Customs duty on cement, steel waived off in UAE

March 17th, 2008 - 6:27 pm ICT by admin  

(Gulf Business Capsule)

Dubai, March 17 (IANS) Even as India grapples with high cement and steel prices, customs duties on these two commodities have been waived off all over the United Arab Emirates (UAE) through a ministerial resolution. The move by Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum is in line with the country leadership’s efforts to maintain price stability in the real estate market amid the construction boom that this Gulf nation is witnessing.

According to the new resolution, this waiver has come into immediate effect and all relevant authorities must abide by it and implement it.

The industry, especially the construction sector, has widely welcomed the move saying this would control the soaring prices of building materials and construction supplies.

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Gulf can cope with global recession better: expert

The policies of the US Federal Reserve could lead to a synchronized global recession, but the Gulf states could escape the threat, according to Hong Kong-based investment guru Marc Faber.

“It is quite likely that the current synchronized global economic boom and the universal, all-encompassing asset bubble will lead to a colossal bust,” Faber said, speaking at a special Middle East Investment Day, organized as part of the Middle East IPO Summit here.

He, however, said that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries fare better than other emerging markets in coping with the pressure.

Faber was of the opinion that the upward trend in commodity prices is still intact, although sharp corrections will be experienced as much through market jitters than fundamentals.

The huge GCC surpluses will help the region fight global recession. The size of the GCC budget surpluses is estimated at $150 billion and is now growing at $1 billion a day.

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Saudi Arabia top AIDS-free tourist destination

Saudi Arabia has been ranked the most AIDS-free tourist destination in the world tourism index brought out by the World Economic Forum.

The kingdom, along with Oman, have become the newest entrants to the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI), which ranks countries based on 71 criteria and variables.

Overall, Saudi Arabia occupied the 82nd rank among the 130 countries listed.

The list however showed a fall in the rankings of other Gulf nations like the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait. The UAE, which ranked 18th among 124 countries in 2007, ranked 40th this time around.

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‘Middle East firms think they are different’

Though establishing best practices in corporate governance is high on the agenda of companies in the Middle East, they are reluctant to conform to standards elsewhere.

This was because they perceived the region as different from elsewhere, Jan Babiak, managing partner, regulatory and public policy for Northern Europe, Middle East, India and Africa (NEMIA) at consultancy firm Ernst & Young told the Khaleej Times.

Expressing surprise at this attitude of the companies of the region, she said: “So many subscribe to these differences, yet in countries like Canada and the US they are trying to iron out these differences. Why do we have to subscribe to the view that we are special?”

Citing issues like regulation, title and ownership and the audit market, she said the Middle East is still in the phase of self-regulation. According to Babiak, corporate governance is all about companies broadening their thinking.

“As the region seeks to pursue foreign investment and participate in equity markets, especially the sovereign wealth funds, increased attention to corporate governance would serve it well,” she said.

She, however, said that signs are now encouraging. “Once they didn’t even want to engage. Now they are engaging,” she said, making special mention of Saudi Arabia and Oman.

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UAE targets 90 percent services online by 2010

The UAE government has mandated that all government departments will have at least 50 percent of their services online by the end of this year with the number going up to 90 percent by 2010.

Chief operating officer of UAE’s leading telecom services provider Etisalat, Ahmed Abdulkarim Julfar, said that this was to create greater access to the government, improve productivity of staff and generally improve services for citizens.

“For the Ministry of Economy, Etisalat’s solution has eliminated 50 percent of the physical steps required for ‘trademark’ and ‘certificate of origin’ applications and users no longer have to attend ministry’s offices after the original documents have been submitted. These services are now available 24 hours a day - a great advantage for its clients,” Julfar said while delivering the keynote address at the IDC summit here.

Spending on IT security in 2007 in the Gulf has grown 37.4 percent to reach nearly $250 million, according to IDC.

The UAE is one of the largest IT spenders and the second largest market with 31.2 percent share.
(Attention Business Desk: From today, IANS is pleased to offer another feature in its wire service - ‘Gulf Business Capsule’ - with important news briefs on the world of economy and business from a very important region)

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