Regional statistics

July 2014

IDB plans to raise $2 billion

THE Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has relaunched its infrastructure fund with backing from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Brunei, aiming to raise $2 billion - almost triple the size of the original fund.

Jeddah-based IDB, a multilateral lender that promotes economic development in Muslim countries and communities, has ramped up its development efforts after it more than tripled its authorised capital in 2012.

With a combined $750 million in commitments from the three countries, the fund is targeting a final closing for early next year, the AAA-rated IDB said in a statement.

That surpasses the $730 million fund launched in 2001, which invested in firms such as Malaysia’s Air Asia and Saudi International Petrochemical Co.

The new fund would mobilise up to $24 billion of aggregate financing to support development of key infrastructure projects in member countries, said IDB president Ahmad Mohamed Ali.

Newly-formed Asma Capital Partners will manage the IDB fund.

The IDB approved $447 million in financing for development projects in member countries, including $220 million for a power grid extension in Bangladesh and $83.8 million for a power project in Uganda.

Energy, transport, water and sanitation projects make up about two-thirds of the IDB’s lending portfolio.


Oman’s budget surplus widens to $2.55bn

OMAN’S government budget surplus widened to RO988.6 million ($2.55 billion) during March against a surplus of RO897.2 million during the same period last year, said a report.

The government’s total general expenditure rose by 2.9 per cent to hit RO2.59 billion compared to RO2.52 billion last year, reported the Oman Daily Observer, citing data from the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI).

The rise in the general expenditure was mainly because of a 8.3 per cent jump in current expenditure, which stood at RO1.69 billion against RO1.56 billion during the corresponding period in 2013, as well as a 0.5 per cent rise of the contributions and support of the private sector at the end of March to RO362.7 million against RO360.9 million during the same period last year.

The investment spending declined by 9.7 per cent to RO543 million against RO601.4 million during March 2013, the report added.

Government revenues also fell by seven per cent at the end of March to hit RO3.21 billion against RO3.45 billion during the corresponding period in 2013.


UAE growth accelerates to 5.2pc

THE UAE’s economic growth accelerated to 5.2 per cent in 2013 from 4.4 per cent in the previous year, the country’s statistics office said.

“One of the most important factors contributing to the improvement of the 2013 GDP growth...was the development of oil output and a good and stable level of oil prices in general during last year, when the average oil price reached nearly $108 per barrel,” the National Bureau of Statistics said.

Analysts polled by Reuters in April forecast a deceleration in the UAE’s gross domestic product growth to 4.3 per cent in 2014 and 4.0 per cent in 2015. 


Bahrain tops telecom infrastructure index

BAHRAIN has the highest telecommunications infrastructure index in the Middle East, said a report citing a top minister.

According to Minister of State for Telecommunications Affairs Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, the country sees itself as a beacon for “how a properly-regulated telecoms and Information and communications technology (ICT) market can bear great fruit both in terms of service provision, and revenue generation.”

“The financial figures that our market produces – collated by the TRA from Bahrain’s service providers – bear this out,” Shaikh Fawaz said.

“By the end of last year we had a total of 2.21 million mobile telephone subscriptions, a penetration rate of 173 per cent, with 4G available throughout the country,” he stated.

“Broadband subscriptions at the same time numbered 1.63 million, a penetration rate of 123 per cent,” he added.

He said the fact that fixed-line penetration had during the same period fallen to just 20 per cent and 251,000 subscribers was “one of those unusual situations where fewer telephones demonstrate a market’s growing maturity”.

Bahrain’s telecoms and ICT sector contributes annual revenues of more than BD500 million ($1.3 billion) directly to the economy.


Talent retention key challenge

WITH better opportunities and economic benefits offered by other employers, qualified people are constantly moving and this has become a major challenge for organizations in the Mena region, said a report by leading jobsite Bayt.com.

About 96 per cent of Mena professionals indicate medium to low level of satisfaction towards their current pay, according to the “The Bayt.com Mena Salary Survey 2014 for June.

According to the same survey, 67 per cent of Mena professionals feel that their salary is lower than the industry standards in their region, while four in 10 respondents say that they have not received a pay raise in the last 12 months.

When looking at the reasons that push employees in the region to quit their jobs, Bayt.com research has always pointed in one direction: unsatisfactory compensation.

While compensation isn’t the only reason professionals stay in a job, unfair and uncompetitive compensation is often cited as the ‘top’ reason job seekers are in the market for a new role.

The survey found that a third of Mena professionals (32 per cent) in countries including Syria, Morocco, Jordan, Algeria, Tunisia and Kuwait claimed that their current salary package consists of a basic salary only.


$500m loan refinanced at low rate

BORSE Dubai, the emirate’s holding company for its stock exchanges, has refinanced a half-billion-dollar loan at an ultra-low rate, setting the seal on its recovery from a financial crisis several years ago.

The company agreed recently to take a $500 million, three-year sharia-compliant loan from Dubai Islamic Bank, sources familiar with the deal told Reuters. This replaced a maturing three-year loan arranged by Emirates NBD.

One source said the latest loan cost 90 basis points over the London interbank offered rate, compared with 210-220 bps for the previous loan.

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