higher to $103.00 and $101.50 respectively, before the Opec meeting. “It’s technical and speculative buying,” he said of oil’s record run. “You look at all the chart patterns and they are pointing upwards.” Others see limited scope for prices to hit further highs in coming weeks. Oil demand typically weakens in the second quarter as consumers in the northern hemisphere use less fuel for heating. Crude oil inventories in the United States, the top consumer, have risen for the last five weeks. “There may still be some potential for prices to press even higher, but we do see rising stocks and the approach of the second-quarter supply-demand surplus period as gradually closing the window on further gains,” said Tim Evans, analyst at Citi Futures. “The market may not yet be satisfied that a top is at hand, but we still think one is forming.” Other factors that could puncture the rally include a steep drop in US or Asian equities, signs that the US economic slowdown is spreading or a surprise boost in Opec supply, MF Global said. While there may be no single factor that explains the latest run-up, which coincided with rises in other commodities such as aluminium and copper, some advise against betting that oil will fall just yet. Indicators Signs of rising inflation are attracting a flow of money into commodities, which are traditionally used as hedges against inflation. “We still do not see much in terms of news that justifies the blistering rally we have had over the past few days, but neither would we advocate going short here,” MF Global said. Source : Reuters

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UAE rules out dirham revaluation in ‘foreseeable future’

Dubai: The UAE on Thursday ruled out any change to the dirham-dollar peg in the “foreseeable future,” saying the current foreign exchange policy has served the country well. “It is a very important stability anchor,” UAE Central Bank governor Sultan Nasser Al Suweidi said of the currency peg. He also said the goal of a GCC common currency may not be achieved in 2010 as planned. “We do not have to artificially manipulate our currencies to compensate for the loss of value as a result of natural fluctuations. You have to let the market flow normally, supply and demand will determine everything,” Al Suweidi told reporters when asked if the bank will revalue the dirham while keeping it pegged to the falling US currency. Source : Guilfnews

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Dubai : Cleveland Clinic to manage Shaikh Khalifa Medical City

Abu Dhabi: An agreement was signed yesterday between the Abu Dhabi Health Authority and the US-based Cleveland Clinic under which the hospital took over the management of the Shaikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi. The pact was signed in the presence of General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. Shaikh Mohammad said attracting the best health establishments in the world to Abu Dhabi is part of the government’s healthcare policy. The facilities include the 550-bed Shaikh Khalifa Hospital, the 120-bed Behavioural Science ward, 100-bed Abu Dhabi Rehabilitation Centre, 12 outpatient clinics and nine primary health clinics.

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Dubai : Gulf Air declares early retirement scheme

Dubai: Bahrain-based Gulf Air yesterday announced an early retirement package for Bahraini and Omani employees. The opportunity will be available until June 21, an e-mail statement said. “Bahraini and Omani employees have the choice of a cash-only benefit that includes three months’ salary plus one month salary for each complete year of service,” it said. “Or, for staff with more than 10 years service in Gulf Air, the option to choose cash and benefits including six months’ salary plus one month pay for each full five years of service, a one-time contribution to the GOSI pension plan (maximum contribution of five years, decreasing for employees aged 55-60 for male and 50-55 for female employees) and health benefits for three years at the airline rate.” Fewer expatriates The airline has also decided to reduce the number of expatriates in its non-flying operations. The majority of these departures will occur in accordance with the expatriates’ personal contracts. The staff affected will be informed personally over the next two weeks. Gulf Air Chairman Mahmoud Kooheji reaffirmed that pilots and cabin crew need not fear job cuts. The assurance came as Kooheji announced that an improved pay package for Gulf Air pilots has been developed and will be presented to the company’s board next Wednesday.

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Kuwait Airways to place $3b order

Kuwait City: Kuwait Airways plans to buy 12 Boeing Co and seven Airbus planes from Kuwait’s Aviation Lease and Finance Co (Alafco) for about $3 billion, a Kuwait Airways official said yesterday. The state-owned airline, which is looking to spend as much as $6 billion to replace its ageing fleet, will order the aircraft from the Kuwaiti lessor rather than the manufacturers so as to take delivery of them earlier, said the official, who did not want to be identified. Alafco, which is majority owned by Islamic bank Kuwait Finance House, has standing orders for some of the aircraft Kuwait Airways is planning to buy, including 12 Boeing 787 Dreamliners for delivery in 2010, the official said. Shopping list The airline also plans to purchase seven single-aisle Airbus A320s from Alafco for delivery in 2009, and take options for seven more, the official said. “We get the planes cheaper and quicker from Alafco,” the official said, declining to be more specific. Kuwait’s Al Watan newspaper reported the plan-ned order earlier yesterday. Ahmad Al Zabin, Alafco’s chief executive officer, could not immediately be reached for comment. Kuwait Airways owns 11.5 per cent of Alafco, which usually buys and leases out planes to airlines. In March, Alafco ordered 12 Boeing 787s and six 737-800s valued at $2.26 billion at list prices. In November it ordered six Airbus A320s. Shares in Alafco closed 1.75 per cent higher yesterday. Shares in Kuwait Finance House fell 1.5 per cent.

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Egypt poised to receive record net FDI this year

Athens: Egypt is set to see record net foreign direct investment flows of more than $10 billion in the current fiscal year ending June, the country’s investment minister said yesterday. Speaking in Athens, Mahmoud Mohieldin also said the country’s inflation was high but the government was working with the central bank to achieve the inflation target. Egypt is drawing interest from international firms, keen to benefit from the country’s privatisation programme. “This year, based on the three quarterly results, we are expecting [FDI] more than net $10 billion. Last year was $6.1 billion,” Mohieldin told reporters on the sidelines of an Institute of International Finance meeting. His previous estimate for the fiscal year, given in March, was $7.5-$8 billion. ——————————————————————————– ——————————————————————————– Mohieldin expected foreign investors to participate in the sale of the government stake in Bank of Alexandria, expected in October or November. “We are aiming for an IPO and as you know it’s an open market. So we expect it’s going to be a mix of Egyptian and foreign buyers,” he said. Egypt is offering 15 per cent of the shares in Bank of Alexandria on the stock market. It sold 80 per cent of the bank to Italy’s Sanpaolo in October for $1.6 billion.