Category: Middle East Finances

Coveted Award Given to Gulf Bank

Banker Middle East, the premiere banking industry magazine in the Middle East, has just announced a number of awards. Gulf Bank of Kuwait received the “Best Employee Training” award at the Banker Middle East Awards Ceremony that was held at the Ritz Carlton in Dubai on June 22, 2011.

Win for Gulf Bank

Certainly, Gulf Bank was quite pleased with this distinction, as Omar Al-Bassam, the Assistant General Manger of Human Resources at Gulf Bank explained:

“We are extremely proud to accept this prestigious award from The Banker Middle East, and the value the international recognition it represents. This is a great accomplishment for us and endorses our long-term strategy of recruiting, developing and investing in the very best people.”

He continued by saying, “This award reflects the efforts of a lot of people over a long period of time. I am very proud of the progress Gulf Bank has been able to make through listening to its staff and providing the training and the motivation needed to create the strong and dynamic organization the Bank has become today.”

Other Gulf Bank Wins

Gulf Bank has won a number of other awards as of late, as well. At the end of 2010, they won the Localization Award for the 6th consecutive year from the GCC Council of Ministers of Labour and Social Affairs. They also won the “Employer of the Year” award at the 2nd GCC Human Resource Excellent Awards 2010 that was held together with the 5th Human Assets Middle East Congress.

The Bank has implemented a number of new programs including the “Mentoring For Success” program that they started in 2010. This program has the goal of enhancing and developing the Bank’s talent by pairing up mentors and mentees that are selected and developed for retention and excellence.

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Best Bank in Middle East Named

As reported in recent news, the international finance magazine, Euromoney, recently held awards as part of their Euromoney Awards for Excellence 2011. The ceremony, held recently in Dubai, announced their findings. During the ceremony, they had awards for the Best Bank in the Middle East, the Best Bank in Kuwait, and for many other categories.

The National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) received the awards as the “Best Bank in the Middle East” and as the “Best Bank in Kuwait.”

The NBK Group Deputy CEO Isam J Al Sager said, about the awards,

“These awards mark a new recognition of NBK’s unique and leading position regionally as well as its impressive achievements and management expertise.”

Euromoney explained its choice when it said, “NBK is recognized as the Best Bank in the Middle East and the Best Bank in Kuwait for 2011 in view of its remarkable performance and ability to maintain its leading position in spite of current difficulties for regional and international financial markets.”

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Arab Achievement Awards Decisions Made

The Second Arab Investment Summit in Abu Dhabi just took place, giving out Arab Achievements Awards to recognize companies and projects that have shown exceptional performance. Bahrain Financial Harbour (BFH) was proud to be named the “Best Mixed-Use Development Project” with its $3 billion financial community landmark.

Judging the Competition

The awards are judged by property developers and equity financiers from around the Middle East. Lina Mubarak, the BFH public relations and corporate communications manager, collected the award from Obaid Al Shaikh Al Noaimi and Juma Mohammed Al Kait, assistant under-secretary, Foreign Trade Ministry.

The BFH managing director Dr. Omar Al Mardi said,

“We are delighted to have won the Arab Achievement Award in this category and feel proud to have contributed to the development of Bahrain as well as the Middle East. This prestigious award is a reflection of our hard work and determination that serves as symbol for our kingdom’s vision and inspiration for the future. Despite the crisis faced in the country recently, BFH regained a sense of normality in their operation and business was back on track almost immediately.”

Dr. Al Mardi added that, even in the time of unrest and political upheaval that we’ve had now, 65% of the office space has been leased at the financial center.

BFH’s Important Role

Dr. Al Mardi added that, “As the financial hub of Bahrain, BFH plays an important role in developing the kingdom’s economy and attracting foreign direct investments which have propelled Bahrain’s ‘business friendly’ image internationally.”

BHF actually covers 380,000 square meters of waterfront property with office space, luxury private accommodations and a five-star hotel. It also has retail space and leisure and entertainment facilities.

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Dubai Benefiting from Middle East Unrest

The Middle East unrest has certainly had its influence on the hotel industry in the region.  Between February 1, 2011 and April 5, Egypt lost a reported $1.8b in revenues due to a lack of visitors.  Jordan similarly lost a reported $70m due to unrest.

As Elie Younes, vice president for business development Middle East & Africa, at Rezidor Hotel Group said, “In ten years time, believe me, we’ll probably once again face this kind of recession. With regard to this crisis, there has been a recovery, but I don’t think confidence is there yet.”

The Benefit in Dubai

However, while most countries in the region have seen a decrease in hotel revenue due to the unrest, one country is actually benefiting from it – Dubai.  The emirate actually had a spike in visitors since it has been viewed as a safe and quiet location in comparison to its many neighbors.

As Marc-Francoise Dardenne, CEO Emaar Hospitality Group and Emaar Hotels & Resorts explained, “In the first quarter we had over 87% occupancy in all our hotels, so we unfortunately benefitted from all of the issues in the various places of the Middle East. A lot of business has come our way.”

Ease of Opening Hotels

As a result, Dubai is seeing a sharp increase in hotel building.  Part of the reason for this is that it’s quite easy to open a new hotel in the area, according to David Vely, SVP, Middle East North Africa Development for MGM Hospitality.

While some investors say they are worried that the new supply is going to flood the market, others see it only as a benefit.  Vely said, “I am not worried about the supply. India and China provide an enormous potential customer base for hotels in the region. With the emergence of the middle class and the huge amount of people in these countries who now have the purchasing power to travel, you cannot build hotels fast enough to accommodate people who want to come here if you develop the proper product.”

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The Fire and Rescue Middle East 2011 Coming to Abu Dhabi

A new exhibition will be coming to the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) in Abu Dhabi this year from October 31st to November 2nd 2011. This is the regions first dedicated exhibition and conference on fire, rescue and emergency response. It’s called the Fire and Rescue Middle East 2011.

Exhibition Excitement

During the event, businesses will be able to showcase the latest in firefighting, rescue and emergency equipment to industry leaders and influencers. Neil Wallington, the former senior British Chief Fire Officer and the Past International President of the Institution of Fire Engineers and Founding Editor of Fire Middle East Magazine said, “The Fire and Rescue event is the first of its kind in the region. It will showcase a whole spectrum of building fire protection technology, both active and passive, along with the latest fire fighting and technical rescue vehicles, and a host of equipment, strategies and training. It will provide detailed information to professionals attending both the exhibition and the conference on all that is critical to the Middle East in protecting against fire and dealing with a range of emergency incidents.”

Economy of Fire Rescue and More

Deloitte Middle East, in a recent report, stated that the UAE has $958 billion of total construction projects in the area and that this is expected to grow at a rate of 9.6% between 2010 and 2014. Saudi Arabia also has $634 billion worth of planned projects.

Speakers, Displays and More

The Fire and Rescue conference will include a large number of high-profile regional and global speakers who have vast knowledge and experience in dealing with disaster relief. Christopher Hudson, the Managing Director of Clarion Events Middle East said, “Fire and Rescue Middle East is the ideal event for professionals in the fire, rescue and emergency response sectors to acquaint themselves with the various latest equipment and strategies to combat man-made and natural emergencies and disasters that can threaten life and property.”

On display will be fire technology, environmental protection measures, first-aid equipment, control-station technology, equipment for fire stations and workshops, building protection and much more.

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Middle East Economic Optimism

Although the Middle East is quite unstable politically at the moment, the business optimism in the region remains high. According to a survey for the Business Optimism Index for the second quarter released by The National Commercial Bank and Dun & Bradstreet South Asia Middle East Ltd., business optimism remains very positive.

Looking Up in the Middle East

Conducted in March, the survey found positive results. The Saudi Arabia hydrocarbon sector is optimistic, with the overall BOI composite score at 50 for Q2, rather than the 49 it was at from Q1. The BOI for selling prices is 53 in Q2, rather than the 48 in Q1.

At a press conference on Saturday, Said Al-Shaikh, a senior vice president and group chief economist at the NCB said, “The BOI survey results broadly reflect the newly announced fiscal package by King Abdullah, which is amounting SR500 billion, as the impact on the wider economy is likely to be substantial, especially on the non-hydrocarbon sector. Saudi companies expect business conditions to improve further in the near term, as all the indices reflected increases.”

Housing Help

He discussed the housing market, saying that it should improve in another two years as the spending package has put an emphasis on housing. As he said, “The recently announced spending package will help resolve the bottleneck in the housing market by 2013-14.” In addition, Saudi Arabia will have a 5.8% GDP growth with the expected rise in oil production.

In response to the survey, the CFO of D&B, Phil Strange, said: “Business optimism levels in Saudi Arabia remain very positive. All sectors recorded improvement in Q2 from already elevated levels of optimism with the exception of trade and hospitality, which saw a small fall albeit still remaining in very positive territory. The spike in oil prices and the governments’ increasing stimulation of the nonoil sector are causing the business community to remain extremely bullish in their outlook.”

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Get Ready for the Banker Middle East Product Awards

It’s that time again. Voting has officially closed in the 2011 Banker Middle East Product Awards and those interested will soon know the results.  The results will be presented at the Gala dinner being held at the Emirates Towers in Dubai on March 23, 2011.

Awards Criteria

These product awards are part of a region-wide awards program that is open to all banks and financial institutions in the MENA region.  The awards are given out based on peer-vote decisions.

Purpose of Awards

The purpose of these awards is to encourage, inspire and reward those who rise above others in the banking industry and to raise the standards employed by all MENA banking sectors.  The way the voting process works is that institutions can nominate themselves.  A short-list was then created and institutions were allowed to provide supporting information for themselves.  Voting then takes place with only registered readers of Banker Middle East, Islamic Business & Finance, WEALTH, financeME or given eligibility to vote.

Award Categories

The Banker Middle East Product Awards 2011 included three main categories: Institutional & Investment; Business Finance; and Retail Finance and the entire program is sponsored by Thomson Reuters and PIC Solutions.

Tune in March 23rd to see who wins!

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Middle East Golfing Amidst the Turmoil

Certainly, the Middle East is in turmoil in many ways; one way that they are rising above the rest, however, is in golf.  The new KPMG Golf Benchmark Survey showed that rounds and revenues around the world were down last year – but that the Middle East is leading the way in golf profits.

Golfing Statistics

Less than half (49%) of the golf courses in Europe, the Middle East and Africa were profitable in 2010 – but for those in the MENA region, the figure was 73%.  The report showed, as well, that one out of every 12 owners was considering selling their facility. The survey included 350 golf courses.  33% of the courses in Eastern Europe reported that they performed poorly, while 73% of those in the Middle East and North Africa reported good results.

A Great Game

The study explained that the Middle East facilities were mostly aligned with resorts and residential communities and that their performance levels remained high.

Report from KPMG

As Andrea Sartori, the head of the KPMG’s Golf Advisory Practice said, “Undeniably, the effects of the economic downturn remain evident in the business performance of golf courses across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. However, there are some positive signs and the performance of courses in both Central Europe, as well as the Middle East and North Africa, lead the way.”

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Keeping All Eyes on Saudi Arabia

If you’re looking to relocate somewhere in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia might be just the right locale.

Certainly, while most of the Middle East is experience upheaval at the moment, there’s one locale that seems to be constantly moving in the right direction, at least financially. Saudi Arabia is heading towards the title of “Richest Middle East Economy” in terms of their GDP per capita. Citibank, in a recent forecast, reports that by the year 2050, Saudi Arabia will have an average wealth per family of $98, 311. This is almost four times the current rate of GDP per capital, according to figures from the CIA World Factbook.

It’s Not All About the Oil

While the figures for Saudi Arabia are impressive, they don’t place it at the top of the global list. Singapore is set to stay on top of this economic list with an estimate of $137,710 per family in 2050. Next are Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, and then the U.S. Saudi Arabia is set to come in sixth, right after the United States.

More Immediate Growth

With these figures in the future, Saudi Arabia is also set to see economic growth for 2011 by 3.9%. This, from a country that holds approximately 20% of the world’s proven petroleum reserves and gets 45% of its GDP from this sector.
Interestingly enough, the report showed that Saudi Arabia’s non-oil sector will become more of an important role for the economy. As the report said, “The government’s initiative to diversify the economy away from the hydrocarbon sector will bolster private consumption and gross fixed capital formation [GFCF].”

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