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Qatar Financial Center

Qatar is one of the world’s fastest growing economies, and the wealthiest country in the world measured by GDP per capita. The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) lies at the heart of this small but dynamic country’s ambitious investment and development strategy.

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Sharjah public sector GDP share rises

The government sector in Sharjah has grown its share of the emirate’s gross domestic product (GDP) from Dh60.4 billion in 2006 to Dh68.4bn in 2007, making 13.2 per cent growth. The government sector is currently accounting for 17.87 per cent of the overall GDP of the emirate. As the government services sector has a major share in GDP, it is capable of acting as a corrective force for the economic growth and will show a proven quality performance in government services, gaining the necessary power to guide the economic sector to the desired direction, said Ali bin Salem Al Mahmoud, Sharjah Economic Development Department General Manager. The GDP growth rate of the emirate from 2004 to 2007 was 41.7 per cent according to local statistical data. It grew to Dh68.4bn in 2007 from Dh30.4bn in 2004. The overall GDP of the emirate amounted to Dh68.4bn in 2007, a 13.2 per cent growth as compared to figures of 2006, according to federal statistical data. The share of commodities products sector (agriculture, manufacturing industry, construction, electricity, gas and water) to GDP has grown from Dh13.6bn in 2004 to Dh24.7bn, Dh27.7bn and Dh29.6bn in 2005, 2006 and 2007, respectively. The average annual growth rate of commodities products sector during the period from 2004 to 2007 was calculated at 39.3 per cent. The manufacturing industry sector has the lion’s share to commodities products sector’s GDP, posting Dh12.2bn in 2007, a 41.2 per cent from the GDP of the sector at Dh29.6bn. The manufacturing industry has the highest added value in the Gross Capital Formation, accounting for 19.99 per cent in 2007. The emirate has solved the problem of declining share of manufacturing industry to the GCF, with a growth of 79.3 per cent from Dh2015m to Dh3613m in 2007. This means the manufacturing industry sector has the highest share to gross capital formation in value and rate of contribution, a growth that proves an appropriate direction of the emirate’s policies in supporting the sector from one side and interest shown by investors and private sector from the other side. business24-7.ae

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GCC imports through UAE reach Dh36bn

Total GCC imports through UAE ports and borders soared to Dh36 billion from 2003 to 2007, according to Mohammed Khalifa bin Fahad Al Muhairi, Director General of the Federal Customs Authority (FCA). He said the Clearance Committee endorsed the customs duties charged against imports until 2007. It then transferred them fully to the members “in line with the commitment of the FCA to make the unified customs experience a success”, he added. The FCA completed transfer of Dh495.8 million to GCC members, being customs duties charged against goods, which crossed via UAE borders and ports. By Wam

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Sharjah freehold law awaiting Ruler’s approval

The Sharjah Government has structured a new property freehold law that is awaiting approval by the emirate’s ruler, informed sources said. “The freehold law has been worked out and is awaiting the Ruler’s approval,” a person close to the process told Emirates Business. The person declined to say whether the law will offer property ownership only to Arab nationals or to all expatriates. “It will be great news if Sharjah announces a freehold law. It will fuel growth in the property market, considering the fact that most people working in Dubai reside there,” said a real estate analyst. Sharjah was the first emirate to offer property on leasehold to GCC nationals, the analyst said. Currently, the major developments in Sharjah are Al Nujoom Islands, being developed by Al Hanoo Holding Company, and Sharjah Investment Centre by Saudi-based property developer Snasco. In 2006, Dubai passed Freehold Law No 7, which allows non-GCC nationals to own property within designated areas either in the form of freehold or a 99-year lease period. There are more than 30 designated freehold areas in Dubai that permit foreign ownership. In June, His Highness Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, Ruler of Ajman and Member of the Supreme Council, issued decrees to regulate the property sector. By Parag Deulgaonkar business24-7.ae

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Tests in Abu Dhabi?

West Indies have offered to play Pakistan in two Tests in Abu Dhabi next month, said a top official of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). “We hope the proposal materialises and we find some sponsor for the Test matches,” said PCB’s newly appointed Chairman Ijaz Butt. “It will give our players an ideal opportunity to play some international cricket after a long layoff.” Pakistan have not played a Test since December last year, when they drew against India at Bangalore. Australia, who have not toured Pakistan for 11 years, postponed their scheduled tour to Pakistan earlier this year due to security fears. “We have to pay the WICB [for the Test matches] according to the ICC regulations and for that we are looking for sponsors,” said Butt. “Time is very short, but I am hopeful something positive will come out.” Pakistan are scheduled to play three ODIs against the West Indies in Abu Dhabi next month. “If everything goes well, the Test matches will be played shortly after the ODIs in Abu Dhabi,” Butt said. Should the Tests against the West Indies go ahead, it will not be the first time that Pakistan have ‘hosted’ matches at a neutral venue. After September 11, 2001, Pakistan played tests against the West Indies and Australia at Sharjah and Sri Lanka respectively. By AP

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The Big Debate: Could the UAE ever have its own Silicon Valley?

25,000 products, 3,300 companies, 83 countries, 130,000 visitors. Gitex 2008, organisers claimed, would shrug off the global economic typhoon and emerge triumphant. Certainly this is possible and Gitex has always proved that the technology sector is no exception when it comes to Dubai’s reputation as a regional enterprise hub. But many would challenge the idea that the UAE can become the Silicon Valley of the Middle East – in other words, they would argue the UAE has little chance of becoming an innovation hub. Silicon Valley, California, is known as a centre for the development of new hardware, software and technology products and while it does not have the monopoly on invention, it has an established history of the technological, in both the private and public sectors. Dubai, for example, could be thought of as the ideal platform to regionally launch such products given its reputation for consumerism. But some would say the emirate cannot boast the infrastructure or skill-base needed to build competing alternatives for these products. However, others may point to Silicon Oasis, Dubai’s glimmering centre of semi-conductor and micro-electronics manufacture. They may say that if you consider that the technology park is host to the Rochester Institute of Technology in Dubai (RIT Dubai) – an academic institution committed to training the next generation of engineers – then you must allow for the possibility that this is a fledgling Silicon Valley. By Stephen McBride business24-7.ae