In Jordan, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the
French Development Finance Institution
PROPARCO have provided 2 loans worth 100 MM
USD (50 MM USD each) to fund the construction of
three solar photovoltaic generation plants located in
the area near Maan City in southern Jordan. The new
plants will deliver 40 megawatts of much-needed
generating capacity from a clean, reliable domestic
resource, thereby reducing the country's dependence
on hydrocarbons, especially since Jordan imports
over 97% of the energy it consumes.
Hong Kong is looking to sultanate Oman as a possible distribution hub for automobile
and electronics products to the Gulf and African markets, and the financial center
expects bilateral trade to grow by more than ten times over the next three to five years.
Bilateral trade touched 153.9 MM USD in 2013, more than three times the total of 48
MM USD in 2003, when trading ties were first established. A large Hong Kong
business delegation, organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council
(HKTDC) in Muscat, featured 60 businessmen and women from nearly 30 companies
in the region.
The emirate of Abu Dhabi will raise electricity and water tariffs to fight waste and
limit rapid consumption growth, in a fresh sign that falling oil prices are prompting
Gulf governments to economize. Electricity tariffs for residential consumers will be
hiked by between 10% and 40% from January 1st. Mindful of the risk of political
discontent, Abu Dhabi and other Gulf economies have hesitated to reduce the
excessive state subsidies they pay to keep electricity and water prices among the
lowest in the world. But the plunge in global oil prices to four-year lows in recent
months has reduced the huge surpluses that the governments earn from oil exports, and
prompted them to look again at ways of saving money and reducing waste.
Kuwait's economy grew modestly last year, according to the Kuwaiti government,
contradicting an earlier estimate by the International Monetary Fund that gross
domestic product shrank because of lower oil output. The widely differing numbers
underline the difficulty of finding reliable economic statistics in the region, where
many governments have not developed extensive systems for collecting data and
disclose information only erratically. The Kuwaiti statistics office did not explain its
differences with the IMF or the revisions of its data, but said it had made serious
efforts towards refining the data collection and processing procedures, and estimation
methods for the compilation of comprehensive National Income Accounts.
According to a new study released by The Association of Chartered Certified
Accountants (ACCA) and Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), the UAE has
been rated as the world's second most SMEs friendly government in the world, after
Singapore according to their Global SMEs Performance Review for 2013-1014 as
small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the UAE saw the greatest improvement allround followed by those in the UK and Ireland. The results of the ACCA-IMA reports
were echoed by the Global SMEs Survey by global insurer Zurich which found that
the UAE-based SMEs were more positive than competitors in other countries about
the opportunities that exist to reach new consumers.
Qatar, the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG), is on track to
become the world's leading exporter of industrial gas (helium) pushing US to the
second position as exporter of the noble gas. With the initiation of Helium 2 plant in
Ras Laffan (in December 2013), which is the largest production facility in the world,
with a capacity of 1.3 BN standard cubic feet per year, the rate is nearly double
Helium 1's yearly production, which is about 700 MM standard cubic feet per year.
Qatar's helium expansion has come at a time when the demand for the product has
grown faster than supply, putting pressure on the global market. The state is well
positioned to capitalize on the export of helium, especially when the price as well as
demand for the 'noble gas' is expected to remain tight due to various global factors,
including the policy in the US - the world's largest helium producer.
Outlook for the Saudi Arabian banking system remains stable, reflecting strong
operating environment, driven by high government spending and robust domestic
consumption, according to the latest assessment by rating agency Moody’s. The rating
agency expects the Kingdom’s banking sector to benefit from continued low
problematic loan levels, strong loss-absorption capacity in the form of high capital
buffers and stable internal capital generation, the benefits of low-cost deposit-based
funding, and large liquidity buffers. Over the next 12 to 18 months, Moody’s expect
continued high government spending, robust domestic consumption and increased
private-sector business activity to drive economic growth.